Robert Harris - Rebekah (Rebecca) Bassett Family Group

Parents   Parents
  Charles Harris Andrea Mason   John Bassett Charity Curtis
    ?   ? ?
  22 May 1722 in Marblehead ?   23 Oct 1758 Estate probated ?
Robert Harris Rebecca Bassett
b. 12 Nov 1721 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts bp. 17 Oct 1743 in Marblehead, Essex,Massachusetts
d. May 1767 - Estate Probated in Marblehead aft.1767
Relationship Events
Marriage 11 Jun 1741 Robert Harris to Rebecca Bassett in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts
Rebekah bp. 11 Jun 1741 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA; d. ? - no records found of marriage or death
Robert bp. 18 Sep 1743 in Marblehead; m. 12 Jun 1767 in Marblehead Sarah Martin Bennett (b. 24 Jan 1736 in Marblehead, d. 19 Nov 1799 in Marblehead); two children: Deliverance and Ann Martin Harris; d. 12 Dec 1794
Sarah bp. 10 Nov 1745 and died bef. 1747 in Marblehead
Sarah bp. 4 Jan 1747 in Marblehead; m. 12 Mar 1772 in Marblehead Capt Ebenezer Reed (b. 12 Mar 1741 in Marblehead, d. 25 May 1785 in Marblehead); no children; d. 23 Sep 1822 in Marblehead
John b. 4 Jul 1749 in Marblehead, m. 17 Feb 1774 in Marblehead Eleanor Girdler (25 Oct 1756 in Marblehead, 31 Jul 1805 in Marblehead); eleven children: Eleanor, Robert, Rebecca, John, John, Ebenezer Reed, Sarah, Joseph, Joseph, Thomas Pedrick, and Benjamin Franklin Harris; d. 4 Aug 1826 in Marblehead
Deliverance bp. 23 Jun 1751 in Marblehead, no further trace
Mason bp 26 Aug 1753; m. 1) 27 Jan 1776 in Marblehead Elizabeth Dennis (b. abt. 1752 in Marblehead, d. 2 Feb 1793); eight children: Elizabeth, Elizabeth, Mason, Sarah, Molly, Rebecca, James, and Robert Harris; 2) Mary Merritt Rich 22 Dec 1793 in Marblehead; d. 3 Oct 1833 in Marblehead
  William 18 Jan 1756 in Marblehead; m. 7 July 1778 in Marblehead Elizabeth Smethurst (b. 1 May 1758 in Marblehead, d. 15 Apr 1838); ten children: Sarah, William Webber, Elizabeth, Mary, Nancy Jane, Gamaliel, Robert, John, Rebecca, and Mary Harris; d. 28 Dec 1838 in Marblehead

What We Know About This Family


Robert Harris and his wife Rebecca (spelled Rebekah in documents) Bassett were the parents of eight children. All four of their sons, Robert, John, Mason, and William, served in the Revolutionary War.

An Overview of Their Lives

Rebecca Bassett's great grandparents originally settled in Lynn, Massachusetts. Her father's aunt was Elizabeth Bassett, wife of John Proctor, who was hanged during the witchcraft trials in Salem. Elizabeth Bassett Proctor was spared the same fate because she was pregnant at the time of her conviction and the hysteria had abated by the time she gave birth. Rebecca's grandfather John was born in Lynn but removed to Marblehead in his early adulthood.

We know very little of their lives outside of the vital statistics and bits and pieces about the children. Robert was a glazier, as was his son, Robert. In 1758, Rebecca's father died and his surviving children were mentioned as part of the division of his estate.

The estate of John Bassett, late of Marblehead, fisherman, was divided as follows: Part of the dwelling house and 1/8 of cow commonage was divided into three parts, being as many as we think it can be divided into without prejudicing the whole. No. 1 to his only son John Bassett, he to pay 20 pounds, 13 shillings, 4 pence each to his sisters Sarah Lewis, Deliverance Morgan and Rebecca Harris. No. 2 was settled on Charity Bassett, a daughter of the deceased, and on her heirs, and Charity is to pay her sister, Rebecca Harris, 4 pounds, 6 shillings, 8 pence. No. 3 was settled on Rebekah Harris, a daughter of the deceased and now wife to Robert Harris, as final payment of the estate. (From the Essex Genealogist, Volume 18, Number 1).

Robert Harris was a signatory a few times in the probate papers.

