Genealogical and Family History
STATE OF MAINE
Compiled under the editorial supervision of George Thomas Little, A. M., Litt. D.
LEWIS HISTORICAL PUBLISHING COMPANY
[Please see Index page for full citation.]
[Transcribed by Coralynn Brown]
[Many families included in these genealogical records had their beginnings in Massachusetts.]
The Deerings of Maine have the unusual fortune of maintaining for nearly three centuries their residence in substantially the same locality at which their first American ancestor landed, and for nearly two centuries of being, in the line here traced, among the foremost in the business, social and literary circles of the largest city of the state. Though toward the close of the seventeenth century, Indian warfare had driven all the white settlers from Cumberland county, we find the representatives of this family not only did not leave the state, but soon returned to their former home.
The name, at first spelled in almost as many ways as it has letters, is not very common in England where by intermarriage it is connected with the Washingtons of Lancashire, the ancestors of the first president.
(I) George Deering, housewright and planter, came to Richmond's Island, off the shore of Cape Elizabeth, about 1635, and for two or three years was in the employ of Robert Trelawney, who maintained under John Winter a fishing and trading post there. In 1637 he removed to Blue Point in Scarborough and no further account of his life is found, save the quaint record of his deposition in 1645 in the matter of the unnecessary noise made by a certain Captain Robert Nash that "he heerd many peces shot about Strattons Island and farther Inquire he undarstode that it was a drunken bout between Nash and the Ilandrs which putt him and his wife and neighbours into such a fridht that they all thought the French or other enimyes had bin at hand."
His widow, Elizabeth, married Jonas Bayley.
(II) Roger, son of George and Elizabeth Deering, was probably born at Scarborough, but removed to Kittery before 1663, where he followed his occupation of shipwright till his death. His name is appended to several of the petitions to the kind and the governor of the Mass. Bay Colony relative to the changes of government. He died June 16, 1676. His widow, Joan, married William Crafts and kept an inn "near the meeting house." She survived her second husband and died about 1713.
Children of 1st marriage:
Roger, Clement, Thomas, Joseph, John (who died unmarried), Joanna (who married Joseph Couch), and Sarah, (who married Dennis Hicks).
(III) Clement, son of Roger and Joan Deering, married in 1678, Joan, daughter of John and Joan Bray, of Kittery. She was the maternal aunt of Sir William Pepperell, and her father, like his, came from Plymouth, England. At her death in 1707 she bequeathed to her daughters, Joanna and Miriam, her share in her father's house in that city. Her husband seems to haave been a shipwright and died prior to 1695. She was then licensed by the court to keep a house of entertainment. The well-built house in which she dwelt is still (1908) standing, and a view of it may be seen in "Stackpole's Old Kittery and her families."
(IV) John, only son of Clement and Joan (Bray) Deering, was born June 17, 1680, married Dec. 12, 1705, Temperance, daughter of Capt. William and Elizabeth (Langdon) Fernald. She was the granddaughtr of Reginald Fernald, who came to Portsmouth in 1631 as the surgeon of Capt. John Mason's company and was subsequently prominent as clerk of court, recorder of deeds and town clerk, and of Tobias Langdon, the ancestor of the distinguished New Hampshire family of that name.
John Deering was a sea captain and died in 1712, leaving two sons, William and John.
His widow married Ebenezer More, by whom she had four children, and died May 19, 1761.
(V) John (2), son of John (1) and Temperance (Fernald) Deering, was born July 16, 1710, married March 13, 1732, Anna, daughter of Nicholas and Deborah (Grindall) Dunn, of Boston. He was a ship master and, like his father, commanded the vessels of his cousin, Sir William Pepperell. He died at sea in 1758.
Besides four children who died in infancy, they had four sons and four daughters:
Susannah, Nathaniel, John, Mary, Anna, Miriam, Samuel and Joseph.
His widow married Deacon James Milk, a wealthy merchant of Portland, then Falmouth, and died Sept. 7, 1769.
(VI) Nathaniel, son of John (2) and Anna (Dunn) Deering, was born Jan. 29, 1736. Feeling the responsibilities of the oldest son, he removed to Portland at his father's death and engaged in trade, being associated with his father-in-law. At the latter's death in 1772, he inherited a share in his large estate, a portion of which was the large and valuable tract of land lying between Exchange and Market streets, and extending from Middle street to the low water mark. He lived himself at the corner of Exchange and Fore streets till the destruction of the town by the British in 1775. Subsequently he lived where the postoffice now (1908) stands.
Actively interested in public affairs, he served as selectman repeatedly. In 1776 he bought and fitted out the ship "Fox" as a privateer, letters of marque and reprisal having been issued to him and others by Governor Hancock. This vessel inflicted considerable damage in return for the severe losses inflicted by British cruisers. On Feb. 1, 1777, he was commissioned a captain in Colonel Peter Noyes' regiment, by the Council of Massachusetts bay. After the war he was the first to resume business in the town and extended the pier at the foot of Exchange street, then known as Deering's wharf, but subsequently, from its length, as Long wharf. Here he extensively engaged in various commercial enterprises. By his purchases of large and valuable tracts of land in different parts of the city, he laid the foundation of the Deering and Preble estates. Among these purchases was the beautiful grove of oaks, since given by the family to the city, and immortalized by Longfellow in his poem "My Lost Youth."
