Northbourne, Kent, England Connections Thomas Harris migrated to New England from this village

A field with green grass and trees in the background.

Northbourne is a small parish village in Kent, England and is situated between Dover (9 miles south), Deal (3 miles east), Sandwich (5 miles north) and Canterbury (18 miles west).

A large green field with trees and buildings in the background.

St. Augustine's Parish Church (founded in 640 AD) is where Thomas and his siblings were baptized in the early 1600s.  The present structure dates from the 12th century.


(Parish records were kept by order of the King starting in the mid 1500s.) The first Harris record is from 1575 with the marriage of Michael Harris to Margery Wyles.

A brick building with green roof on the side of it.
A field with trees and bushes in the background.

Northbourne, located a few miles inland from the old port towns of Sandwich and Deal, Kent, England, remains a small village, not much larger than it was 400 years ago when Andrew Harris' family lived there.

Country roads converge near the village which sits atop a hill above one main street appropriately called "The Street"

A van is parked on the side of a street.

Several old homes and farms are situated along a few streets. The Hare and Hounds Pub sits below the church. 


Andrew Harris (born about 1580) married Jane Bagley on 2 Feb 1603 as recorded in the Northbourne Parish Church records as were the baptisms of his 5 children. Andrew's profession was wheelwright. He likely 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 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 Page 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 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, 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. 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 likely is Andrew's grandmother. (See Staplehurst Connection page for more information)

James Sayers brought 6 children into the marriage ages 2 to 15. With Jane’s 5 children ages 6 to 15, it was a household of 13. 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.

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's last record was found in Scituate, MA in 1635.

A road with grass and trees on both sides of it.

A view of the Roman Road near Napchester where the Harris' children lived with their mother and stepfather.

Little is known about the Harris siblings after the time of the death of their father in 1616 up 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 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.


Prior to the 16th century nearby Sandwich, Dover and Deal were thriving port towns.


See Ship Hercules Passenger List Here

Four men standing next to a street light.

At the location of the old port in Sandwich where 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 these brothers. This mistake continues to be listed on many family histories. The other Thomas Harris went on to be a ferryman in Charlestown, Mass. Click Here for more Info

It is likely the two Harris brothers could have been on the ship with Lothrop that sailed from London in 1634. 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".  Unfortunately the ship's passenger log has never been found.

The Harrises had connections in London (with Lothrop, Merchant's Guild, etc.) and some people on board the Hercules with their sister Parnell’s (it sailed from Sandwich a few months later) also had connections with Lathrop. Many of his followers including Jane Harris went with Lathrop to settle in Scituate, MA. However, Thomas and William Harris went with Roger Williams to found Providence, Rhode Island.

Click Here to read about Jane Harris (the older sister of our Harris') found in research published in the Great Migration Books:


The ship Hercules had a similar design.