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William (Meeker) Meaker (abt. 1620 - 1690)

William "Will" Meaker formerly Meeker aka Mecar
Born about in Leamington, Warwickshire, Englandmap [uncertain]
Son of [father unknown] and [mother unknown]
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married 1646 in New Haven, Connecticutmap
Descendants descendants
Died in Essex, New Jerseymap
Profile last modified | Created 12 Apr 2012 | Last significant change: 9 Jan 2021
17:38: John Miller Jr. replied to a comment on the page for William (Meeker) Meaker (abt.1620-1690) [Thank John for this]
This page has been accessed 8,532 times.
William (Meeker) Meaker was involved in the Connecticut Witch Trials.
Join: Witch Trials Project
Discuss: witch_trials



Family tradition holds that William Meeker was born in Leamington, Warwickshire, England, but there is no documentation to substantiate this, nor any records of Meakers in Warwickshire. Leroy J. Meeker states that William mentioned his birthplace in his will.[1] However, the transcriptions of the will available in various online sources do not include this information. The abstract of the will in New Jersey Colonial Records doesn't mention it either. It could be that this information was transmitted orally, and was distorted in the transmission. 1841 U.K. census data recorded Meakers across southwest England, with the highest concentration of Meakers found in Somerset. A review of parish records available on showed hundreds of Meakers living in Somerset during the period 1580-1630. One of the parishes where Meakers were found is called Limington. Could this be William Meaker's place of origin? [2]

Jacobus says William was probably the brother of Robert Meeker. [3] Family tradition claims their father was Albert Meaker, but there is no credible documentation for either parent. A Meeker surname group at Family Tree DNA hopes to eventually identify ancestors in England via Y-DNA testing. [4] Thus far, testing of 40+ male descendants has revealed that William and Robert were not full brothers, though they were related.

While some secondary sources claimed he arrived in Massachusetts Bay about 1635 aboard the Abigail, there is no evidence of this. See Research Notes, below.

The first documented evidence of William Meaker's presence in New England is contained in an entry in New Haven Colony Records made in 1643. He was listed among those taking the Oath of Fidelity on 1 July 1644, but he was not mentioned in the earlier lists of freemen who founded New Haven in 1638, nor is it reasonable to expect that he would be, since he was a minor at the time. [5]

"He was propounded, Oct. 7 1646, to 'bee loader to mill,' 'for a 12 month,' 'to goe in all seasons except vnreasonable weather.'" [6]

In about 1646, William married Sarah Jane Preston (1626-1666), the daughter of William Preston (1591-1647), who brought his family from England aboard the "Truelove" in 1635. They lived first in Dorchester, moving to New Haven Colony in 1640. Preston was originally from Yorkshire but married Elizabeth Sale, from Chesham in Buckinghamshire, where his daughter Sarah was born. [7] [8][9] [10]

About the Spring of 1665, William moved with his family and others from New Haven (possibly neighbors he brought over from England), to Elizabethtown, New Jersey. He and his eldest son, Joseph, were among the original Elizabethtown Associates, who purchased land from the Native Americans with a patent issued by Governor Nicols.[9][10][6] He had a house-lot containing six acres bounded by his son Joseph and another 13 acres upland that was bounded by his son Benjamin. He had a total of 152 acres. [6] When Philip Carteret was appointed governor of New Jersey by the Duke of York in 1670, they did not at first recognize the Elizabethtown grant, believing the Associates were encroaching on their New Jersey purchase rights. This led to revolt by the Associates and eventually the flight of Governor Carteret. [9]

William led the "Meeker Riot" of 1671 when several townsmen attacked the property of a new settler, on grounds that the Governor had granted him land without town approval. Meeker was fined for the "riot" but the fine was not enforced due to strong public opinion in his favor, and lack of a police force.[8] The court was "powerless in the presence of an outraged and indignent people".[6]

William was chosen as constable of the town 13 October 1671 [6] and became an active adherent of Captain James Carteret who had replaced his absent cousin as Governor.[11] Later, for this offense, William's estate was confiscated, but the people of Elizabethtown and Newark were grateful for William's "fidelity to their interests" and they presented him with a tract of land at Lyons Farm [9] [10]

