Friday, April 15, 2016

Holbrook line: John Merryman 1614-1674, Immigrant

Usually when I write about the Holbrook line, it's about ancestors in New England.  I've also written posts about our few German ancestors,  We also had a small representation of ancestors who settled in Virginia or Maryland, and John Merryman is one of our immigrant ancestors who settled in Virginia.  This automatically means we have to shift our thinking from Puritan, early Baptist, Quaker and Lutheran religions to the Church of England, for early Virginians were required to .support the state religion.  But I get ahead of myself...

John Merryman was born in Herefordshire, England (some sources say Monkton Hall).  Dates vary.  I believe the correct date would be before 1617, as we know he was in Virginia and patented land in 1638, so I'm using the 1614 date most sites are showing, although it is without documentation and we don't know his parents.. He patented 150 acres of land in Charles County, Virginia on May 10, 1638.  He was entitled to 50 acres simply for going to Virginia.  We don't know whether he purchased the other 100 acres or whether he may have paid for two people to come to Virginia and therefore got the other 100 acres by headright.  At any rate,by the time he arrived Jamestown had been in existence for 31 years, but the area would still have been frontier, never settled by white men.

He apparently returned to England to marry his wife, Audrey Heynes, and then sponsored her arrival in Virginia in 1649.  One wonders if they had been sweethearts for 11 or more years, or whether this was a more or less arranged marriage. Some women in England were so eager to leave their homes that they willingly went to Virginia with a new spouse or even without a spouse, hoping that life in Virginia would be an improvement on the life they left behind them.

On November 14, 1649, John patented 500 acres in Lancaster County, which was then Northumberland County, on the north side of the Rappahannock River on Island Neck Creek.  Again, this would have been an unsettled area, probably requiring clearing of land in order to plant crops.

John was was an attorney as well as a planter.  He and Audrey patented an additional 100 acres in Lancaster County, near the mouth of the Corotoman River, which was apparently near the first Lancaster County Court House.  Perhaps this served as his office when court was in session, to cut down on the commute time.

 He or probably a son John, acquired additional land in 1656 in James City County, Virginia and in what soon became Henrico County.A John Merryman was noted as being a merchant who went to Rotterdam to collect accounts or/and to acquire merchandise, but I don't know if this is our John or not. 

He was a church warden of St.Mary's Parish, appointed by the court from at least 1650-to 1664, and was a constable in 1664 and one of the justices of Lancaster County. So we was apparently a man of some means, owned considerable land, and served the community in church and court.  

His will was written December 3, 1673 and probated on January 13, 1674.  There were at least five children born to John and Audrey.  William, Elizabeth, Richard, and John all remained in Virginia but son Charles moved to Baltimore County, Maryland.  Audrey married again in 1680, to Captain Edward Carter.

Among other things about John Merryman that I'd like to know, is how did he dress?  Was a justice at that time expected to wear the robes and white powdered wigs?  How did a Virginia planter normally dress?  And the question I don't really want answered, is did he have slaves, or indentured servants, to work his land? Finally, I'd like to pinpoint his birthplace and find his parents!

The line of descent is:

John Merryman-Audrey Heynes
Charles Merryman-Mary Haile
John Merryman-Martha Bowen
Martha Merryman-Alexis Lemmon
Alexis Lemmon-Rachel Stansbury
Sarah Lemmon-Abraham Hetrick
Isaac Hetrick-Elizabeth Black
Mary Alice Hetrick-Louis Stanard
Etta Stanard-Loren Holbrook
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen
Their descendants