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The Wives and Children of Francis Barnard

Presents evidence answering these questions: Did Francis Barnard have a first wife named Mary Watson? Francis married Hannah in 1644, but was her maiden name Marvin, Merrill, or Meruell? Was Francis' child Joseph Barnard, Sr. born to Mary Watson, or Hannah Meruell? Evidence that Hannah died shortly after birth of youngest child, and that in 1677, Francis married Frances Foote, the widow Dickinson.

The Wives and Children of Francis Barnard

Francis Barnard may or may not have had a first wife, Mary Watson. Some researchers suggest that the eldest child, Joseph Barnard, Sr., was born to Mary Watson, with Francis' other 5 children being born to Hannah Meruell. Other researchers believe Hannah is the mother of all 6.

This essay looks at the evidence surrounding these questions, including the possible error on Joseph Barnard, Sr.'s tombstone, names the other children, and the 2nd (or 3rd) wife, Frances (Foote) Dickinson.

Mary Watson

The name Mary Watson comes from the research of David Evans in 1975.1 Evans gives no evidence for this marriage, and none other has surfaced. This lack of evidence, however, has not stopped countless individuals from posting this marriage on the Internet and elsewhere.

Assuming that Francis Barnard was about age 27 at the time of his marriage to Hannah Meruell, an earlier marriage remains plausible.

Evans places Joseph Barnard's birth at ca. 1641 (more about that below), with wife Mary Watson dying shortly thereafter. This leaves us plenty of "wiggle room" for speculation.

We know that Francis Barnard's kinsman John Barnard, with his wife Mary, came to New England in 1634. While Francis Barnard may have been on that ship, he is not on the roster as either adult or dependent. He would have been about age 16.

We do not know precisely when Francis Barnard came from Old England to New England. We know that he had arrived by 15 August 1644, because his marriage to Hannah Meruell is recorded in the Hartford Vital Records.3 For all we know, Francis could have arrived in 1643 with infant Joseph.

Therefore, if we speculate that Francis Barnard was first married to Mary Watson, that marriage could have been in England, before emigrating to the New World, or it could have been somewhere in New England, after emigrating to the New World.

We have not definitively proven exactly where Francis Barnard was born. That, again, leaves room for the possibility of a marriage to Mary Watson in England.

Only Evans states that Francis Barnard had a first wife, Mary Watson. He provides us no evidence for that statement. However, there is also no evidence contradicting this statement, since other evidence points to Francis being age 27 when he married Hannah.

The Birth of Joseph Barnard

Evans considers Joseph Barnard to be the son of Mary Watson, born ca. 1641. Joseph's headstone reads:

HERE LYES
BURED Ye BODY
OF JOSEPH
BERNARD AGED
45 YEARS DEC
SEPTEMBER Ye
6th 16954

If the headstone inscription is correct, Joseph Barnard was born ca. 1650. However, suppose the engraver reversed the digits of Joseph's age. If he was really age 54, rather than age 45, at the time of his death, he would have been born ca. 1651, which fits in with Evans' conclusions, the only known child of Mary Watson.

However, with Joseph Barnard born ca. 1650, a number of events fall naturally into place:

  • Joseph Barnard's headstone was inscribed correctly.
  • Hannah Meruell married in 1644, and had children in ca. 1646 (Hannah), ca. 1647 (John), ca. 1649 (Sarah), ca. 1650 (Joseph), ca. 1654 (Samuel), ca. 1658 (Thomas).
  • When Joseph married Sarah Strong in 1675, Sarah was about age 19. Joseph being 4-5 years older is more usual than being 13-14 years older.

Hannah Marvin or Merrill or Meruell

What was Hannah's maiden name? Conflicting conclusions have surfaced over the years. Let us first trace back the Marvin references.

