Home > Uncategorized > The Will of Thomas Harris, of Creeksea, County Essex

The Will of Thomas Harris, of Creeksea, County Essex

Source: Brice McAdoo Clagett, “The Will of Thomas Harris, of Creeksea, County Essex,” Virginia Genealogist 38[1994].

[page 129]

In 1993 I learned, with the help of Dr. Neil D. Thompson of Salt Lake City, that I have a descent through the McADOO, GRILLS and LIGON families from Capt. Thomas HARRIS (1586/7-ca.1649), settler in Virginia, who came on the Prosperous in Sir Thomas DALE’s fleet, 1611.  I was soon led to the theory — first published by William D. LIGON, Jr.,1 and subsequently in two works by John Bennett Boddie2 — that Capt. Thomas HARRIS was the third son of Sir William and Alice (SMITH) HARRIS of Creeksea (Cricksey, Crixsey, etc.), Co. Essex, and of illustrious and royal descent.  The theory seemed plausible, being supported by considerable circumstantial evidence.

Unfortunately, a search at the Essex County Records Office in Chelmsford quickly unearthed the will of Thomas HARRIS, made and proved in 1617, which shows that Sir William HARRIS’ third son died unmarried and was not the man who came to Virginia.  Thomas’ legatees included six of the seven other children of Sir William and Alice (SMITH) HARRIS,3 as well as his sister Mary’s husband Giles BROWNE, so that there is no doubt whatever of the identification.

The original will is on file at Chelmsford, with the signature of the testator and witnesses, and is classified as Essex Archdeaconry Will D/ABW20/299.  I have a photostat of it and, in order to put the Ligon-Boddie theory to rest one and for all, it seems prudent to publish an exact transcript as follows:

In the name of god Amen the tenthe daye of Marche in the yeare of or lord one


1 William D. LIGON, The LIGON Family and Connections, I (n.p., 1947), pp. 839-44.

2 Virginia Historical Genealogies (Redwood City, Calif., 1954), pp. 198-200; Historical Southern Families, v. 4 (Redwood City, Calif., 1959), pp. 190-92.  See Claiborne T. Smith, “Sergeant John HARRIS of Charles City County, Virginia: a Reappraisal,” The Virginia Genealogist, v. 37, p. 18.

3 See, e.g., the 1612 HARRIS pedigree in Walter C. Metcalfe, ed., Visitation of Essex, 1612 (Harleian Society, Publications, XIII; London, 1878), p. 213.

[page 130]

thousand sixt hundred and sixteene4 I Thomas HERRIS of Crixsey in the county of Essex Gentleman being at this pnte5 yll and weake in body but yet of good and pfect minde and memorie do make and declare this my testamt and last will in forme following, that is to say ffirst and above all things I do commend my soule into the handes of Almighty god my maker Assuredly believeing throughe the precious death and bloddshedding of Jhesus Christ his sonne my only Savior and Redeemer to have free remyssion & forgivenes of all my synnes and to be saved: And my body I commytt to the Earthe to be Buried in Christian & decent manner  Item I give to the pore of the pishe6 of Crixsey aforesaid iii£visviiid Item I give to my loving brother Sr Arthur HERRIS knight my Gray stoned horse:  Item I give to my Brethren Mr William HERRIS and Mr John HERRIS to either of them the sevrall some of tenn poundes  Item I give to my three sisters Mrs Marie BROWNE, Mrs Ffrancis HARRIS and Mrs Elizabeth the sevrall somes of tenn pounds apece  Item I give to Mrs Marie BROWNE and Mrs Franncys BROWNE sisters of my brother Mr Gyles BROWNE to either of them tenn pounds apece  Item I give to my loving cosen Mr Edwarde HERRIS counsellor at lawe tenn poundes  Item I give to my loveing ffreind Mr Gregorye PRATT my Baie Nagge  Item I give to George KING tenn poundes  All the said sevrall somes of tenn poundes formerly named and before given I will shalbe paid wthin sixt monthes after my death by my Executor hereafter named  Item I give twenty nobles amongst such servants as I shall apoynt my Executor to paie yt unto7 Item I give to my loving brother Gyles BROWNE Esquier all such stocke as I have at the ffarme called Troy Solforde in Burncham: And my desier is that he maie continue the holding of the said ffarme  And lastly I do make my said Brother Mr. Gyles BROWNE my Executor requiring him to paie my debts And pforme this my last will and Testament.


Signed Sealed and declared to be
his last will and Testament in
the presence of
William GANDY
pbat 8 Julii 1617


4 1616/7

5 present.

6 parish.

7 The following word, obviously “them,” is omitted.

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