John Harris - Eleanor Girdler Family Group

Parents   Parents
  Robert Harris Rebecca Bassett   Robert Girdler Mary Pederick
  b. 12 Nov 1721 in Marblehead bp. Sep 1718   b.13 Oct 1721 in Marblehead b. Nov 172 in Marblehead
  d. Apr 1767 in Marblehead d. ? in Marblehead   d. 8 Aug 1815 in Marblehead d. 28 Jul 1801
John Harris Eleanor Girdler
b. 4 Jul 1749 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts b. 25 Oct 1756 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts
d. 4 Aug 1826 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts d. d. 31 Jul 1805 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts
Relationship Events
Marriage 17 Feb 1774 John Harris to Eleanor Girdler in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts
Eleanor Harris b. 30 Aug 1774 in Marblehead; m. 24 Nov 1799 in Marblehead Cornelius Phillips Brimblecom (b. 6 Aug 1775 in Marblehead and d. 30 Apr 1812 abroad); three children: Cornelius, Cornelius, and John Harris Brimblecom; d. 24 Aug 1823 in Marblehead
Robert Harris b. 7 Oct 1776 in Marblehead; m. 7 Feb 1802 in Marblehead Hannah Brown (bp. 9 Jan 1785 and d. 31 Aug 1858 in Marblehead); six children: Hannah, Eleanor, Robert Harris, Edward B., Ellen G., and Benjamin Pedrick Harris; d. 25 Dec 1814 in Marblehead
Rebecca Harris b. 31 Jan 1779 in Marblehead; m. 24 Jan 1802 in Marblehead Joseph Goodwin (b. 31 Jan 1779 and d, 30 Sep 1837 in Marblehead); three children: Infant, Joseph, and Rebecca Goodwin; d. 29 Aug 1808 in Marblehead
John Harris b. 17 Oct 1781 and d. 16 Aug 1783 in Marblehead
John Harris b. 24 Feb 1784 and d, 10 Nov 1853 in Marblehead
Ebenezer Reed Harris b. 9 Jul 1786; m. in Marblehead 22 Sep 1811 Margaret Thompson (bp. 21 Feb 1790 and d. 4 Jan 1759 in Marblehead); seven children: Ebenezer Reed Jr., John, Robert Girdler, Richard T., Benjamin Franklin, Margaret, and Samuel Thompson Harris; d. 4 Jun 1848 in Marblehead
Sarah Harris b. 4 Jun 1789 in Marblehead, m. 18 Feb 1810 in Marblehead John Doak (bp. 11 Oct 1789 and d. 1 Jul 1854 in Marblehead); seven children: John, Sarah, Eleanor,, Benjamin, Mary, Elizabeth, and Infant Doak; d. in Marblehead 17 Jul 1838 in Marblehead
Joseph Harris b. 3 Mar 1792 and d. 21 Mar 1793 in Marblehead
Joseph Harris b. 10 May 1794 in Marblehead; m. 1) 30 Jan 1820 in Marblehead Martha Martin (b. 3 Feb 1799 and d. 27 Mar 1866 in Marblehead); 13 children: Elizabeth Ellen, Thomas Martin, Joseph Jr., John Frank George S., Richard Pedrick Adams, Thomas Martin, Peter Martin, Robert Girdler, Calvin Briggs, Martha W., Mary Ann Brown, and Harriet Stoddard Harris; 2) Jane McKelvy Lemon Brooks 1 Jul 1768 in Marblehead; d. 30 Jan 1870 in Marblehead
Thomas Pedrick Harris b. 16 Nov 1796 and d. 25 Oct 1827 in Marblehead
Benjamin Franklin Harris b. 21 Dec 1799 and d. 4 Jan 1800 in Marblehead

What We Know About This Family


John Harris and his three brothers Robert, Mason, and William were Revolutionary War patriots.

An Overview of Their Lives

John and his wife Eleanor were married in 1774, shortly before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In his will, census records, and other documents, he was called a "gentleman" and titled Esquire. I cannot yet find information about what these terms meant in this time period in America, but they seem to apply to literate men of good social standing who own land.

