Tuesday, May 23, 2017

William Harrison Found ! - Or how DNA confirmed my ancestral line

At long last, after many years of research, I have finally discovered the ancestry of my great great great grandfather William Harrison (1780-1836).  

The journey to finding where my ancestor William Harrison (1780-1836) fits into the various Catholic Harrison families of North Yorkshire started over 20 years ago.   Based on research from the Harrison brothers Oswald, Basil and Hilary; and that of Leslie O'Connor is his manuscript Hearts of Oak, I came to the conclusion early on that my ancestor William Harrison 1780-1836 was the son of William Harrison 1742-1825 and Elizabeth Allen of Glaisdaleside in Egton township.  In 2012 evidence surfaced that the son of William Harrison 1742-1825 and Elizabeth Allen had actually died in Egton in 1848 and so I undertook further research. Weighing all the evidence I then settled on my William Harrison 1780-1836 as the son of Joseph Harrison (1753-1806) and Mary Readman.  In order to confirm this research I had my Y DNA tested and then tested three direct male Harrisons in the William Harrison (1715-1778) line in what I thought would confirm my place in this Harrison line.  But there was no match which effectively proved that my William Harrison (1780-1836) was not from this line of Harrisons.    

So it was back to the drawing board.  I began by trying to determine exactly where my William Harrison (1780-1836) lived in Egton township.  He was married there to Mary Hutchinson in 1804 and at the time the Egton parish record indicated that he lived in the parish. Fortunately tax assessment records from 1824 are available.  Examining the 1824 lists of "rateable returns" for Egton determined that there were three William Harrisons in Egton township.  The assessor helpfully indicated where each one lived so there would not be any confusion between them.  One was in Glaisdale(side) which is William Harrison married to Elizabeth Allen. He died in 1825 but his family continued to live on in Glaisdaleside.  One was living in Struntry Carr.  This was the William Harrison who married Mary Consit, and when she died Christiana Dale.  He was still living on this farm in the 1841 census (he was actually the son of Joseph Harrison and Mary Readman born in 1774 based on this age in the 1841 and 1851 census, as well as the death register for Lythe).  He retired from farming after 1841 and moved to East Row on the North Sea coast with his second wife Christiana.  That left the William Harrison at Murkside. 

As luck would have it, some of the Easter Communion Lists for the Roman Catholic Chapel at Egton Bridge have survived.  A review of the 1826 Easter Communion Lists showed that all three William Harrisons of Egton township and their families were Catholic.  For the William Harrison at Murkside it shows a wife Mary Harrison and children including George, William, John, Joseph, Mary and importantly an Alice.  Only children of age would be listed on the Easter Communion Lists.  In the early 19th century children generally did not have their first communion until approximately the age of 10 or 11 years (even sometimes later) so only the older children were listed.

Checking the next available Easter Communion list in 1836 the only ones missing are William Harrison and his family from Murkside.  My William Harrison and his family immigrated to Canada in 1831.

Looking in the Harrison Saga in Hearts of Oak as well as the 1780 recusant list for Lythe there is only one family with a child named Alice and that is the family of Joseph Harrison and Mary Dale.  The 1780 recusant list for Lythe lists the family as follows:  Joseph and Mary Harrison with sons John, George, Joseph and Wm; and daughters Mary, Alice, Dorothy and Jane.  If these children were listed in order of birth as expected then William Harrison was the youngest son.

Looking at my own family's seven known lines in Canada the name Alice repeats in four of them.
My William Harrison (1780-1831) was from Lythe as confirmed in the book A History of the Ancient Parish of Lythe including Sandsend, East Row, Mulgrave Castle, Mulgrave Woods and grounds, The Hermitage, Foss Mill, published in 1888 by John Crowther.  In that book Crowther references the following entry in the Lythe parish registers and churchwarden's accounts: "1831 ...In this year many families from Lythe emigrated to America. Among them may be mentioned, Thomas Ward, W. Terry, John Ingledew, Thomas Coverdale, Wm. Harrison, John Bailey, Rt. English, Lennard Watson, John Readman and Thos. Taylor." 

Information on the family of Joseph Harrison and Mary Dale is difficult to obtain as there are gaps in the Catholic records for Ugthorpe and Egton Bridge and when Joseph Harrison died in Barnby in the Parish of Lythe in 1815 he did not leave a will.

Without any documentation to prove this connection I needed something else to tip the balance in favour of this family as my ancestors and Y DNA proved to be that evidence.  If I could find a direct male descendant of this family and test their Y DNA and compare it against mine I could determine if I had the right family or not.

After many months of searching I did find a direct male Harrison descendant of this family from Joseph Harrison's brother Henry Harrison 1734-1812 who generously agreed to be tested.  The line of his ancestor Henry Harrison's is well documented (including the fact he also had a son William who remained in England) and Henry left a will when he died in 1812.

Testing of this Harrison male confirmed that we are a match, and so confirms my connection to this family.

While not a 100% guarantee of an exact pedigree for my ancestor William Harrison 1780-1836, taking into consideration the small pool of Catholic Harrisons in this area of North Yorkshire, including the even smaller pool of William Harrisons born around 1780; plus all the evidence as laid out above, I have concluded that my William Harrison 1780-1836 is the son of Joseph Harrison 1738-1815 and Mary Dale.

The Y DNA results also confirm that this line of Catholic Harrisons is different than the William Harrison (1715-1778) line of Glaisdaleside in Egton township.