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
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.
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...........