Solving Capt. Thomas
Harris - The Aylesbury Connection
By J Phillip Harris
March 24, 2002
Three recent discoveries about
Capt. Thomas Harris have suggested a possible pattern that I felt needed
investigated in more depth:
1. Parish records show that
Edward Gurgaynie, whose property Capt. Thomas Harris inherited, was born
Long Crendon, Buckingham,
seven miles from Aylesbury.
2. We now feel that the first
wife of Capt. Thomas Harris was Audrey Hoare, who was christened at St.
Aylesbury, Buckingham in 1604
and arrived on the Marmaduke in 1621.
3. The Muster of 1624 shows
that John Woodlief was a kinsman of Capt. Thomas Harris. John Woodlief
born in Dinton, Buckingham,
just two miles from Aylesbury.
How important is this newfound
Aylesbury connection? Playing a hunch, I decided to try an exercise
to see if
there were any other connections
to Aylesbury. My hunch has paid off in a very big way, much more
than I could
have ever imagined.
I examined the list for "Neck
of Land" on the Muster of 1624, which, for most of the names, lists the
of entry to Virginia, and
the ship on which they came. "Neck of Land" is today known as Curles
names appear on the list in
the same order they were located along the river beginning at Four Mile
sweeping downstream almost
to the Shirley Hundred settlement, a total distance along the great bend
river of about five miles.
Using the ages listed on the Muster in 1624, I searched the IGI for parish
records that would match up.
Following is the very surprising results. ALL of the towns listed
in ALL CAPS are
within 7 MILES OF AYLESBURY.
(I have added Edward Gurgaynie in the proper location, although he had
died by 1619 and was not on
the original list.)
THE LIST (in order):
1. Luke Boyse - 44 - 1619
- (appears to be from Eythorne, Kent).
2. Josuah Chard - 36 - 1607
3. JOHN DODDS - 36 - 1607
4. William Vincent - 39 -
1610 - unidentified.
5. Thomas Harris - 38 - 1610
6. EDWARD GURGAYNIE - (would
have been 42) - 1608 - LONG CRENDON.
7. JOHN PRICE - 40 - 1610
- STOKE HAMMOND.
8. Hugh Hilton - 36 - 1619
9. RICHARD TAYLOR - 50 - 1608
10. Thomas Oage - 40 - 1610
11. ROBERT GREENLEAFE (Greene
in 1623) - 43 - 1610 - ASTON ABBOTS.
12. Henry Coltman - 30 - 1610
13. Hugh Price - 35 - 1618
14. Thomas Farmer - 30 - 1616
15. THOMAS SHEPPEY - 22 -
1620 - AYLESBURY.
16. Alexander Bradway - 31
- 1620 - unidentified.
17. WILLIAM SHARPE - 40 -
1610 - STONE.
18. RICHARD BIGGS - 41 - 1610
- STOKE HAMMOND.
19. WILLIAM BAYLEYS - 41 -
1610 - AYLESBURY.
Of these 19 men who had settled
at Curles Neck, ten can be readily identified. Nine of those came
Aylesbury area. Only
one (Luke Boyse) appears to have come from somewhere else. Of the
nine, all but one
(Thomas Sheppey) were older
than age 30 and came to Virginia by 1610 or before. Of the nine who
identified, five of them also
fit the same criteria of being over age 30 and in Virginia by 1610, including
Vincent and our very own Thomas
Harris. Also, nine of the 19 came in the year 1610 on the various
came over with Sir Thomas
Dale to settle at Henricus, a few miles up river from Curles Neck, again
William Vincent and Thomas
Harris. In fact, William Bayleys of Aylesbury came over on the Prosperous
Thomas Harris. Of the
nine who came with Dale in 1610, five can be identified, and all five are
Considering the results of
the above findings, I decided to take it a step farther. I went back
to the Muster of a
year earlier in 1623, the
famous one that lists those killed in the 1622 Indian massacre. I
Harwood of Ivinghoe, Buckingham
living at Curles Neck in 1623 but apparently gone by 1624. I also
William Clements listed as
killed in the massacre. He was from Hoggeston, Buckingham.
Both towns are just
outside of Aylesbury.
Thomas Harwood would have been age 40 in 1624, and William Clements would
been age 48.
Thomas Sheppey, the one Aylesbury
name on the 1624 list who was under age 30 and came after 1610, led to
another interesting connection.
