THE BUNKER HILL BIBLE OF FRANCIS MERRIFIELD. The Holy Bible.  Edinburgh: printed by Adrian Watkins, 1755.
Lot 60
THE BUNKER HILL BIBLE OF FRANCIS MERRIFIELD.
The Holy Bible. Edinburgh: printed by Adrian Watkins, 1755.
Sold for US$ 161,000 inc. premium

Lot Details
THE BUNKER HILL BIBLE OF FRANCIS MERRIFIELD. The Holy Bible.  Edinburgh: printed by Adrian Watkins, 1755. THE BUNKER HILL BIBLE OF FRANCIS MERRIFIELD. The Holy Bible.  Edinburgh: printed by Adrian Watkins, 1755. THE BUNKER HILL BIBLE OF FRANCIS MERRIFIELD. The Holy Bible.  Edinburgh: printed by Adrian Watkins, 1755. THE BUNKER HILL BIBLE OF FRANCIS MERRIFIELD. The Holy Bible.  Edinburgh: printed by Adrian Watkins, 1755. THE BUNKER HILL BIBLE OF FRANCIS MERRIFIELD. The Holy Bible.  Edinburgh: printed by Adrian Watkins, 1755. THE BUNKER HILL BIBLE OF FRANCIS MERRIFIELD. The Holy Bible.  Edinburgh: printed by Adrian Watkins, 1755.
THE BUNKER HILL BIBLE OF FRANCIS MERRIFIELD.
The Holy Bible. Edinburgh: printed by Adrian Watkins, 1755.
Thick 12mo (152 x 92 mm). Printed in 2 columns. Contemporary calf. A few leaves lacking at ends (including first title) and possibly internally, general browning and wear, binding abraded, clasps mostly lacking, small piece lacking from head of spine.
Provenance: Francis Merrifield of Ipswich, MA, 1735-1814 (ownership inscriptions); by descent to Elizabeth Merrifield Wade, then Thomas Wade (d.1827) and William Wade; by gift to Rufus Choate in 1872.
Exhibition: loaned to the Ipswich Historical Society in 1903 by Rufus Choate (with 3 printed descriptions pasted in at ends).

AN OUTSTANDING SURVIVAL OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION: A POCKET KING JAMES BIBLE CARRIED AT BUNKER HILL. The Bible's owner, Francis Merrifield has inscribed at length on the verso of the New Testament title page and on the inside back cover, thanking God for his safe deliverance from the battlefield and specifying his regiment and even the number of his gun. The specification of his flintlock's number clearly indicates that, next to this Bible itself, it was Merrifield's most treasured possession. It is a most unusual 18th century practice to notice the number of the gun and for this reason there are extremely few Revolutionary War flintlocks with documented battlefield provenance.

Francis Merrifield was born in Ipswich, Massachusetts the son of Thomas and Mercy Merrifield. He served at Ticonderoga in the French and Indian War and in 1759 married Hannah Lakeman with whom he had 13 children. He is reputed to have been cheerful, modest and quiet and "his comrades in arms testified that ... the Christian graces always shone in his character in an unusual degree" (Ipswich H.S. description). After hostilities with the British began in 1775, Merrifield joined the Ipswich militia which pursued British soldiers retreating from the battles of Concord and Lexington, bringing this Bible with him. He fought at Bunker Hill as a sergeant in the company of Captain Nathaniel Wade in Colonel Little's regiment.

Merrifield records his experience the day of the battle on the verso of the title-page: "Cambridge, Jun 17 1775. I desire to bless God for his Kind aperince in delivering me and sparing my life in the late battle fought on Bunker's Hill. I desire to devote this spared life to His glory and honour. In witness my hand, Francis Merrifield." The inscription on the inside back cover reads: "1775. Cambridge, June 17th. A batel fought on bunkers hill, on Saterday in the afternoon, which lasted an hour and a quarter, two men were wounded, and ... the number of my gun, one hundred eighty three, 183, the seventeenth Rigement, 17."

It is hard to imagine a more patriotic Bible in private hands.

Footnotes

  • "Cambridge, Jun 17 1775. I desire to bless God for his Kind aperince in delivering me and sparing my life in the late battle fought on Bunker's Hill. I desire to devote this spared life to His glory and honour. In witness my hand, Francis Merrifield."
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