M1 Nicholas I(1631-1678)& Elizabeth (Unknown)

MeriRep: Society Genealogist

Book Project:The Meriwether Family in America, Volume I: The Colonists

Metrics:Two spouses, 44,000+ descendants identified.

Biographical Sketch:

Nicholas Meriwether was baptized on 9 Aug 1631 in Little Walsingham Parish, Norfolk, England, the son of John Merywether and his wife, Joane Browne. Nicholas was most probably named for his maternal grandfather, Nicholas Browne.

Nicholas was the eldest of six children, the others being John, Anne, Fayth, Joane, and Francis (who joined Nicholas in Virginia). While his father John was highly educated, having attended Winchester College and then New College, no further information about the life of Nicholas in England has been uncovered.

Nicholas arrived in Jamestown, Virginia, probably about 1652. The first confirmation of his existence in Virginia was 4 July 1653 when he patented 300 acres of land in Lancaster County. From at least 13 Oct 1653 until 13 Dec 1656, Nicholas served as a clerk of the Quarter Court and Governor’s Council for the Colony in Jamestown. Although many researchers state he was clerk of Surry County, there is no evidence that he was. About 1661, he bought “The Island House” from Elizabeth Kingsmill & her husband Nathaniel Bacon, a relative of the Bacon who started “Bacon’s Rebellion”; a marker on Jamestown Island identifies the “Island House” location today.

Sometime in the 1660’s, after the English monarchy was reestablished, Nicholas bought “Indian Springs” in Surry County and seems to have retired from public office to pursue land speculation and tobacco production and shipping. Since his entire government career was during the reign of Cromwell and he ceased upon restoration of the throne, this seems to contradict those who claim Nicholas was one of the “Cavaliers”, supporters of the Crown who came to the Colony to escape persecution.

Recent research has tried, without success, to determine if Nicholas came to Virginia in 1652 as part of the Parliamentary fleet that forced the surrender of Virginia to the Cromwellian government. This would certainly explain his appearance in 1653 as a clerk of the Quarter Court and subsequent years working for the colonial government.

His death date was supposedly found in the bible of Nicholas Meriwether II, in possession of descendants in Louisville, Ky, in the late 1800’s. Efforts to locate this Bible in the late 1900’s have failed.

Documents created in the mid 1800s, 200 years after Nicholas was in the Colonies, refer to him, or possibly his son, Nicholas II, as “The Welshman”. Research has now confirmed that Nicholas had no known Welsh connection and was in fact born in Norfolk County, England, where his father John was Rector of Stratton St. Michael with St. Peter Parish. See “Meriwether Connections”, Vol. XXXIV No. 1, Jan–Mar 2020 for further details of his English family.

We know that when Nicholas died, his wife's name was Elizabeth, as she was appointed Executrix of his estate. The maiden name of Elizabeth is not known, though most Meriwether genealogies since 1899 have stated that she was, or is believed to have been, Elizabeth Woodhouse. Although some claim that she is the daughter of Henry Woodhouse of Lynnhaven Parish, this is not possible, as Henry's daughter Elizabeth married Giles Collins. There is some speculation that she was the daughter of Thomas Woodhouse of Jamestown, but there is no evidence that Thomas was even married, much less that he had a daughter named Elizabeth.At this time The Meriwether Society does not recognize "Woodhouse" as her maiden name, though it remains a possibility. Other possible names are May and Williams. Volume I, The Colonists, will have a detailed analysis of the research leading to this policy.

A careful reading of the will of Henry Hartwell also indicates that Nicholas was probably married twice, with Elizabeth being the second wife and mother of the last five children, starting with Nicholas II. It seems probable that the oldest child of Nicholas I, also named Elizabeth, had a different mother. Again,Volume I, The Colonistsdiscusses this in detail. For now, the following is the official policy of The Meriwether Society regarding the family of Nicholas Meriwether:

About 1660, Nicholas married an unknown woman, probably named Elizabeth, and they had the following child:

1. Elizabeth (M11)

About 1665, Nicholas married Elizabeth (?) and they had the following children:

1. Nicholas II (M12)

2. Francis II (M13)

3. Jane (M14)

4. Thomas (M15)

5. William (M16)

See the Family Group entry for details on each of these individuals.

Copyright 2020