The little business that could

Started in 1908

Our journey starts out in the year 1908 at a time when the world was experiencing exciting new changes.  Automobiles and telephones were gaining in popularity.  Henry Ford’s Model T was debuting that year.  Americans flocked to see nickelodeon picture shows.  Unrest was brewing in Europe, but the United States was still at peace.  Amidst this backdrop, a little insurance agency took hold and become a solid part of the Hampton business community in 1908, when Reverend Edgar Warren started the business.

Seven years later Reverend Warren sold the business to Herbert Tobey.  Mr. Tobey had a successful dye selling business, however, there became a shortage of supplies of dye due to the advent of World War I.  Insurance seemed like a sound venture but just for good measure he diversified and opened a real estate office.  In 1916, Mr. Tobey hired Carolyn Ruth Noyes as his assistant.  In 1917, Miss Noyes married Mr. Dean Merrill who had just returned from the war.  In 1918, Mr. Merrill joined the agency and then in 1920 they became partners and the agency formally became “Tobey & Merrill.”

The chronological of events became as follows:

  • Herbert Tobey & Dean Merrill created the Tobey & Merrill partnership in 1920
  • Russell Merrill joined the agency in 1948 when the firm became incorporated.
  • Lester Tobey joined the agency in 1955 after his father Herbert Tobey passed away in 1955.
  • John Tobey, Lester’s son joined the agency in 1970 selling his interest in 1988.
  • Dean Merrill, Russell’s son joined the agency in 1975.
  • Geoffrey Merrill, Russell’s son joined in 1988.
  • Kimberly Merrill, Dean’s daughter joined in 2017.

As the town of Hampton grew and the needs of its citizens changed, Tobey & Merrill changed with them.  For most if its years the agency was principally involved in the property and casualty protection.  In March of 1989 the business expanded its offerings into Life, Accident and Health coverages.  Today, Tobey & Merrill Insurance Agency is a full sales and service agency operation doing business in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts.  A trusted choice insurance agency that serves over 4,000 clients and represents 20 major insurance companies.

The Merrill’s purchased the agency in 1987 from the Tobey’s keeping the current name of Tobey & Merrill, Inc.  Herbert Tobey, Lester Tobey, Dean Merrill and Russell Merrill have all passed away, but the agency continues to thrive through its FOURTH generation of the Merrill name.  We contribute our success to our longstanding employees who are part of “The Tobey & Merrill Family.”

  • Diane Hill, VP of Operations
  • Deborah Hill, Head of our Claims Department
  • Cheryl Silva, Head of our Personal Lines Department
  • Linda Tuttle, Licensed Sales Agent
  • Ashley Johnson Licensed Sales Agent
  • Johanna Morgan, Client Services Representative
  • Edward Jackson, Commercial Lines Account Executive
  • Kimberly Merrill, Licensed Sales Agent
  • Christopher Wilson, Licensed Sales Agent

Long time Hampton residents know that Tobey & Merrill has been a community landmark for many years in 4 different locations in down town Hampton and for the last 33 years at 20 High Street.  It was Tobey & Merrill’s mission to make it a commitment to be active in the community and that commitment has carried on throughout the generations that have run the agency.  The owners and the employees are involved in the Hampton Historical Society, The Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce, The Hampton Rotary Club, local school boards, Children’s Weekend, the Hampton Chamber’s Seafood Festival and the annual holiday parades.  Tobey & Merrill’s sign is regularly used by local organizations to promote nonprofit events, auctions, theatre plays, fundraisers, community events and even Happy Birthdays. 

TobyMerrill Business Tree outlines

Today, Tobey & Merrill Insurance, Inc. has 11 employees, representing more than 200 years of experience, with nine staff members having their agent’s licenses. Seacoast residents, and their families, are comfortable dealing with a firm that served not only their parents, but their grandparents as well. And because Tobey & Merrill is a family-run firm, clients know that the agents they talk to truly understand the insurance needs of families today.