Name: Thomas HARRIS
Birth: ABT 1585 in Possibly Buckingham, England
Death: ABT 1656 in Henrico Co., Virginia
Change Date: 7 AUG 2010
Thomas HARRIS, later known as Captain, has been written about in many genealogy histories, much of his history speculation. Recent data proves he is not the son of Sir William HARRIS of Cricksea, Essex, as has been stated in the LIGON Family books and repeated online.
Thomas HARRIS, son of Francis, christened 21 May 1580, St. Mary, Aylesbury, Buckingham (same parish as Adria HOARE).
Thomas, son of Tho. HARRICE, 19 Dec 1585 at Great Waltham, Essex (C043191)
Thomas, son of Thomas HARRIS, bap 21 Mar 1581 - and Alice LUCAS (m. 21 May 1581), Cheshunt, Hertford (M072252)
What is known: Thomas HARRIS emigrated to Virginia from England in ?May? 1611 on the ship Prosperous, and was presumably one of the group of men sailing with Sir Thomas DALE to ?Henricus? (Henrico) in Sep 1611 to establish a settlement.
He received a grant of 100 acres at Neck of Land, 18 Nov 1618, and acquired another 400 acres by inheritance from Anne (possibly HARRIS) GURGANEY much later. He was settled by 1623/4 with his wife at Neck of Land, Charles City. The Muster of 1624/5 listed him as age 38 yrs., his wife Adrea age 23 yrs (?who came in the Marmaduke, Nov 1621), and Ann WOODLASE (sic WOODLIEF), ?their kinswoman aged 7?.
After settling in Henrico Co, Virginia, he was a member of the House of Burgesses in 1623, 1639, and 1646. His first wife, named in a deed for 820 acres in Henrico Co., in 1628, was Audrey Hoare. Thomas married for a second time around 1635 to Joanne. Joanne was named as the wife of Thomas Harris in a deed for 750 acres in Henrico Co, Virginia, dated 11 Nov. 1635. There is uncertainty of the last name of Joanne. She was the widow of VINCENT.
[Edward Gurgaynie was from Long Crendon (fact). He did not have to be old enough to be the father of Thomas Harris's wife since he really wasn't. As shown by existing parish records, he was basically only four years older than Thomas Harris. If Thomas Harris was from Aylesbury as we now think, then most likely Anne Gurgaynie left Thomas Harris the property because she was directly related to him, such as being his sister or cousin. This is what we have to now prove. It's still just speculation until we prove it by finding a real record somewhere.]
However, THE COMPLETE BOOK OF EMIGRANTS 1607-1660, by Peter Wilson Coldham, Genealogical Publishing, 1987 says on p. 54: Living in Neck of the Land, Corporation of Charles City, on Jan. 24, 1625, was Thomas Harris, 38, who came in the Prosperous in May _____, wife Adria, 23, who came on the Marmaduke in Nov. 1621.
11 Jan 1623: Richard TAYLOR, William VINCENT and George GRIMES agreed that the lands they had cleared at the Neck of Land should be divided between Thomas HARRIS ?and such others as were then to plant on ye said land?.
By Feb 1624 George GRIMES had died.
Picture of the ?village? at Neck of Land.
In January i627 Richard Taylor complained in court at Jamestown that he 'susteine[d] much wronge from Thomas Harris and others that plant[ed] on his divident'. Summoned by warrant, Harris and the others produced a deed whereby four years earlier Taylor, with William Vincent and the late George Grimes, had agreed to share their cleared lands with the defendants. Judgement was therefore given for Harris and the other new-comers, and Taylor was ordered to reimburse the defendants their costs.
Capt. Thomas HARRIS was named in some other disputes - one brought by his future wife, Joane VINCENT, then still the wife of William VINCENT. Joan accused Thomas HARRIS of being free with the women in the village.
March 24, 2002
Three recent discoveries about Capt. Thomas Harris have suggested a possible pattern that I felt needed to be investigated in more depth:
1. Parish records show that Edward Gurgaynie, whose property Capt. Thomas Harris inherited, was born in Long Crendon, Buckingham, seven miles from Aylesbury.
