Biography

Henry Harrison was born on 27 March 1860 in Blackrod, probably at a place called Blundles Fold. Henry was the son of Joseph Harrison, a labourer at a coal mine, and his wife Ellen Ball. Henry was their third child, having an older brother, Edward, and sister Elizabeth.

The Blackrod area had been a centre for the Harrison family members for some time. Henry’s father, Joseph, was from Adlington, a short distance north of Blackrod. Ellen was from Haigh, just west of Blackrod. Although Blundles Fold no longer exists, Blundell Lane is now a back road through country fields between Haigh and Blackrod. Local residents say that there were several coal pits near Blundell Lane in the 19th century and that the Lane was home to many of the miners.

The 1861 census recorded Henry Harrison living with his parents and two older siblings at Blundles Fold, Blackrod. Shortly thereafter, probably in 1862, the family moved to the Poolstock area of Wigan that would become the family’s neighbourhood for the next 75 years. From 1862 through the 1870s, Joseph and Ellen had five more daughters (in addition to any children who may have died in infancy): Maria, Jemima, Ellen, Alice, and Margaret. The family were most likely renters as they moved from house to house every few years but always in the Poolstock neighbourhood. For example, at the time of the 1871 census, they lived at 6 Byrom Street in Poolstock, Wigan, by which time the family had grown to include seven children. In 1875, they were living at 31 Pool Street, according to the birth certificate of Margaret Harrison. At the time of the 1881 census, they were living at 64 Pool Street.

This was a working class family. Joseph, who seemed to be a jack-of-all-trades, held various jobs as a labourer, blacksmith, coal miner, and timber sawyer. Ellen was a stay-at-home mother looking after eight children. The children went to school in their younger years but generally went to work around age 13 or 14. Edward worked as an engine tenter, and all of Henry’s sisters worked as cotton weavers in the Poolstock textile mills, of which there were several. The 1881 census found Henry at age 21 still living with his parents and working as a stoker, presumably shovelling coal into a boiler at one of the local mills.

On 27 June 1885, Henry married Alice Barton, a local girl, at St. Thomas Church in Wigan. The couple lived in the Poolstock neighbourhood in a house at 20 Walmer Street. On 18 May 1886, Henry Harold Harrison was born, their first and only child. At the time, Henry Sr. was working as an engine minder, according to Harold’s birth certificate.

Sometime between 1886 and 1891, Henry became the proprietor of the Honeysuckle Inn, located at 75 Pool Street in Poolstock on the bank of the Douglas River. Henry certainly knew the inn as he had lived with his parents at 31 Pool Street in 1875 and 64 Pool Street in 1881.

Henry operated the Honeysuckle for about the next dozen years. It is said that he would drink with his customers at breakfast, lunchtime, and dinner, sleeping off the alcohol between meals. When he would become too ill from drinking, the local doctor “would wean him off the booze with champagne.” It is said that when he was drunk he could become abusive. It is said that he was a frequent gambler and would hold cock fights behind the Honeysuckle.

The 1891 census taken at the Honeysuckle Inn registers Henry, his wife Alice, and son Harold living there along with two of Alice’s sisters, Ellen and Annie Barton. Ellen and Annie may have been employed at the Honeysuckle or may simply have been visiting their sister when the census-taker arrived.

In 1897, Henry’s wife, Alice Barton, died of cirrhosis of the liver at age 33. On 9 January 1900, Henry remarried at age 39. His second wife, Elizabeth Donahue, age 25, resided at 90 Pool Street, just up the road from the Honeysuckle. They were married at St. Thomas’ Church in Wigan.

The 1901 census records Henry and Elizabeth living at the Honeysuckle Inn with son Harold and John, Henry’s cousin, probably the son of Joseph’s brother William. In the same year, Henry indentured his son Harold as an apprentice to Robert George Dawson, a local joiner and family friend.

Henry and Elizabeth had about eight children together, they have not all been verified. Their first child was Margaret Harrison, born in 1902, was known to the Toronto branch of the family as “Aunt Maggie.” Nellie Harrison was born in 1904, and Joseph in 1906. Gladys Harrison was born in 1909 and died the same year. Annie was born in 1910. Elizabeth, perhaps the youngest, was born in 1918. It is likely their other children were named Thomas and Edward.

