Northbourne occupies an historic site on low hills overlooking the Strait of Dover.
Country roads converge near St. Augustine's church which sits atop a hill above one main street appropriately called "The Street".
Several old homes and farms are situated along these few streets. The Hare and Hounds Pub sits below the church.
St. Augustine's Parish Church where Thomas and his brother William and sisters Jane, Parnel and Ann were baptized in the early 1600s.
It was founded in 640 AD. The present structure dates from the 12th century.
Inside the church is the tomb of Sir Edwin Sandys (died 1629).
Sir Edwin was the treasurer of the Virginia Company and is famous for drawing up the constitution of the American state of Virginia.
This established the principle that people should be governed and taxed by their own consent through an elected assembly.
Northbourne is located a few miles inland from the old port towns of Sandwich and Deal, Kent, England
The boundaries of Northbourne parish are very long and narrow, extending only a mile and an half from east to west, and full five miles from north to south.
Approximately 300 people lived within the parish in the early 1600s.
Northbourne is a small village, not much larger than 400 years ago when Andrew and Jane lived there with their 5 children.
The first Harris record is found for 1575 with the marriage of Michael Harris to Margery Wyles.
(Parish records were kept by order of the King starting in the mid 1500s.)
Andrew Harris (born about 1580) married Jane Bagley on 2 Feb 1603 as recorded in the Northbourne Parish records. His birth records are not found in this Parish.
Five children were born, each Christened in the Parish Church:
- Jane 24 Dec 1604
- Parnell 3 Aug 1606
- Ann 29 May 1608
- William 9 Dec 1610
- Thomas 11 Jul 1613
Andrew's profession was wheelwright, a person who builds or repairs wheels. Historically, these tradesmen made wheels for carts and wagons by constructing the hub, the spokes and the rim segments and assembling them all into a unit. Most likely he had a shop in the village and knew most all who lived in the surrounding community.
Sadly, Andrew died in 1616 (estimated age of 36) leaving his five small children ages 3 to 12. Through his will we learn of his death and find he left all to his wife Jane including the future prospects of a 50% share in a joint venture made with Mathew Hoolye (Hoile) in which she would share equally in the profit or loss of the venture. Mathew Hoile was most likely a local resident. There are a number of Hoile families listed on Tithes Record from the mid 1800’s in Northbourne. There is no Parish record of Andrew’s burial. See Andrew Harris Tab for more information.
Jane then married James Grigges of Northbourne 2 years later on 29 Oct 1618, then sadly James died 6 months later 7 Mar 1619. In his will James left the majority of his estate to his five children who were similar in age to Jane’s children. No mention of the Harris children is made in the will.
At this time in England, women had very little property rights. Land was not exactly owned, but rather held in all sorts of complicated tenure that led all the way to the King who was the only one who properly owned anything. Much land was held within the manorial system, and different manors had different rules. Often though a husband’s will would allow his wife to remain in the property, after which it reverted to the children, usually a son or sons. Kent had a unique system called gavelkind (which did not operate everywhere), a form of partible inheritance where property was divided equally between sons, or between daughters only if there were no sons.
On 29 Sep 1619, 6 months after the death of her second husband, Jane married James Sayers of Northbourne. They then had a baby girl named Parnell who sadly died at age 3. It is curious they named this girl Parnell as the second daughter of Jane was already named Parnell. The name Pernell/Parnell is not common. Few records of this name are found anywhere in Kent. There was a Pernell Harris baptized in 1567 in the parish of Stone on the Isle of Oxney and lies on the Kent/Sussex border 8 miles southeast of Tenterden and about 28 miles from Northbourne. One other Pernell is found in the parish records of Staplehurst, a burial 11 Jul 1556 Pernell wife of Thomas Harrys Buried in Staplehurst which could conceivably be Andrew's grandmother. (See Staplehurst Connection)
James Sayers brought 6 children into the marriage ages 2 to 15. With Jane’s 5 children ages 6 to 15, the household of 13 people must have been a challenge! James was churchwarden in 1617. James father John was a Yeoman from Napchester (Naprester). From Northbourne “southwards, at the utmost limits of the parish, a hamlet of five houses called Napchester adjoins the parishes of Waldershare and Whitfield.” The principal farm belongs to the Earl of Guildford. At this time the exact definition of a yeoman is unclear, but in terms of farm size, it would have been someone farming in excess of fifty acres. The typical annual income of a yeoman farmer would have been £40 or £50, although £100 to £200 was not uncommon.
