Ancestor of the Month
Merry Webb, II
1698 d. 06 Feb 1779
Long ago someone said that a lady’s
name should only appear in the newspaper 3 times: first, when she is born;
second, when she weds, and third, when she dies. If her name appears more often,
she is not a lady. Unfortunately this attitude has made finding information about
our feminine ancestors very difficult. Everything about these women—in
most cases—is simply in regard to their husbands. Regrettably, after writing
almost 40 of these AOM biographies, I must confess that only two have been about our female ancestors
However, our lady ancestors have
been of great help to me in another way. I have been using them as doorways
to reveal earlier male ancestors. For example, though there is little if anything
other than dates and children to be found about Christina Fox (1810-?), wife of Joseph Sutton, she led me to her father John
Fox and on to her grandfather, Adam Fox, about whom there is a wealth of information.
This procedure (similar to cherchez
la femme and/or “follow the money”) has worked very well. Occasionally I run into problems. Perhaps
the biggest problem of late occurred when I opened the door to Israel McInturff’s wife Elizabeth Webb and her family. Her father was Merry Webb. “Hurrah!”
I thought. “What an easy name to research!” That attitude prevailed and no problems arose until I actually began research; then I hit
problem number one. There are many, many Merry Webbs. In fact, I found that there are so many Merry Webbs that researchers tend to refer to them by number and
are still in conflict about what information belongs to which Merry Webb.
Problems in Merry Research
Second, there is the name Merry. From whence did it come? One day I found
a notation that Merry was a nickname for Meredith. Several sources
backed up this idea, and some early documents contained misspellings such as Meridoth, which lent credence to that
idea. Another “Hurrah!”
I dutifully replaced Merry with Meredith in my notes. I
later found a researcher who used the name Meriwether for his Merry Webb, but I discounted that name because it occurred
only once. Although Meriwether could have been the source for one Merry
Webb’s name, it was unlikely to be the source for most of them. Several
months into my search, I discovered a researcher who suggested that Merry was not a nickname at all but was a family
name (i.e.: “Thomas Merry,” also spelled Merres and Meares), and had possibly been given to the
first Merry Webb to honor a member of the Merry/Merres/Meares family. I noted
this quite plausible idea but didn’t change my records. Had I found
the complete answer? No. I
did know, however, that our Merry signed his name as Merry on legal documents, so why speculate on a more traditional
name? Merry would do.
Third was the problem of wading through
the Merrys. Apparently almost every related Webb family named one of its sons
Merry. There were dozens, scores, maybe even hundreds of them. Overwhelming.
Fourth, many legal records of the
time simply listed “Merry Webb” with no Sr., Jr., middle initial or any other means to tell which Merry was the
subject under discussion. A “Merry Webb” on any document in any given
year forced one to figure out by age which Merry the subject was likely to be. The
difficulty was compounded by the fact that many sources gave different dates of birth for the same person. For example, Martin Webb’s brother Merry was born in 1737, 1739, 1743, or 1747, depending on the
information’s source. (Martin himself was born in 1725 or 1737—take
your pick.) Tiresome.
Finally was the problem of “which
Merry belongs to which family.” Regrettably the men and their numbers do
not fall easily into a chronological line. Merry H. Webb, Elizabeth’s
Webb’s father and Israel McInturff’s father-in-law, is number 5. (I have no clue as to what the “H”
is for.) To place him with the Merrys in his direct line, we have
5 (1778-1864) is the son of Merry 4
4 (1746-1816) is the son of Merry 2 (yes, 2; not 3)
(1765/70-1843) is the son of Martin Webb, who is the son of Merry 2. (Martin
and Merry 2 are brothers—confused yet?)
2 (1698-1779) married Elizabeth Ann Martin and has a tenuous connection to Merry 1.
1 (1680-c1760) married Anna Unknown (possibly Anna Martin) and was perhaps “The Immigrant” for our branch
of the Webb family in the colonies. (On the other hand, there is some thought
that Merry 1 had a father and/or grandfather who may have come to America even earlier as “The Immigrant.”)
