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Isaac's signature on one of his father-in-law's probate documents

Isaac was born in Newbury, but the family moved to Charlestown, both in Massachusetts Bay Colony. His father probably died when Isaac was in his later teens, but left no estate to probate. His mother survived him and moved back to Newbury, so her underage children presumably lived with her. She's mentioned in an Essex County court record with Newbury residents in 1682.1 A warrant was issued on 10 September 1683 for brothers Joseph and Isaac "Mirak" to be witnesses in a complaint about one man taking another's hay at Fox Island.2 This was likely a piece of salt marsh on the north side of the Merrimack River just beyond the inlet from the ocean.
     The historical evidence doesn't support George Merrick's brief account of Isaac in Genealogy of the Merrick--Mirick--Myrick family of Massachusetts,3 yet this is the source genealogists have copied since it was published in 1902. Merrick says he sailed on a ship to London in 1680 probably as a mate and sailed back as a captain. Merrick doesn't question the validity of this, given that he knew Isaac was about 15. This was the age a boy might go to sea as a "greenhand," the very bottom rung of the crew heirarchy. Mates and captains, surely excepting a few extreme circumstances, were given those positions after years of sailing experience. Merrick goes on to say Isaac moved from Boston to Newburyport, had a ship built for himself and sailed it to England and back. I find no evidence Isaac was any kind of mariner, or that he ever lived in Boston. At various times in his book, he seems to refer to Boston and Charlestown interchangeably. Isaac did move to Charlestown, where he married Mary Newell in 1694. They and their children lived in a house owned by her father John Newell. I find no references to Isaac buying property there. The house is described in John Newell's estate papers as "one house and land bounded by Mr. Richd. ffosters land Captt Richd Sprage deceased land and by the land of Decon Joseph Kettel" and a "dweling hous and land ajoining theretoo now in the Improvementt of Isaack Mirick."4
     When accounting for his father's estate for the inventory, John Newell, Jr., was convinced that Isaac and Mary were hiding valuable linens at that house, and passing off inferior ones in their place. The probate court issued a warrant for them to answer the complaint on 23 October 1705. They and John met with the judge the next day and the Mirricks denied the accusation. Within three months they moved to a part of Newbury that would become Newburyport. They appointed a power of attorney to act in their interest regarding the Newell estate on 15 January 1705/06, as found in the Newell estate papers. Isaac was "of Charlestown" but now "of Newbury," meaning they had recently moved. Although there's no proof, it's easy to imagine there was animosity involved in the Mirick's leaving Charlestown. They didn't have to move - Isaac bought the house they were living in on 15 June 1706 from Mary's brother. It's described as "all my [John, Jr.'s] messuage or tenement...[in]... Charlestown... containing in breadth against the highway that folwith towards ye creek commonly called Davisons Creeke on the east side of the late Mr. Nowells garden or land forty and five foot and in length one hundred and five foot more or less and in breadth at the west end thereof thirty and four foot more or less and in length on the south side one hunderd and three foot more or less."5 As oldest son, John, Jr., had inherited all his father's real property. The deed says Isaac was of Newbury. On the same day he sold it to merchant Jonathan Dowse of Charlestown.6 Dowse sold it back to him on 30 October 1710, and Isaac sold it for the last time on the same day to Benjamin Pierce, a Charlestown shopkeeper.7 Throughout these deeds Isaac is called a shipwright. It isn't evident Isaac had his own business in Charlestown, apparently lacking a wharf.
     The next mention of Isaac owning land is when he bought a house, land and wharf on 30 March 1721 in what would soon become the Third Parish of Newbury, now Newburyport.8 Isaac was still a shipwright. I haven't found where they lived after they moved there in 1706. The property was a house and lot sixty feet in "front" and all the "land or flatts belonging to the said house," totalling "about twenty feet of ground." The latter is open to interpretation. Does it mean twenty square feet? The bounds were southwest on a highway, northwest on land of Capt. Richard Kent, northeast on the Merrimack River and southeast on the land of the grantor, Henry Rolfe. No wharf is mentioned, and it may be that Isaac had one built, since one was there when he died.
     In Isaac's estate inventory, sworn to at court on 1 December 1731,9 this property is described as a house, garden, wharf and barn valued at £200. On 7 April 1733, Isaac, Jr., and Andrew Mirrick sold a northwestern part of this property to Newbury shipwright Ralph Cross for £55.10 The frontage on the street was fifty five and half feet. They and the other heirs (John and William Mirrick, Hannah (Mirrick) Jillings and Mary (Mirrick) Chooke) sold the rest of the property, with the house, land and flat rights to Cross on 22 November 1734 for £190.11 Cross sold this to Philip Coombs, also a Newbury shipwright for £198. The deed isn't signed, but Cross acknowledged it on 30 November 1734.12 The description "sixty feet of ground" leaves the same question as above. Was this square feet?
     The value of Isaac's home lot was £200 when he died. Combining Cross's payments for it in two pieces, the value was £245 within about three years. This leaves several possible reasons. When Cross bought the first part, without the house and other improvements for £55, the other piece may have been worth about £145. The £190 value in 1734 of the house lot may have reflected the construction of a new house or improvements to the wharf. The seems a lot of effort, unless someone in the family had planned to live in the house and then circumstances changed. Another possibility is that the Mirricks improved the first property value about ten times in value, but no buildings are mentioned in the deed. Neither of these possibilites seems likely. Cross sold the house lot to Coombs at only £8 above what he paid about week later, so there wouldn't have been any major changes to buildings on the property in November 1734.
     Looking at subsequent deeds for this and the surrounding land and references to the Coombs family, this property was on Water Street at the foot of Lime Street. The wharf, although now filled and built over, was actively used by the Coombs family into the 19th century. The house likely associated with the property in the 19th century, maybe before, is at what is now 119 Water Street. The very basic, Colonial style of the building and modern surfacing makes it hard to date it, but it likely doesn't date to the 18th century.
     Merrick is correct in saying Isaac was a militia captain under Benjamin Church during the 1704 attack on Acadians in Northern New England and Canada. Church raised this regiment, composed of New Englanders, English and Native Americans friendly to the cause, which was to avenge an attack on Deerfield. Among the men joining Church were those of "Capt. Lamb and Capt. Mirick's company, who were raised by his Excellency's direction."13 This was in addition to companies raised personally by Church. There were fourteen transport ships used at various times, depending on need, for soldiers and provisions. There were also three English warships arranged for the trip, which would join them at Passamaquoddy Bay. The regiment gathered on Nantasket peninsula north of Hingham in Massachusetts Bay.
     Church's May 1704 orders included the directive by Joseph Dudley, the governor of Massachusetts, was to "refer to you to your own resloves, by the advice of your commissioned officers not under the degree of captains, and the sea commissioned captains."14 This seems to say that there were both militia and sea captains commissioned at one time or another on this expedition, but Isaac was certainly a militia officer, will be seen below.
     The expedition left Nantasket in early June (Gregorian calendar, contemporary accounts were given using the Julian calendar) and went to the mouth of the Piscataqua River in what is now Maine, then to Matinicus Island, Mt. Desert Island and Passamaquoddy Bay. The forces had been raiding settlements along the shore and questioning locals about "Indian" encampments. They went up the Passamaquoddy River, and "taking notice of the shore, and finding it somewhat open and clear, I ordered Capt. Mirick and Capt. Cole, having English companies, to tarry with several of the boats, to be ready, that if any of the enemy should come down out of the brush into the bay (it being very broad in that place) with their canoes, that they might take and detroy them."15 The rest of the force marched into the woods beyond the shore. Capt. (James) Cole was one of the men Church himself appointed to head a company, making it certain that Isaac was also serving in that capacity rather than some form of ship captaincy. The rest of the expedition consisted very summarily of attacking Grand Pré in Nova Scotia and the area around it. They returned to Boston in July 1704.
     That is all I have found to date about Isaac. His first wife Mary died in 1710. Second wife Martha was very likely a daughter of Phineas and Sarah Sprague. After Phineas's death, Sarah married Moses Tyler of Andover, Massachusetts Bay Colony. When Martha became one of the accused during the Essex County witch trials, she was usually referred to as Martha Tyler, but also Tyler "alias Sprague." She married Richard Friend, a mariner of Salem, in 1701. After Richard died about 1706, Martha returned to Andover and was there when she married Isaac. Process of elimination makes it certain that she was the widow Martha Friend whom Isaac married probably late in 1714. Their intentions to marry were published in Andover on 22 November and in Newbury on 24 November. They would have waited a customary three weeks before being allowed to marry, suggesting they did so later in December. The marriage isn't recorded.

