Category Archives: Meserve/y

There Were How Many Joseph Meserveys?????

While records for Lincoln County, Maine seem to be fairly complete, they have only been a partial help as I’ve researched the Meserve/ey family of New Hampshire and Maine.

One problem is that most of the Meserveys were sailors and master mariners, so don’t appear often in the land records. Plus, when they do, wives don’t regularly release dower rights consenting to land sales. Another issue is that, unlike their ancestor Clement Meserve, who died in 1746, they not only don’t leave wills, they don’t even appear in probate records as intestates.

That means in order to even try to figure out how Joseph Meservey’s parents were, I need to determine how many Josephs there were alive around the turn of the 19th century. Identifying the wives can also help sort them out.

Thank goodness the Meservey family wasn’t huge, but they did like the name Joseph. Given that “my” Joseph was likely born 1767-1772, he might have been head of a household in 1790, but definitely was married and had a family in 1800.

U.S. census records are a big help in this time period. The 1790 census has only 23 Meservey households, of whatever spelling and they are all in New Hampshire or Maine. Eight are in Strafford County, New Hampshire and one in Rockingham County, also New Hampshire. One, Daniel, is all the way up in Machias in Wahsingotn County, Maine, two are in York County and eleven are in Cumberland County, Maine.

Cumberland County includes the town of Scarborough, where many of the clan settled.

How many Josephs are enumerated in 1790? Only two. We have Joseph of Strafford County, NH with two males over 16, one male under 10 and 5 females. If our Joseph wasn’t married in 1790, he could be the extra male over 16 in this household.

There is a marriage record for Joseph Meserve to Betty Hayes on 5 November 1789 in Barrington, Strafford, New Hampshire. It is possible that this could be “my” Joseph, but this could also be a second marriage for this man, who doesn’t seem to fit what I know of my Joseph. Also, given that my Joseph was born in Maine, this family is probably no closer than cousins. One more note – the DAR Patriot Index includes this man, born 1760 and married to Betty Hayes.

The focus of this research needs to stay in Maine, I think.

The second Joseph is living in Little Ossipee (later renamed Limington), York County, Maine with one male over 16, one male under 16 and two females. York County is south of Lincoln County, where my man lived, and York borders New Hampshire. However, this family structure doesn’t match what I know about my Joseph.

Therefore, it doesn’t seem likely that Joseph was head of household in 1790 so let’s look at the 1800 census. There were 34 Meserveys in 1800, living in mostly the same counties, but there were a couple in Hillsborough County, New Hampshire and three in Essex County, Massachusetts. Not surprising given that the men were all seafarers. The first Meserveys also appear in Lincoln County, Maine.

Three Josephs show up in 1800. The first Joseph is in Scarborough, the likely birth town of my Joseph. However, this man is 16-25 with one female 16-25, one male under 10 and one female under 10. My Joseph had one daughter, but three sons born by 1800. Joseph of Scarborough was born c1775 or a bit later.

The second Joseph is in Barretts Town Plantation, which today is the town of Hope, Maine, located about 20 miles from St. George. Joseph is 26-44 years old with one female 26-44, 2 males under 10, one female 10-15, and 3 females under 10. With my Joseph having 3 sons under 10 in 1800, this man is also eliminated as my guy.

The third Joseph is living in Cushing – part of which became St. George in 1804. He is 26-44, with one female 26-44, two males under 10 (it should be 3) and one female under 10. I think this is my Joseph in spite of the fact that one child is missing in the count.

So far, we have three Josephs – the one in Strafford County, NH, the one in Barretts Town Plantation and the one in Scarborough.

The 1810 census includes five Josephs, which help separate the men out a bit:

Source: Ancestry

There are two more Josephs to consider, as my Joseph is on the census list and the last Joseph is in New Hampshire (only 16-25 years old), which I am not considering unless as a last resort.

My Joseph, aged 45+,  is in St. George, right where he should be and the family profile matches Joseph, his wife, four sons (the youngest was Stephen born in 1802) and one daughter. If Joseph’s age is accurate, then he was born no later than 1765.

Joseph (26-44) in Hope would be the Joseph who lived in Barretts Town Plantation in 1800, as it was renamed Hope.

