Today’s TOMBSTONE TUESDAY post returns to Little Downham and finds a delightful example of 19th century headstone for the Harrison family.
It was wonderfully sunny on Sunday, so I went for a short drive to Little Downham – a village synonymous with my paternal ancestry – to re-tread my steps from years ago, and photograph the gravestones that match my ancestral surnames.
I always find it interesting to see how the headstones have changed in the preceding years too, some look much the same, other’s have become more lichen and mossed over.
This stone, which I don’t remember seeing before (perhaps I was yet to uncover my Harrison roots), stands on the West side of St Leonard’s church, against the perimeter wall. Whether this is it’s original place of standing, or whether it’s been moved, is a mystery, but having noticed that a lot of stones are around the edges, then I’d suspect this to be the case.
It’s a delight in colour, typography, and of course design. I just wish that the long piece of prose at the bottom of the stone had survived. The legible part reads:
IN MEMORY OF William Harrison who died Nov 8th 1819 Aged 73 years.
Also of Mary his wife who died Nov 3rd 1836 Aged 69 years.
Also of Sarah their daughter who died April 22nd 1828 Aged 24 years.
And, actually, as I write this blog article, a strange shape has caught my eye on the top left of the photo – is that a horseshoe resting on the top of the left corner of the stone, or a metal brace to keep this stone standing up? It was a fair few inches away from the wall… I’ll have to return and check!
As for the occupants of this gravestone, William Harrison was born circa 1746 to William Harrison and his wife Anne Leaford. He was baptised on 27th July 1746 at Little Downham. He married Mary (surname not discovered), and the couple had at least five children, with Sarah seemingly being the youngest born around 1802. She was baptised on 25th September 1803. She died aged 24 years, on 22nd April 1828, and was buried with her father (who had died in November 1819) 3 days later. Her mother joined them in November 1836.
At the moment, these Harrison family members seem to be eluding my own William Harrison branch, who seem to alternate between this family group in the Little Downham registers. It is pretty certain that these were ultimately the same family.
Research continues…. and i think i need to get my timeline/whiteboard out again to solve this puzzle.
Surname Saturday: Today’s Surname Saturday post takes a look at the HARRISON family, who lived in Cambridgeshire during the 18th Century.
This week’s Surname Saturday themed post looks at the Harrison family who have lived in the Cambridgeshire village of Little Downham since at least the 18th century.
Finding Frances Harrison
The most recent brush with the Harrison family is through my Great x 4 Grandmother, Fanny Harrison – often also named ‘Frances’. She first appears in the village of Little Downham in Cambridgeshire in 1802, and was the fifth of eight children to Richard and Esther.
Fanny married Robert Tingey on 17th December 1820 at the Little Downham parish church. She was illiterate and signed the marriage register with an ‘x’. Robert was about four years older than her. The couple settled down to grow a family of at least 12 children over 28 years. My Great Great Great Grandmother, Mary, was their oldest child, born in 1820.
All seems well documented for Fanny and Robert, but when it comes to the 1861 census – right in the middle of a documented run – they’re missing. Both appear in the same street that they were in in 1851, and remain there in 1871, but where did they go for 1861? Searches on Ancestry and FindMyPast have proven unsuccessful, and in my attempt to avoid the simple transcription errors, I’ve also view the entire scanned set of folios for that area.
The 1861 census for Ely was destroyed in floods, and unless the couple are hiding under a different surname for a census (which happened for another part of my family), then maybe they were visiting someone and are recorded as so on the now lost Ely census. The mystery continues.
The 1970s Harrison Red Herring
Fast forward for a bit to about 1974, and my sister’s baby record book. In this keepsake is a family tree. This was probably the first family tree I ever saw (although not the one that got me into family history), and noted on it, is a mystery Harrison relative as my paternal great grandmother.
This Harrison appearance was two generations too late, and the role here belongs to Daisy Burnell.
Whilst the appearance of an error here is a red herring, it does at least suggest that the knowledge of a Harrison connection was there, handed down the family.
The 18th Century Harrisons
Let’s head back in time again, to Fanny’s parents – who appear to have been Richard Harrison (b.c.1770) and Esther (b.c.1772, d.c.1826).
Fanny was the fifth of their eight children – all christened at Little Downham, Cambridgeshire:
Richard’s parents (Fanny’s grandparents, and my 6x Great Grandparents), appear to have been William Harrison (bc.1746, d.c Nov 1819) and Margaret Granger (d.c. March 1798).
I’ve yet to locate their marriage, but they themselves became parents in about 1764, when the first of their eventual nine children (William) was born.
William (b.c.1764, d.c March 1810)
Richard (b.c.1770 – and the Richard mentioned above)
Mary (b.c.1773, d. July 1774)
Of this group of children, you’ll notice that the second child (a son) has fortunately been given the maiden name of his mother as his first name. With it being unusual, it makes him fairly easy to spot in records, and even turns up in google search results.
Come 2nd February 1816, Granger Harrison, who now appears to be living in the nearby hamlet of Pymoor, but ‘is about to quit his farm’, is having a live and dead stock auction. Everything from standing crops, to land, to animals through to a ‘large heap of manure’ is listed for sale in this notice published in an edition of the Cambridge Chronicle.
It seems that Granger probably remained in Little Downham, where his grandchildren were baptised. One of which, was also named Granger Harrison (b.c.1841, d.1910) – and who is equally blessed with turning up in census returns and search results.
This Granger Harrison is my own 2nd Cousin, 5 times removed… so pretty darn distant.. but with my own connection to the Harrison family being a little distant, and entirely photo-less, I’ll cast the net wide.
Now there are some seriously odd names around aren’t there? Peaches Geldof, Apple Martin, Princess Tiaamii Andre, Blanket Jackson and Moon Unit. These are all names of celebrity offspring but it’s not just modern-day children who have fallen foul of odd sounding names.
Here’s a few of my favourite/oddest sounding names from my own family: