An American Family History

Dr. Michael Dwinnell

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

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.

Surgeons in colonial America were often barbers who used their cutting tools to perform surgery.
Physicians were university trained.
Midwives assisted women in childbirth.

Dr. Michael Dwinnell was born on December 5, 1670 in Topsfield, Essex County, Massachusetts. He was the second child of Michael and Mary Dwinnell.  

Dunnel said

He was the first physician ever recorded in Topsfield, and is styled on old deeds as physician and chirurgeion. What were his medical studies previous to his acquiring his title are not known at this day.

He was a Yeoman.

Esther Richards Dwinnell told her granddaughter

that Michail, Jr., the doctor, had at different times, seven wives, and when questioned as to which he felt the strongest affection, replied “that he knew no difference."

Genealogists have only been able to document five wives. He married his first wife, Hannah, before 1693 when he was 23.

The Topsfield Historical Collections Volume 11 reported that

At a Lawfull meeting of ye Town of Topsfield the 2 day march 1702/8 Michill Dwaniell Junr . . .[was] Chosen Surveyors of high-wayes for the year Insuing.

In 1708/09 he (Michael Dwaniel Junr) was “chosen to serve on the Jury of Trials at Ipswich Court next Insuing."

In 1718 he inherited from his father.

On February 19, 1724/25 he (Michael Dwinel) was chosen as one of the

selectmen to order ye Prudentiall affaris of the Town for ye year Ensuing. (Topsfield Historical Collections, Volume 16)

He married his second wife, 2o year old Elizabeth Fiske, on December 10, 1724 when he was 54 years old.

On November 18, 1730

The Town Allowed six shillings to Doct Michael Dwinel William Redington and Jonathan Wildes for perambulating with Wenham Last Spring (Topsfield Historical Collections Volume 19)

He married his third wife, Elizabeth Cave, before 1731. Elizabeth died in February, 1737.

On March 24 1735/36 he (Michael Dwinel) was chosen

to serve upon ye Grand Jury" (Topsfield Historical Collections, Volume, 19, p. 63).

He married his fourth wife, Charity Cotton on July 6, 1737 in Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts.

In 1738

Doct Michael Dwinel & Edmun Towne are Chosen to take the Enspection of the Clay Ground which belongs to the Town to See that No outTowns man or men Shall Dig or Carry away any Clay or brick from Said Clay Ground. (Topsfield Historical Collections, Volume 19, p. 80)

His fourth wife, Charity, died on November 8, 1752.

He married his fifth wife, Mary Shaw Balch on February 1, 1753.

His will, dated July 17, 1753. It was signed with his seal and mark. He left his wife, Mary, "the use and income of all the lands," and also "one cow." He left his son Michael 5 shillings, to be paid in 7 years after his own and his wife's death. to his son Stephen, 5 shillings; his son Jacob 5 shillings; his granddaughter, Esther Balch, wife of David Balch, 5 shillings; son Benjamin, house and barn, and land and meadow in Topsfield, and all else, bonds, and books, debts, etc., to his wife. He also mentioned his daughters, Sarah Foster, and Mary, Hannah, and Abigail.

The inventory of his estate was presented on February 1, 1762 and amounted to £145. Among other articles mentioned were: Sum Books, 5/1, Two Coats and One Great Coat

He died on December 24, 1761 at the age of 91 in Topsfield. His will was filed on December 7, 1761 (Essex County Probate Index, file 8447) and proved on February 1, 1762 by Elijah Dorman, Joseph Mathew, and William Foster.

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.

