Harris & Pearson's Office as depicted in a 97 year old catalogue print
Image of Harris & Pearson text

A History of the Harris & Pearson Families

Kindly Contributed by Steve Pearson

The Early Pearson Family of Kingswinford

It is important here to look at Kingswinford in it's historical context. Kingswinford was a large ancient parish, covering some seven square miles, bordered by Dudley, Rowley Regis, Old Swinford, Kinver, Himley and Sedgley. It included the well known Pensnett Chase, which stretched from Himley and Sedgley on one side, across to, and including Quarry Bank, taking in the area now occupied by the Merry Hill Shopping Centre.

Up until the time of the Industrial Revolution the area was sparsely populated, and it was not until after this period, during the mid 1800's that the area was subdivided into the parishes of Brierley Hill, Wordsley, Brockmoor, Pensnett and Quarry Bank. Similar divisions took place in the surrounding area around the same time.

Going back to the 'Domesday Book' only nineteen adult males are listed as the population - this can be taken to mean nineteen 'households' or 'families', which was in itself probably a record of one 'extended' family: where else would these families have found spouses?

The Available Records

For anyone researching family history in Kingswinford (which here shall be taken to include its later constituents) there are three main primary sources:

  • Parish Registers (which begin in 1603)
  • Manorial Records (which also begin around 1600 - the Manor of Kingswinford was held by the Earl of Dudley)
  • Wills - few families in the area were of sufficient status to be able to leave a will until a relatively modern period
  • Pearson Records

Sporadic early mentions of the surname occur as early as the 14th century. However, it is not until the time of the surviving parish registers that there is anything like a continuous record. The Manorial Records are of little help here: three generations of the same family - all named Nicholas Pearson - are recorded during the 1600's, but in the succeeding century records from this source are sparse.

So we turn to the parish registers. The surname Pearson occurs almost from the beginning of the surviving registers. Even here records are sporadic, and it is not until the mid 1600's that any successive generations can be traced: oddly enough the only family that can be traced with any certainty from this time are the ancestors of what were later to become the well known brickmaking families. Even here there is an area of uncertainty: it can be stated without doubt that this family descends from a John Pearson who baptised his eldest two children, William and John - who were twins - in 1677. Assuming John to have been an adult (around 21 years of age) or possibly slightly older, this would give him a birth date of around 1650-60. Unfortunately, there were a number of John Pearson's recorded around this date, and more than one survived to leave children. So here the trail ends.

Very little is known of this John, except that he had five recorded children, and the only one of these known to have survived to leave children is the above mentioned William.

This William married Sarah Holt, daughter of Edward and Mary Holt, in 1697. His burial record in 1733 describes him as a 'collier', giving us a rare glimpse into the families as yet insignificant role in the 'Black Country's' industrial heritage.

William had six children, but only one of these, Edward, born in 1713, is known to have left any offspring. He died in 1727 at the young age of 24. His wife, Elizabeth, nee Dean, followed him to the grave four years later, leaving behind three orphaned children. Here the story of the families prosperity begins.

Joseph, their eldest child, born in 1735, survived the traumas of his childhood to raise himself slightly above the social status of most of his contemporaries. He became what would later be referred to as a 'butty' miner', that is, he leased mines and, paying his own workforce, worked these for himself. By the time of his death in 1807 he had amassed enough money to leave a will leaving bequests to a large number of children and grandchildren.

His wife, Elizabeth, nee Batham, survived until 1820. Her brother Benjamin was the grandfather of Daniel Batham, founder of the famous brewing family. It is with this Joseph & Elizabeth Pearson's son, named Joseph for his father, that the story of the 'dynasty' really begins...........

The Pearson family tree - select the image to see a larger view

A History of Harris & pearson Families

The Early Pearson Family of Kingswinford

The Will of Joseph Pearson(1735-1807)

Joseph Pearson(1776-1840)

The Will of Joseph Pearson

The Parrish Family

John Pearson (1808-1878)

George Pearson (1821-1899)

Stourbridge Industry - E.J & J. Pearson Limited

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