(The dates in the listing above are from a description of the book, Keepsake
Memories of the Merry Webb Families. Limited Research Edition 2007 by Nonie
H. Webb and Winnie Webb Whitaker. This text is probably the most definitive and
recent of the Merry Webb research. Unfortunately, I had only the description, not the complete work.)
All of these numbered merry men—with
the exception of Merry 3—are our ancestors. (Merry 3 is “just a relative.”) In addition to these Merrys, there are many others “getting in the way”
of finding a particular Merry. Purely because more information is available about
Merry 2 than some of his namesakes, he will be the subject of this month’s AOM.
For those wishing to do their own research on Merry Webb, be forewarned that practically all of these men and their
brothers, cousins, uncles, etc., named at least one child in their family Merry.
Result: scads of Merry Webbs and difficulty in sorting them out.
(Note: On many other pages of this website I have cautioned against taking any genealogical
info as fact; always double check. With this particular ancestor, double-checking
is extremely important. Although I have checked and rechecked, on this one I
don’t even trust myself.)
the best of my knowledge, our Merry Webb, #2 (often called Merry Webb, Sr.) was born c1697 in Lunenburg, New Kent, or Henrico
County, Virginia. His father, Merry Webb #1, may or may not have been born in
the colonies. If Merry #1 is indeed “The Immigrant,” it is
believed that he came from
England. In Virginia he married Anna Unknown and with her had five sons (William,
Thomas, Martin, Merry, and James) and two daughters (Unknown and Judith). Their
home was south of the James River in Goochland County. (If you are interested
in the Webb family, remember the boys’ names; you’ll see them
again, and again, and again.)
Wife and Children
Our Merry 2 was one of these seven children of Merry 1 and Anna. He grew up in Virginia and in c1723 in Martinville, Pittsylvania (Henry Co.) VA, he
wed Elizabeth Ann Martin (b.09 Aug 1708 in New Kent, VA-d. Bef. 08 March 1805 in Henry Co., VA). Elizabeth was the
daughter of Martin Martin (yes, Martin Martin) and Sarah Hix. (Sarah was the
daughter of John Hixe, House of Burgesses’ Doorkeeper and subject of our
Feb 2009 AOM)
2 and Elizabeth had 9 children: (Do not trust any of the following dates.)
- Martin Webb (b. c1737 in VA-d.3 Aug 1815 in KY). Some think he is possibly a twin of Merry
#4. Martin married Judith Unknown. The couple had eight children: Meredith (Merry #3), John, Millian, Nancy, Naomi, Judith, Henry, and Sarah. His second
wife, whom he married in 1806, was Nancy "Anny" Phelps VanZant. Martin is believed to be buried
on his farm in what is now part of Mammoth Cave National Park in KY.
· Millian Webb (b. 30 August 1723, Henry Co., VA; d. May 1803, Wilkes Co., NC.) m. Samuel Hall (b.?-d.1792) about 1740 In 1777 Samuel and his brother-in-law Merry Webb 4 signed a document renouncing allegiance to Great Britain and swearing allegiance to the Commonwealth
of Virginia. Millian and Samuel had eleven children: Merry H., Betsy, John, Nancy, Thomas, David, Samuel, Mary, Elizabeth, Millian, and Martin. David and Samuel were twins. Millian left a will,
written 27 Aug 1802, probated in 1803. After the Revolution Millian and Samuel moved to NC.
· Lucy Webb (b 1727 in VA-d?) m. on 13 Apr 1779 in Henry Co. VA to Thomas Dooley, Jr.(b. c1760-d?) , son of Thomas Dooley, Sr., and Elizabeth
Fennell. Thomas, Sr., was from Ireland.
Thomas and Lucy had at least one son named Jesse. (No son named Merry,
but he would not have been Merry Webb; he would have been Merry Dooley)
· Martha Webb (b. 1739, Henry Co.,
VA –d. died 1820 in Erwin, TN ) m. Col. Thomas Jefferson Dillard, Jr.; ( b. Abt. 1738, Essex, VA)-d.?)
