An American Family History

Abigail Dwinnell Deering

In 1688, during the Glorious Revolution, the Protestant king and queen,William and Mary, took the English throne from Catholic King James II. The bloodless revolution profoundly impacted the American colonies.

Abigail Dwinnell Deering (Dearing) was born on November 5, 1719 in Topsfield, Essex County, Massachusetts. She was the daughter of Dr. Michael Dwinnell and his first wife, Hannah.

She married Humphrey Deering (Dearing) of Arundel, York County, Maine. Arundel is now Kennebunkport. Humphrey was born about 1717. His parents were Humphrey Deering and Sarah March. Humphrey Deering, Sr. was one of the sixteen soldiers comprising the garrison of Fort Mary in 1699. Fort Mary was a British fort built in 1688 that saw action during Queen Anne's War and was located in Saco, Maine.

Their children included:
Hannah Deering,
Sarah Deering Patten (married Robert Patten),
James Deering,
Abigail Deering,
Susannah Deering,
Mary Deering, and
Esther Deering.

When his father died in 1747, Humphrey was the executor of the estate and inherited:

  • a house in Arundel,
  • a half interest in the "Priviledge of the Stream" in Barrets River with various rights to cut and mill lumber,
  • 120 acres in Arundel,
  • a team of oxen,
  • six acres of marsh.

Henry Gale Dunnel cited a letter from

Arundel, Me., dated 1793, from James Dearing, s. of Abigail Dwinel, who m. Humphrey Dearing, to his uncle Jacob Dwinel, stating, that he had heard of the death of his uncle and aunt, and they had left no children, and desired him to obtain his and his sister's portion of their estate. The name of his uncle and aunt are not mentioned, probably it was a s. or dau. of Michael Dwinel.

Queen Ann’s War was between 1702 and 1713. It was part of the War of Spanish Succession. England, Austria, the Netherlands, and Portugal joined forces to prevent France from becoming too powerful. The war waged on the New England frontier was called Queen Ann’s War.

Essex County, Massachusetts was created on May 10, 1643 by the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, when it ordered "that the whole plantation within this jurisdiction be divided into four sheires."
Chiildren of Dr. Michael
and Hannah Dwinnell
  • Thomas Dwinnell
  • Sarah Dwinnell Foster
  • Mary Dwinnell Gott Peabody
  • Michael Dwinnell
  • Stephen Dwinnell
  • Hannah Dwinnell Bowery Curtis
  • Jacob Dwinnell
  • Abigail Dwinnell Deering

  • of Dr. Michael and Elizabeth Fiske
  • Benjamin Dwinnell
  • Thomas Dwinnell
  • of Dr. Michael and
    Elizabeth Cave
  • Samuel Dwinnell
  • Elizabeth Dwinnell



    In 1721, Boston had a terrible smallpox epidemic. Citizens fled the city and spread the disease to the other colonies. Inoculation was introduced during this epidemic by Zabdiel Boylston and Cotton Mather.

    Saco Valley Settlements and Families, Volume 1 by Gideon Tibbetts Ridlon

    Humphrey Deering, of Arundel, county of York, “worsted comber," said he dwelt in an exposed town in time of war; this in his will made April 13, 1747. He calls wife Sarah "beloved" and allows her one room in his dwelling-house during the time of her widowhood, and wills that son Humphrey 

    winter a good cow for her use every year; also three bushels of meal, two thousand of boards and wood at the door suitable for her fire.

    He mentions his mill on the lower falls behind his house on Barrets river; mentions a hundred acres of land given him by the town, March 29, 1725, and “laid out In a square," the 16th of December, following; also six acres of marsh purchased June 13, 1721; gives homestead, stock, and bulk of all property to son Humphrey. 

    His daughters were five in number, named Dorothy Adams, Mary Thomas, Abigail Hutchins, Judith Lassell, and Elizabeth Emons; will probated Oct. 20, 1747; inventory, £186: 3: 3. His name does not occur on the Kittery records, and I do not know his origin.

    American colonists continued to use British monetary units, namely the pound, shilling and pence for which £1 (or li) equalled 20s and 1s equalled 12d. In 1792 the dollar was established as the basic unit of currency.
    The town common (commons) was a small, open field at the center of the town which was jointly owned. It was used as a marketplace, a place for the militia to drill, or for grazing livestock.

    In the Name of God Amen. I Humphrey Dearing of Arundel in the County of York in His Majts Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England Worsted Comber. . .
    Impr: I will that my funeral Charges & all my just Debts Shall be paid & discharged by Humphrey Dearing my dutiful and well beloved Son, whom I now constitute & appoint my Sole and only Executor.

    Item. I give and bequeath to Sarah Dearing, my now beloved Wife during the time of her Widowhood one Room in my dwelling House, and all the household Stuff, and my Will is that Humphry my Son yearly & every year, winter a good Cow for her Use which I allow her out of my Stock, that against every Winter he provide for his Mother, three Bushels of Meal, and two Thousand of Boards, and find her with Wood at the Door of her House, Sufficient & Suitable for her own Fire: but on her Marriage all this is to cease, and be relinquished by her.

    Item. I give & bequeath to the Said Humphry Dearing my Son my dwelling House in arundel with all my Right Title and interest to the one half part of the Priviledge of the Stream in Said Town called Barrets River with one half of a Saw, and a fourth part of the Saw Mill Standing on the lower Falls behind my House, with one half part of the Priviledge of building a Mill or Mills hereafter, with all my Priviledge of laying Logs & Lumber on the Southern Side of sd Mills, and as I am a Proprietor the Priviledge of Cutting Timber on the Town Commons, This my proprierty with the other Priviledges aforesd I give to him the Said Humphry Dearing his Heirs and Assigns forever.

    Item. I give to the Said Humphry my Son a certain Tract of Land in Said Town which I bought of Thomas Wheelwright in the Year 1743. containing about twenty Acres, butted as the Deed declares, and also my Oxen, and with them all the Wood & Iron Work Chains Yoke &c. for fixing out a Team to Said Humphry & heirs & Assigns forever.

    Item A Tract of Land of an Hundred Acres that was given me by the Town on March 29, 1725...

    Item, Six Acres of Marsh which on the 13th of June 1721 I bought of Ebenezer Barton...

    A sawmill was an important developmental step in a community. Before sawmills, boards could only be sawn by two men with a whipsaw. In a sawmill, the circular motion of a water wheel was changed to the back-and-forth motion of the saw blade with a pitman arm.

    Cattle were vital to a household and an important legacy.
    Unweaned cattle are calves.
    Female cattle are heifers and cows (had a calf).
    Male cattle are steers (castrated) and bulls.
    are trained draft animals and are often castrated adult male cattle.

    Colonial legislatures granted land to a group of settlers (proprietors) who chose how to divide the land. They had some rights of governance.

    Colonial Maryland
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    ©Roberta Tuller 2023
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