March 3, 1808 in an article in The Essex Register, it was announced that the town elected Selectmen, most of whom had offices in 1775. One of these selectmen is named as John Harris. The Selectmen of Marblehead wrote a letter to the Selectmen of Boston in August of 1808 "expressing their sentiments" over the request to the President about the embargo. John Harris as Selectman signed this letter.

In 1813, The Essex Register published an announcement "By Order of Court" concerning a Public Auction to be held on the 6th of March for the real estate of Joseph Girdler, "late of Marblehead, in the county of Essex, mariner, deceased." The Administrator of Joseph Girdler's estate was John Harris. Joseph's widow died very soon after her husband and the administration was then taken over by John Harris, After an inventory of assets and debts was taken, the latter exceeded the former, and the estate was deemed insolvent. Three years later, John would have to deal with another insolvent estate when his son Robert died. On 3 Feb 1816, The Salem Gazette by "Order of Court" a sale of the estate of "Robert Harris, Jr." John Harris is listed as the administrator of this estate. Robert died in 1814, and his widow turned the administration of her husband's estate over to her father-in-law.

John and Eleanor had eleven children, the last being born about five years before Eleanor's death in 1805. John and Eleanor buried three of their children soon after their births: the first John in 1783; the first Joseph in 1794; and Benjamin Franklin, the child we can assume they named for the American patriot of the time, in 1800 at only 14 days of age. All three of these babies are buried in the Unitarian Universalist Cemetery in Marblehead.

John Harris died at the age of 77 of tuberculosis in Marblehead and was buried with his wife, Eleanor, at Old Burial Hill. John owned several pieces of real estate, which he devised to his children and their heirs. A copy of the important excerpts of his will appear in the documents section, but I've summarized the bequests:

  • My dwelling house at the time of my death with the barn and land to my sons John Jr. and Thomas Pedrick Harris;
  • To Joseph and Sarah equally the house and land situated on Harris Court once occupied by Jonathon Hemp and others; also the barn lately used as a workshop and land associated with it
  • The remainder of my real estate to be divided among my five surviving children in equal shares: (John, Ebenezer, Joseph, Thomas, and Sarah) 1/2 of the so-called Dimon (Diamond) House and the land near the Old Burying Ground.
  • One-eighth share of the land owned by my late wife in her own right to each: 1) children of my late son, Robert Harris; 2) children of my daughter Rebecca Goodwin deceased; 3) the child of daughter Eleanor Brimblecom deceased; 4) son John Harris; 5) my son Ebenezer Harris; 6) my son Joseph Harris; 7) my daughter Sarah Doak; 8. and my son Thomas Harris. To the same persons, my tomb at the Old Burial Ground.
  • To John and Thomas, my stock, carts, farming utensils, furniture and my personal estate.

The real estate appraised in his will in addition to that specified above and some of which was probably that of his deceased wife Eleanor, was a small house, barn, and land on Mugford Street; 2/3 of a home near the new wharf; a piece of garden land by Bartoll's; 1/3 garden lot, 10 acres at the lower part of the town; a 15-acre lot of land in Ferry Lane; 5 acres in the so-called "Three Sisters" pasture; one cow right in the lower division; one lot of land near Capt. Blackler's tomb; 5 lots of land in Chesterfield New Hampshire.

In spite of tuberculosis, John had a longer life than any of his children. Our direct descendant, Joseph. came very close.

About the Children

  • Eleanor and her husband lost their two sons named Cornelius as infants or toddlers. Captain Cornelius Brimblecom is listed as having sailed on the brigantine Good Intent in 1806. He died abroad at the age of 39 when their youngest son, John Harris Brimblecom was only four. John was only 15 when his mother fell into a well and drowned. He would have been a minor when he was orphaned, but I could find no court papers either for probate administration or guardianship. He himself died when he was only 29.

