HARRISON, Sir John (c.1590-1669), of Montague House, Bishopsgate, London and Balls Park, Herts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Apr. 1640
Nov. 1640 - 4 Sept. 1643
1661 - 28 Sept. 1669

Family and Education

b. c.1590, 12th s. of William Harrison, yeoman, of Aldcliffe Farm, Beaumont, Lancs. by Margaret, da. of Christopher Gardiner of Urswick, Lancs. educ. Warton g.s. m. (1) lic. 21 Aug. 1616, Margaret (d.1640), da. of Robert Fanshawe of Dronfield, Derbys., 3s. d.v.p. 2da.; (2) c.1645, Mary (d. 14 Feb. 1706), da. of Philip Shotbolt of Ardeley, Herts., 1s. 1da. Kntd. 4 Jan. 1641.1

Offices Held

Farmer of customs 1633-8, 1640-1, Sept. 1660-2, commr. 1662-7; gent. of privy chamber 1664-d.2

J.p. Herts. by 1641-?43, Sept. 1660-d.; commr. for levying money, Herts. 1643, loyal and indigent officers, London and Westminster 1662, assessment, Lancs. 1663-d., Norf. 1664-d.


Harrison, a younger son of an obscure Lancashire family, came to London in his youth and was given a small place in the customs house by Lord Treasurer Salisbury. ‘A great accountant, of vast memory, and an incomparable penman’, he married into a leading Exchequer family and acquired an estate of £1,800 p.a., including the manor of Beaumont, near Lancaster. Returned for his native town in both elections of 1640, he was persuaded to rejoin the customs administration to enable Charles I to resist the Scots; but the Long Parliament refused to repay his advances to the crown, and fined him £10,800. During the Civil War he joined the Court at Oxford. When he petitioned to compound for his delinquency in 1648 his debts amounted to over £25,000, and a fine of a mere £1,000 was accepted.3

At the Restoration Harrison ‘was most justly and meritoriously restored to his former condition ... and to the trust of a Member of Parliament’. Returned for Lancaster at the general election of 1661, he was listed as a friend by Lord Wharton, but never became an active Member of the Cavalier Parliament. He was named to 19 committees, including the committee of elections and privileges in the first seven sessions, and those to examine the shortfall in the revenue (18 June 1661) and to prevent frauds on the customs (29 Jan. 1662). The transfer of the customs to direct administration in 1662 was in accordance with Harrison’s longstanding advice, and he was appointed to the board with a salary of £2,000 p.a. He was also one of the original Royal Adventurers into Africa. In 1663-4 warrants were issued for repayment of his loans to Charles I. He was not listed as a court dependent in 1664, although his support could hardly be doubted. In the Oxford session he was appointed to the committee for the five mile bill. His last committee was to hear a petition from the creditors of Sir Thomas Dawes, one of his partners in the customs farm (8 Apr. 1668). In the following year Sir Thomas Osborne included him among the court dependents, but he died on 28 Sept. 1669 in his 80th year, and was buried at All Saints, Hertford, leaving his son property in four counties, though burdened with debts to the crown of £6,000.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Irene Cassidy


  • 1. Clutterbuck, Herts. ii. 186; Fanshawe Mems. 20; The Gen. n.s. xvii. 134; London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 635.
  • 2. Vis. London (Harl. Soc. xv), 354; Stowe 326, ff. 52, 75-77; Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 226; iii. 1127; Carlisle, Privy Chamber, 174.
  • 3. Keeler, Long Parl. 205-6; Fanshawe, 21, 39; Stowe 184, ff. 161-2; 326, ff. 75, 92; Royalist Comp. Pprs. (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. xxix), 165; Cal. Comm. Comp. 1523.
  • 4. Clutterbuck, ii. 157; Sel. Charters (Selden Soc. xxviii), 179; CSP Dom. 1663-4, pp. 50, 639, 676; 1665-6, p. 79; Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 226; Fanshawe, 328-9; The Gen. n.s. xvii. 134.