Thomas Sheppey came over in 1620 on the Supply. This was the ship,
John Woodlief of Aylesbury,
kinsman to Thomas Harris, that brought the group of colonists over to establish
Berkeley Hundred, the same
group credited with observing the first Thanksgiving. Checking that
enough, I found at least five
other names that appeared to be from the Aylesbury area, and, as if to
the finding, they were all
grouped together with Thomas Sheppey on the original list of names.
What conclusions to draw from
all of this?
Well, it is certainly much
more than a coincidence. Something was going on here. I would
suspect that there
was some group, organization,
movement, or whatever operating in the Aylesbury area from which these
were recruited to come to
Virginia. They came together and they settled here together.
At this point, I would
predict we would find, could
we identify all of them, that the nine men who came with Sir Thomas Dale
all came from the Aylesbury
area, and this, of course, would include Thomas Harris.
Aylesbury is the central town
in a very distinct valley in the Chiltern Hills to the northwest of London.
The valley is
formed by the River Thame,
a branch of the Thames. All of the villages identified stretch along
the banks of the
river from Long Crendon to
Stoke Hammond, a total distance of no more than 15 miles. Aylesbury
is on the
river about halfway between
these two villages.
Whatever group was operating
in Aylesbury in 1610 was still there ten years later, as evidenced by John
Woodlief, Thomas Sheppey,
and the other Aylesbury natives in the Berkeley Hundred group. In
1624, after the
failure of Berkeley Hundred,
John Woodlief returned to England for a time, leaving his 7 year old daughter
his kinsman, Thomas Harris.
Likewise, Thomas Sheppey chose not to go back like many of the Berkeley
Hundred group, but instead
went to settle among his fellow Aylesbury acquaintances at Curles Neck.
This leads to another interesting
prediction. Going back to the total list of the 19 men at Curles
Neck, we find
13 wives with full information
about when they arrived. Nine of them came in the years 1620 to 1623.
them were in their mid twenties
in 1624 while the husbands were around 40. Do these not suggest the
maidens" sent over here to
marry the colonists. The only one we can identify is Audrey Hoare,
the first wife of
Thomas Harris, and, of course,
she is from Aylesbury. If we can determine some maiden names among
rest, I would predict we would
find that they too are from the Aylesbury area. Whatever caused the
1610 to come over with Dale,
and then caused the similar group in 1620 to come over with Woodlief, was
probably at work sending over
Aylesbury brides for its men in Virginia.
This also leads us closer to
understanding the relationship with Sir Thomas Dale. Berkeley Hundred
sponsored by a group of investors,
with the lead investor being Sir William Throckmorten, the brother of Lady
Elizabeth Dale, wife of Sir
Thomas Dale. We can now see that there was a connection between the
of colonists, with the Aylesbury
linkage occurring both at Henricus and at Berkeley. Was the Throckmorten
family or perhaps Lady Dale
herself one of the central figures behind these early colonization attempts?
So far, I have been unsuccessful
in identifying Thomas Harris in Aylesbury, but I have only attempted it
the parish records on IGI.
For almost 100 years, Harris researchers have looked for him among the
Harrises. No one has
every been able to come up with anything that didn't turn out to be incorrect.
apparently, we know why.
There are a substantial number of Harris families in Aylesbury and the
Buckingham villages in that
time period, probably even more than in Essex. There are plenty of
available that need to be
checked. I feel it is only a matter of time before we locate something
We know Thomas Harris inherited
land from Anne Gurgaynie, the widow of his neighbor. After finally
dismissing the idea of the
fictitious daughter named Adria Gurgaynie, we could not explain why he
that inheritance. Perhaps
now, there is a much better chance of discovering that Thomas Harris was
related to Anne Gurgaynie
(brother/sister perhaps). We also now have a better understanding
of why Thomas
Harris married the widow,
Joane Vincent, as his second wife. Both William Vincent and Joane
likely to have been Aylesbury
natives as well.
There is plenty to do and plenty
to check out. This only opens the door to some new research possibilities.
Chuck Harris, Paul Tobler,
Glenn Gohr, Elizabeth Russo, Fran Fletcher, Barbara Doying, Ken Schwarzburg,
perhaps it is time to reactivate
the "Crazy Wombats" group on Harris-Va. I hope to hear from you all
welcome anyone's input on
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