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
  • A yeoman was a man who owned and cultivated a small farm. He belonged to the class below the gentry or land owners. A husbandman was a free tenant farmer. The social status of a husbandman was below that of a yeoman.

    ye is an archaic spelling of "the."
    Children of Michael and Mary Dwinnell
  • Mary Dwinell Hovey
  • Dr. Michael Dwinnell
  • Thomas Dwinnell
  • John Dwinnell
  • Elizabeth Dwinnell
  • Magdalen Dwinnell Holgate Clough
  • Joseph Dwinnell
  • Joannah Dwinnell Hood
  • Susannah Dwinnell Devenish Kilham
  • Seals were used to authenticate documents and men were expected to have a personal die. Records in deed books are copies and signatures are usually in the clerk’s handwriting. The clerk drew a circle around the word “seal” to indicate that the original document was sealed.



    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."

    In the name of God, Amen. The 29 Day of January 1710 Michael Dunnell of Topsfield being in perfect Memory & Remembrance yet Throu Infirmity of Body, being put in mind of my Mortality, I doe make this my Last Will & Testament. In manner & form as follows

    First I Commit my Soul into ye hands of God, who gave It, & my Body to a Decent burial, In hopes of a glorious Ressurrection, at ye last Day. Throu ye power & meritts of Jesus Christ my Lord—and as for my Out ward Estate ye God hath given mee I Doe Give & bequeathe, as followeth

    1. My Will is. That all my Lawfull Debts be paid out of my Estate, by my Executrix hereafter mentioned & funeral charges.

    Item, I give and bequeathe Unto my son Michaell, all ye parcell of Land abounding his house, as he hath improved for himself— Also a parcell of Meadow joyning to said Upland, as It is bounded by a Cart Way, to mr Joseph Porters Line: Lyeing like a halfe Moon & Called ye Swamp Meadow, binding him ye said Michaell to maintain a good fence, half the way between us: And I do give to my son Michaell a parcell of Swamp Land, Lying on ye West side of ye high way to Salem, as It is bounded, and Lying by Mr. Joseph Porters, Grand Hill—further I Doe give to my said son Michaell a parcell of Upland & Meadow bounded by ye Corner of ye Town bridge, running southerly round a Cove as ye fence goes to a pair of Barrs, on a straite Line, to Joseph Towne his new Dwelling house till it meet the River, and so by ye River to the Bridge Again.

    Item, I Doe Give & bequeathe to my Son Thomas—all the Land, he is possessed of, about his house & from Town's Land, as he is bounded on ye West Side, on both corners of his house Lott, running Easterly till It meets with Salem Line; being a Triangle piece of about Two Acres, be it more, or less as it is bounded, Also his parcell of ye Swamp, as it is divided with his brothers. Also Three Acres and a halfe of ye River Meadows, bounded by Michaells Meadow & ye East End Two Acres, and a halfe, and by the Westerly angle bounded from the Southerly side of ye Ford & so To joyn upon ye Two acres & halfe of Upland as afore mentioned

    Item, I Doe give to my Son John ye North End of my Dwelling house & halfe my home roads, upon the Consideration He Shall pay Ten Pounds, as I shall order in this my Will—Also my Will is tht my Son John shall have his Division in my Swamps, & halfe ye Cow pasture, also halfe ye River Meadow of what shall be left when Michaell and Thomas shall be measured off—Also my will is my Son John Shall have ye Barn, only allowing his Mother so much of It as she shall have occassion for her own use, and Benefit during her Natural Life.

    Item, I give to my Son Joseph his Division in the Swamps together with an equal Division as Michael Jr. and those mentioned to John—my will is that they both carry on together if they can— if not, then Divide half of my home goods between them, & my Will is that Joseph shall pay Ten pounds, as I shall order & ye Joseph shall have equal share with John, in my River Meadow & further my will is yt my Son John & Joseph shall keep for my wife Two Cows and a Horse, and Ten Sheep - my wife finding fodder for them

    Also she shall have liberty of milking ye Cows in pasture

    further my Will is yt John shall pay Five pounds to my Daughter Mary Hovey and Five pounds to my Daughter Elizabeth and Twenty Shillings to my Daughter Susannah Killum's child.