2. We now feel that the first wife of Capt. Thomas Harris was Audrey Hoare, who was christened at St. Mary, Aylesbury, Buckingham in 1604 and arrived on the Marmaduke in 1621.
3. The Muster of 1624 shows that John Woodlief was a kinsman of Capt. Thomas Harris. John Woodlief was born in Dinton, Buckingham, just two miles from Aylesbury.
How important is this newfound Aylesbury connection? Playing a hunch, I decided to try an exercise to see if there were any other connections to Aylesbury. My hunch has paid off in a very big way, much more than I could have ever imagined.
I examined the list for "Neck of Land" on the Muster of 1624, which, for most of the names, lists the ages, year of entry to Virginia, and the ship on which they came. "Neck of Land" is today known as Curles Neck. The names appear on the list in the same order they were located along the river beginning at Four Mile Creek and sweeping downstream almost to the Shirley Hundred settlement, a total distance along the great bend of the river of about five miles. Using the ages listed on the Muster in 1624, I searched the IGI for parish christening records that would match up. Following is the very surprising results. ALL of the towns listed in ALL CAPS are within 7 MILES OF AYLESBURY. (I have added Edward Gurgaynie in the proper location, although he had died by 1619 and was not on the original list.)
THE LIST (in order):
1. Luke Boyse - 44 - 1619 - (appears to be from Eythorne, Kent).
2. Josuah Chard - 36 - 1607 - unidentified.
3. JOHN DODDS - 36 - 1607 - CHESHAM.
4. William Vincent - 39 - 1610 - unidentified.
5. Thomas Harris - 38 - 1610 - unidentified.
6. EDWARD GURGAYNIE - (would have been 42) - 1608 - LONG CRENDON.
7. JOHN PRICE - 40 - 1610 - STOKE HAMMOND.
8. Hugh Hilton - 36 - 1619 - unidentified.
9. RICHARD TAYLOR - 50 - 1608 - CHESHAM.
10. Thomas Oage - 40 - 1610 - unidentified.
11. ROBERT GREENLEAFE (Greene in 1623) - 43 - 1610 - ASTON ABBOTS.
12. Henry Coltman - 30 - 1610 - unidentified.
13. Hugh Price - 35 - 1618 - unidentified.
14. Thomas Farmer - 30 - 1616 - unidentified.
15. THOMAS SHEPPEY - 22 - 1620 - AYLESBURY.
16. Alexander Bradway - 31 - 1620 - unidentified.
17. WILLIAM SHARPE - 40 - 1610 - STONE.
18. RICHARD BIGGS - 41 - 1610 - STOKE HAMMOND.
19. WILLIAM BAYLEYS - 41 - 1610 - AYLESBURY.
Of these 19 men who had settled at Curles Neck, ten can be readily identified. Nine of those may have come from the Aylesbury area. Only one (Luke Boyse) appears to have come from somewhere else. Of the nine, all but one (Thomas Sheppey) were older than age 30 and came to Virginia by 1610 or before. Of the nine who cannot be identified, five of them also fit the same criteria of being over age 30 and in Virginia by 1610, including William Vincent and our very own Thomas Harris. Also, nine of the 19 came in the year 1610 on the various ships that came over with Sir Thomas Dale to settle at Henricus, a few miles up river from Curles Neck, again including William Vincent and Thomas Harris. In fact, William Bayleys of Aylesbury came over on the Prosperous with Thomas Harris. Of the nine who came with Dale in 1610, five can be identified, and all five appear to be from the Aylesbury area.
Considering the results of the above findings, I decided to take it a step farther. I went back to the Muster of a year earlier in 1623, the famous one that lists those killed in the 1622 Indian massacre. I found Thomas Harwood of Ivinghoe, Buckingham living at Curles Neck in 1623 but apparently gone by 1624. I also found William Clements listed as killed in the massacre. He was from Hoggeston, Buckingham. Both towns are just outside of Aylesbury. Thomas Harwood would have been age 40 in 1624, and William Clements would have been age 48.