children of Isaac Mirrick and Mary Newell:16

i. Mary, b. 29 September 1695
ii. Isaac, b. 12 April 1698
iii. John, bap. 12 May 1700
iv. Hannah, b. 11 March 1701/02
v. Andrew, b. 6 August 1705
vi. William, b. 31 March 1708/09

vital records sources: His birth is in Vital Records of Newbury, Massachusetts, to the end of the year 1849, vol. 1 ( Salem, MA: The Essex Institute, 1911), 323. His first marriage is from a court record, see "Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1626-2001," database online (2020), Essex, County wide, "County court births, marriages, deaths 1681-1786," image 89 of mss page 91 (as noted "CTR" in the published Lynn vital records). His second marriage intentions are in "Massachusetts, U.S., Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988," database online (Provo, UT: Operations, Inc., 2011), Newbury, Births, Marriages and Death [sic], image 777 of mss page 210, 24 Nov 1714, Capt. Isaac Mirick of Newbury, Mrs. Martha Trinde of Andover and ibid, Andover, Births, Marriages and Intentions, Deaths, 1701-1803, image 139 of mss page 138, Isaack Mirick of Newbery & the widow Martha Friend, 22 Nov 1714.

1. Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts [hereafter ECQC], vol. 8 (Salem, MA: Essex Institute, 1921), 262.
2. Ibid, vol. 9 (1975), 108.
3. Merrick, George B., Genealogy of the Merrick--Mirick--Myrick family of Massachusetts (Madison, WS:1902).
4. Suffolk Co., MA, probate file 15825.
5. Middlesex Co., MA, deed, 14:75.
6. Ibid, 14:120.
7. Ibid, 15:344-346, "late of Charlestown"
8. Ibid, 40:162.
9. Essex Co., MA, probate file 19137.
10. Essex Co., MA, deed, 62:237.
11. Ibid, 68:91.
12. Ibid, 78:261.
13. Church, Benjamin, The History of King Philip's War, etc., ed. Samuel G. Drake ((Boston:1825), 216.
14. Ibid, 220.
15. Ibid, 174.
16. Vital Records of Charlestown, Massachusetts, to the Year 1850, vol. 1 (Madison, WS: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2011),168, 176, 194, 208, Andrew's page is damaged, last digit in year missing, bap. 16 Sept 1705, leaving little doubt he was born the previous month, see Records of the first church in Charlestown, 1632-1789 (Boston, MA: 1880), 100, for John's bap. ibid, 92; Vital Records of Newbury, Massachusetts, to the end of the year 1849, vol. 1 (Salem, MA: The Essex Institute, 1911), 323.

all text and photographs © 1998-2022 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted