Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Allen line: Miles Merwin 1623-1697 Immigrant

This post is fun to write, because it's about an ancestor with good documentation, mostly, and because he was apparently not a VIP, but more of an ordinary guy.  To find good information about an ordinary guy means someone has done a lot of work, and to those family historians and genealogists, my sincere thank you! 

Miles was born in Clewer, Berkshire, England in1623 and christened February 1, 1623/24 in the next parish, New Windsor Berkshire, England.  He was the son of Walter (Gautier) and Margaret Tinker Merwin.  Clewer was very near Windsor Castle, and was an ancient Saxon village site.  Miles would have had every reason to have seen the royal processions of King Charles I of England as a young boy, but apparently the family had no connection at all to the castle.  Still, a procession must have been an exciting sight for a young boy!

It's easy to give the political upheaval of the times as a reason that Miles came to New England, but since sources seem to vary as to when he came, that motive may or may not be the reason for his departure.  One source says he came in 1630, as a boy of seven, with his uncle, and one source says he didn't come until 1640.  At that time, he would have been 17 years old.  His parents died in 1643 (mother) and 1649 (father) so with either immigration date, he came before the death of his parents, and in addition to every other part of "culture shock", he would have been homesick. 

Apparently his first sighting in New England was in 1648, when h was in Windsor, Connecticut, where his Tinker family was living.  He purchased five-acre homelot, dwelling, and 2 1/4 acres of meadow from Roger Williams (is this "our Roger Williams, I wonder?) in Windsor.  He had married Elizabeth Powel, daughter of William Powell and Dorothy Searle, in Windsor in about 1646, and perhaps had lived with that family until he was able to purchase a home for his new family, which by 1650 included two of their eventual seven children. 

For some reason, Miles decided to move on and the town of Milford, of which he is considered a founding member, gave him ten acres, five of them in the "Brick Kiln", which sounds like an industrial area.  Somewhere, Miles had learned the trade of tanning, whether it was as an apprentice or by some other means.  In 1654/1655, the town of Milford allowed him to trade his original grant for a lot by the harbor, which was a more convenient place to practice this business.  We don't know whether the family's living quarters were also there, or not.

Perhaps he wasn't an ordinary tanner, but more of a merchant of leathers, because by 1675 he was a partner, along with William East and Alexander Bryan, in a sloop and two brigs.  The sloop traveled back and forth to Boston, and the brigs traveled the West Indies route, exporting staves, horses, cattle, and cornmeal, and returning with rum, molasses, and European goods. 

Elizabeth died on July 10,1664, when she was 34 years old, and Miles married Sarah Platt, the widow of Thomas Beach, the following year.  They had five children together, including two sets of twins.  Sarah died soon after the death of the second set of twins, and later that year, Miles married Sarah Youngs, who is also our ancestor through her marriage to Daniel Scofield  She would have been his daughter's mother in law.  Sarah outlived Miles. 

Miles disposed of much of his real estate to his three sons prior to his death, and apparently gave, or intended to give, his daughters money, for his will specified that any of his children who had not received their full portion should be given it by his executors.  He also left a bequest for his widow, and gave 100 pounds to be divided between each of his ten grandchildren.  Sarah's grandchildren were also left gifts.  His estate was valued at 453 pounds, 11 shillings, 11 pence, which was not bad considering that he'd already sold/given most of his real estate away.  What was apparently his last remaining parcel he gave to his son John's oldest child. 

I'd like to know more about Miles.  So far I've not found a record of church membership or freeman standing.  I'd like to know more about his commercial ventures, and how he fit into the life of the town. How involved was he in the militia or train band of his towns?   However, we have this much information about him, and it's a start. 

The line of descent is:

Miles Merwin-Elizabeth Powell
Abigail Merwin-Daniel Scofield
Daniel Scofield-Hannah Hoyt
Hannah Scofield-Nathaniel Finch
Jesse Finch-Hannah
Hannah Finch-John Bell
Harriet Bell-Thomas Knott
John Wilson Knott-Harriet Clarissa Starr
Edith Knott-Edward Allen
Richard Allen-Gladys Holbrook
Their descendants