Thomas Merry was one of the justices of Warwick County, Virginia, in 1699.Warwick County no longer exists; it has been absorbed into the city of Newport News.That is on the north side of the James River, just down from the original Jamestown settlement.It is also very close to Elizabeth City, where Thomas Merry (also spelled Meeres), born about 1602,was found in 1624, in the Flynt muster.That Thomas Merry is the same one who is found in the 1640s in Isle of Wight County, on the south side of the James River, just across from Warwick County.He is also the same Thomas Merry who was one of the group of Puritans that left Virginia for Maryland, founding what is today Annapolis.(The name is often spelled Meares or Mears, in Maryland records.)
There are records in the late 1600s showing Merry / Meares / Meeres families living on the Accomack peninsula, on the "eastern shore" of Chesapeake Bay, which is shared by Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. In at least one of these places, there are also Prettyman families.The Prettyman story in Maryland and Delawarehas been documented in several places online, although the English origins are still in doubt.
There has been more digging in the Virginia records, for "Merry" names, than in the Delaware and Maryland records, for "Meares" and "Meeres" names.I think there are some links suggested, but not proved, between the Thomas Merry who moved from Virginia to Maryland, and the later Accomack Peninsula residents.And, the Prettyman name suggests a link between the Accomack families, and the Thomas Merry of Warwick in 1699.
Earlier this year I found, on an obscure online subscription service that was offering a free week, a reference to a Thomas Merry who was a member of the "Green Ribbon Club" in London, in the 1680s.(You can look them up on Wikipedia.)This reference, from the testimony of a contemporary source,said that Thomas Merry was one of those, along with a William Penn, who went to Virginia to establish a colony there. I printed out the details and kept them on my desk for a while, planning to post them here.Then I cleaned house, and they ended up somewhere among many other unsorted genealogy files.When I find the record I'll try not to misplace it again.Meanwhile, you'll just have to believe me, or spend some time at a library that has access to online databases with English history.
What was intriguing about the Green Ribbon Club Thomas Merry was that many ofthe Virginia Puritans who moved to Maryland, eventually ended up as Quakers.William Penn, of course, was a Quaker.
The population of London in 1680 was about half a million, and the population of Virginia was less than 100,000.Virginia's economy was based on selling tobacco through merchants in London, Bristol and elsewhere in Britain.The Merry family had a long history of being involved in seafaring trade.At least some branches of the family used a coat of arms that showed a three-masted ship.The family connections between the Chesapeake Merry family, and the British Merry family, may have been strong enough that not only their ships crossed the Atlantic, but the people did also.
However, there were enough Merrys, and enough of them named Thomas, that a Thomas Merry from 1624-48 might not be an ancestor of one from 1682, who might not be an ancestor of one from 1699.They might all just be cousins and business associates.
The London Merrys hung out with families like the Skipwiths and Montagues.The Virginia Merrys seemed to have some connections with those families, also.Maybe it was just coincidence.
Then there is the question of whether the New England Merrys were related to the Virginia Merrys.On this topic, I have recently been doing some digging on the connection between the New England patriarch, Joseph Merry, and Philip Wollidge (see posts elsewhere in this forumfor this name, and for Woolich).I have found that the name Woolrich (Woolrych, Wolryche, etc.) appears in the Cheshire records, as frequently as elsewhere.As I have posted earlier, the Merry family's earliest origins are in Cheshire, although once they got into shipping they started appearing elsewhere.
Also, at the same time in the late 1640s that Thomas Merry of Isle of Wight County, VA, was leaving for Maryland, a Thomas Merry (Meares) is receiving a land grant in nearby Norfolk County, VA.Maybe the same one?
Sir William Webb was mayor of London in 1591.He was a salter, which means he sold preserved fish.Actually, since he was a member of one of the London guilds, he could sell anything he wanted, including tobacco (had it been on the market then).What do you know about your British Webb ancestry?I wouldn't be surprised if they lived next door to the Merrys and Montagues.