A man of energy, business capacity and unswerving integrity, he died Sept. 14, 1795, in the vigor of life. Mr. Deering married, Oct. 15, 1764, Dorcas, daughter of Deacon James and Sarah (Brown) Milk, who survived him, dying in 1826. There were four marriages between these two families. His mother married her father. His brother John married her sister Eunice. Her brother James married his sister, Mary. Mr. Deering left but two children:
James and Mary.
The latter married, in 1801, Commodore Edward Preble, U.S.N., celebrated for his bombardment of Tripoli.
(VII) James, son of Nathaniel and Dorcas (Milk) Deering, was born Aug. 23, 1766, at Portland, died Sept. 21, 1850. He was educated during the troublous times of the revolution at Dummer Academy, Byfield, Mass., under Master Moody. Before attaining his majority he entered into business with his father, and on the latter's death continued, aided by the wise advice of his mother, the improvements of the large landed estate which then came under his control. Judicious management and the prosperity of the city, to which his own exertions contributed in no small measure, led to a great increase in the value of his holdings. In 1804 he erected the Deering Mansion on his large farm in Westbrook near Deering's Oaks, introduced the best varieties of fruit trees and adopted the latest and best methods of farming. He was a director for many years of the Maine Bank and of the Atlantic & St. Lawrence railroad, to the building of which he was the largest subscriber in Porland. He displayed liberality in the development of his lands, and the town of Deering was named in his honor.
He married, March 9, 1789, Almira, daughter of Enoch and Mary (Parker) Ilsley, who died in April, 1855.
3. Mary L., who never married.
4. Dorcas, married Hon. Thomas A. Deblois.
5. Almira, married Henry Merrill, Esq.
6. Ellen Maria, married Hon. William Pitt Fessenden.
(VIII) Nathaniel (2), son of James and Almira (Ilsley) Deering, was born June 25, 1791, at Portland, was prepared for college at Phillips Exeter under Benjamin Abbot and graudated at Harvard with honors in 1810. He studied law with Hon. Ezekiel Whitman and was admitted to the bar in 1815. He practiced his profession with success for several years at Skowhegan, but returned to Portland in 1836 and soon relinquished law for literature, in which he had already won a standing in that early circle of American writers, composed of Willis, Percival, Mellen and Neal. He was for a short time editor of Statesman, published in the interests of Henry Clay, and a constant contributor to the daily papers. He was asked by Bryant to accept a place upon the New York Evening Post, but declined. In 1830 he published his "Carrabasset," a tragedy in five acts founded on the massacre of Father Rasle. This was followed by a comedy entitled "Clairvoyants." Both of these have been put upon the stage at Boston and at Portland. In 1851 appeared his tragedy "Bozzaris," the most carefully written of his productions and one which received warm praise from the critics of that day. He was also popular as a humorous writer, and many of his stories and skits, appearing anonymously, were widely copied in the newspapers of the day. A man of sterling character and possessed of great talents, he was prevented from taking that leadership in the community which was his due by extreme modesty and a certain self-distrust.
He died at the family mansion in Deering, March 25, 1881.
Mr. Deering married Oct. 4, 1824, Anna Margaret, daughter of Major John Z. Holwell, of the British army, and his wife Martha (Jackson) Holwell. Major Holwell's father was a lieutenant-colonel of the "Scots Gray" and a grandson of Governor Holwell of Bengal, one of the few who came out alive when confined in the terrible Black Hole of Calcutta in 1756.
1. Edward, died in 1858 in early manhood.
2. James, after a brilliant war record in the U. S. navy, and service of several years in the army, died in 1876.
3. Georgianna, wife of E. E. Upham, died in 1881.
4. Harriet H.
5. Margaret D., wife of A. H. Gilman.
6. Marion D., widow of Colonel George F. Noyes.
7. Henry, who survied his parents.
(IX) Henry, son of Nathaniel and Anna Margaret (Holwell) Deering, was born Sept. 29, 1842, at Portland. He was privately educated at home. On reaching his majority he entered the service of his country as a paymaster's clerk in the navy. After the close of the war he studied law and was admitted to the Cumberland bar in June, 1870, and has since practiced his profession in his native city. Much of his time has been given to the care of the family estate, but hardly less has been devoted to the interests of several benevolent and literary institutions of which he has served as trustee or officer. He is a prominent member of the First Parish Unitarian Church and a trustee of several charitable societies allied with it. He is a life trustee of the Portland Public Library, and has served on important committees of the Maine Historical Society. He is also a member of the Maine Genealogical Society, of the Society of the Cincinnati, of the Sons of the American Revolution and of the Society of Colonial Wars. Able from the first to gratify his own scholarly and historical tastes, he has quiety and unobtrusively labored to place facilities for similar gratification within the reach of his fellow citizens. His literary attainments have been recognized by the degree of Master of Arts from Bowdoin College.