Kilborn and Deborah Merritt Goblets

Colorless glass goblets, c1840s
Donated by Carol Merritt Dickson
Dims: H 6 ½” x diameter rim 3 ¼ x diameter base 3 ½”

These colorless glass goblets have a wide rim and deep bowl. The glass of the bowl is thin, and the circumference has a decorative motif below the rim with an etched letter “M.” Seams are visible at the bottom of the bowl and the foot of the goblets is smoothly finished. There are no manufacturers’ marks.
While glassmaking in America dates back to1608 in Jamestown, Virginia, early glassware was primarily imported. In the 18th century, German immigrants played a pivotal role in establishing glassmaking factories. The 19th century brought a significant breakthrough with the invention of pressed-made glass. This made glass tableware cheaper to produce and affordable to middle class households, propelling glassmaking into a prominent industry.

Between 1820 and 1840, the number of glassmaking factories in the United States saw remarkable growth, with Massachusetts being home to renowned companies like the New England Glass Company, South Boston Flint Glass Works, Phoenix Glass Works, the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company, and the Mt. Washington Glass Company.

The 1840s, when the Merritt goblets were made, marked a period of innovation and technological advancement, including the use of iron molds, mold-blowing techniques, and improved glass formulas. Massachusetts glassmaking companies gained recognition for their production of fine glassware, contributing to the rising reputation of American glassmaking.

These 6 goblets were found in the attic of 58 Clapp Road, Scituate, along with a note identifying them as a wedding present given to Kilborn Merritt and Deborah (Litchfield) Merritt. The house at 58 Clapp Road was Kilborn Merritt’s childhood home. It was built by Jarious Litchfield (Deborah Litchfield’s uncle) in 1816 and was home to 5 generations of the Merritt family.

Kilborn Bailey Merritt (born 25 Nov 1824) was the son of Martin Dawes and Debby (Bailey) Merritt and the 5th great grandson of Henry Merritt, one of the first settlers in Scituate. According to Samuel Deane’s History of Scituate Massachusetts Henry Merritt is believed to have been in Scituate as early as 1626 and was a member of the Conihasset Partners, a group of early landowners. The first recorded deed in 1628 was for the sale of land owned by Henry Merritt to Nathaniel Tilden.

Kilborn and Deborah Litchfield (born 14 Aug 1829) married on 30 November 1848. According to the donor’s records, 12 goblets were presented to them as a wedding gift, they were later divided amongst Merritt relatives. The goblets were surely a prized possession of the couple as they have been preserved in perfect condition and kept within the family.

Kilborn and Deborah Merritt lived at 34 Clapp Road with her parents Asa and Lucy Litchfield. In the 1860 census Kilborn was 36 and resided with his wife Deborah, age 30, adopted daughter Emma, age 5, Lucy Litchfield age 65 and Lafayette Litchfield age 15 months. Kilborn’s profession was listed as farmer. Kilborn, Deborah, Emma Merritt and Lucy Litchfield continued to live together as noted in the 1865 and 1870 census. On 4 Dec 1879, Emma Gertrude Merritt married David Henry Stoddard of South Scituate (now Norwell), a blacksmith.

Deborah Merritt pre-deceased Kilborn Merritt in1895. When Kilborn died in Scituate at age 74 on 26 Jan 1899, he bequeathed to “his adopted daughter…all of my estate.” Kilborn and Deborah Merritt are buried in the Merritt Family Cemetery in North Scituate. Emma Stoddard passed away in 1933 and is buried in the Washington Street Cemetery in Norwell with her husband. Donor records state that the well-cared for goblets were believed to have been delivered to 58 Clapp Road in the 1930’s from an unidentified Merritt relative.


Davis, Pearce. The Development of the American Glass Industry, Harvard University Press, 1949

Hayes-Cavanaugh, Doris. Early Glass Making In East Cambridge, History Cambridge, 1926. Early Glass Making In East Cambridge – History Cambridge

Zerwick, Chloe. A Short History of Glass. New York: H.N. Abrams in association with the Corning Museum of Glass,1990.

Curriculum Connections

This Scituate Historical Society Collections Highlight connects with the following Massachusetts State Curriculum Frameworks:

History and Social Science Framework

Grade 5: United States History to the Civil War and the Modern Civil Rights Movement

Topic 4: The growth of the Republic

HSS.5.T4.04 On a map of New England, locate cities and towns that played important roles in the development of the textile and machinery industries, whaling, shipping, and the China trade in the 18th and 19th centuries and give examples of the short- and long-term benefits and costs of these industries.

History and Social Science | United States History

Topic 3: Economic growth in the North, South, and West

HSS.USI.T3.02 Analyze the effects of industrial growth throughout antebellum America, and in New England, the growth of the textile and machinery industries and maritime commerce.
a. the technological improvements and inventions that contributed to industrial growth and maritime commerce
c. the causes and impact of the wave of immigration from Northern Europe to the United States in the 1840s and 1850s (e.g., the impact of the English occupation of Ireland, the Irish famine, and industrial development in the U.S.)
d. the rise of a business class of merchants and manufacturers

Topic 6: Rebuilding the United States: industry and immigration

HSS.USI.T6.04 Using primary source images, data, and documents, describe the causes of the immigration of Germans, the Irish, Italians, Eastern Europeans, Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese to America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the major roles of these immigrants in industrialization and the building of railroads.

Visual Arts

7-8.V.R.11 Relate artistic ideas and works to societal, cultural and historical contexts to deepen understanding. Identify visual ideas from a variety of cultures connected to different historical populations.