Monday, February 6, 2017

The Search for William Harrison (again) or how DNA Blew Up My Family Tree

Researching my family over the past 20 years or so I had long believed that my Harrison Catholic ancestors were descended from Henry Harrison and Dorothy Rudd of Green Houses in North Yorkshire.  It had appeared that Henry Harrison was the patriarch of all the Catholic Harrisons of this area of North Yorkshire but that does not appear to be the case.

My family research has gone through two phases already.  In the first go around it appeared that my William Harrison was the son of William Harrison and Elizabeth Allen of Glaisdaleside in Egton township.  But then the prayer book of Elizabeth Underwood, daughter of William Harrison and Elizabeth Allen, came to light clearly showing that her brother William died in Egton in 1848.  We now have determined that that William Harrison was actually married to Mary Webster.

That caused me to reexamine the place of my ancestors in the larger Harrison family tree and after considerable research and weighing all the alternatives it appeared that my William Harrison was the son of Joseph Harrison (brother of William Harrison who married Elizabeth Allen) and Mary Readman.  

In 2015 I had my Y DNA tested and in 2016 tested a direct male descendant of William Harrison and Elizabeth Allen in what I thought would confirm my place in the family tree.  However there was no match (and testing of two further UK Harrisons has confirmed this).  So barring any undisclosed adoption or other anomaly it looks like there is more than one Catholic Harrison family from this part of Yorkshire and not one as originally thought.  (William the son of Joseph Harrison and Mary Readman actually married Mary Consit and later Christiana Dale and lived at Struntry Carr Farm, later moving to East Row on the North Sea coast.)

So the search continues.   More research in the communion and confirmation lists of the Roman Catholic churches of Egton Bridge, Ugthorpe and Whitby await, as does the search for direct male descendants of other Catholic Harrison lines to test and compare Y DNA with.  If you are descended from a Catholic Harrison family with roots in the Egton/Glaisdale/Lythe area of North Yorkshire I would love to hear from you.

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