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
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.