THE HARRISON FAMILY OF POULTON AND HORNCASTLE, LINCOLNSHIRE
As you enter St Chad’s through the door leading from the Market Place you will see
on the opposite wall a large memorial tablet to members of the Harrison family. It
Near this marble lieth the body of Margaret daughter of John and Ellen Harrison of
Poulton who died 13th March 1790
aged One Year
Also of Ellen his wife who died 20th September 1790 aged 34 years Also of Dorothy
their daughter who died 25th January 1791 in the 9th year of her age
Also of the said John Harrison who died 1st August 1796 aged 43 years
Also in memory of John Bickerstaffe Harrison AB their sone who died on the 18th April
at Horncastle in Lincolnshire aged 23 Years and was there interred
Also of Agnes their daughter who died on the 21st Novr. 1821 at Louth in Lincolnshire
aged 40 and was interred at Horncastle
also of Richard Harrison their son who died on the 18th January 1825 aged 40 years
and was interred at Horncastle.
Who were the Harrisons, why did some of them move to Lincolnshire and who erected
the memorial in St Chad’s?
John and Edward Harrison were brothers, sons of Richard and Agnes Harrison of Bankfield
in Singleton, baptised at Kirkham parish church, John in 1753 and Edward in 1759.
John Harrison and Ellen Bickerstaffe married around 1780. Five children were born
to them , the youngest Margaret dying in 1790 shortly before her first birthday.
Their mother Ellen died six months later on September 20th 1790, leaving John with
four young children aged between 3 and 9 years. Edward Harrison, John’s brother,
had trained as a doctor in Edinburgh and had moved from Poulton to Horncastle in
On September 24th 1790, just four days after the death of his sister-in-law Ellen,
Edward returned to Poulton to marry Ellen’s sister Margaret at St Chad’s. After their
marriage Edward and Margaret went to live in Horncastle.
When John Harrison died in 1796 his three remaining children aged 15, 11 and 9 were
orphaned. In his will he had instructed his executors, William Harrison, his brother-in-law
[presumably father of Elizabeth] and John Bonney of Blackpool, to ensure the ”maintenance,
education and support of his children”. A decision was made to send them to Horncastle
where they grew up in the household of their uncle and aunt, Edward and Margaret
What attracted Edward Harrison to make the move from Poulton to Horncastle
is unclear, but once there he appears to have become involved with two major figures
of the day. The family of Alfred Lord Tennyson hailed from a small group of villages
in the Lincolnshire Wolds and Edward Harrison MD appears to have been the family
physician, dealing with the recurring bouts of depression which afflicted several
members of the Tennyson family. Tennyson family papers and letters record the high
regard in which the family held Edward Harrison.
Also in Horncastle at the time was Sir Joseph Banks, explorer and botanist, President
of the Royal Society, appointed by the King to set up Kew Botanical Gardens and companion
of Captain Cook on his voyages to Australasia. Banks had a house in Horncastle and
a family home at nearby Revesby Abbey. Edward Harrison was Banks’ physician when
Banks was in Lincolnshire.
Edward established the Horncastle Dispensary in 1789. It was funded by public subscription
and stood next to the workhouse. Patients came to the Dispensary from as far away
as Boston, Grantham and Lincoln. From 1804 to 1821 Harrison had a private lunatic
asylum where he lived in West Street. He was involved in the formation of the Lincolnshire
Benevolent Medical Society in 1804 and was its first President.