Harrison Genealogy Repository - Ben and Priscilla Harrison

Notes On Benjamin And Priscilla Harrison Of Cumberland County, Virginia

Compiled by Malcom N. Gardner
1201 South Scott Street
Arlington, Virginia 22204
10 April 1972

In HARRISON HERITAGE, Ruth Harrison Jones, ed., DECEMBER 1986 pp 747-751

"Benjamin Harrison Gentlemen" (residence not given) received a patent, 3 Oct. 1737, for 1500 acres of land in (then) Goochland County "On both sides of a South Branch of Willis river ... Beginning at a Hiccory, a Corner of other Land of the said Harrison," bounding on George Carrington, Benjamin Dumas, Nicholas Davies, Ashford Hughes, Daniel Price, and "Thence on the said Benjamin Harrison" (Patent Book 17, P. 420, Archives Division,, Virginia State Library., Richmond).

Two other patents: To Benjamin Harrison of Brunswick County, 23 Nov. 1742, 238 acres in the County of (blank) "on the head of the Great Branch of the Nap of Reeds Creek" bounding on "Mason's upper Corner" (Patent Book 20, P. 405). To "ColO Benja Harrison" of Charles City County, Gentleman, 30 March 1743, 342 acres in Brunswick County "on the South Side of Great Creek," bounding on his other land (Patent Book 21, P. 212).

These three patents seem to relate to at least two, perhaps three, contemporaries of the same name. The compiler presently has no information as to when or how Benjamin Harrison acquired the land on Willis River that he already owned in 1737. The grantee index for Goochland does not indicate his buying this land after 1728, when Goochland was created from Henrico.

Deed, 6 July 1742, Henry Cary of Henrico County, Gentlemen, to Benjamin Harrison of Goochland County, Planter, for 10 shillings current money, 400 acres on both sides "Willis River in the County of Goochland near Horn Quarter Creek," being part of 17,000 acres granted said Henry Cary by patent of 12 July 1738. Also on 6 July 1742, Cary sold Alexander Trent, for £400, 1040 acres of this same patent on Willis River (Goochland Co., Va., Book 4, pp. 29, 13).

Deed, 21 Sept. 1742, Henry Cary of Henrico county and Dale Parish "for the natural Love and Affection I bear unto any Son Archibald Cary," 4132 acres in "Goochland & on both Sides of Willis's Creek" and ten slaves; witnessed by David Bell, David Dalyell, Clement Read (Ibid., Book 4, P. 95).

Deed, 30 May 1746, Henry Cary of Henrico to Benjamin Harrison of Goochland, for 10 shillings, 200 acres on the north aide of Willis River, a part of Cary's l7,000-acre patent; witnessed by David Bell, Alexander Mackie, Charles Turnbull, Jr., John Harris. On the same date, with same witnesses, Cary sold to Alexander Trent for £50, 400 acres on Willis River, joining Benjamin Harrison and Trent (Ibid., Book 5, pp. 122-26).

Although no relationship is stated, Henry Cary's two conveyances to Benjamin Harrison, for a consideration of only 10 shillings each, when comparod with the consideration in the other deeds of' same dates for lands in the same area, indicate the two tracts to Harrison, totaling 600 acres, as deeds of gift. This supports the long-standing conjecture that this Benjamin Harrison, near Horn Quarter in Goochland and later Cumberland, was son-in-law of Henry Cary and brother-in-law of Archibald Cary. And it is reasonable to assume that the first conveyance, in 1742, followed shortly after Benjamin Harrison's marriage to Priscilla Cary.

A possibility should be considered that the Benjamin Harrison who patented 1500 acres on Willis River in Goochland in 1737 is not the same Benjamin Harrison who in the 1740's received from Henry Cary two deeds of gift, 600 acres on Willis River. When the part of Goochland south of the James was cut off in 1748/49, the Willis River area fell into the new County of Cumberland. Examination of grant, or indexes, for Goochland before 1749 and for Cumberland prior to Benjamin's death in 1761, did not indicate a Benjamin Harrison's sale of land that could be identified with a holding along Willis River. If the 1737 patent was far enough westerly on Willis River, such land would have fallen into Buckingham County in 1759. The loss of Buckingham's court records makes difficult any efforts to trace acquisition and disposal of Harrison land holdings in that county.