Martha and Thomas moved to Washington Co., TN in 1782 and had
400 acres in the Webb Settlement on the Nolichucky River. (Their home place is
now in Unicoi County.) The couple had ten children: Benjamin, Elizabeth, John, Wenniesophia, Ann, Mary
Ann, Thomas, Stacy, Martha, and Rebecca. Three of the Dillard daughters married
three Love brothers. During the Revolution Col. Dillard proved to be an outstanding
leader. (No child named Merry, but here we’d have Merry Dillard, not Webb.)
· John Webb (b. 30 October 1739 in Martinville, Henry Co, VA); married (1) Stacy Young, (2) Urstley (various spellings)
Unknown. John was one of the first settlers of Washington Co. TN in 1788. He
moved back and forth between Burk/Buncombe Co. N.C. and Washington Co., TN. With
his second wife he had one child, a boy named Francis. (No Merry Webb that I
· Merry Webb #4 (b. c1737 in VA-d.1816) possibly a twin of
Martin. This Merry married Elizabeth Davidson.
Merry and Elizabeth had seven children: Merry 5, Henry, William,
Thomas, David, John, and Mary. This Merry and his son Merry 5 are our ancestors.
Elizabeth Webb (b. c1731 in VA-d. after 1774) m. Edmond Sams. On 5 February 1783, Edmond served on a committee with
John Webb (Elizabeth’s brother) to mark off a road from Colonel Dillard's to Colonel Robertson's (No children listed)
· Mary Ann Webb (b. c1725 in Goochland Co, VA; died after 1795 in Henry
Co, VA); married Charles Burns (b.1710-d.1789) about 1745 in VA. Charles
was originally from Scotland. The couple had 8 children: Alexander,
John, Charles, Samuel, William, Andrew S., Ann, and Susan. Reportedly all six of Charles and
Mary’s sons fought in the Revolutionary War. Unfortunately, the couple
divorced. Charles remarried. (No
· James (b.
1733-d.1767 in Pittsylvania Co.) James died at age 34. Evidently he did not wed.
they were all born in Virginia, many of Merry 2’s children
moved to North Carolina then
to Washington Co., TN. Some moved
Other than his marriage, not
a great deal is known about Merry #2’s early life. However, by the mid-1700’s,
records show that he was quite active in Halifax County, VA.
Merry 2 was apparently fairly
affluent and became known as a large landholder. His first land acquisition came
in 1729 when he was 31 years old. At that time he petitioned successfully to
take up land in Goochland County, VA. Three years later, in 1732, he was awarded
a second land patent. In 1734 at age 36 he received another patent for land in
Goochland County on the north side of Willis River. (A patent in early colonial
days was a legal document, which transferred ownership of public land from the government to an individual. Patents of 50 acres could come from paying for the passage of new settlers to the colonies. Many of our ancestors acquired land in this fashion. In addition
to patents from the state, land could also be purchased, and in some colonies land could be acquired by “seizure and
occupancy” or “squatting.”) Merry’s land acquisition
continued even as he grew older. In 1750 he received a patent for land
in Lunenburg Co, and in 1756 when he was 58, he received a patent for land on the Irwin River.
Like our ancestor John Hixe,
Merry was a member of the Church of England. In 1751 he signed documents showing
that he followed Anglican doctrines and confirming that he was “conformable to the Doctrine & Discipline of the
Church of England as by law established.” He was apparently active in the
church, for in 1753 his name appears on a “List of Vestrymen of Antrim Parish, Halifax Co., VA.” (Vestrymen were church members who were elected to carry on the secular affairs of the church.)
Merry 2 was also active in
civic affairs, and his name appears on several documents. He repeated and signed
a required loyalty oath in 1751, swearing his allegiance to “his majestys [sic] Person and Government.” In 1753, when he was 55, he received governmental permission to build a gristmill on Marrowbone Creek
in Halifax County. He also served on a committee for public land improvements
and signed the committee’s report. His name was mentioned in a petition for a new road from Hickey’s
Road “near the plantation of Merry Webb.”