He died in 1690. His will was signed 9 December 1890 and proven 14 January 1690/1 in Elizabethtown, New Jersey. [9][8] [6] Abstract of the will mentions wife Hannah, sons Joseph, Benjamin and John, and eleven (unnamed) grandchildren. [12][13]


William was first married to Sarah Preston about 1646.[3][14] His second wife was Hannah Potter. [8][15]


Children of William and Sarah Meeker were:[16][17]

  1. Joseph Meeker, b. 1648 in New Haven
  2. Benjamin Meeker, b. 17 March 1648/49 in New Haven
  3. Sarah Meeker, b. 7 February 1652/53 in New Haven
  4. Mary Meeker, b. 16 October 1656 in New Haven
  5. Unnamed Meeker, b. December 1663 in New Haven
  6. John Meeker, b. 7 September 1666 in New Haven (?).[18]

According to Leroy Meeker, nothing is known of Sarah and Mary other than the records of their births.

Witchcraft Accusation

William (Meeker) Meaker was accused of witchcraft in the Connecticut Witch Trials

William was accused of witchcraft in 1657 and acquitted. [19] One of his neighbors, Thomas Mullener, was the neighborhood troublemaker. His many battles with neighbors are documented in court records. Mullener thought that his pigs were bewitched. At the time, one way to test this was to cut a piece from the tale and ear of one of the pigs and throw them in the fire to show who was the guilty party. After he had done this, he charged William with the bewitching. William retaliated with a defamation suit, but Mullener had become involved in other controversies and was advised to quit New Haven.[20]

Research Notes

These concerns have been addressed. But they are recurring issues with William so I'll leave the comments...

The facts listed for William’s origins and arrival are for the most part not supported by the cited sources, or others that I know of.

Significantly, he is not (nor is any Meeker) mentioned in Anderson’s Great Migration series. [21] That is virtually conclusive that origins and arrival cannot be substantiated prior to 1640. His first recorded appearance in New England is in 1644.

Leroy Meeker (p 4)[8] is cited for birthplace, and he states that William stated in his will that he was born in Leamington. So there is a basis for that. (I haven’t found the complete will in online sources, but an abstract may be found on

Cited for c. 1635 arrival on the Abigail are Sellgren and Thayer.

Sellgren’s profile on “NJ Founders” in turn cites Biography and Genealogy of Newark and Leroy Meeker. A check of each of these reveals that the Biography (2:117) says Meeker “came from England to the Massachusetts Bay about 1635" while L. Meeker says “It isn’t known” when William arrived but he appeared in Massachusetts Bay “some say as early as 1630/35.” No reference to primary sources – and no mention of the Abigail.

Thayer says nothing of Meeker’s origins.

No references are given for William's parentage. The entry for Alfred lists a website that refers to another that contains William’s pedigree but without sources. The entry for Rosie contains a dead link.

“Family Data Collection” (which is highly derivative and unreliable) has Albert Meeker as father of William Mecar but no source. [22]

I believe that William's parentage and arrival should be counted as unknown.

-- J. Miller

Research Notes

Regarding the murkiness of William's origins, I thought it would be useful to list the various assertions --none of which are credibly documented-- that I've seen:

1. From George Emil Meeker, Jr. “Meeker Genealogy,” dated 4 Feb 2000: a. William “Goodman” Meeker “came from England aboard the "Abigail" about 1630 to Mass. Bay, and thence removed to New Haven colony by the first of july, 1644; removed to Newark, NJ, then known as Elizabethtown Point, New Jersey in 1644.”

b. Thomas Meeker (possibly) b c 1620, “came on the "Christian" in 1635. to Windsor, CT. Then to Fairfield, CT. in 1659.” [Source: Early German Families in America".]

c. Robert Meeker, b c1625, “Sailed from Plymouth, England in and arrived in Massachusetts in 1630. Removed to Quinnipiack (New Haven), Conn. before by the first of July, 1654; removed to Fairfield by 1668.”