A new man – Joseph (26-44) in Machias –  is undoubtedly related to Daniel who was there in 1800.

The third new man, Joseph (26-44) in Limington, York County,  left a small crumb trail. In York County probate records, one Joseph Meservey of Limington became guardian to Joseph and Benjamin Meservey, both over 14 years old, orphans of Benjamin Meservey, deceased.

Because so many of the Maine Meserveys are based in Scarborough, Cumberland County, Maine, it is quite likely that my Joseph was born there.

Town records are good, but I am unsure how complete they are, and there are only a few that pertain to Josephs. Just as a point of reference, my Joseph is said to have married Hannah Vickery, but no date or place has been cited. The Vickerys were from Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts and there is a record there for Hannah, daughter of Stephen and Hannah Vickery, baptized 28 March 1767. There is no death record in Essex County for this Hannah, nor is there a marriage record found for her. The 1790 census of Cushing, Maine (part of which became St. George in 1804) includes Stephen Vickery with 4 females over 16, one male under 16 and 3 females. Stephen is clearly an older man with children nearing the age of marriage.

The 1800 census is even more telling. Joseph Messervey is living TWO doors away from Stephen Vickory:

1800 Census, Stephen Vickory (Sic)
Source: Ancestry

In Scarborough records:

Joseph, son of Clement and Sarah, born 3 December 1738 or 1739

Joseph, son of John and Abigail (Small) Meservey, born 26 October 1763

Joseph Meserve married Elizabeth Haines, 24 May 1771
Joseph Meserve married Mary Stone, 24 July 1789
Joseph Meserve married Polly Babb, between April 1797-April 1798

All three Josephs who married are linked to other Josephs, but with no documentation. Joseph who married Elizabeth Haines is too old to be my Joseph. They reportedly had a son, Joseph, born c1773, who reportedly married Polly Babb.

Joseph, born 26 October 1763, the son of John and Abigail noted above, is the man who married Mary Stone. His family record appears in the Limington Town Records, although it gives his birth as one year later, 26 October 1764.

Lastly, there is a court document I found in the Lincoln County deed books:

John Meservey Jr. vs. Joseph Meservey, 1806
Lincoln County, Maine Deed Book 59:237-239
Source: Family Search

In March 1806, John Meservey Jr. won a judgement of $109.67 against Joseph Meservey. This is clearly my Joseph, as both men are noted to be living in St. George.

Three independent appraisers were appointed to survey and appraise Joseph’s land to pay the debt; it was noted that Joseph refused to participate and choose his neutral person. An aside: Joseph’s land bordered that of Nathaniel Vickery, among others.

Unfortunately, no mention is made about how Joseph and John were related. Brothers? Cousins?

The bottom line is that there is no way to determine who the parents of my Joseph Meservey were because I haven’t yet found the records!







Joseph Meserve/y of St. George, Knox, Maine, c1773 – after 1850

Today is officially Sticky Wicket Day, as I try to cobble together the few facts about Joseph Meserve/y, father of Lavinia who married William Chadwick and his Meserve ancestors.

In 1850, when Joseph Meservey was living with the Chadwick family in St. George, the town was part of Lincoln County.

Today, St. George is in Knox County, which was set off from Lincoln County in 1860.

The second important fact to know is that the town of St. George itself was set off in 1803 from the town of Cushing, which today is just to its north.

Joseph Meservy is the eldest Meservy living in St. George in 1850, There are only a few other families with the name and the heads appear to be of an age to be his sons:

Wm. Meservy, 55, Master Mariner, $00
Hannah (Libbey), 49
Joseph, 19, Sailor
Luther, 16, Sailor
Sophrona, 13
Hariet, 9
Laura, 7

Next door, we have:
Nath’l Meservy, 52, Master Mariner
Jane, 53
Sarah, 11
Clarisa, 8
Melissa, 6

Also in St. George are:
John Meservy, 46, Master Mariner
Hannah E., 31
Allen, 14
Mary J., 10
Caroline F., 8
Hannah A., 4
John N., 4
Ruth Melona (Maloney), 67

Lastly, we have Mary Meservy, apparently a widowed head of household. Online information says she is the widow of Stephen,  born 8 September 1802. That information appears to be correct. More in a bit.

