Here’s a bit of original research sent in for readers to peruse from the wonderful Andy Dennis. This is a further, almost forensic investigation of the Harrison family, local mine-owners and industrialists. This is an exemplary bit of research, and I’m in awe, quite frankly, that this humble blog should inspire such great work, entirely for the benefit of other readers and local historians.
Observant readers will have noticed a link between the Harrison empire and Andy’s family, more on which in the text. Thanks are due for yet another excellent contribution toward the written history of our area. You folks never cease to amaze me…
In the search for William Harrison, I found a record in the 1841 census in Stafford Street, Walsall, which I believe was once well-to-do. William Harrison (35, Lime Master, not born in county [Staffs], wife Mary (35), children John (13), Eliza (6), Willm (3) and Edwd (1). I quickly found records of baptism for John, William Bealey and Henry Edward, but nothing for Eliza. As it turned out Eliza was the key to finding William Harrison, presumably the founder of William Harrison Ltd.
I can produce a diagram if requested, but the trail is here:
1. I found, in a somewhat eclectic list of references to newspaper articles, a note of a marriage between a Rev. Robert Baker Stoney and Eliza Bealey Harrison on 16 May 1862. It summarised that the bride was 4th daughter of William Harrison Esq of Norton Hall & Eastland House, Leamington. (Birmingham Daily Gazette.)
2. The marriage checked out (General Register Office) and later Rev. Robert B Stoney (Rector of St John’s , Wednesbury) and Eliza B Stoney were at The Bridge, Walsall; and in 1871 at Church Hill, Wednesbury. So the connection between Norton Hall and Leamington looks solid.
3. In 1861 William Harrison at Eastland House, Leamington (63, widower, magistrate, born Middlewich, Cheshire) with daughters Emma (30), Eliza (25) and Adelaide (18).
4. Emma christened 3 Mar 1830, St Matthew, Walsall and Adelaide christened 9 Nov 1842, St Peter, Walsall, parents William Harrison and Mary Bealy (Familysearch, International Genealogical Index – IGI).
5. In 1861 William Bealey Harrison (WBH) was recorded at Norton Hall with older brother John, a barrister not in practice. Both were born at Walsall (see 6 below).
Armorial families: a directory of gentlemen of coat-armour, records that “WILLIAM BEALEY HARRISON. Esquire. J.P. and D.L. co. Stafford, High Sheriff 1897 … being the second son of William Harrison, Esq., J. P., of Norton Hall, co. Stafford … by Mary, eldest dau. of John Bealey, Esq., J. P., of The Hills, Bloxwich.”
In 1851 John was an undergraduate at Christ’s College, Cambridge and WBH at Appleby Grammar School, Derbyshire, so no confirmation of parents there.
Also in 1851 William Harrison, (53, Magistrate, Proprietor of Coal Mines, born Middlewich, Cheshire) visiting at 6 Clarendon Close, Leomington. Perhaps Norton Hall was closed up and therefore not recorded in the 1851 census?
And in 1871 William Harrison (73, landowner) at 13 Clifton Villas, Leomington, with daughter Adelaide (unmarried).
6. John and WBH were both christened at St Matthew, Walsall. John on 27 Jun 1828, parents William Harrison and Mary and William Bealey Harrison on 14 Feb 1838, parents William Harrison and Mary Bealey (IGI).
7. Back to 1841. At first sight this looked uncertain, but children John and Willm are the right age. There is also an Eliza. William (snr) not born in county. It all fits. The occupation Lime Master signified ownership.
British History Online tells us: “In 1826 Walhouse re-let the works, then known as the Butts Limeworks, to George Strongitharm of Daw End in Rushall, Samuel Wagstaff of West Bromwich, and William Harrison of Walsall”, so he was part of a mine-operating syndicate. Perhaps by coincidence, but more likely following acquaintance via the upper echelons of social circles, George Strongitharm married Ann Bealey Standly or Stanley. She was not sister of WBH’s wife Mary, but surely was closely related; probably first cousin. I’ve no idea where Standly or Stanley comes from.
So, the original William Harrison was born at Middlewich, Cheshire in about 1798 (ignore 1841 census as ages of adults were usually rounded). I have not found any obviously relevant record. His local career began in limestone in the 1820s and then progressed to coal in the 1840s. He was still alive in 1871.
I have not found him in 1881 or relevant records of death or probate.
Middlewich was itself a mining settlement, just a different mineral – salt. There is a record of an application in the High Court as recently as 2004 against a Sir Michael Harrison to quash a planning permission to extend salt mine workings at Middlewich (John Kent v. First Secretary of State and others –  EWHC 2953 (Admin)). Just circumstantial, but …
8. Again from Armorial Families William Harrison’s wife was the “eldest daughter of John Bealey of The Hills, Bloxwich”. I cannot find anything more about Bealey.
9. A Joseph Bealey (fl. 1781-1851) farmed at The Hills. He was father of Ann, who married George Strongitharm, William Harrison’s partner. Their son, also George Strongitharm, was Lime Master and Farmer and was visiting WBH at Aldershaw in 1891. Another son, John Bealey Strongitharm, was also Lime Master for a time, but after 1871 was an Oil Merchant on Merseyside. Ann’s brother, John Edward Bealey was also a magistrate.
To round off the Aldershaw(e) census story: in 1901 WBH (Magistrate D.L. and Colliery Proprietor) was away visiting in Elwell, Surrey, but his wife was at home, minding the servants; and in 1911 WBH (Iron & Coal Master) was at Aldershawe (now spelled with an ‘e’).
With all these upstanding people, officers in the T.A., magistrates, J.P.’s, Doctors at Law, barristers, parliamentary candidates, you might hope they could be trusted by the working man, but we have seen just what sort of managers they were. You saw the notice to Ted Brown in 1930 and we have read that William Harrison’s workers were forced to forego rights to compensation and even “volunteer” for the Territorials. Another relative of my ancestors, a George Carter, was killed by an “accident” in Brownhills No 3 pit in 1906; I wonder how much compensation his family got. I’m pretty sure I can imagine more or less what Ted and George would have said, but this is a family blog …
Picking up on your recent post about sources, I appreciate this is not quite up to postgraduate dissertation standards! Nonetheless, I think there is enough information for readers to find my sources and hope the logic stands up. If anyone wants to ask about my sources, please do so, they are all online and I will point them out. 1841, 1851, etc. refer to England census unless otherwise specified. Naturally, I have also taken into account Brownhills Bob’s Brownhills Blog, especially Pedro’s news cuttings.
Andy Dennis 5 April 2012.