Thomas Sheppey, the one Aylesbury name on the 1624 list who was under age 30 and came after 1610, led to another interesting connection. Thomas Sheppey came over in 1620 on the Supply. This was the ship, led by John Woodlief of Aylesbury, kinsman to Thomas Harris, that brought the group of colonists over to establish Berkeley Hundred, the same group credited with observing the first Thanksgiving. Checking that list, sure enough, I found at least five other names that appeared to be from the Aylesbury area, and, as if to emphasize the finding, they were all grouped together with Thomas Sheppey on the original list of names.
What conclusions to draw from all of this?
Well, it is certainly much more than a coincidence. Something was going on here. I would suspect that there was some group, organization, movement, or whatever operating in the Aylesbury area from which these men were recruited to come to Virginia. They came together and they settled here together. At this point, I would predict we would find, could we identify all of them, that the nine men who came with Sir Thomas Dale in 1610 all came from the Aylesbury area, and this, of course, would include Thomas Harris.
Aylesbury is the central town in a very distinct Valley in the Chiltern Hills to the northwest of London. The Valley is formed by the River Thame, a branch of the Thames. All of the villages identified stretch along the banks of the river from Long Crendon to Stoke Hammond, a total distance of no more than 15 miles. Aylesbury is on the river about halfway between these two villages.
Whatever group was operating in Aylesbury in 1610 was still there ten years later, as evidenced by John Woodlief, Thomas Sheppey, and the other Aylesbury natives in the Berkeley Hundred group. In 1624, after the failure of Berkeley Hundred, John Woodlief returned to England for a time, leaving his 7 year old daughter with his kinsman, Thomas Harris. Likewise, Thomas Sheppey chose not to go back like many of the Berkeley Hundred group, but instead went to settle among his fellow Aylesbury acquaintances at Curles Neck.
This leads to another interesting prediction. Going back to the total list of the 19 men at Curles Neck, we find 13 wives with full information about when they arrived. Nine of them came in the years 1620 to 1623. Most of them were in their mid twenties in 1624 while the husbands were around 40. Do these not suggest the "young maidens" sent over here to marry the colonists. The only one we can identify is Audrey Hoare, the first wife of Thomas Harris, and, of course, she is from Aylesbury. If we can determine some maiden names among the rest, I would predict we would find that they too are from the Aylesbury area. Whatever caused the group in 1610 to come over with Dale, and then caused the similar group in 1620 to come over with Woodlief, was probably at work sending over Aylesbury brides for its men in Virginia.
This also leads us closer to understanding the relationship with Sir Thomas Dale. Berkeley Hundred was sponsored by a group of investors, with the lead investor being Sir William Throckmorten, the brother of Lady Elizabeth Dale, wife of Sir Thomas Dale. We can now see that there was a connection between the two groups of colonists, with the Aylesbury linkage occurring both at Henricus and at Berkeley. Was the Throckmorten family or perhaps Lady Dale herself one of the central figures behind these early colonization attempts?
So far, I have been unsuccessful in identifying Thomas Harris in Aylesbury, but I have only attempted it through the parish records on IGI. For almost 100 years, Harris researchers have looked for him among the Essex Harrises. No one has every been able to come up with anything that didn't turn out to be incorrect. Now, apparently, we know why. There are a substantial number of Harris families in Aylesbury and the surrounding Buckingham villages in that time period, probably even more than in Essex. There are plenty of other records available that need to be checked. I feel it is only a matter of time before we locate something more substantial.
We know Thomas Harris inherited land from Anne Gurgaynie, the widow of his neighbor. After finally dismissing the idea of the fictitious daughter named Adria Gurgaynie, we could not explain why he received that inheritance. Perhaps now, there is a much better chance of discovering that Thomas Harris was directly related to Anne Gurgaynie (brother/sister perhaps). We also now have a better understanding of why Thomas Harris married the widow, Joane Vincent, as his second wife. Both William Vincent and Joane Vincent were likely to have been Aylesbury natives as well.