2. From Leroy J. Meeker, "The Meeker Family of Early New Jersey As Revealed in the Correspondence of Charles H. Meeker, Jr." Charleston, Capitol Printing Co., 1973

“William (1) Meeker (or Meaker) (c1620/5-1790/1 [sic]) in his will stated that he was born at Leamington, Warwickshire, England, a place not far from the physical center of England. It isn't known at what time he and his brother, Robert, came to America; but they did appear in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, some say as early as 1630/35. Both were in New Haven, Connecticut by the first of July, 1644, as they took the oath of fidelity there at that time.”

3. From John V. Meeker, "A Genealogy and History of the Meeker family in America," Nov 1909, handwritten document transcribed by Laroy K Meeker for The Ezra Meeker Historical Society.

“There are two seemingly conflicting accounts of the first appearance of the family in the American Colonies, but I am convinced that the difference is not so real as seems at first though. As I have sifted it out the family consisting of an elderly man and three grown sons by the name of Meeker arrived in Salem from Essex, England in 1630, that in 1637 the family removed to Boston, that in 1638 they removed to and settled in Hartford. Here the father died about the year 1660, two of the brothers removed to and settled in New Jersey at or near Elizabeth.”

4. From "The Passaic Valley, New Jersey In Three Centuries," John Whitehead, ed., New York: The New Jersey Genealogical Company, 1901. Vols 1-2

“William Meeker was born near Birmingham, Warwickshire, England. He took the oath of Fidelity at New Haven, Conn., and settled in Elizabethtown, N.J. in 1665.” (No source cited but appears to come from Dr. Charles H. Meeker, Rahway N.J., cited as the “family representative” in New Jersey.)

5. From "Biographical and genealogical history of the city of Newark and Essex County, New Jersey." New York: Lewis Publishing Co., 1898. Vol. 2, P117

William “came from England about 1635 to the Massachusetts Bay, and thence removed to the New Haven colony, of which he was one of the founders [sic]. While residing there he married Sarah Preston, a native of Yorkshire, England .. In the spring of 1665, with his family and others of the New Haven colony (whom tradition says he brought in his own sloop), he landed on the site that became known as Elizabethtown Point, New Jersey, and was enrolled with his eldest son, Joseph, with the original "Associates."

- L Carle

Albert Meeker and Rosie Bennie have been detached as parents. Smith-32867 21:12, 8 April 2020 (UTC)


