An American Family History

Michael Dwinnell and Elizabeth Fisk

Topsfield, Essex County, Massachusetts

The settlement of New Meadows was incorporated as the Town of Topsfield in 1650. The church "gathered" on November 4, 1663. The third Meeting House was built in 1703 with Rev. Joseph Capen as pastor.

Dr. Michael Dwinnell and Elizabeth Fiske married on December 10, 1724 in Wenham. She was his second wife. All of his born in Topsfield where the family remained for this generation. They lived on Salem Street. According to the Topsfield Historical Collections Volume 11, Salem Street, extended Wenham Street then passed the "Dwinell Houses" and was about six hundred feet from the present road. The children lived in Topsfield at the same time as and were closely associated with the Aaron Estey family.   

Michael and his first wife, Hannah, had eight children. Thomas Dwinnell was born on October 3, 1693. Sarah Dwinnell Foster was born on June 20, 1697. Mary Dwinnell Gott Peabody was born on April 25, 1702. Michael Dwinnell was born in 1705/06. Stephen Dwinnell was born on March 5, 1707/08. Hannah Dwinnell Bowery Curtis was born on March 12, 1709/10. Jacob Dwinnell was born on January 31, 1714/15. Abigail Dwinnell Deering was born on November 5, 1719.

In 1724, Michael married 20 year old Elizabeth Fiske. They had two children. Benjamin Dwinnell was born on November 10, 1726. The second Thomas Dwinnell was born on August 26, 1729. Elizabeth died soon after his birth in 1730.

Michael married Elizabeth Cave in 1731. They also had two children. Samuel Dunnel was born in 1731 and baptized on July 18, 1731. Elizabeth Dwinnell was born on October 29, 1733. Elizabeth Cave Dwinnell died on February 7, 1736/37.

Michael married Charity Cotton in 1737 in Salem. Charity died on November 8, 1752. Michael and Charity did not have children. Shortly after Charity died, he married Mary Shaw Balch in 1753.

Michael died in 1761.

On May 20, 1760, the town of Topsfield appointed a committee of twelve men to seat the congregation "according to there Best Skill and Judgement." The report was dated May 17, 1762. (Topsfield Historical Collections, Volume 7) In 1762, the widow Mary Dwinnell was in the women’s first seat with Mr. Aaron Esty’s wife.

Mister ( Mr.) was derived from master and Mrs. and Miss were derived from mistress. They indicated people of superior social status in colonial America.
Old Style Calendar
Before 1752 the year began on Lady Day, March 25th,. Dates between January 1st and March 24th were at the end of the year. Old Style (O.S.) and New Style (N.S.) are used to indicate whether the year has been adjusted. Often both dates are used.

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."


Various spellings of Dwinnell
Doenell, Donell, Donnall, Donnell, Duenell, Dunnel, Dunnell, Dwaniel, Dwaniell, Dwainel, Dwennel, Dwinel, Dwinell, Dwinnel, Dwinnill, Dwonill, Dwynel

from Genealogical and Personal Memoirs, Volume 1 edited by William Richard Cutter

Dr. Michael Dwinell son of Michael Dwinell. born in 1670, was the first physician of Topsfield. His house was above the brook on the knoll back of the cider mill which was taken down in 1875. He had a barn, and a fine well of water. which still supplies his descendants.

He died December 24, 1761. aged ninety-one years. His will was dated July He mentions his wife Mary, sons Michael. Stephen. Jacob; daughters Sarah Foster, Mary. Hannah. Abigail: granddaughters Esther Balch, and infant David. son of Benjamin Dwinell.

He was married five times. (Some writers say seven but the records show only five).
He married (first) Hannah;
(second). December 10. 1724. Elizabeth Fisk. ofWenham. who died March 26. 1730;
(third) Elizabeth Cave. of Danvers, who died February. 1737;
(fourth). July 6. 1737. in Salem. Charity Cotton, who died November 8. 1752;
(fifth). Mary Balch. widow. February 1. 1753. She survived him.

1. Thomas. born October 3. 1693, married Mary Abigail Perkins.
2. Sarah. born 1694. married Abram Foster. of Ipswich.
3. Mary. born 1702.
4. Michael. born 1707. married Lucy Towne.
5. Stephen. born 1708. married Abigail Harris. of Ipswich.
6. Hannah born 1710. married John Bower.
7. Jacob. born January 31, 1715-16.
8. Abigail. born 1719.

Children of Michael and Elizabeth Fisk:
9. Benjamin. born November. 1726. married Mary Estey.
10. Thomas. born August. 1729.

Children of Michael and Elizabeth Cave:
11. Samuel. born 1731.
12. Elizabeth, born October. 1733.


The New England Meetinghouse was the only municipal building in a town. Both worship and civil meetings were held there. It was customary for men and women to sit separately and the town chose a committee once a year to assign seats according to what was paid, age, and dignity.

The rod or perch or pole is a surveyor's tool equal to 5 1⁄2 yards.

On December 30, 1757

The committee laid out a way from Wenham Line to the Great Road . . . leading to Salem .

. . which line begins at a Stake in Wenham line by the Wall on the way near Theophluis Fisk's house & from thence Runs North . . . west . . . through said Fiskes land,

thence North . . . West . . . North   . . . through said Fiskes land to a stake Two poles to the Southward of the corner of Michael Dwinell Junrs wall

thence west . . . North . . . through sd Dwinnells land thence West . . . North . . .thru land of Joshua Herrick of Beverly & land of heirs of Robert Cue . . . West . . . North . . . thru land of Capt. Thomas Tarbox

thence the same course 2 poles thru land of sd Michael Dwinnell Junr

thence west . . . North by the wall 16 poles thro land of Doct. Michael Dwinell &

thence West . . . North . . . thru land of Jacob Dwinnell

thence on the course laid mentioned 28 poles thru land of Jeremh. Town (the way here taking in a Small peice of the corner of David Balchs land) thence west . . . North . . . Through sd Towns land

thence West . . . North . . . through land of Mathew Peabody to the Great Road aforesaid."

Wenham, Essex County, Massachusetts was settled in 1636. The first settlers called it Enon or Salem Village. It was officially set off from the Town of Salem on May 10, 1643.

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©Roberta Tuller 2023
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