The non-alphabetized list for the 1624 Muster for the settlement at Neck of Land goes, in part, like this:
-- William Vincent, age 39, by the Mary & James (no date)
-- Joane, his wife, age 42
-- Thomas Harris, age 38, by the Prosperous, May 1611
-- Adria, his wife, age 23, by the Marmaduke, Nov 1621
-- Ann Woodlasse, their kinswoman, age 7
-- Elizabeth, a servant, age 15, by Margaret & John 1620
-- John Price, age 40, by Star (no date)
-- Ann, his wife, age 21, by Francis Bonaventure, Aug 1620
-- Mary, a child, 3 months
Does this order mean anything? It certainly does. An analysis of the land patent records in Cavaliers and Pioneers shows that the properties for William Vincent, Thomas Harris, and John Price stretched along the second curl of the James River from north to south in that same order. The area today is called Curles Neck and is the site of an archaeological project on the old Curles Plantation.
Joane Vincent, the wife of William Vincent is the ONLY person with the name of "Joane" in the 1624 muster list for the "Neck of Land" settlement.
Witness these abstracts of the following patents in Cavaliers and Pioneers Volume I:
Thomas Harris, 11 Nov 1635
Southward upon land of Edward Virgany (Gurgaynie).
Northward upon LAND OF Joane Harris, his wife.
West upon the river.
East into the woods.
This designates that his wife Joane had her own land and it was to the north and on the opposite side of Thomas Harris's property from that of Edward Gurgaynie who died before 1619. Thomas Harris already had possession of the Gurgaynie property. How did Joane Harris have her own land that was separate from the land of Thomas Harris?
Elizabeth Balhash, 2 May 1638
Within Four Mile Creek near Curles.
South by west upon land of William Vincent. (doesn't mean he was alive)
Granted 9 Dec 1636. (Notice the grant to Balhash had actually been made two years earlier.)
Four Mile Creek still has that name and empties into the river at the northern tip of the second curl.
Mathew Gough, 25 July 1639
West upon river.
South on land of Balhash.
100 acres part formerly granted to William Vincent, DECEASED.
Additional patents show that the land first granted to John Price is, at that point in time, in possession of Robert Hallom and is on the river to the southeast and adjacent to Thomas Harris.
My read from all of this:
William Vincent owned the land on the north side of the Thomas Harris property.
William Vincent was dead before 1635.
Audrey Harris, the 1st wife of Thomas Harris had also died sometime prior to 1635.
Thomas Harris remarried Joane Vincent, the widow of his adjacent neighbor William Vincent.
This produces the perfect match and explanation for the 1635 patent for Thomas Harris.
Once the idea is accepted that Capt. Thomas Harris secondly married Joane Vincent, then we have some answers to a few other questions that have plagued Harris researchers about Capt. Thomas Harris. If Joane Vincent was 42 in 1624, then she was born in 1582. By 1635 she was age 53 and Capt. Thomas Harris was age 49. I doubt if she was the mother of his son William Harris. Most likely the two children of Capt. Thomas Harris, Mary and William, were both by his first wife Audrey Hoare. We already know the "witchcraft trial" incident never happened so there is no reason place the death of Audrey Harris before 1626. She probably died much closer to 1635.
Additional research notes for Thomas HARRIS (the title of ?Captain? began to appear in patents about 1635):
Q: Did he serve in the English military before coming to Virginia? If so - he may have met several key players like Sir Thomas DALE in that capacity.
?It may help to recognize the military fraternity to which many of these men belonged. A number of the men of East London and Essex had served together under the Earl of Essex in campaigns in Ireland, the Low Countries and Spain during the 1580/1590s. Most had also attended Gray's Inn together. Among this group was: Wingfield, Percy, West, Gates, Dale, Yeardley, Radcliff and Argall, all of the first Governors of the Virginia Company.
Also Sir Thomas Smyth, Sir Edwin Sandys, Treasurers of the Virginia Company. Captain Rowland Coytemore. Smyth, Gates and West were all knighted together at Cadiz.
West, Gates, Dale and Yeardley all served in the same company in Ireland.
Smyth was overseer for Sir Thomas Dale's will. These men formed the core of the group that was responsible for the colonization of Virginia and the management of the Virginia Company.? (research by Phil Harris, Richmond, VA)
Adria (?Adry? or Audrey) HOARE b: BEF 28 AUG 1604 in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, England
- Mary HARRIS b: ABT 1625 in Henrico Co., Virginia
- William HARRIS b: 1629 in Henrico Co., Virginia
Joane b: ABT 1584 in England