Some time between 1902 and 1904, Henry ceased to operate the Honeysuckle Inn. His granddaughter believes he “gambled it away.” The family was still at the Honeysuckle when Aunt Maggie was born in 1902. When their next child, Nellie, was born in 1904, the family was living at 90 Pool Street, and Henry was back working as a colliery engine winder. When his daughter Gladys was born in 1909, he was living at 30 Tipping Street, Poolstock, an address a block away from the Honeysuckle Inn. Henry’s death certificate records his occupation as a stoker (cotton mill). On Elizabeth Donahue’s death certificate, Joseph Harrison recorded his father’s occupation as general labourer.

The last thirty years of Henry’s life remained unknown, as he had little or no contact with his son Harold who emigrated to Canada in 1907. He died on 30 October 1937 of “senile decay” at age 77 at Billinge Hospital. He was living at 88 Poolstock, a house on the Leeds-Liverpool canal only a few hundred metres from the Honeysuckle Inn. The funeral service and burial were reported in an obituary by the local Wigan Examiner newspaper at the time. Henry is buried in a family plot with his two wives, Alice and Elizabeth, his brother Edward, and several other family members at the Wigan Cemetery and Crematorium in Ince.


Details and Facts

Occupation Stoker (formerly)

30 Oct 1837
Cotton Mill

Per Death Certificate.

Residence

7 Apr 1861
Blundles Fold, Blackrod, Lancashire

Per 1861 Census, Henry was age 1, living with parents Joseph and Ellen.

Residence Family moved from Blackrod to Wigan

18 Apr 1862
Wigan, Lancashire

Henry was born in Blackrod in 1860. The family’s next chil d, Maria, was born in Wigan in 1863. The family moved some time between these two dates.

Residence Parents' Home

11 Aug 1865
6 Byrom Street, Poolstock, Wigan

Per Ellen’s Birth Certificate and per 1871 Census.

Residence Family Home

11 Aug 1865
22 Wood Street (off Chapel Lane), Wigan, Lancashire

Per Jemima’s Birth Certificate.

Residence

2 Apr 1871
6 Byrom Street, Poolstock, Wigan

Per 1871 Census, Henry was age 11, living with his parents and family.

Residence Parents' home

31 Jan 1875
31 Pool Street, Poolstock, Wigan

Per Margaret’s Birth Certificate.

Residence Joseph Harrison family residence

3 Apr 1881
64 Pool Street, Poolstock, Wigan

Per 1881 Census, Henry was age 21.

Employment Stoker

3 Apr 1881

Per 1881 Census.

Residence

18 May 1886
20 Walmer Street, Poolstock, Wigan, England

Per Henry Harold’s Birth Registration.

Occupation Engine Minder

18 May 1886

Per Henry Harold’s Birth Registration.

Residence

5 Apr 1891
Honeysuckle Inn, Poolstock, Wigan

Per 1891 Census.

Occupation Licensed Victualler

5 Apr 1891
Honeysuckle Inn, Poolstock, Wigan

Per 1891 Census.

Residence Henry & Alice family home

24 Aug 1897
Honeysuckle Inn, Poolstock, Wigan

Per Alice Barton’s Death Certificate.

Occupation Licensed Victualler

24 Aug 1897
Honeysuckle Inn, Poolstock, Wigan

Per Alice Barton’s Death Certificate.

Residence

31 Mar 1901
Honeysuckle Inn, Poolstock, Wigan

Per 1901 Census.

Occupation Publican (own account)

31 Mar 1901
Honeysuckle Inn, Poolstock, Wigan

Per 1901 Census.

Residence Henry Harrison and Elizabeth Donahue family home

7 May 1902
Honeysuckle Inn, Poolstock, Wigan

Per Aunt Maggie’s Birth Certificate.

Occupation Licensed Victualler

7 May 1902
Honeysuckle Inn, Poolstock, Wigan

Residence

13 Sep 1904
90 Pool Street, Poolstock, Wigan

Per Nellie Harrison’s Birth Registration.

Occupation Coliery Engine Winder

13 Sep 1904

Per Nellie Harrison’s Birth Registration.

Occupation Colliery Engine Winder

30 Jul 1906
Wigan, Lancashire

Per Joseph Harrison’s Birth Certificate.