Another possible source of confusion: At least one Benjamin Harrison, perhaps two, owned land in Lunenburg County. As resident of Lunenburg in 1757, he sold to Benjamin Harris of Cumberland 465 acres in Lunenburg on the north side of Roanoke River. In 1764 a Benjamin Harrison of Brunswick sold to Benjamin Harris of Cumberland 165 acres in Lunenburg on the south side of Great Creek. In each instance a wife Elizabeth Harrison released dower rights (Lunenburg Co., Va., Deed Books 5, p. 12; 8, p 334).

Rev. William Douglas of St. James Northam, Goochland County, recorded the births, between 1756 and 1764, of three daughters Mary, Nelly, and Betty - of a Benjamin Harrison and wife Sarah Bullard (Douglas Register, p. 208).

Some Harrison notes (Tyler's Quarterly, v. 6, p. 206) confuse two contemporary Benjamin Harrisons of Cumberland County as if the same individual. Subsequently, fairly detailed corrections were provided by publication of Mrs. Elizabeth Lewis Otey's letter of 21 Jan. 1926 (Ibid., V. 7 286-87). In March 1754 John Elliott of Cumberland sold to "Benjamin Harrison late of Richmond County," for £140, 400 acres south of James River on Muddy Creek. On 27 March 1759 Benjamin Harrison sold to John Alexander (both of Cumberland), for £110, what appears to be the same tract, 400 acres in Cumberland on the branch of Muddy Creek, Deep Run, Franks Branch, Little Deep Run "where ye said Benjamin Harrison now liveth." His wife Elenor Harrison released her dower rights (Cumberland Co., Va., Deed Book 2. pp. 119, 472).

On 9 Sept. 1760 Benjamin Harrison of Cumberland bought from Richard Murry of Albemarle County (consideration too blurred to read) 400 acres in Cumberland on the south side of Willis River adjoining Paul Micheux and William Taber. On 25 Oct. 1762 Benjamin Harrison and wife Elen (sic) sold to Edward Tabb (all residents of Cumberland), for £80 400 acres in Cumberland and this time described as "on Crooms Quarter Branch a South Branch of Willises River" joining Samuel, Paul Michaux, William Bradly, William May. Wife Elen Harrison signed by mark "O" (Ibid., Deed Book 3, pp. 97, 324). Subsequent whereabouts of this Benjamin Harrison and wife Elenor (and Elen) and names of their children, if any, are unknown to the compiler.

"I Benjamin Harrison of Cumberland in the Parish of Southam" on 14 Jan. 1761 made his will, proved 25 May 1761: "My Children to be maintained out of my Estate as formerly for which Purpose I lend unto my Loving Wife [not named in will] during her Natural Life my Plantation I now live on" and eight slaves; One slave each to seven daughters Ann Allin, Priscilla, Elizabeth, Lockey, Mary, Martha, Rebecca and to sons Cary and Benjamin. If any children "die before they come to age or be married," such share or shares of the personal estate divided equally among equally among the survivors; the 600-acre tract, on wife's death, divided equally between sons Cary and Benjamin, Cary to have first choice. Also, "Whereas Colonel Archibald Cary and Colonel Clement Read have each of them [mad] me a Gift by word of mouth of one thousand acres of [land] apiece which Land I desire may be Equally in Quality and Quantity be divided between my two Sons & their heirs or assigns. I do appoint Colonel Archd Cary & Alex Trent my whole and sole executors." Witnessed by David Bell, Henry Trent, Samuel Allen. Sureties for the executors were Maurice Langhorne, John Fleming, Samuel Allen (Ibid., Will book 1, p. 215).

In 1773, on Judith Bell's tax list in Buckingham County, a Benjamin Harrison is named as a tithable (Woodson, Virginia Tithables …, p. 9), and thereby at least 16 years old, so born l757 or earlier. This would be the son of Benjamin and Priscilla Harrison, and Judith would be widow of David Bell and daughter of Henry Cary, therefore Benjamin's aunt.