Mary Meservy, 48
Mary A., 23
Eli F., 20 Sailor
Margret E., 18

The last Meservy family in St. George in 1850 is a son of William and Hannah (Libbey), as this younger William’s death certificate gives his parents’ names.

Wm. Meservy, 25, Sailor
Susan, 25
Elietta, 2
Melissa Chaples, 7
Levi Chaples, 2

It appears that perhaps William had a first marriage and his wife died after giving birth to Elietta. He then married Susan, who had been married to a Mr. Chaples and also widowed.

Moving back to 1840, there are six Meservy households in St. George:

Joseph, one male 70-80, one female 60-70
Nathaniel, 1012001-111100101
William, next door to Nathaniel, 0202001-100001
Daniel, 0101001-012001
William, again, but a different man, 0120001-2010001
John, 1000001-10001

This extra William throws a monkey wrench into the mix, as all five of these men were 40-50 years old and Joseph probably didn’t have two sons both named William living to adulthood. However, I have no clue who the second William and Daniel Meservey were and I am going to set them aside for the time being.

The 1830 census is also perplexing because there are only two Meservys in St. George:

Joseph, 000011001 (one male 20-30, one male 30-40, one male 60-70 and one female, 60-70)
William, 011001-00001

In 1820 in St. George, we again have only Joseph and William:

Joseph, 000101-10001 (one male and one female over 45, one male 16-25 and one female under 10 – Lavinia)
William, 1002-002

In 1810, Joseph Meservy is the only Meservy in St. George. There is one male over 45, one female over 45, one female 16-25, 3 males 10-15, and one male under 10. This man appears to be a little too old to be “my” Joseph, who was born c1773, according to his age in 1850. Also, Lavinia was born c1811. Even if she was born in 1810, there is no female under 10 in this home and the wife is already over 45???

In this case, there is some great help on the way. The Vital Records of St. George record set has been digitized by FamilySearch. The file was locked, though, so I had to wait to get to my local family history center to look at it.

There are some positives and negatives with the records. First, while the family of Joseph Meservey is listed, as a family group, which is how the town clerks backtracked and organized the various records, the clerk did NOT include the name of any wives.

The record also doesn’t seem to be complete because Lavinia’s birth isn’t recorded. That might be because, as I looked through the various records, which included baptisms, there was a gap in the records from around 1808/09 and 1815. All of the family groups are written in one hand and obviously not recorded at the time of each birth event.

Top left page

Joseph Meservey’s Family

1793 Jan 28 Sally Meservey
1796 March 29 William Meservey
1797 July 28 John Meservey
1800 February 16 Nathaniel Meservey
1802 September 8 Stephen Meservey

Luther Meservey died Oct 16, 1859
William K. Maxwell died Mar 29, 1889 (I don’t know where he fits in the family, but his death is listed here.)

I also came across several marriage records, which provided wives’ maiden names and helps answer one of my questions from the 1830 census.

Nathaniel Meservy married Jane Gardner, 11 January 1838
John Meservy married Hannah Johnson, 18 December 1834

It appears that Nathaniel Meservy married a bit later in life and he is most likely the male aged 30-40 in Joseph’s house in 1830. I would say the younger male, 20-30, is his son John, although he would have been 33 in 1830.

I spent quite a while reading the marriage records for St. George, but didn’t find one for Joseph’s daughter, Sally, born 1793, or for William, born in 1795. However, from William’s son, William Jr.’s death certificate, we know William married Hannah Libbey. The Libbey family was quite big and lived in several towns in the area. Hannah’s family perhaps lived in one of those towns and the couple married there.

Sally may be lost to time unless a marriage record turns up. The St. George records were compiled in random order with some pages more legible than others. It is possible I missed it, but she also might have died young.

Now, the next big question is – who were the parents of Joseph Meservey?

Given that Sally was born early in 1793, Joseph probably married in 1791 or 1792. That pushes his birth year back a bit earlier that 1773, which was reported in the 1850 census. It’s maybe possible that he married between the ages of 18-21, but it was much less common for New England men in the 18th century to marry under legal age than it was in the South. Generally speaking, I’ve been close to correct when assuming that male ancestors in Massachusetts (which Maine was in the 1700s) married around the age of 25. That means Joseph was probably born between 1767 and 1771, or the ages of 21-25.

