English Family of Nicholas & Francis

The Jan-Mar 2020 issue of Meriwether Connections has further information about the following announcement! If your TMSI Membership has expired, be sure to renew to read the research articles in this and subsequent issues.

FOUND!

The TMSI English Research Committee is pleased and excited to announce that almost three hundred and seventy years after our ancestor Nicholas Meriwether (1631–1678) came to the Virginia Colony, his family—grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts, and siblings—left in England have been identified, documented and, most importantly, verified!

As you all know, the Meriwether family has been searching for this connection as long as Meriwether family history books have been written. By the mid to late 1800s, information in books by George Wood Meriwether, Gov. George R. Gilmer, Louisa H. A. Minor and Minor Meriwether was so confused it was not known that Nicholas himself had come to Virginia. The 1899 publication of William R. Griffiths’ book “Nicholas Meriwether of Wales and Virginia…” corrected a lot of misinformation and helped establish that Nicholas I was indeed in the Virginia Colony 1653–1678, along with a younger brother, Francis. But the English connection remained completely lost to the descendants of Nicholas.

Discounting an alleged Wales connection, it was generally assumed that Nicholas probably came from one of the many Meriwether families in the Kent or Wiltshire areas of southern England. TMSI member Meriwether Schmid made multiple research visits to England trying to find connections, but in vain. A review of family trees published on Ancestry, MyHeritage, and other such sites find claims of an astonishing variety of different parents for Nicholas, but despite extensive research, no provable link has ever been found. (See the TMSI book “The Meriwether Family in America, Volume I: The Colonists” for a detailed review of the search for our English Meriwethers.)

Well, turns out we were all looking in the wrong place!!!!

The clues that led to our current exciting breakthrough began several years ago when a 1631 Christening record was dicovered in Norfolk, England, for a Nicholas Merriwether, son of John. Subsequent research found additional siblings, including a younger brother Francis. The 1631 Christening date and the existence of the brother Francis were strongly suggestive, but there was still no firm evidence linking this family to “our” Nicholas, and Norfolk was much further north than “family history” and previous research had suggested.

After the 2019 TMSI Reunion in Williamsburg, Guy Benson began extensive research on John Merywether, the father of Nicholas and the other children. Using online resources and the help of professional researchers in England, Guy found an impressive amount of information on John and his family. Then, in an example of the serendipity we so love about research, one of the English researchers was given a different book than the one she was expecting. But in this book, there was a paragraph that stated that sometime before 1660 John Merywether “was goeing into Virginia, uppon the sea, hee dyed. Hee hath sonne in Virginia at this time.” And thus the connection has finally been established!

The results of this research and what we now know about our new English connections will be detailed in a number of articles to be published in the Meriwether Connectionsnewsletter. Enjoy!

Vi Et Consilio!

Guy Meriwether Benson, Ph.D., DM
Joe Meriwether Oglesby, DM
December 2019

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