In 1767 Merry ,Sr., (that’s #2) and his sons James, Merry,
Jr. (#4), and Martin appeared on the Tithables List for Pittsylvania Co., VA. (Tithables
in this case were those who were subject to taxation.) Merry, Jr., and Martin
were listed in their own right. Listed with Merry Sr. were his son James, 4 slaves,
and a man named Bartley Oneal, possibly a servant. A Thomas Webb and a William Webb—probably our Merry’s brothers—were also on the list. (Note: Merry’s son James
died the same year this list was drawn up. Perhaps this explains why he was listed
with his father; i.e.: maybe he was ill and “had come home to die.”
(Absolutely pure speculation on my part.)
The Webb “Home Place”
of the changes in land boundaries, the Merry Webb 2 family lived in three different Virginia counties although they never
moved. Their plantation was near Wart Mountain which was first a part of Lunenburg
County. In 1752 it became part of in Halifax Co, and in 1762 the area was renamed as part of Pittsylvania County. The
area of the original Lunenburg Co now makes up four modern-day counties: Pittsylvania,
Henry, Franklin, and Patrick. The area where Merry 2 lived was said to be “south of Blackwater
Creek and the Roanoke-Stanton
River and west of Tewahoomony Creek (now Aaron's Creek). “ Wart Mountain is today called Buffalo Knob and is located in Floyd County near its boundaries with Patrick
and Carroll counties. It is to the west of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
On 6 Feb 1774, our Merry Webb wrote his will. In it he mentions
his wife Elizabeth and all of his living children, making specific bequests to them.
The will is interesting in regard to what is given to whom and shows that Merry was affluent enough to have slaves,
which he leaves to his heirs as property.
Last Will and Testament of Merry Webb-- (original spelling and punctuation used)
In the name of God Amen I Merry Webb Senr of the County of Pittsylvina and Parish of Camden being
sick and weak do make this my last Will and Testament revoking all other by me.
First, I desire my Executive of Execution hereafter named do pay my just and funeral charges. Then. I lend to my dear-and
loving wife, Elizabeth, during her natural life of widowhood, three Negroes, to wit: Robin, Peter and Jane, with the increase
of the said Negroe Jane, together with all my stock of Horses, Cattle and Hoggs and after the Decease of my said wife, Elizabeth,
my will and desire is that the Negroes Robin Peter & Jane, together with the increase of the said Negro Jane, and the
Stock of all kinds be equally divided between Merry Webb, John Webb, Mary Burns, Elizabeth Sams & Lucy Webb. And, in case,
my said daughter Elizabeth Sams should die without issue then her part to be equally divided between the said Merry, John,
Mary Burns & Lucy Webb to them—& their heirs forever.
Item: I give unto my son Martin Webb one shilling and no more.
Item: I give unto my daughter Martha Dillard one shilling and no more.
Item: I give unto my daughter Million Hall one shilling and no more. I
give unto my daughter Million Hall, the tract of land she now lives on to her and her heirs forever. (Is this a contradiction?)
Item: I give unto my daughter Lucy Webb Two Negroe girls named Sara and Aggy, with their increase
to her—and to her heirs, lawfully begotten, and in case my said Daughter Lucy dies without issue, then I give the same
unto my sons & daughters—Namely, Merry Webb, John Webb, Mary Burns, Elizabeth Sams & Lucy Webb. I give same
to my Daughter Elizabeth Sams, to wit: as a proportionate part of my other Children Provided she has issue
Item: I give unto my son Merry Webb one Negro girl named Hannah & to him and his heirs forever.
Item: I give unto my son John Webb One Negro boy called Joe to him and his heirs forever.
Item: I give unto my daughter Mary Burns One Negro boy called Lewis to her and her heirs forever.
Item: I give unto my daughter Elizabeth Sams One Negro boy called Ben to her and her heirs of her body, lawfully begotten.
My will & Desire is that all my Lands should be sold, together with my Mill and the Money arising therefrom, shall be
equally divided between my wife and Merry Webb, John Webb & between my Three Daughters, Mary Burns, Elizabeth Sams &
Lucy Webb & in case my daughter Elizabeth Sams should die without issue then her part to be equally divided between the
Item: I give unto my Daughter Lucy Webb One Feather Bed to her and her heirs forever.
