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

Joseph Pearson, 1776 - 1840

Joseph was born in Brierley Hill. Little is known of his early life, but it can be presumed that he worked for his father in the coalmining business in which he was to continue. He married, romantically, on Christmas Day 1796, to Phoebe Parrish, at Halesowen parish church.

The first indications of his business interests are a number of references to 'Parrish & Pearson' and, occasionally, 'Parrish, Pearson & Pearson.' Fowler's maps of Kingswinford (1824 and 1840) inform us that their colliery was in the area just off what is now Brierley Hill Road, and that it was located almost opposite the junction with present day Moor Street, on the far side of the canal - Joseph and his partners were ideally placed to make use of the then new mode of transport. His partners were his wife's brother, John, and John's son, Richard Parrish.

In the second decade of the new century Joseph Pearson and his relatives were successful enough to establish further businesses in their own right. Joseph operated a coalmine at Holly Hall, in the name 'Joseph Pearson & Sons.' This is recorded in Trade Directories of the time as 'Joseph Pearson & Sons, "Ten Score Colliery", Holly Hall, although technically the colliery was not in Holly Hall, as the pit shaft was located where the gates of the present day Woodside Park (on Stourbridge Road) are situated. The name refers to the depth of the coal seam hereabouts, which was thirty feet thick in places.

Joseph lived at 'Orchard House,' which was located in what is now Wallows Road. Sadly, the building no longer exists, but again we can refer to Fowler's map for it's precise size and location. An estimation of it's value can be made from the fact that following Joseph's death it passed to his youngest son, George - co-founder of 'Harris & Pearson' - for the not inconsiderable sum of £400: at a time when a typical house in the area could be purchased for £30-£50. The present day Council Housing Estate here occupies what was mostly Joseph's garden, and the name of the house is commemorated by present day 'Orchard Street.'

Joseph was a staunch Methodist: it is easy to romanticize that he met John Wesley, who made at least three visits to Brierley Hill - even preaching at Brockmoor! Eventually the Methodists in Brierley Hill decided to have their own chapel, and it seems that Joseph was instrumental in founding this. What came to be known as 'Bank Street Methodist Church' was completed in 1829 - the original building was demolished and replaced in 1969 - during the process of rebuilding the Pearson family vault was covered over by the car park, under which Joseph and a large number of his descendants now lie, remembered by two small stones placed on the grass, near to the original grave: the Church's accounts record an entry 5th Feb. 1847 'to John Pearson for ground for the erection of the late Joseph Pearson's vault, £5.00.00.' It seems that Joseph's optimism in building the chapel was not shared by all - many people thought it too large. But a contemporary newspaper account records that Joseph thought that they 'could not see beyond the end of their noses.'

At his death Joseph left an extensive will, leaving so much property to his descendants that it took his solicitors - whose records are preserved locally - around twenty years to finalise his estate, at a cost of over £6000: an impressive solicitors bill for the period, if you consider the value of his house, which alone was £400.

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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