Residence Henry Harrison and Elizabeth Donahue family home

30 Jul 1906
90 Pool Street, Poolstock, Wigan

Per Joseph Harrison’s Birth Certificate.

Residence

4 Apr 1909
30 Tipping Street, Poolstock Wigan

Per Gladys Harrison’s Birth Registration.

Occupation Colliery Engine Winder

4 Apr 1909
Unknown

Per Gladys Birth Certificate.

Occupation Colliery Engine Winder

28 Nov 1909

Per Gladys Harrison’s Death Certificate.

Residence Henry and Elizabeth family home

28 Nov 1909
30 Tipping Street, Poolstock Wigan

Per Gladys Harrison’s Death Certificate.

Occupation Colliery Engine Winder

5 Oct 1910
30 Tipping Street, Poolstock Wigan

Per Annie Harrison’s Birth Certificate.

Residence Henry and Elizabeth family home

5 Oct 1910
30 Tipping Street, Poolstock Wigan

Per Annie Harrison’s Birth Certificate.

Occupation Shopkeeper

2 Apr 1911
30 Tipping Street, Poolstock Wigan

In the census, Henry described himself and his wife, Elizabeth, as shopkeepers selling mixed [indecipherable], sweets, etc. They were self-employed and ran the business from their home.

Residence Henry & Elizabeth Harrison family home

2 Apr 1911
30 Tipping Street, Poolstock Wigan

Per 1911 Census.

Occupation Colliery Engine Winder

12 Jul 1915
Wigan, Lancashire

Per Edward Harrison’s Birth Certificate.

Residence Henry and Elizabeth Harrison family home

12 Jul 1915
65 Byrom Street, Poolstock, Wigan

Per Edward’s Birth Certificate.

Occupation Colliery Engine Winder

19 Mar 1918
65 Byron Street, Poolstock, Wigan

Per Elizabeth Harrison’s Birth Certificate.

Residence Henry and Elizabeth family home

19 Mar 1918
65 Byron Street, Poolstock, Wigan

Per Elizabeth Harrison’s Birth Certificate.

Occupation Licensed Victualler

18 Apr 1927
Poolstock, Wigan

Per Aunt Maggie’s Marriage Certificate.

Residence Henry and Elizabeth Harrison family home

18 Apr 1927
65 Byron Street, Poolstock, Wigan

Per Aunt Maggie’s Marriage Certificate.

Residence Residence

30 Oct 1937
88 Poolstock, Poolstock, Wigan

Per Death Certificate.

Burial

3 Nov 1937
Wigan Cemetery & Crematorium


Research Notes

As to the doctor’s prescription, “[I] would wean him off the booze with champagne.” I can’t find this cure on the Internet!

The above biography is based mainly on census records, civil registration certificates, oral history passed down through the family, and the report of Henry’s funeral in the Wigan Examiner, which was in the family’s possession. Another key piece of information that links family members is the common burial plot at the Wigan Cemetery and Crematorium where 13 family members are interred.

The most important research issue is the link between Henry Harrison and his parents, Joseph and Ellen. The key points that, taken together, establish the link between Joseph, Henry and Edward as a virtual certainty are as follows:

  • The 1881 census confirms that Joseph and Ellen had sons Edward and Henry born circa 1855 and 1860 respectively
  • Henry Harrison’s marriage certificates both to Alice Barton and to Elizabeth Donahue confirm that Henry’s father was named Joseph
  • The Wigan Examiner report of Edward Harrison’s death in 1894 establishes with certainty that Henry Harrison, proprietor of the Honeysuckle Inn, had a father named Joseph and a brother named Edward born circa 1855. It also establishes that Edward died in October 1894
  • The Wigan Examiner report of Henry Harrison’s funeral establishes with certainty that Harold’s father and the proprietor of the Honeysuckle Inn died in October 1937
  • The family burial site in Wigan Cemetery and Crematorium contains the remains of Edward Harrison who died in October 1894, and Henry Harrison who died in October 1937, along with their spouses and other family members
  • At the time of the 1881 census Joseph and Ellen Harrison and family lived across the road from the Honeysuckle Inn

Although perhaps possible, it is unlikely in the extreme that two Joseph Harrisons resided in Poolstock in 1881 with sons Edward and Henry born in 1855 and 1860 respectively.


Source Documents