Item: I give unto my dear and loving wife Elizabeth Webb, during her natural life, all my Estate not before disposed
of, and after her decease, I give it to be equally divided between my two sons, Merry & John and my Daughters Mary Burns,
Elizabeth Sams & Lucy Webb and in case my said daughter Elizabeth Sams should die without issue, then I give the same
to the Survivors to be equally divided between them.
Lastly I do appoint my Wife Elizabeth Executrix and my two sons Merry Webb & John Webb Executors to this my Last
will and Testament revoking all other wills by me heretofore made.
In Witness whereof I have here unto set my hand & affixed my seal the sixth day of February One Thousand Seven
hundred and Seventy four.
/s/ Merry Webb
Witnesses: Will Tunstall
George Elliott John (x) Ray
At a Court held for Henry County, Virginia, on the 15th day of February, 1779, the within Executrix, Elizabeth Webb,
and Merry Webb, the Executor, presented the within Last Will and Testament of Merry Webb, Deceased, and with Waters, Dunn,
John Alexander and Phillip Ryan, their securities, entered into bond.
Since John was named as an executor
but was not mentioned in the 15 Feb 1779 probate court action, he may have already moved out of the area during the 5 years
between when the will was written and when it was probated. We know that he was
living in TN by 1788. As prescribed in the will, on 3 Sep 1781, Elizabeth Webb and Merry Webb 4 sold Merry Webb 2’s
land. The mill, too, was sold.
Elizabeth outlived Merry by a number
of years, dying before 8 Mar 1805 in Henry Co., VA. Together she and Merry 2 had established a fine home and family in Virginia.
Their children would move on to other areas, many of them becoming quite prosperous.
They, too, would do their part in settling and developing America.
Merry Webb 2 was Mamaw’s
4-great grandfather. If you are Mary Elizabeth Hatcher McCarter’s great,
great grandchild, Merry is your 8-great grandfather.
Line from Merry
Webb II to Mary Elizabeth Hatcher McCarter
Merry Webb 2 (1697-1779) + Elizabeth
Ann Martin (1708-1805)
Merry Webb 4 (1737-1816) + Elizabeth
Davidson (b? -d.1827/1830)
Merry Webb 5 (1786-1864) + Mary Nancy
Elizabeth Webb (1808-1881) + Israel
Mary Elizabeth McInturff (1837-1915)
+ James H. Hatcher (1839-1900)
Israel Alexander Hatcher (1860-1950)
+ Susan Ann Sutton (1866-1903)
Mary Elizabeth Hatcher (1889-1969)
+ Rev. Eli McCarter (1886-1955)
“Descendants of Merry
“Descendants of Merry Webb, Revolutionary War Patriot.”
“First List of Tithables of Pittsylvania County, year 1767.” http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~vapittsy/tith.htm
RECORDS Compiled by Hugh Puckett, Bowling Green, KY
Wilkes Genealogical Society,
Wilkes Co, NC. http://listsearches.rootsweb.com/th/read/BRASWELL-BRACEWELL/2003-05/1054405532
Johnson, Charles W., M.D. “Harrison Notes,”
McCarter Family Charts
Merry Family Genforum http://genforum.genealogy.com/merry/messages/880.html
Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus. © 2000, Microsoft
(“tithables,” “vestryman,” “patent”)
“Miller, Burns, Webb, Martin” http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Prairie/4207/MillerBurns3.html
My Genealogy Home Page
“Other Families: Family Webb” http://matsonfamily.net/WelchAncestry/otherfamilies.htm
“Rick and Dee Sparks Family” http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=AHN&db=add&id=I1325
Sherrill Family Genforum
Generation” (Martin Webb)
Dooley/Dula Family” http://www.fmoran.com/wilkes/dula.html
“Various Merry Webbs”
From Dooley L-Archives http://listsearches.rootsweb.com/th/read/DOOLEY/1999-03/0921553446
“Virginia.” Rand McNally Atlas, 2003.
Webb Family Genforum http://genforum.genealogy.com/webb/messages/15912.html
Webb L-Archives http://listsearches.rootsweb.com/th/read/WEBB/1998-11/0911070904