Next, we will examine the Joseph Meserveys in the area at the turn of the 19th century. We’ll also look at possible hints as to who the wife of Joseph Meservey was.





Clement Meserve, c1678-1746, Scarborough, Maine

Clement Meserve, son of the immigrant Clement from the Isle of Jersey, is the easiest of the Meserve clan to document because he (thankfully) left a will and marriage records can be found for most of his children.

For those who are researching this family, AmericanAncestors is a great resource and, for Maine records, the Scarborough town minutes, digitized on FamilySearch, will supply many early birth and marriage dates.

Clement Meserve married (1) Elizabeth Jones on 26 September 1702 in Dover, Strafford, New Hampshire and (2) Mrs. Sarah Stone, 14 August 1738 in Scarborough, Maine. I have not found any record of his marriage to Sarah, but Clement did name his wife Sarah in his will.

Clement Meserve was a joiner, or a carpenter, which would certainly have been a useful occupation in the wilds of New Hampshire in the late 1600s and early 1700s.

He lived in Newington, New Hampshire until 1727 when he removed to Scarborough, Maine, where he had purchased 100 acres of land.

Clement died in Scarborough in 1746. His will was written on 18 February 1739/40 and proved on 5 November 1746.

Transcription of the will of Clement Meserve,
Source: AmericanAncestors

Clement was the father of nine possible children, although only seven were named in his will. The children were all likely born in New Hampshire, probably in Newington.


  1. Clement, called the eldest son in his father’s will; married Sarah Decker, 13 October 1726, Newington, Rockingham, New Hampshire. Births of two children were recorded in Scarborough – Elizabeth, born 7 October 1730 and Clement, born 2 September 1733. There likely were other children.
  2. Nathaniel, married Jane Libby, 16 December 1725, Greenland, Rockingham, New Hampshire. They had at least one child, Elizabeth, born 26 February 1742, Portsmouth, Rockingham, New Hampshire.
  3. Elizabeth, married James Libby, 29 December 1726, Portsmouth, Strafford, new Hampshire. They had at least two children – Clement, born 23 October 1729 and Arthur, born 19 August 1734, both in Scarborough.
  4. Johnmarried Jemima Hubbard of Kingston, 2 September 1732, Scarborough, Maine. John and Jemima were the parents of eight children – Dorothy, born 13 October 1733, Abigail, born 21 February 1735, John, born 7 December 1738, George, born 21 December 1740, Mary, born 19 November 1742, William, born 26 October 1744, Clement, born 6 July 1746 and Joseph, born 1 November 1748, all in Scarborough.
  5. Abigail, married Lt. Samuel Libby, 29 February 1727/28; died 10 November, probably 1733 as her death is recorded with no year but immediately following the birth of Clement Meserve on 2 September 1733. They had at least two children –  Asa, born 6 September 1731 and Amine, born 10 August 1733. However, neither Abigail nor her children are mentioned in her father’s will.
  6. George, reportedly married Elizabeth Ham, 17 February 1737, Portsmouth, Rockingham, New Hampshire. No further record.
  7. ?Peter, not in his father’s will, but George, Peter and Joseph Meserve were all baptized at the Newington Church on 19 January 1724. If he was a son a Clement, then he predeceased his father. Some say he married Sarah Hond? in 1737, but I haven’t found that record and there are no children recorded for them in Scarborough.
  8. Daniel, married Mehitable Bragdon, 24 January 1738 in Scarborough, Maine. They were the parents of at least four children – Sarah, born 27 June 1745, Nathaniel, born 20 April 1747, Gideon, born 31 January 1749 and Elizabeth, born 5 January 1754, all in Scarborough.
  9. Joseph, named in his father’s will, but no marriage record has been found for him, nor have I found mention of him elsewhere.

Here ends the family sketch for Clement Meserve, son of the immigrant Clement. Tomorrow, we will look at possibilities to connect Joseph Meservey, father of Lavinia Mesrvey Chadwick with his ancestors.