Thomas Barnard graduated with the Harvard University class of 1679. Sibley's Harvard Graduates published his biography in 1885, stating "his mother, Hannah" was "a sister of Matthew and Reynold Marvin..."5

Sylvester Judd, History of Hadley, both in the 1863 edition6 and the revised 1905 edition7, name Francis Barnard's wife as "Hannah Merrill, or Meruil, or Marvin."

Ultimately, Hannah's being given the Marvin surname appears to trace back to Genealogical sketch of the descendants of Reinold and Matthew Marvin, by Theophilus R. Marvin, printed in 1845 and 1848. Theophilus R. Marvin's descendants built upon this work, publishing The English Ancestry of Reinold and Matthew Marvin of Hartford, Ct., 1638 in 1900,8 and Descendants of Reinold and Matthew Marvin of Hartford, Ct., 1638 and 1635 in 1904.9

The English Ancestry... contains the following interesting statement:

Following the notes on the Family, printed by my Father, the late T. R. Marvin, in 1846, based in part on the opinion of his correspondent, the late Rev. Sylvester Judd, of Northampton, Mass., I included another daughter, Hannah, in this family, in the Marvin monograph, printed in "Family Histories and Genealogies," by Mr. and Mrs. Edward E. Salisbury, of New Haven, Ct., in 1892 ; at that time the English home had not been found.

This Hannah was early in Hartford, Ct., where she was married 25 August, 1644, to Francis Barnard, and died at Hadley, Mass., in 1676, soon after the birth of her youngest child.

From the fact that no such daughter is named in Edward's Will or on St. Mary's Register, as well as from the date of her marriage and the births of her children, I am now convinced that she was not a sister of Reinold and Matthew, and, with our present knowledge, it seems very doubtful if the name on the record from which the assignment was deduced was intended for "Marvin."

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Pages 111-112 from
The English Ancestry of Reinold and Matthew Marvin of Hartford, Ct., 1638 Their Homes and Parish Churches By William Theophilus Rogers Marvin

The Connecticut Historical Society has a copy of the Francis and Hannah's marriage record, on microfilm in "The Barbour Collection." On this copy, "Meruell" is pencilled in over "Merrell."10

The names of Hannah Meruell's parents remain unknown.

Hannah's death year of 1676 appears to also come from Marvin's 1848 sketch. However, Marvin's notes quoted above state "died at Hadley, Mass., in 1676, soon after the birth of her youngest child." The youngest known child of Hannah was born 20 years earlier, ca. 1656, and was Harvard class of 1679.

Numerous 19th and 20th century genealogies make the unsupported assertion that Hannah died in Hadley in 1676. No direct evidence has come to light. At this time, the only concrete evidence we have for Hannah Meruell is:

Frances Foote

In confirming the marriage of Frances (Foote) Dickinson to Francis Barnard, The Foote Family mentions the difficult reading of Hannah's marriage record:11

Frances Foote was twice married.

  1. To John Dickinson, first of Wethersfield, (Conn.) afterwards of Hadley, (Mass.) 1648. He died in 1676.
  2. To Francis Barnard, first of Hartford, (Conn.,) and one of the first Settlers of that town, afterwards of Hadley, (Mass.) 1677. She was his second wife.*

* "An Agreement between Francis Barnard and Frances Dickinson, widow, both of Hadley, (Mass.) in reference to a marriage between them shortly to be solemnized," and dated August 21, 1677, is recorded on Page 8 of Book I of Public Records in the Office of Register of Deeds, Springfield, (Mass.)

The first wife of Francis Barnard, to whom he was married in Hartford, (Conn.) on the 15th of August, 1644, was, according to the Record of the same, -- as read by some, -- Hannah Marvin; -- as read by others, Hannah Merriell. By her he had six children, -- four sons and two daughters. Thomas Barnard, one of the sons, graduated at Harvard College in 1679, was third minister of Andover, (Mass.) Several other descendants of Francis Barnard, were eminent Ministers in their day.

