Papers : 1775-1897.

Call Number: HIL-MICL FC LFR .M48F3P3
Category: Family
Creator: Merritt Family.
Description: 10 microfilm textual records (50 volumes) ; 35 mm
            Thomas Merritt (1759-1842), originally from Westchester County, New York, served with the Queen's Rangers under John Graves Simcoe during the American Revolution. After living in Saint John, New Brunswick, from 1783-1785, and later in South Carolina, he settled in New York State. From there he petitioned Simcoe, who was by then the Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, for land on which to settle, and came with his wife Mary Hamilton and their children, to Twelve Mile Creek (St. Catharines, Ontario). In 1798 he received the appointment of deputy surveyor of the King's Woods, and in 1803 he became sheriff of the Niagara District. During the War of 1812, Merritt was appointed major commandant of a troop of militia cavalry named the Niagara Light Dragoons.  He remained sheriff until 1820 and died at St. Catharines in 1842.
Thomas Merritt's son,William Hamilton Merritt (1793-1862), also saw active duty in the War of 1812 with the Niagara Light Dragoons and the Provincial Dragoons, taking part in the battle of Queenston Heights. He was captured at the Battle of Lundy's Lane and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner in Cheshire, Massachusetts. He married Catherine Prendegast and became involved in many business ventures as a merchant, a land agent, the owner of a sawmill, a gristmill and a distillery, and a salt spring developer. He was interested in canals, railways and suspension bridges, and is particularly well known for promoting the construction of the Welland Canal linking Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. He was involved in politics as a member of the Legislative Assembly from 1832-1836, and from 1841-1860, and as a member of the Legislative Council from 1860-1863. While president of the Executive Council from 1848-1850, he concentrated on public works and trade. His son Jedediah Prendegast Merritt (fl.1838-1897) was an historian and a literary figure.            
            The Papers of Thomas Merritt, 1775-1836, are concerned, principally, with the office of Sheriff of the Niagara District. His son, William Hamilton Merritt's papers, consist of correspondence, 1804-1862, relating to his career in politics and finance, and most especially to his activities in promoting canals and railways. There are also a few items dealing with family and personal affairs. The papers are organized by subject matter as follows: business and property, 1801-1862; banking and finance, 1854-1859; elections, 1832-1860; Grand River Navigation Company, 1827-1839; legislation, 1832-1859; public offices, 1828-1852; railways, 1836-1856; shipping and trade, 1846-1858; War of 1812, chiefly muster rolls, returns and accounts for Merritt's troop of Light Dragoons, 1812-1815; Welland
Canal, 1818-1859; and miscellaneous. Also included are notebooks and diaries, 1808-1855, containing the diary of Mrs. Merritt, 1847-1848; journals kept by W. H. Merritt, Jr.; and a biography of W.H. Merritt, Jr. by his brother Jedediah; as well as ledgers and stock books, 1829-1846.
The Jedediah Prendegast Merritt Papers, 1838-1897, contain letters, poetry, and writings relating to historical matters. Much of the writing is fragmentary. The Chace-Prendegast Family Papers, 1782-1848, consist of the business and family letters of William Chace, a Rhode Island merchant and his daughter Penelope, who married Dr. Jedediah Prendegast. William Hamilton Merritt married Catharine, the only child of Penelope and Jedediah Prendegast.                
Originals: The original records are held by the National Archives of Canada.
Archival Ref. No.: NAC MG 24 E 1.
Finding Aids:
            National Archives of Canada Finding Aid 103 is found after volume 1, on reel 1, and contains a nominal index and a subject index.
The portion of the finding aid which pertains to each volume, starting at volume 26, is found at the beginning of the volume.

The NAC Finding Aid 103 and a microfilm shelf list are available in print.

A calendar of the William Hamilton Merritt Papers, 1780-1873, is located in Volume 50, Reel 10, of the Merritt Famly Papers, 1775-1897.

Electronic Finding Aid Record: Merrit Family Papers Shelf List.pdf
Finding Aid 103 Merritt Family Papers 1775-1897.pdf
Notes: The items on the reels are not in strict chronological order.

The microfilm of the William Hamilton Merritt Papers in the Archives of Ontario is available in the Loyalist Collection at MIC-Loyalist FC LFR .M4W5P3.

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