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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Where did the English Merrill family come from? What is the English Merrill family crest and coat of arms? When did the Merrill family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Merrill family history?

Merrill is one of the many names that the Normans brought with them when they conquered England in 1066. The name Merrill came from the personal name Muriel, which is composed of the Celtic elements muir, which means sea, and gael, which means bright. This personal name was extremely common during the Middle Ages in Continental Europe. It was introduced to England by the Breton settlers who accompanied Norman the Conqueror. In Northern England, the name was also imported by the Norsemen from Ireland and in Western England the name developed as a result of Welsh influence.


It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, Anglo-Norman surnames like Merrill are characterized by many spelling variations. Scribes and monks in the Middle Ages spelled names they sounded, so it is common to find several variations that refer to a single person. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages such as Norman French and Latin, even literate people regularly changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Merrill include Merrill, Meyrill, Merell, Merells, Meyrell and many more.

First found in Cornwall where they held a family seat from very early times and were granted lands by Duke William of Normandy, their liege Lord, for their distinguished assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Merrill research. Another 184 words(13 lines of text) covering the year 1350 is included under the topic Early Merrill History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early Merrill Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Faced with the chaos present in England at that time, many English families looked towards the open frontiers of the New World with its opportunities to escape oppression and starvation. People migrated to North America, as well as Australia and Ireland in droves, paying exorbitant rates for passages in cramped, unsafe ships. Many of the settlers did not make the long passage alive, but those who did see the shores of North America were welcomed with great opportunity. Many of the families that came from England went on to make essential contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America carried the name Merrill, or a variant listed above:

Merrill Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • John Merrill, who settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1630
  • Nathaniel Merrill, who landed in Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1633
  • Peirce Merrill settled in Virginia in 1655
  • John Merrill settled in Barbados in 1663

Merrill Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Moses Merrill settled in Boston in 1822
  • Hugh Merrill, who landed in New York in 1842
  • William Merrill, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850
  • John Merrill, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851
  • Bernard Merrill, who landed in Arkansas in 1888


  • James Ingram Merrill (1926-1995), American poet awarded the 1977 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
  • Stuart Fitzrandolph Merrill (1863-1915), American symbolist poet
  • Henry "Bob" Merrill (1921-1998), American Academy Award nominated songwriter, theatrical composer, lyricist, and screenwriter, perhaps best known for his "How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?"
  • Major General Frank Dow Merrill (1903-1955), American commander, best remembered for his command of Merrill's Marauders, in the Burma Campaign of World War II
  • Elmer Drew Merrill (1876-1956), American botanist
  • Nathaniel Merrill (1927-2008), American stage director and opera director, resident stage director at the Metropolitan Opera from 1956-1985
  • Charles Edward Merrill (1885-1956), American philanthropist, stockbroker and co-founder, with Edmund C. Lynch of Merrill Lynch & Company
  • Robert Merrill (1917-2004), born Moishe Miller, an American operatic baritone
  • Helen Merrill (b. 1930), born Jelena Ana Milcetic, American jazz vocalist
  • Dina Merrill (b. 1925), born Nedenia Marjorie Hutton, an American actress and socialite



  • Some Descendants of Nathaniel Merrill, who was in Newbury, Massachusetts, 1635 by Winnifred M. Robinson.

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  1. Marcharn, Frederick George. A Constitutional History of Modern England 1485 to the Present. London: Harper and Brothers, 1960. Print.
  2. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  3. Hitching, F.K and S. Hitching. References to English Surnames in 1601-1602. Walton On Thames: 1910. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0181-3).
  4. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  5. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  6. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  7. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  8. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  9. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  10. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  11. ...

The Merrill Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Merrill Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 17 April 2014 at 16:56.

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