  • Robert and his wife Hannah Brown had six children, five of whom were still living and youngsters when he died at the age of 38 or so. Their youngest child was just a little over a year old. Robert's profession was defined as "gentleman." He died intestate, and his widow requested that her father-in-law be given the task of administering the estate. What followed involved several members of the Harris family. Hannah submitted a request for a larger allowance from the estate having five small children and being "too feeble" herself to support them and depending on handouts from friends. She was initially awarded the 1/3 dower's share of real estate, but when the inventory of real estate and debts was completed, the estate was deemed insolvent and the real estate had to be sold. How the family supported themselves is unknown. John Jr. died five years before Hannah, and he mentioned the "heirs of his late brother Robert Harris" leaving them his best wishes, but stating he felt no obligation to provide for them in his will. The same best wishes were extended to his brother, Joseph, and the heirs of his sister Rebecca and Sarah. Hannah Brown Harris, widow of Robert, outlived her husband by over four decades and died of rheumatic fever when she was 74.

  • Rebecca married a housewright, Joseph Goodwin. They had three children, two of whom survived infancy and grew to adulthood. Rebecca died when her children were only three and six years old. Her husband survived her by about 30 years, and left a will with several pieces of property bequeathed to his children. John Harris, probably Rebecca's brother, was a signatory on the administration papers.

  • John, Jr. made his living as a housewright. He was single when he died, and in his will he did not mention any children. For several years, I believed that our John Jr, was the same John Harris, Jr. who married Rebecca Bray and changed his name legally to "John Lord Harris." The "Lord" part of his name was important to him as at least two of his children carried that name, so I was perplexed when I noticed he identified himself as simply "John Harris" in his will. It was when I read his will that I realized John Lord Harris, who had at least five children living at the time of John's death was a different John Harris. Our John Harris left his estate to the six children of his deceased brother Ebenezer Reed Harris. He mentioned his siblings, so his relationship to them is confirmed. But none of John Lord's children appears in that will nor can I find anything that ties his parentage to John Sr, and Eleanor Girdler.

  • Ebenezer Reed yeoman or carpenter and his wife Margaret Thomas had seven children, six of whom were sons. Ebenezer died of "dropsy" in 1848. All but one his children survived him, his son John having committed suicide two or so years earlier. Ebenezer's brother John, who died single, left his estate to Ebenezer's six surviving children. Those with any records appear to have done well being described as "wealthy" or "respected." Two others besides John had unnatural ends. Ebenezer Jr. was fatally injured in a work-related fall, and Benjamin, after his wife and all his brothers had died, drowned himself at age 75.

  • Sarah's husband I believe was a mariner. I've been unable to find any information on them, but they did have several children in Marblehead.

  • Joseph was our direct ancestor and would probably have been the best-known Harris in Marblehead later in his life. Samuel Roads wrote of him that he started off poor. I'm not sure how true that was, but he started manufacturing shoes in the Harris Court house he inherited with his sister Sarah from their father and built the business into one of the two largest shoe-manufacturing firms in Marblehead. He married Martha Martin, the daughter of Captain Thomas Martin, and together they had thirteen children. The Martins were a generations-old family of mariners and sea captains in Marblehead. He purchased a beautiful mansion in 1856. Life was not all roses for them. They outlived only half of their children. Tuberculosis hit the family hard. Martha died in 1866, and he married Jean McKelvy Lemon, a widow, in 1868. They had a year and a half together before he fell down the steps, which probably contributed to his death with "apoplexy" the following day. The mansion was left to his unmarried daughters, and his widow moved to Salem. This family group has their own page.

  • Thomas Pedrick remained single and unmarried. Their father bequeathed his dwelling house and land to him and his brother John in gratitude for their services. Thomas wrote out his will shortly after his father's death, and a passage there reveals the hardship part of their lives and the power of family unity. He left his estate to his brother, John, "in consideration of the care and attention shown to me . . . in sickness and health in the many years we have resided together and believing that a continuation of the same care and attention will be shown to me by my said brother." He died the following year at 31. His cause of death was not listed, but I would not be surprised if he as well as some of his other siblings who died fairly young suffered from the tuberculosis that took their father.

Proof of Relationship

Proof of relationship is established in the Vital Statistics records and affirmed in various wills.

What Else We Need to Learn

The goal of this project is to trace every line of ancestry to the arrival of its first immigrant to America. The basic information of each couple is considered complete when we know the dates of birth, marriage, and death for both spouses. their parents' names (or whether they were the immigrant), and the child or children in our ancestry line.

The research on this family is complete.


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