Born about 1590 in or near Hatherup, Gloucestershire, son of William and Agnes (Mason) Harris. A ferryman from Hatherup, Gloucestershire (or vicinity). Came to Massachusetts Bay in 1630 & settled in MA. Died prior to 1634, when Stitson took over the ferry between Boston and Winnissimmet.
Married by about 1613 Elizabeth _____. She married (2) WILLIAM STITSON , who took over the ferry operation. Her death is given as 16 February 1669/70, aged 93; she was more likely a decade younger.
Nephew Richard Iles also resided at Winnissimmett.
Source: Anderson's Winthrop Fleet.
Find A Grave contributor Marjorie Harris McLean adds:
Thomas is the son of Sir Thomas Essex Harris and Agnes Mason of Gloucestershire, England.
In 1630 he brought his wife, Elizabeth Hills, and his six children to Salem, Ma. on the "LYON", an early part of the WINTHROP FLEET(Puritans).
He is listed among the passengers of the ship "Lyon" as Thomas Williams (The Winthrop Fleet of 1630, Banks) and continued to use the name "Thomas Williams alias Harris" in later records. It is not known why he used an alias but there is the possibility that for some personal reason affecting his proposed immigration it was advisable to assume a new name. His children, however, appear to have immediately dropped the "Williams" name that Thomas used and did not stay long in the Boston area.
Conditions on board the ships were horrible for the passengers, although they were certainly no worse than any other ship for the period. In fact, all eleven ships were veterans of the Mediterranean wine trade, and thus they were specially chalked and drier than most ships below decks. However, they could hardly be called comfortable. Above decks, the forecastle deck (on the forward part of the ship) housed the ship's crew, and the poop deck (at the rear) housed the officers. Most of the space in between was used for storage. The men made jury-rigged cabins for the women and children and hung hammocks from the ceiling for themselves. There was no ventilation below decks, no heat, no light at night, and only the most basic sanitary and cooking facilities. Since fresh water could not be kept clean and potable during long sea voyages, the ships carried beer for passengers to drink during the crossing. The Arbella alone carried forty-two "tuns," about 10,000 gallons of beer. For food, they ate salt pork.
Throughout the passage, the Puritans huddled below decks and tried to weather the frequent storms. When one group of crewmembers grew too rowdy for the pious passengers, they held a prayer meeting and appointed three men to enforce proper conduct on board the ship. Winthrop occasionally convinced the seasick passengers to come out on deck and get a breath of fresh air. He found that a splash of salt spray often cheered up the passengers. Storms blew up with regularity and cost the expedition precious resources, both in material and in morale. One storm alone killed nearly seventy cows. Two servants aboard the Ambrose died in the crossing and a crewman on the Jewel perished as well. About 60 days later they landed.
Indications are that most of the original colonists did not stay in Salem but moved onto (Winnisemmet) Charlestown, set up their tents on the slope of the hill, and on Aug. 23rd held the first official meeting of the Massachusetts Bay Colony on American soil. Many moved on to what would become Boston.
His name (Thomas Williams) first appears in the colonial records on Sep. 18, 1630 in the list of a jury inquest on the body of William Bateman, who died from illness and exposure at Pullen Point in Boston Harbor, after a voyage from Plymouth.
On October 19, 1630, as Thomas Williams ALIAS Harris, he applied to the court to be made a frreman of the colony, was admitted, as Thomas Williams on May 18, 1631, and took the required oath. Until this oath is taken a colonist had no rights to vote or own property. On that same day the court recorded that Thomas Williams "hath undertaken to set up a ferry betwixt Winnettsem & Charlestown, for which he is to have 3d a person, and from Winnettsem to Boston 4d a person. "Winnesimmet was later the town of Chelsea, and was there that the family lived. He began service in 1631 and that ferry(under various ownerships) continued to run until 1917.
Thomas and Elizabeth brought 5 sons and a daughter with them on their voyage from England. John (1606-1694), Anthony(1610-1651), William(1611-1714), Anne(1613-1697), Thomas(1618-1687) and Daniel(1618-1701- our direct ancestor)
Thomas Harris passed away shortly after starting his ferry(before 1634) and before land and wills were filed. He does not appear in any town registers likely because he lived by his ferry.
William Stitson married his widow Elizabeth and continued the operation of the ferry. In 1634 The court ordered the franchise be passed to Mr. Samuel Maverick(The original site of the ferry was on his estate-now Admiral's Hill) and that Winnisemmet (Chelsea) be incorporated into Boston. Maverick granted Stitson a lifetime interest in the ferry.
Elizabeth Hills (Williams alias Harris) Stilson died in Charlestown* February 16, 1670 at the age of ninety-three, which would place her date of birth at 1578 or 1579.
Elizabeth Harris Stitson (____ - 1669)
Anna Harris Maverick (1613 - 1697)*
John Harris (1616 - ____)*
Thomas Harris (1618 - ____)*
William Harris (1620 - ____)*
Anthony Harris (1622 - ____)*
Daniel Harris (1626 - ____)*
Here Lyes Buried
ye Body of
Who Departed this
Phipps Street Burying Ground
Created by: Linda Mac
Record added: Apr 09, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 35677907
W. E. B.
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