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:
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)
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!