I was able to find two pieces of information about Robert. In 1747, several of the inhabitants petitioned for a town meeting to take action in regard to the " old school-house," which was represented as being "much out of repair, and at present unfit for public use." The petition, which is signed by Nathan Bowen, Samuel Graves, Robert Harris, John Stacey, and other well-known citizens, gives the following additional reason why the dilapidated building should be closed. "And forasmuch as John Pickett and Ann his wife have Illegally entered into said House, and by means of their being frequently in drink and making
large fires in said House where there is no proper hearth, the sd house (and the contiguous neighbourhood) are in contin-
ual danger of being consumed." The meeting was called according to the request of the petitioners, and it was voted
"to remove the persons and goods" of the offenders and to nail up the school-house in order to guard against further
depredations of a similar nature. Source: History and Traditions of Marblehead by Samuel Roads

Marblehead was composed almost entirely of wooden buildings in 1751, making the procurement of a fire engine important to the community. Robert Hooper, a wealthy merchant, ordered an engine at his own expense, and the town organized by election a board of "fire wards." There is no record of the names of those initially assigned to the engine, but in 1755, William Bowden, John Bowden, Henry Trevett, John Pearce, Richard Wood, William Bassett, John Andrews, Robert Harris, John Neal, Joseph Bubier, Benjamin Darling 3rd, and Benjamin Doe were assigned as the company of this engine. Their captain was Robert Harris. (The article about the fire engine appears in full in the documents section).

There was another Harris family in Marblehead during this time. The records show the marriage of John Harris, who had been born in Salem, to Margaret Coombs in 1694. Their son James had sons named John, William, James, and Thomas, but no Robert in that generation or the next, so I feel confident in attributing the two stories to our Robert. The four brothers serving in the War are definitely attributed to Robert by virtue of his son Mason (named with his grandmother's surname). Their War records appear in the documents section.

Robert died before the Revolutionary War, so he did not live to see the contribution his sons made to the fight for independence. Rebecca was still living when his estate was probated, but her date of death is unknown.

About the Children

  • Robert, Jr. was promoted to Lieutenant during the Revolutionary War. He took up his father's profession as a glazier, and he married Sarah Martin Bennett, the daughter of our direct ancestors Knott and Sarah Arnold Martin and the widow of William Bennett. They had two children together.

  • Sarah married Captain Ebenezer Reed, who made his will during the Revolution when he was in Londonderry, New Hampshire. He was a mariner, and died at only 44. They apparently had no children. Sarah's brother, John, named one of his sons for Captain Reed. Sarah outlived her husband by almost 40 years.

  • John and his wife Eleanor Girdler were our direct ancestors and have their own family group page . He signed his will as "John Harris. Esq." I'm not certain whether the Esquire designated him as a "gentleman" or if he was in the practice of law. He had several pieces of property to leave to his children. There is an historical property in present-day Marblehead that has been designated "the Harris Farm" from at least 1720. I tried to find a list of the Harrises who had lived there, but was unable to find ownership information. John and Eleanor had many children, and sadly lost three as infants. Eleanor did not live as long as he did. He died of "consumption" at age 77. He left the house he lived in with a barn and the stock and equipment to his sons John and Thomas in thanks for their services. It's possible this was the Harris Farm. To John, Ebenezer, Thomas, Joseph and Sarah Doak, he left shares of his other real estate. His son Joseph, who would one day own the Joseph Harris Shoe Manufacturing Factory that employed 400 Marbleheaders, started the business in the house on Harris Court that he and his sister Sarah inherited from their father.

  • Mason was a shipwright and was also designated as "Deacon" Mason Harris in his will. He married first Elizabeth Dennis, related to us through both sides of her family (her parents were James Dennis and Elizabeth Merritt)). They had several children, and after she died, he married Mary Merritt Rich, the daughter of Samuel Merritt and Mary Boden and the widow of Jonathan Rich.

  • Son William had the distinction of being part of the company that fought at Bunker Hill. He was a housewright (a builder of houses, especially wooden). He and his wife Elizabeth Smethurst had ten children. He outlived his wife by only a few months, and only five of their children survived him.

I could not trace either daughters Rebekah or Deliverance after their baptisms.

Modern-day Marblehead's Historic District has many buildings constructed during this period or earlier. Photos of some of them are included in the documents section and include photos of the Harris Farm (perhaps the home of John) and photos of the homes of Mason and William Harris.

Proof of Relationship

Proof of relationship is established in the probate information for both John Bassett and Robert Harris as well as the numerous vital records for the family.

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 except for the date of Rebecca's death, which may never be known.



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