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By Abner Harrison of West Point MS

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James Edward Harrison (hereinafter termed JEH), in A Comment on the Family of Andrew Harrison Who Died in Essex County, Virginia, in 1718, and S. Worth Ray, in Tennessee Cousins, wrote about the same family, but came to widely disparate conclusions. JEH postulates that the Andrew in question was the son of Andrew and Margaret (Barber) Harrison of St. Giles, Cripplegate, London. Andrew (Jr.), born December 30, 1648, inherited from his father and his uncle, John Harrison, in 1669. He married Elizabeth Palmer on April 23, 1669, and their son, John, was baptized on April 2, 1671. The younger Andrew quit-claimed land and real estate holdings that he had inherited to his mother, and received f6O, sterling. On October 3, 1671, Andrew gave a power-of-attorney to a John Hinde to settle Andrew's interest in land that his mother and father had purchased in 1664; Hinde conveyed title to the land over to Margaret Harrison on May 17, 1672.

JEH was able to find no English record relating to Andrew Harrison after the power-of-attorney of October, 1671. This search included extant tax records, burial records, and court records. Andrew's mother did not mention him in her will, proved March 8, 1676/7. JEH further postulates that Andrew came to the Rappahannock Valley of Virginia, but does not touch upon what happened to Elizabeth (Palmer) Harrison or their son John other than to suggest that they must have died and Andrew remarried. An Andrew Harrison's will, made April 28, 1718, was proved in Essex County, VA, on November 18, 1718 by one witness, proved again on December 16, 1718 by two other witnesses, and finally on March 17 by Andrew's widow, Eleanor.

As to how Andrew got to Virginia, the Virginia Assembly had granted Lawrence Smith and Robert Taliaferro a patent for about 220 square miles along the Rappahannock River, with the grant centered about a fort that Smith had build there in 1672 or 1673. The fort had fallen into ruins, and the Assembly was concerned about the continuing hostilities with the Indians - a situation that triggered off Bacon's Revolution in 1676. Smith and Taliaferro's grant was contingent upon the fort being repaired, and being staffed with 50 soldiers and 200 other men in the immediate neighborhood. The men were raised, and in 1676, the Assembly ordered that quarters been built for the soldiers, a 2Ox6O foot storeroom and an ammunition storage hut be build. Cadwallader Jones succeeded Smith as commander about this time.

In April, 1684, the Rappahannock Court recognized a headright claim by Jones for the transportation of 24 men from England. Included in the list were Andrew Harrison and John Battaile. While this 1684 claim is the first record of either man in Virginia, it should be noted that both were freemen, with no headright restrictions or limitations. A lawsuit some years later revealed that Andrew Harrison had leased land in Virginia in 1683, and other records show that he served as a juryman shortly after this claim on him as a headright. Similarly, Lawrence Battaile was commissioned Under-Sheriff of the south side of the river in May, 1684. It should be noted that the order books for Rappahannock County before 1684 are lost, and all 17th century records for Glouster County were destroyed by fire. It is safe to assume that both men had been in Virginia for some time before 1684.

Lawrence Battaile married Catherine, daughter of Robert Taliaferro and (following her father's death) ward of Cadwallader Jones. Following Catherine's death, Battaile married Elizabeth, daughter of Lawrence Smith.


S. Worth Ray, in Tennessee Cousins, has postulated a completely different set of ancestors for Andrew Harrison of Essex County, VA, who died in 1718. Aside from Ray's attempt to (1) identify the parentage of Benjamin "Clerk of Council" Harrison of Surry Co. (the ancestor of Benjamin "the Signer" and the Presidents Harrison) and make a case for Anthony Harrison as a first cousin of this Benjamin, he has developed a case seemingly as convincing as that of JEH, with one major point. That is the headright claim by Cadwallader Jones on John Battaile and Andrew Harrison.