Although the older Benjamin's will of 1761 does not give his wife's name, she is clearly identified as Priscilla Harrison in two deeds of gift, 5 Oct. 1776, whereby in effect, she released her life rights and conveyed for "natural love and affection" to sons Cary and Benjamin 100 acres each on Willis River, part of a tract of 600 acres devised to the said Priscilla by her late husband, Benjamin Harrison deceased. Cary and young Benjamin each witnessed the deed to the other; witnessing both deeds were Henry Bell and Thomas Drew; Martha Harrison witnessed the deed to Benjamin (Cumberland Co., Va., Deed Book 5, pp. 478-79).

The widow Priscilla Harrison's life rights in the remaining 400 acres, of the 600-acre bequest to her in Benjamin's will, seem still in (effect in 1781 when, on 20 Feb., Archibald Cary of Chesterfield,, for £200 current money, conveyed to Cary Harrison of Buckingham 200 acres in Cumberland joining Cary Harrison, "thence on Benjn Harrisons deceased line," then on Alexander Trent; witnessed by Dolphin Drew, David Bell, Henry Bell, Anthony Parr (X) Lipford (Ibid. Deed Book 6, P. 93).

The reasons and understandings back of the promises to the elder Benjamin Harrison of 1000 acres of land each from Archibald Cary and Clement Read are not known to the compiler. By two deeds of 24 Aug. 1772, and for £5 current money, certainly a nominal consideration,, Archibald Cary of Chesterfield conveyed to Cary and Benjamin Harrison, both of Cumberland, 500 acres each in Bedford County on branches of (Goose Crook and near Flat Top Mountain," and on 28 June 1779 Benjamin Harrison sold to Daniel Allen, both of Cumberland, for £500, his 500-acre tract in Bedford "on the branches of Goose Creek and Near the flat Top Mountain," and no wife joined in this conveyance or released right of dower (Bedford Co., Va., Deed Books 4, pp. 347, 349; 6, p. 272). The compiler has seen no record of the disposal of Cary Harrison's land in Bedford, or of Col. Clement Read's conveyance of any land to the brothers Cary and Benjamin Harrison.

The will of the Benjamin Harrison who died 1761 in Cumberland provided for the maintenance of the children out of the estate, and only daughter Ann was indicated as married. Neither son was named an executor. A reasonable assumption is that none of the nine children was 21 years old. The widow Priscilla Harrison remained on Cumberland personal property tax rolls through 1789, then assessed for 26 slaves, 12 years or over, and for 10 horses. She presumably died between 1789 and 1796, as in the latter year son Benjamin had full control of his entire half of the 600 acres in which life rights had been left to Priscilla. In October 1796 Benjamin Harrison and wife Elizabeth sold to James Wilson, for £225, 300 acres in Cumberland "devised unto the said Harrison by his father Ben Harrison … according to deed from Henry Cary to Benjamin Harrison … it being the half of an old survey of Six hundred Acres on both sides of Willises & on both sides Buckingham Branch," joining lands of John Langhorne deceased and Cary Harrison; witnessed by Cary Harrison, George (X) Anderson, Jacob Gaulding (Cumberland Co., Va., Deed Book 7, p. 513).

Not surprisingly, a bit more information is available on Benjamin's two sons than on his daughters. According to custom, the sons got the land; daughters can usually be traced only through their husbands, if known. By Act of the General Assembly of Virginia, 16 Dec. 1790, "... Cary Harrison, Benjamin Harrison, ... gentlemen …" were added to a commission "to examine Slate river" (Henings's Statutes, v. 13, p. 149). Slate River is a tributary to the James and lies entirely in Buckingham county. In 1812 the estates of Cary Harrison and Benjamin Harrison in Buckingham were assessed for 2317 and 328 acres, respectively. To what extent they acquired these lands by purchase, inheritance, or marriage is uncertain. No Benjamin Harrison is named head of family in either Buckingham or Cumberland in the 1810 Census.

