Show ContentsMerrill History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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. [1]

Early Origins of the Merrill family

The surname Merrill was first found in Lancashire where one of the first records of the name was Ougrim filius Miriel who was listed there in the Pipe Rolls of 1188. A few years later, Mirielis, Muriella de Stokes was listed in the Curia Regis Rolls of Buckinghamshire in 1203 and later Johannes filius Miriald was listed in the Curia Regis Rolls of Yorkshire in 1208. Continuing in Lancashire, Godric Miriild, Mirild, Mirield was listed in the Pipe Rolls (1184-1188) and Robert, Richard Muriel was listed in the Pipe Rolls of 1195. By this time some of the family was found in Suffolk where John Myrel was listed in the Subsidy Rolls in 1327, Richard Meryel and Walter Merel was listed in the Subsidy Rolls of 1381. [2] The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 list: Matilda Miriel in Cambridgeshire; Henry filius Mirield in Lincolnshire; Robert filius Muriel in Huntingdonshire; Thomas filius Muriel in Shropshire; and Richard Miriel in Norfolk. [3]

Early History of the Merrill family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Merrill research. Another 69 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 135 and 1350 are included under the topic Early Merrill History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Merrill Spelling Variations

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.

Early Notables of the Merrill family (pre 1700)

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

Merrill Ranking

In the United States, the name Merrill is the 892nd most popular surname with an estimated 32,331 people with that name. [4]

United States Merrill migration to the United States +

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 United States in the 17th Century
  • John Merrill, who settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1630
  • Nathaniel Merrill, who landed in Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1633 [5]
  • Peirce Merrill, who settled in Virginia in 1655
Merrill Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Moses Merrill, who settled in Boston in 1822
  • Hugh Merrill, who landed in New York in 1842 [5]
  • William Merrill, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850 [5]
  • John Merrill, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851 [5]
  • Bernard Merrill, who landed in Arkansas in 1888 [5]

Canada Merrill migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Merrill Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Anthony Merrill, who arrived in Canada in 1830

Australia Merrill migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Merrill Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

New Zealand Merrill migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Merrill Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. William Merrill, British settler arriving as Detachment of the Royal New Zealand Fencibles travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Sir George Symour" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 26th November 1847 [9]
  • Mrs. Elizabeth Merrill, British settler travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Sir George Symour" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 26th November 1847 [9]

West Indies Merrill migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [10]
Merrill Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • John Merrill, who settled in Barbados in 1663

Contemporary Notables of the name Merrill (post 1700) +

  • Buddy Merrill (1936-2021), born Leslie Merrill Behunin, Jr., an American guitar player and steel guitar player, best known as a regular on The Lawrence Welk Show
  • Stephen Everett Merrill (1946-2020), American lawyer and Republican politician from Manchester, New Hampshire, 77th Governor of New Hampshire from 1993 to 1997
  • Alan Merrill (1951-2020), born Allan Preston Sachs, an American vocalist, guitarist, songwriter, actor and model, best known for co-writing the song "I Love Rock 'n' Roll"; he died on March 29, 2020 from COVID-19
  • Charles E. Merrill Jr. (1920-2017), American educator, author, and philanthropist, son of Charles E. Merrill
  • Philip Merrill (1934-2006), born Philip Merrill Levine, an American diplomat, publisher, banker, and philanthropist
  • Dina Merrill (1925-2017), born Nedenia Marjorie Hutton, an American actress, socialite, businesswoman, and philanthropist; only child of heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post and her second husband, Wall Street stockbroker Edward Francis Hutton
  • 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
  • Carl "Stump" Merrill (b. 1944), American Major League Baseball former manager
  • Helen Merrill (b. 1930), born Jelena Ana Milcetic, American jazz vocalist
  • Robert Merrill (1917-2004), born Moishe Miller, an American operatic baritone
  • ... (Another 7 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Grover Shoe factory
  • Miss Florence M. Merrill, American employee of the Grover Shoe factory in Brockton, Massachusetts on 20th March 1905 when the boiler exploded and collapsed the wooden building; she died [11]
Pan Am Flight 103 (Lockerbie)
USS Arizona
  • Mr. Howard Deal Merrill, American Ensign from Utah, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [13]

Suggested Readings for the name Merrill +

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

  1. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges, A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8)
  2. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  3. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  5. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  6. State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Ann voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1809 with 200 passengers. Retrieved from
  7. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 11th August 2021). Retrieved from
  8. South Australian Register Tuesday 3 February 1852. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) ANGLIA 1852. Retrieved
  9. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from
  11. California Digital Newspaper from 21st March 1905 (retrieved on 5th August 2021.) Retrieved from
  12. Pan Am Flight 103's victims: A list of those killed 25 years ago | (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from
  13. Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from on Facebook