  1. Meeker Family of Early New Jersey as revealed in the correspondence of Charles H. Meeker, Jr., Charleston, WV: Capitol Printing Co, 1973), p. [4]. Online at
  2. and Somerset, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1531-1812 on
  3. 3.0 3.1 Donald Lines Jacobus, Families of Ancient New Haven (Baltimore, [Md.]: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1981; Orig. New Haven Genealogical Magazine, 1923-32), vol. 5, p. 1160,
  5. Records of the Colony and Plantation of New Haven, From 1638 to 1649. Charles J. Hoadly, ed. Hartford: 1857, pages 122, 139, 176, 293, & 439.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Rev. Edwin F. Hatfield History of Elizabeth, New Jersey, including the Early Hsitory of Union County, n.p.: Original: Carlton & Lanahan, NY, 1868; republished: Higginson Book Co, Salem, Massachusetts, unknown publish date, pp. 57-58, 81-82, 138-9, 142-3.
  7. Anderson, Robert Charles. The Great Migration, Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Volume V, M-P, Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2007. Pages 519-525
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Meeker, Leroy J. The Meeker Family of Early New Jersey: as revealed in the correspondence of Charles H. Meeker, Junior, Charleston, West Virginia: Capitol Printing Co., 1973; citing FHL Film #1317115. Online at
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Sellgren, Sara Frazier. "William Meeker," Descendants of Founders of New Jersey, link: accessed 30 September 2019; citing Biography and Genealogy of the City of Newark and Essex County, New Jersey, pg. 117 and The Meeker Family of Early New Jersey as revealed in the Correspondence of Charles H. Meek.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Thayer, Theodore. As We Were: The Story of Old Elizabethtown: Published for the New Jersey Historical Society by The Grassman Publishing Company, Inc. (1964)
  11. James was the son of Sir George Carteret, one of the NJ Proprietors. Philip, the governor, was their distant cousin. Jack Harpster, John Ogden, The Pilgrim (1609-1682): A Man of More than Ordinary Mark (Staunton, VA: American History Press, 2015), pp. 145, 164.
  12. New Jersey Published Archives, 1st series, vol. 21, Calendar of Records, 1664-1703 (Paterson, NJ: The Press Printing and Publishing Co., 1899), p. 183
  13. A. Van Doren Honeyman, ed., Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State of NewJersey; 1st ser., v. 30; Calendar of New Jersey Wills..., v. 2, 1730-1750 (Somerville, NJ: Unionist-Gazette Assn., 1918), "Appendix -- Certain Omitted Abstracts", p. 562.
  14. He was married at least by July 1647 when Sarah was mentioned in her father's will as "Wm Meeks wife". Vital Records of New Haven, 1649-1850 (Hartford, CT: The Connecticut society of the Order of the founders and patriots of America, 1917),, v. 1, p. 104, n. 30.
  15. The will mentions a current wife Hannah. Source for Potter is unclear.
  16. Jacobus lists all as children of Sarah, born New Haven, except Joseph. But he is listed by L. Meeker and mentioned in William's will. Donald Lines Jacobus, Families of Ancient New Haven (Baltimore, [Md.]: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1981; Orig. New Haven Genealogical Magazine, 1923-32), vol. 5, p. 1160,
  17. "Sarah Preston, the first wife of William and the mother of his children...." Leroy J. Meeker, Meeker Family of Early New Jersey as revealed in the correspondence of Charles H. Meeker, Jr. Charleston, WV: Capitol Printing Co, 1973), para. 5 and Box 2, p. [15]. Online at
  18. Date is given by Jacobus and corroborated by published New Haven VR. It appears to conflict with Hatfield who documents William's presence in New Jersey by Feb. 1665/6. Perhaps his wife remained behind for some months.Vital Records of New Haven, 1649-1850 (Hartford, CT: The Connecticut society of the Order of the founders and patriots of America, 1917),, v. 1, p. 23; Edwin F. Hatfield, History of Elizabeth, New Jersey, including the Early History of Union County (New York: Carlton & Lanahan, 1869; Carlisle, MA: Applewood Books, n.d.) p. 57.
  19. Drake, Frederick C. Witchcraft in the American Colonies, 1647-62 American Quarterly 20 (1968):694-725)
  20. Taylor, John Metcalf. The witchcraft delusion in colonial Connecticut, 1647-1697, New York : Grafton Press, 1908, pg. 149-150; citing Hoadly, New Haven Colonial Records (2:224).
  21. Robert C. Anderson, Great Migration Directory: Immigrants to New England, 1620–1640, (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2015).
  22. “William Mecar in the Family Data Collection - Births” Ancestry Record genepoolb #3011888.

See also:

  • Johnson, Norvan L. "Hardin Clay Roots #1," Rootsweb, Updated: 2015-10-22 01:39:55 UTC (Thu) link: accessed 30 September 2019.
  • Pomfret, Dr. John E. The Province of East New Jersey, 1609-1702, (The Rebellious Proprietary): 1962.
  • Hatfield, Rev. Edwin. The History of Elizabeth, New Jersey: 1868.
  • Thayer, Theodore. As We Were, (The Story of Old Elizabethtown): 1964.
  • Cunningham, John T. Newark: 1966.

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Comments: 13

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I have posted Research Notes for William -- suggesting that his parents and circumstances of arrival should be considered unknown. Certainly not substantiated by sources cited.
posted by John Miller Jr.
There are sources for the emigration. Are you saying that these sources don't actually substantiate a pre-1640 arrival?

Also, as formatted, I find the citations very difficult to follow. Any objections to converting the citations to comprehensible footnotes? That would clarify what the sources do and don't say about the facts that cite them.

posted by Jillaine Smith
I don't believe the (secondary) sources substantiate pre-1640 arrival, and only one (Newark "Biography") directly asserts it. Lack of mention by Anderson is telling.