    Also my will is my Son Joseph shall pay to my daughter Maudlin Wholewright Five pounds to my Daught Johanna Five pounds, & to my Daughter Killum's child, Twenty Shillings

    Further my will is yt Joseph shall have no power to sell my Land, without by power of His Mother, and she not to Grant any without by advise & counsell of Mr. Joseph Porter, Deacon Saml Howlett & Abram Glover, my tried, and faithfull friends, to oversee that matter.

    Further my will is, that my son Holgate, shall have the use of One Acre of Land, in the Corner, of ye part of my home Road, as is to my Sons, Michael. John & Joseph, next to ye high way by Mr. Joseph Porters Line, if said Holgate shall see cause to come, and live upon it, in his life time.

    Item, I Doe give & Bequeathe to my beloved wife Mary The East end of my Dwelling house, with all my land from the corner of my Son John's Orchard—Down to the Middle of the House, to the two Chimnies, from between the Two houses southerly to the Bars, before the Doors, so on a straite Line to Mr. Joseph Porters Line, with both my Orchard Cellars, and Cydar Mill Also all my house hold Goods, and moveables, a Horse, and Two Cows, and Ten Sheep to be kept by my son John and Joseph Summer and Winter, only she find fodder for them, further my will is I Doe constitute my beloved wife Sole Executrix to this my last will and Testiment.

    In Testimony hereof, I have hereunto Sett my hand & seal this Twenty ninth day of June Seventeen hundred and Ten & in the Tenth year of ye Reigne of our Soveraign Lady Queen Anne 1710.
    Michael + Dunnel his mark

    John How
    Samuel Howlett
    Abram How

    Whereas It was forgott, in the other side of this my will to make Disposition and sale of what is in my Wife's hands C S to Lands, or other Estate,

    My Will is I Doe hereby Impower my beloved wife Mary to make free & full Disposal as she shall see Good, only not from my children. To whom—& of whom she shall see Good, for yt is always to be understood yt my will is yt all my wife Doe— The Land shall not be sold from my sons, or given from my sons, provided They shall be willing to Give as any other will & also all parcells of Lands to give my Sons that shall be Living to have refusal of it—yt my Lands may not goe to Strangers, unless through my Son's Will.

    This is the last article of my Last Will & Testament as witness my hand & Seale
    This Fifth day of Februay Seventeen hundred and Twelve and Twelfth year of ye Reigne of our Soveraigne Lady Queen Anne.
    Michael + Dunnell his mark

    In Witness of
    John How
    Saml Howlett
    Abram How

    Essex, Ipswich March 3, 1717

    Before me Honbl John Appleton Esqr, Judge of Probate of Wills &c in said County of Essex, Appeard John How, Dr. Samuel Howlett, both of Topsfield aforesaid & made Oath before me they were present, and saw Michael Dunnel, late of Topsfield deceased signe, & seale & heard him publish & Declare the above written testament together with ye Codicill annexed to be his last will & Testament, and he said he was of Good understanding & Disposing mind to ye disposing of this with Abram How deceased into my hands as witness in his presence—Sworn, attest, Danl Roggers Pronat & upon which this will as proved & allowed said Trust and gave bond to pay all Deceased debts & legacies, according to will

    Attest Danl. Roggers Pronat.

    Know all men by this, & from whom as We. being Sons & heirs of Michaill Dunnel of Topsfield lately Deceased have agreed as follows. That wheras our said Father by his Last Will & Testatemt, bearing date July 29, 1710, did among some other Things Dubious of exact meaning, we have mutually agreed to divide the land between us, in a different manner, which was admitted by the court and settled March 3rd Seventeen hundred & 17 & 18.
    Signed by
    Mary Dunnel
    Michael Dunnel
    Thomas Dunnel
    John Dunnil
    Joseph Dunnill
    Acknowledged before John Appleton Judge, as their free Act &

    Queen Anne ruled England and Great Britain from March 8, 1702 to August 1, 1714.
    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.

    When a mark is used for a signature, the person was probably illiterate, but may not have been able to sign because of age or infirmity.

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