Ray postulates that Anthony Harrison, born at Over, Cambridgeshire, came to Virginia in 1653; he died in New Kent County, VA, sometime after 1680. Ray maintains that four sons either accompanied Anthony or followed shortly thereafter - George, Andrew, Richard the father of Andrew of Essex County, and James. An abbreviated lineage of these is shown in Chart 1 - Note that Ray's Andrew' is remarkably similar to JEH's "Other Andrew" - Chart 2. Both the "Other Andrew" and JEH's Andrew has a son named Andrew and a son named William. Both lived in old Rappahannock County, one on the south side of the river, the other on the north.

Also in parallel - but one generation apart - are the James Harrison that Ray held to be a son of Anthony and uncle of Andrew of Essex County. JEH describes a James Harrison who married Elizabeth, widow of George Mott about 1674. JEH also mentions a Thomas Harrison, about whom nothing has been learned, who in 1674 witnessed the signatures of John Mott (George's brother?) and Elizabeth, relict of George Mott. This James Harrison became a civil officer for Rappahannock County in 1680. When the county was extinguished in 1792 (the part south of the river became Essex County and that lying north of the river became Richmond County), he became a Justice for Richmond County. James' daughter, Jael, married William Williams by 1702. In 1710, James Harrison and William Williams witnessed the signature of Andrew Harrison in his conveyance of land to his son, Andrew. In 1708, James Harrison and Andrew Harrison witnessed the will of John Battaile. James Harrison and William Williams died about the same time -possibly simultaneously since Jael (Harrison) Williams was granted letters of administration for the estates of both men on the same day in 1712 (Elizabeth (Mott) Harrison apparently having predeceased her husband). Jael (Harrison) Williams subsequently married Richard Johnston of Caroline County. JEH maintains that Andrew and James Harrison had no apparent contact other than the witnessing, and were not brothers, but rather, at most, distant cousins.

To reiterate, Ray maintains that Anthony Harrison of Over, Cambridgeshire, came to Virginia about 1650, with four sons, Richard, George, Andrew, and James. Richard (supposed father of Andrew of Essex County) patented lands on July 6, 1664. JEH maintains that Andrew came to the Rappahannock Valley as a headright for Taliaferro and Smith, in company with Lawrence Battaile.

Ray and JEH are in general agreement about the offspring of Andrew Harrison of Essex County - William Harrison of Caroline County, who married Hannah Christopher; Elizabeth Harrison who married Thomas Munday; Margaret Harrison who married Gabriel Long, and Andrew Harrison who married Elizabeth Battaile, daughter of Lawrence Battaile. This also is in agreement with Robert Torrence's Torrence and Allied Families. Things become increasingly confused from this point on.

COMPILER'S NOTE: To summarize the two conflicting theories, the following applies:

JEH's theory, while he did an outstanding job of original research in England, depends largely upon the supposition that an Andrew Harrison (Andrew of London), born December 30, 1648, and recorded there until October 1671, reappears in the records of Essex, later Rappahannock, County, Virginia, sans wife and son, as a headright in 1684. There is a strong possibility that he had been in Virginia for some years before that date. JEH mentions the possibility that Andrew's wife had died, after having borne four more children, and that Andrew's son, John, had likewise died. The Andrew of Essex acquired a new wife, and died at the ripe of age of 69 or 70.

To bolster his argument, JEH draws upon the significance of Andrew of Essex settling in Golden Vale, and buying (leasing) land from the widow of John Prosser, who came from London near Andrew of London's home. Andrew of Essex's estate inventory included items that could be related to the tanning process; Andrew of London's father had manufactured neats-foot oil, and Andrew of London had been apprenticed to a shoemaker. JEH also places significance upon the general similarity of Andrew of Essex's seal to that of Edmund Harrison, who is buried at St. Giles Cripplegate, London.

Maynard mentions the possibility that Andrew was a brother of Judge James Harrison of Old Rappahannock County, but gives no supporting evidence.