Jane eventually migrated to Providence, RI after the death of her 3rd husband James in 1640. Ultimately all of her Harris children migrated to New England and all settled in Providence except for daughter Jane who was found in Scituate, MA by 1635 but no mention afterwards.
A view of the Roman Road near Napchester where the Harris' children lived with the mother and stepfather.
Little is known about the Harris siblings after the time of the death of their father in 1616 to the important year of 1635. But at age 28 Parnell, together with her step brother James Sayer (23) boarded the ship Hercules in the Port of Sandwich a few miles away from Northbourne in the early spring of 1635 for New England. Parnell is listed on the record as from Bow, London clearly showing she had resided there for a period of time prior to returning to Sandwich to migrate. During this same period in London her younger brother William married Susan Hyde of London (prior to 1635). Research shows a direct connection with Reverend John Lathrop and many who boarded the ship Hercules.
Location of old port in Sandwich from which the ship Hercules sailed in early 1635 with Parnell Harris and her stepbrother James Sayers.
There is no record of the sailing of her brothers Thomas and William. Earlier research had mistaken an entry listing“Thomas Harris” and “Thomas Williams alias Harris” on the ship Lyon, but these are not brothers Harris. This mistake continues to be listed on many family histories. Actually that other Thomas Harris went on to be a ferryman
Mass. See: http://www.packrat-pro.com/ships/winthrop.htm
I suspect the two Harris brothers could have been on the ship with Lothrop that sailed from London in 1634. If you read about John Lothropp’s sailing you’ll find that he migrated, as a widower, with eight children, on the ship Griffin. Governor Winthrop's journal entry of Sept. 18, 1634 stated: "The Griffin and another ship now arriving with about 200 passengers. Mr. Lathrop and Mr. Sims, two godly ministers coming in the same ship". Unfortuately the actual record of that ship's passenger log has never been found.
It is evident that the Harris’ had connections in London (Lothrop etc.) and some people on board the Hercules (their sister Parnell’s sailed from Sandwich with her step brother a few months later) also had connections with Lathrop. Many of his followers from England went with Lathrop to settle in Scituate, MA. However, records show Thomas and William Harris went with Roger Williams to found Providence, Rhode Island.
See Ship Lyon Passenger List (Parnell Harris was on this ship):
There is an entry about Jane Harris (most likely the older sister of our Harris') found in research published in the Great Migration Books:
CHURCH MEMBERSHIP: On 21 June 1635, “Jane Harrice” was admitted to Scituate church (NEHGR 9:279).
COMMENTS: This member of the Scituate church is almost certainly the person of the same name who was a member of Rev. John Lothrop’s church in London in 1632; in the records pertaining to that church she is linked with Thomas Harris and William Harris, although no relationship among these three people is stated (Burrage 1:323, 2:297). No further record for this immigrant has been found in New England.
It is interesting to note there are some references to Jane, Thomas and William Harris as converts to the dissenter church in London with John Lathrop as the head. He had been committed to prison but still allowed some freedom to go and come. During these years he lists more followers being added to his church group. These new converts were not necessarily prisoners, but were friends who were able to visit during these years many of the earlier members were imprisoned.
The prison experiences of Lathrop’s followers during these two years are summarized as follows:--
- 1. In that time the Lord opened their mouths so to speak at the High Commission & Pauls & in private even the weake Women as their Subtill & malicious Adversarys were not able to resist but were ashamed.
- 2. In the Space the Lord gave them so great faviour in the Eyes of their Keepers that they suffered any friends to come to them and they edifyed & comforted one another on the Lords Days, breaking bread & c.
- 3. By their Holy & Gratious carriage in their Sufferings, he so convinced others that they obtained much more faviour in the Eyes of all Such geneally as feared God then formerly, so that many were very kind & helpful to them, contributing to their Necessities, some weekly sending Meat & c. to them.
- 4. Their Keeper found them so sure in their promises that they had freedom to go home, or about their Trades, or buisness whensoever they desired, & the keepers having set their time, & they having sayd they would then returne, it was enough without the charges of one to attend them.