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From pages 270-271 of
The Foote Family Or, The Descendants of Nathaniel Foote, One of the First Settlers of Wethersfield, Conn., with Genealogical Notes of Pasco Foote, who Settled in Salem, Mass., and John Foote and Others of the Name, who Settled More Recently in New York By Nathaniel Goodwin

Sources

  1. Evans, David: Barnard Family research by David Evans, New Canaan, CT, 1975, and posted on the Internet at http://www.bearhaven.com/family/franklin/d0003 (use family 1076 for Francis).
  2. John Camden Hotten, Great Britain Public Record Office, The Original Lists of Persons of Quality: Emigrants, Religious Exiles, Political Rebels, Serving Men Sold for a Term of Years, Apprentices, Children Stolen, Maidens Pressed, and Others, who Went from Great Britain to the American Plantations, 1600-1700 (Empire State Book Co., 1874), 277-279.
  3. Hartford, Connecticut, Hartford Vital Records, FFS: 26 and D: 21; Barbour Collection on microfilm; housed at Connecticut Historical Society; records that Francis Barnard married Hanna Merrell on 15 Aug. 1644; "Meruell" is pencilled in over "Merrell"
  4. Headstone transcribed from photograph taken by Walther M. Barnard, 15 August 2001.
  5. John Langdon Sibley, Massachusetts Historical Society, Clifford Kenyon Shipton, Sibley's Harvard Graduates: Biographical Sketches of Those who Attended Harvard College in the Classes ... with Bibliographical and Other Notes (Massachusetts Historical Society, 1885) v. 3, p. 174. Available from Google Books: http://books.google.com/books?id=MR05AAAAMAAJ
  6. Sylvester Judd, Lucius Manlius Boltwood, History of Hadley: Including the Early History of Hatfield, South Hadley, Amherst and Granby, Massachusetts (Printed by Metcalf & company, 1863), 450. Available on Google Books at http://books.google.com/books?id=1q3RY7ns5-8C
  7. Sylvester Judd, Lucius Manlius Boltwood, George Sheldon, History of Hadley: Including the Early History of Hatfield, South Hadley, Amherst and Granby, Massachusetts (H. R. Huntting & Company, 1905), "Genealogies" section p. 8. Available on Google Books at http://books.google.com/books?id=JwV5AAAAMAAJ
  8. William Theophilus Rogers Marvin, The English Ancestry of Reinold and Matthew Marvin of Hartford, Ct., 1638: Their Homes and Parish Churches (Priv. print [T. R. Marvin & son, printers], 1900). Available on Google Books: http://books.google.com/books?id=VxEXAAAAYAAJ
  9. George Franklin Marvin, William Theophilus Rogers Marvin, New England Historic Genealogical Society, Descendants of Reinold and Matthew Marvin of Hartford, Ct., 1638 and 1635: Sons of Edward Marvin, of Great Bentley, England (Marvin, 1904) Available on Google Books: http://books.google.com/books?id=Gc81AAAAMAAJ
  10. Hartford, Connecticut, Hartford Vital Records, FFS: 26 and D: 21; Barbour Collection on microfilm; housed at Connecticut Historical Society; records that Francis Barnard married Hanna Merrell on 15 Aug. 1644; "Meruell" is pencilled in over "Merrell"
  11. Nathaniel Goodwin, The Foote Family: Or, The Descendants of Nathaniel Foote, One of the First Settlers of Wethersfield, Conn., with Genealogical Notes of Pasco Foote, who Settled in Salem, Mass., and John Foote and Others of the Name, who Settled More Recently in New York (Press of Case, Tiffany and company, 1849), 270-271.


ID  19 
Linked to  Francis BARNARD
Hannah BARNARD
John BARNARD
Joseph BARNARD, Sr.
Capt. Samuel BARNARD
Sarah BARNARD
Thomas BARNARD
Frances FOOTE
Hannah MERUELL
Mary WATSON 
Albums  Francis Barnard Descendants 

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