Ray's theory is not as well bolstered by even circumstantial evidence. Records do show an Anthony Harrison of Virginia, but no documentation has been found to suggest that he was Andrew of Essex's grandfather. Ray seems to lean heavily upon general familial relationships and location in England. Also, his postulation of relationship between Anthony and Benjamin of Surry Harrison is rather thin.

One point not mentioned by either JEH or Ray is that, while headrights were given to settlers coming to Virginia from England (or Europe), on occasion a headright was given to men already in Virginia, especially for onerous or hazardous duty. Fort duty on an advanced frontier certainly should qualify. This set of events could allow Andrew of Essex to be Anthony's grandson and still receive the headright.

For the purpose of this compilation, I am using Andrew of Essex as the American progenitor of this Harrison line - as Andrew', with no further concerns for his origin.

The writer would like to point out that these conflicting extrapolation of guesses after analyses of records that have been laboriously researched are largely the result of the plethora of peripatetic Harrisons hoving about the New World, the destruction of records by fire, mildew, and carelessness, the absence of records in frontier areas, and the aggravating habit that Harrisons exhibited by intermarrying with the same set of families and the resultant use of a limited set of given names. This comment does not in any way reflect upon the painstaking and exhaustive research carried out by Frances Burton Harrison, Robert and Clayton Torrence, S. Worth Ray, Virginia Meynard, James E. Harrison, and more, but rather as a cause of why they examined the same information and interpreted it differently. Also, much of the original research was done in the 1920s and 1930s. Today, with microfilm, computers, copying machines, and more people pursuing genealogy, much more information is becoming available.

An appendix "Other Harrison Families" describes briefly for any interested reader some of the other major Harrison groups - the Surry or James River Harrison, the Harrisons of Northern Virginia, the Harrisons of Sciminoe (York County, VA), the Maryland Harrison, the Rockingham Harrisons and the Oyster Bay Harrisons, and the Connecticut Harrisons. These other Harrisons began moving about, and lived in the same regions of Virginia and Kentucky that the descendants of Andrew Harrison of Essex County did. Also touched upon are several Harrisons in the New World who predate these.

The information presented on following pages is an amalgam of work done by the two Torrences, Worth Ray, JEH, Meynard, and many others, plus a fair amount of original research by the compiler and by Mrs. Louise Harrison of St. Petersburg, FL.

FootnoteUntil the 16th Century, western Europe had used the Julian calendar, so-called because it had been devised by Julius Caesar, who introduced it in 46 B.C. Because of the way that Leap Year was counted, by the time Gregory XIII became Pope, the calendar year was ten days out of phase with the solar year. He introduced the Gregorian calendar (which we use today) in 1582; it added ten days to the Julian calendar and made every fourth year a leap year. Protestant Europe, especially England, reacted strongly against this innovation because it was a "popish scheme," and stayed on the Julian calendar. For a century, the date in England remained ten days behind that in France. In 1700, because of the differential inclusion of a leap year, the difference changed to 11 days. Worse, the Julian calendar began the New Year on March 25th, while the Gregorian calendar began the year on January 1st. To get England back into synchronization with the rest of Europe, Parliament passed an act in May, 1751, that trimmed eleven days out of the English calendar; September 2, 1751 was followed by September 14th, 1751, and the New Year fell on January 1st. While some latter-day historians describe the outcry that arose from the population to "give us back our eleven days" as the reaction of an ignorant mob, this tuck in time meant that all type of legal documents had to be recalculated. For instance, assume that a debt fell due on September 12, 1751; would it be past-due with penalty on the day following September 2nd? Also, a number of saints' days and holy days disappeared. Calendar makers capitalized on this by printing two versions of the calendar for several years. The act took effect in the American colonies at the same time it did in England.

FootnoteTo obtain colonists, especially trained men - soldiers, artisans, etc. - the leaders of an endeavor would recruit the men in England, pay their transportation to the colonies, and subsequently collect a refund for the costs of transportation.
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