- 5. In the very time of their restraint the Word was so farr from (being) bound (i.e., kept from the people), & the Saints so farr from being scared from the Ways of God that even then many were in Prison added to the Church, viz.
Humphrey Bernard (Barnet)
Ailce (Alice) Wincop
6. Not one of those that were taken did recant or turne back from the truth through fear or through flattery or cunning slights, but all were the more strengthened thereby. Volume 1, page 325
About June, 1634, he (John Lathrop) was released from prison to go to New England. He was accompanied by about thirty members, among whom were, ---Samuel Howse; John Wodwin; Goodwives Woodwin, elder and younger; Widow Norton; and afterwards Robert Linel and wife, Mr and Mrs Laberton, Mrs Hammond, and Mrs Swinerton.
Burrage, Champlin. The Early English Dissenters. 1550-1641. (Cambridge,
Volume 1, page 323
See further information about John Lathrop:
More information on the connection of prominent people who were on board the ship Hercules (Parnell's voyage).
The ship was owned in partnership by:
John Witherley, Captain of the ship
Nathaniel Tilden, Yeoman of Tenterden, Kent
William Hatch, had moved to Sandwich from Tenterden area
Comfort Starr, Surgeon from Cranbrook (9 miles from Tenterden)
Mr. Osborne (a brother in law of Tilden)
Other heads of families from Tenterden joining Nathaniel Tilden were Jonas Austen, Samuel Hinkley and John Lewis. Jonas Austen’s aunt Johan married Henry Harris of Staplehurst. Evidence shows An(drew) Harris was their second son born in 1585. Staplehurst is 9 miles from Tenterden.
Nathaniel’s wife Lydia Huckstep was a cousin of William Hatch. In preparation for his journey to the colonies, William Hatch moved his family to Sandwich sometime before 1634. Other heads of families from Sandwich of interest were Thomas Besbeech (Bisbee) whose mother was an Austin.
Others from Ashford (near Tenterden) accompanying Comfort Starr were Fannett and Thomas Champion. Dr. Starr (45) a distinguished surgeon and a warden of St. Mary’s in Ashford prior to sailing, was later one of the Earliest Benefactors of Harvard (first college in America).
Click here for more information on many of the ship Hercules passengers who joined up with John Lothrop once he arrived in New England and settled in Scituate. Passengers on Hercules (1635) who settled in Scituate, MA
There are some interesting connections with Northbourne and other dissident preachers, sympathetics and prominent people.
For instance, Henoch Clapham was vicar of Northbourne from 1607-1614, a former Separatist leader who later returned to the Church of England. In 1609, Sir Edwin Sandys denounced the vicar Clapham who had been assigned there by the London church authority.
Sir Edwin Sandys was a British statesman and one of the founders of the proprietary Virginia company of London, which in 1607 established the first permanent English settlement in the colony of Virginia, at Jamestown. In addition, he assisted the Pilgrims is establishing their colony at Plymouth Massachusetts by lending them 300 pounds without interest. Northbourne court was granted to Sir Edwin Sandys, on whom at the same time was conferred the honour of knighthood.
Richard Hooker (March 1554 – November 3, 1600) was an Anglican priest and an influential theologian. Hooker's emphases on reason, tolerance and inclusiveness considerably influenced the development of Anglicanism. He was the co-founder (with Thomas Cranmer and Matthew Parker) of Anglican theological thought. Friend of Sir Edwin Sandys. In 1595, Hooker became Rector of the parish of St. Mary's. Bishopsbourne is 13 miles from Northbourne.
In 1614 James AUSTIN was assigned as the Northbourne Church Incumbent replacing Henoch CLAPHAM. The incumbent of a benefice, usually the parish priest, held the assets and income. The incumbent has legal possession of the church and glebe for the term of his office, but shares with the churchwardens the responsibility for them. Formerly, an incumbent rector would enjoy the assets and receive all the tithes of a parish, but might appoint a vicar to discharge all the spiritual duties of the office at a lesser salary.
In the early 1600s John Austen of ‘Cottenton’ Court, Northbourne, was thought to be one of the largest yeoman farmers in the area. Austins were a prominent family in the area. No relationship has yet been established with the Austin's of Staplehurst/Cranbrook.