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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016


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]

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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]

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.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Merrill research. Another 135 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 135 and 1350 are included under the topic Early Merrill History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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

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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
  • Peirce Merrill settled in Virginia in 1655
  • John Merrill settled in Barbados in 1663

Merrill Settlers in 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

Merrill Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • Anthony Merrill, who arrived in Canada in 1830

Merrill Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • John Merrill, English convict from Huntingdon, who was transported aboard the "Ann" on August 1809, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • Thomas Merrill, aged 31, a labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1852 aboard the ship "Anglia"

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  • 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
  • Alan Merrill (b. 1951), born Allan Preston Sachs, an American vocalist, guitarist, songwriter, actor and model
  • Dina Merrill (b. 1925), born Nedenia Marjorie Hutton, an American actress and socialite
  • Helen Merrill (b. 1930), born Jelena Ana Milcetic, American jazz vocalist
  • Robert Merrill (1917-2004), born Moishe Miller, an American operatic baritone
  • Charles Edward Merrill (1885-1956), American philanthropist, stockbroker and co-founder, with Edmund C. Lynch of Merrill Lynch & Company
  • Nathaniel Merrill (1927-2008), American stage director and opera director, resident stage director at the Metropolitan Opera from 1956-1985
  • Elmer Drew Merrill (1876-1956), American botanist
  • 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?"

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

Other References

  1. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  2. Humble, Richard. The Fall of Saxon England. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-987-8).
  3. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  4. Thirsk, Joan. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
  5. Shirley, Evelyn Philip. Noble and Gentle Men of England Or Notes Touching The Arms and Descendants of the Ancient Knightley and Gentle Houses of England Arranged in their Respective Counties 3rd Edition. Westminster: John Bowyer Nichols and Sons, 1866. Print.
  6. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin . Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  7. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  8. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  9. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  10. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  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 5 April 2016 at 08:45.

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