Agree that the double-click system of references is problematic. A short-cut for the creator perhaps.

posted by John Miller Jr.
I'll work on the citations.


posted by Jillaine Smith
Thank you for your comments on the lack of documentation of William Meaker's origin and time of arrival in New England. You are correct about the lack of substantiating evidence. However, William Meaker IS in fact mentioned twice in Volume V (M-P) of Robert Charles Anderson's The Great Migration, Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635 in the sketch of his father-in-law, William Preston, on pages 520 & 522.

Further, Robert Anderson does not pretend that his compilation of emigrants from 1620-1640 is complete. That William Meaker was not included means only that no documentation has yet been found, not that he didn't arrive in New England prior to 1640.

According to Anderson, a person might not have been listed as a passenger if they came as servants, or they refused to take the allegiance oaths. If William's date of birth --1620-- is correct, he would have been a minor if he traveled prior to 1640. Minors not traveling with their parents were almost always servants.

posted by Lisa (Carle) Meeker
Thanks. Based on prevalence of the name it does appear that Limington is the likely birthplace. I think "Leamington" was probably pronounced the same.

What are the sources for his will transcript? I have seen only abstracts.

posted by John Miller Jr.
The source for the transcript is Leroy J. Meeker's "The Meeker Family of Early New Jersey As Revealed in the Correspondence of Charles H. Meeker, Jr." Charleston, Capitol Printing Co., 1973, p.15

When I looked at it again I realized it's not really a transcript, the format just makes it look like one. It's actually an expanded abstract. Here's a link to the copy of "The Meeker Family of Early New Jersey..." on Family Search:

Per N.J. Archives XXI, p 183, the will itself is found in East Jersey Deeds, etc., LIBER D,p. 256. (It is dated Dec 9, 1690 and was proved Jan 1691.)

I ordered a copy on Dec 27, 2020. Given COVID-19 closures, etc., who knows when they’ll get to my request. But I will share it whenever I do get it.

posted by Lisa (Carle) Meeker
Excellent. Thanks.

(.... making up the 30 characters!...)

posted by John Miller Jr.
Okay, I have updated the citations/footnotes so they are easier to read/use. I have detached the parents. I have removed PGM. I see that Black Sheep Project is still a profile manager-- and a project is needed for project protection-- which this profile needs given the disputed origins. It also means that the profile will need a project *box* not just a sticker. But I don't know how the Black Sheep project works.

And frankly... I'm not sure he really qualifies as a black sheep. I'd say that's a stretch. You might look into seeing if New Jersey would like to protect him (if such a project exists). There is also a Connecticut project that could protect him.

P.S. Unless you reply to me on one of these comments, I will no longer see yours or others' comments because I've removed PGM.

posted by Jillaine Smith
edited by Jillaine Smith
Re: Removal of "Goodman". Was trying to include a Wikipedia reference and it kept glitching and ended up repeating.

See: Well supported.

posted by John Miller Jr.
Meeker-157 and Meeker-921 appear to represent the same person because: They both have same profile name as well as wife and father. They both have Benjamin as a son. One profile has sources listed while the other lists unsourced family tree.
posted by John Appleby
I'm related to the Meeker family. I would so like for someone to reach me. I have so much I have found and and would so much like to see what you found. I also want to do a DNA. Serena Moore
posted by Serena Moore
History of Union County, New Jersey

by Ricord, Frederick W. (Frederick William), 1819-1897

Among the early family names was that of Meeker, in. which line there are numerous descendants. One of them lived on the old road to Elizabeth Town, just easterly of where Philip Johns now resides. William Meeker was one of the Elizabeth Town associates. He came from New Haven, Connecticut, where he took the oath of ?delity July I, I644. He was “propounded, October 7, I646, to be loader to Mill for a 12 month, to goe in all seasons except unreasonable weather.” Frequently he appears in the records as “ Meaker " and “ Mecar.” He was appointed a constable of the borough on the I 3th of October, 1671. He had sous, Joseph and Benjamin, also numbered among the eighty associates. The name of Benjamin Meek

If the manager finds this duplicate please take it down, Kevin Lajiness

posted by Kevin Lajiness

M  >  Meeker  |  M  >  Meaker  >  William (Meeker) Meaker

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