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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 to be
investigated in more depth:

1. Parish records show that Edward Gurgaynie, whose property Capt. Thomas Harris inherited, was born in
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. Mary,
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 was
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 ages, year
of entry to Virginia, and the ship on which they came.  "Neck of Land" is today known as Curles Neck.  The
names appear on the list in the same order they were located along the river beginning at Four Mile Creek and
sweeping downstream almost to the Shirley Hundred settlement, a total distance along the great bend of the
river of about five miles. Using the ages listed on the Muster in 1624, I searched the IGI for parish christening
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 - unidentified.
3. JOHN DODDS - 36 - 1607 - CHESHAM.
4. William Vincent - 39 - 1610 - unidentified.
5. Thomas Harris - 38 - 1610 - unidentified.
6. EDWARD GURGAYNIE - (would have been 42) - 1608 - LONG CRENDON.
7. JOHN PRICE - 40 - 1610 - STOKE HAMMOND.
8. Hugh Hilton - 36 - 1619 - unidentified.
9. RICHARD TAYLOR - 50 - 1608 - CHESHAM.
10. Thomas Oage - 40 - 1610 - unidentified.
11. ROBERT GREENLEAFE (Greene in 1623) - 43 - 1610 - ASTON ABBOTS.
12. Henry Coltman - 30 - 1610 - unidentified.
13. Hugh Price - 35 - 1618 - unidentified.
14. Thomas Farmer - 30 - 1616 - unidentified.
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 from the
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 cannot be
identified, five of them also fit the same criteria of being over age 30 and in Virginia by 1610, including William
Vincent and our very own Thomas Harris.  Also, nine of the 19 came in the year 1610 on the various ships that
came over with Sir Thomas Dale to settle at Henricus, a few miles up river from Curles Neck, again including
William Vincent and Thomas Harris.  In fact, William Bayleys of Aylesbury came over on the Prosperous with
Thomas Harris.  Of the nine who came with Dale in 1610, five can be identified, and all five are from the
Aylesbury area.

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 found Thomas
Harwood of Ivinghoe, Buckingham living at Curles Neck in 1623 but apparently gone by 1624.  I also found
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 have
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, led by
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 list, sure
enough, I found at least five other names that appeared to be from the Aylesbury area, and, as if to emphasize
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 men
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 in 1610
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 with
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.  Most of
them were in their mid twenties in 1624 while the husbands were around 40.  Do these not suggest the "young
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 the
rest, I would predict we would find that they too are from the Aylesbury area.  Whatever caused the group in
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 was
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 two groups
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 through
the parish records on IGI.  For almost 100 years, Harris researchers have looked for him among the Essex
Harrises.  No one has every been able to come up with anything that didn't turn out to be incorrect.  Now,
apparently, we know why.  There are a substantial number of Harris families in Aylesbury and the surrounding
Buckingham villages in that time period, probably even more than in Essex.  There are plenty of other records
available that need to be checked.  I feel it is only a matter of time before we locate something more
substantial.

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 received
that inheritance.  Perhaps now, there is a much better chance of discovering that Thomas Harris was directly
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 Vincent were
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 and
welcome anyone's input on this matter.

Phil Harris
Richmond, Virginia
 

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