HARRISON, Richard (1584-1655), of Hurst, Berks. and Seething Lane, London.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



1640 (Apr.)

Family and Education

b. 1584, 2nd s. of Richard Harrison (bur. 6 Jan. 1586) of Finchamstead, Berks. and Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Alton of Stratfield Saye, Hants.1educ. St. Mary Hall, Oxf. 1603.2m. by 1611, Frances, da. of George Gerrard, ld. mayor of London, 2s. 2da.3suc. bro. ?1614;4kntd. 21 Aug. 1621.5d. 1 May 1655.6sig. R[ichar]d Harison.

Offices Held

Commr. sewers, Oxon. and Berks. 1612, Bucks. and Berks. 1622, Berks. and Hants 1633;7 j.p. Berks. 1615-at least 1640,8Wilts. 1632-at least 1640;9commr. assart lands, Berks. 1618;10 kpr. Battels walk, Windsor forest, Berks. 1619-28;11commr. subsidy, Windsor, Berks. 1621-2, Berks. and Windsor, 1624, Berks. 1628-9, 1641,12recusants, Berks. 1624,131629, 1640,14martial law, 1626,15charitable uses, 1626-at least 1638,16Forced Loan 1626-7;17 dep. lt., Berks. 1626;18commr. knighthood fines, Berks. 1630-at least 1632,19oyer and terminer, Berks., Oxon., Glos. 1632-5,20Mon., Herefs., Salop 1634,21Berks., Oxon., Glos., Hants, Wilts. and Dorset 1636;22Berks., Oxon., Glos. 1639-41;23sheriff, Berks. 1636-7;24commr. array, Berks. 1642,25assessment (roy.) 1643, inquiry, estates of rebels 1643 (roy.), impressment (roy.) 1643-at least 1644, subscription (roy.) 1644.26


Harrison’s family enjoyed considerable local standing in south-east Berkshire. His paternal grandfather, Thomas, had established Court connections as surveyor of the Staple to Queen Elizabeth, and his father, Richard acquired properties in Berkshire and Hampshire via an astute marriage with his stepsister.27At his death in 1602, Thomas, who outlived Richard, appointed his son-in-law George Carleton as trustee during Harrison’s minority, so allowing Harrison to forge close links with Carleton’s younger brother (Sir) Dudley*, with whom he was to maintain a regular correspondence.28 In 1617 Harrison arranged the purchase and subsequent rebuilding of Carleton’s property in Thames Ditton, Surrey,29and six years later he bought Carleton’s house in Seething Lane, London.30He also acted as an intermediary for Carleton during the latter’s bid for the provostship of Eton in succession to the ailing Sir Henry Savile*.31In 1624 Carleton reciprocated these kindnesses by petitioning lord keeper Williams to secure Harrison’s exemption from the Berkshire shrievalty.32Carleton clearly valued ‘my fat friend Mr. Harrison’, who suffered from the ague, ‘which handles him so shrewdly that it makes him now and again pray to God, and talk of heaven’.33

In 1609 Carleton told Sir Walter Cope* that he would recommend Harrison should Cope vacate his parliamentary seat at Westminster prematurely; but this did not happen.34By 1621 Harrison, possibly for lack of a local seat, was returned to the Commons for Wootton Bassett, a Wiltshire borough that habitually elected strangers. At the start of the session Harrison denounced Thomas Sheppard’s speech against the recusancy laws and the profanation of the Sabbath.35He sat on the committee for the bill to transfer Viscount Mandeville’s (Sir Henry Montagu’s*) lands (15 Mar.), a measure which was tied to the discharge of Sir Francis Englefield’s Berkshire estates. Harrison appears to have joined his colleague John Wrenham in representing Wootton Bassett’s interests against Englefield’s enclosure of Vasterne Great Park.36

Knighted in August 1621, Harrison, in 1623, became involved in a long dispute with a Catholic neighbour over the right of presentation to Finchhamstead church, and was asked by the Privy Council to examine a puritan who had condemned Bishop Laud as a crypto-papist.37The following year he was elected senior knight of the shire for Berkshire, perhaps with the backing of Carleton, for although wealthy he was not among the first tier of Berkshire landowners.38He was again named to the protracted Mandeville land bill committee (5 Apr.), and as an owner of mills and several farms along the Thames it was fitting that he should have been named to committees for the improvement of the river’s navigation to Oxford (20 Mar.) and the conversion of arable land to pasture (24 March).39Harrison was also appointed to consider a bill to allow clergy to make leases (22 Mar.) and to examine the three ‘godly’ preaching lectureships for which provision had been made in the will of the puritan Thomas Whetenhall (10 April).40