No dates of birth and little other identifying data are presently at hand on the children of Benjamin and Priscilla Harrison, and order of their birth is uncertain. They were, in the order named in his will:

  1. Ann (and Anna), m. ante 14 Jan. 1761 Joseph Allen (Elliott, Marriage Records … Cumberland County, p. 8).
  2. Priscilla (no further reference)
  3. Elizabeth (an Elizabeth Harrison m. ante 14 Jan 1764 Will Ratcliff; from Douglas Register, p. 133).
  4. Lockey, m. Thomas Word. Among their children was Mary Harrison Word, b. 30 May 1768 in Cumberland and d. 1836 in Buckingham; m. 7 Feb 1795 Francis McCraw (9 May 1760 - 26 May 1852) (from McCraw-Word Bible record and other family data, Mrs. Lulie Price Gay, Warrenton, N.C.).
  5. May (on 20 May 1769 a Mary Harrison of Manikin Town m. Sion Spencer of Charlotte County; Douglas Register, p. 44; Elliott, as cited, p. 121).
  6. Martha (in 1795 and 1797 a Martha Harrison, with one slave, was on Cumberland tax rolls; whether she was widow or spinster is uncertain).
  7. Rebecca, m. 10 Jun 1773 Henry Bell, with Cary Harrison surety (Elliott as cited, p. 18. The DAR Patriot Index (p. 51) lists Henry Bell (1745-1811), wife Rebecca Harrison, as lieutenant in Virginia service during the American Revolution.
  8. Cary, as surety on the marriage bond for his sister Rebecca and Henry Bell in 1773 was presumably then of age (so born ante 1752); m. in Cumberland 29 Jan 1789 Sarah Langhorne (daughter of David and Judith Cary Bell and widow of John Langhorne), and we do not know if Cary Harrison had been previously married. He died between 15 Aug. 1797 and 14 July 1798 (Elliott, Marriages, p 64; Prince Edward Co., Va., Records at Large, District court, 1795-1798, pp. 482, 523-25). On 14 Sept. 1798 Sarah Harrison of Buckingham, "being about to remove to Kentucky … appoint my son Maurice Langhorne my Attorney in fact," and signed as "Admx of Cary Harrison & Exox of John Langhorne decd" (Cumberland Co., Va., Deed Book 8, p. 280). If Cary Harrison had children, their names are unknown to the compiler.
  9. Benjamin, b. ante 1757; a wife Elizabeth (maiden surname uncertain) joined him in 1796 in a conveyance of land in Cumberland. She d. 5 June 1811; Benjamin d. 25 Aug 1811 in Buckingham (Lewis-Harrison bible record and other family data in possession of Mrs. Elizabeth Lewis Otey (Tyler's Quarterly, v. 7, pp. 286-87). This Benjamin Harrison was father of at least two children:
    1. Benjamin, of age in 1814 when he agreed to manumission of a slave: 18 Oct. 1814, petition to the Governor and General Assembly of Virginia, from "Nick Scott a man of colour … slave of Benjn Harrison Esq., deceased … [who intended] to have emancipated your Petitioner, which he was prevented from doing by the suddenness of his death, without a will. Benjamin Harrison esq. The son of his deceased master, is now desirous to emancipate your Petitioner." Scott asks that he be allowed to remain in Buckingham (Legislative Petitions from Buckingham county, Archives Division, Virginia State Library, Richmond). We have no further reference to this younger Benjamin Harrison.
    2. Nancy, m. William Shelton Lewis in Pittsylvania county.

Comment: The foregoing is simply a preliminary outline on which to add further data, as such may come to light. Research among the colonial land grants and in extant early probate and land records where Harrisons lived might or might not provide both positive and negative identifications need to establish the antecedents of the Benjamin Harrison of Horn Quarter in Cumberland County and to distinguish him from several contemporaries of the same name.

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HARRISON HERITAGE (ISSN 0740-9001) was a family genealogical quarterly.
Published in March, June, September and December 1981-1986.
RUTH HARRISON JONES, Editor and Publisher. Reprinted here with permission from the editor.

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