Harrison helped to implement the Forced Loan in Berkshire, attending a preliminary meeting held at Reading in December 1626.41 This did not impede his re-election to the Commons for Berkshire in 1628, when he thanked the burgesses of Reading for their support by sending them a fat buck.42 He was named to just three committees: the standing committee for privileges (20 Mar.); a committee for the bill confirming the endowment of the Charterhouse hospital (8 Apr.), and the bill to reverse a Chancery decree for payment of £2,000 to (Sir) Arnold Herbert* (21 Feb. 1629).43

Harrison was conscientious in his work as keeper of Battel’s Walk, Windsor, for which he was usually paid in arrears.44He was also active as a justice for Berkshire, but although named to the Wiltshire bench he evidently failed to attend its sessions.45In 1636 he was pricked as sheriff of Berkshire, an office he had earlier shied away from because he was then serving in Parliament.46He was named to several royalist commissions during the Civil War. He drafted his will on 8 Dec. 1654, and died five months later,47being buried in the tomb that he had built for himself in the chancel of Hurst church. No other member of the family succeeded him in Parliament, but his eldest son, also Richard, was a lawyer who became gentleman of the Bedchamber to Charles II, while his daughter, Frances, married the second son of Sir Thomas Howard*, 1st earl of Berkshire.48

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Henry Lancaster / Andrew Thrush


Berks. RO, D/ED E8A.

  • 1. Vis. Berks. (Harl. Soc. lvii), 4, 141.
  • 2. Al. Ox.
  • 3. Vis. Berks. 219.
  • 4. PROB 11/124, ff. 346-8.
  • 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 177; Al. Ox.
  • 6. Berks. RO, D/P 73/1/3, unfol.
  • 7. C181/2, f. 169v; 181/3, f. 76v; 181/4, f. 147v.
  • 8. C231/4, f. 6.
  • 9. C231/5, f. 94; ASSI 24/20, f. 149.
  • 10. C181/2, f. 327.
  • 11. SP14/90/70; 14/84/86; 14/85/36; HMC 7th Rep. 255.
  • 12. C212/22/20-1, 23; E179/75/348; 179/75/356; E115/144/33; 115/145/69.
  • 13. ‘Holland Diary 1624’, ii. 51v; CJ, i. 776a.
  • 14. E179/75/348; 179/75/356.
  • 15. Add. 21922, f. 66.
  • 16. C93/10/22; 93/11/13; C192/1, unfol.
  • 17. SP16/40/39.
  • 18. SP16/44/40; Add. 21922, f. 86.
  • 19. E178/7154, f. 318v; 178/5153, ff. 4, 12, 8.
  • 20. C181/4, ff. 114, 117v, 144, 168, 195; 181/5, ff. 13, 66, 95.
  • 21. C181/4, f. 186.
  • 22. Ibid. ff. 124, 146, 188.
  • 23. Ibid. ff. 321, 345, 437.
  • 24. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 6.
  • 25. Northants. RO, FH133, unfol.
  • 26. Docquets of Letters Patent 1642-6 ed. W.H. Black, 66, 69, 110, 173, 181.
  • 27. Vis. Oxon. (Harl. Soc. v), 124; Vis. Berks. 140-1.
  • 28. VCH Berks. iii.244.
  • 29. CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 470; 1619-23, p. 15; CSP Dom. Addenda, 1580-1625, p. 615.
  • 30. SP14/153/53.
  • 31. CSP Dom. 1611-18, pp. 478, 491; 1619-23, p. 22.
  • 32. SP14/154/9; 14/173/116.
  • 33. CSP Dom. Addenda, 1580-1625, p. 377.
  • 34. SP14/50/79.
  • 35. CD 1621, v. 502; CJ, i. 524b.
  • 36. HLRO, main pprs. 22 Feb. 1621; CJ, i. 554a; Top. and Gen. iii. 22-5.
  • 37. C2/Jas.I/T13/63; SP16/318/55.
  • 38. J.M. Guilding, Reading Recs. ii. 415.
  • 39. SP14/74/61; CJ, i. 755a, 744a, 748b.
  • 40. CJ, i. 746a, 762b; Kyle thesis, 339-41.
  • 41. SP16/40/39.
  • 42. Guilding, ii. 415.
  • 43. CJ, i. 873a, 880, 932a.
  • 44. SP16/58/39; 16/121/12; 16/165/59.
  • 45. SP16/237/12; Wilts. RO, A1/150/6-8.
  • 46. VCH Hants, iii. 374.
  • 47. PROB 11/245, f. 145v.
  • 48. LI Admiss.; E. Ashmole, Antiqs. of Berks. ii. 406; Vis. Berks. 4.