Paul Gorry, MAGI, Co. Wicklow

My aunt was married to a Harbourne and they lived beside us when I was a child.  When genealogy took hold of me at a young age I wanted to trace everyone’s family, so the Harbournes were among my earliest victims.  My uncle provided me with snippets of information and later I tried to build on them.  In my very first year as a freelance researcher for the Genealogical Office my cousin commissioned me to trace the Harbournes.  It was a monstrous search for which I charged far too little, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

My cousin’s ancestor Jeffrey Harbourne took a lease on a large farm in Simonstown, Co. Kildare, in the 1720s.  Jeffrey’s brother Marishall (whose name I mistook as a corruption of Marshall) was one of the lives named in the lease, as well as being named in other deeds.  Their father was William and his parents were William and Elizabeth.  This couple died in the 1690s; William in February 1690/1 and Elizabeth in December 1698, both being buried in St. Audoen’s in Dublin.  Their known sons were William, David and Michael.

Image 2016 May image

Shoe Lane, from Fleet Street to Holborn

As can be expected from the destruction of so many Irish records in 1922, the seventeenth century references to the Harbournes in Ireland are somewhat patchy.  The earliest mention of them is the admission of William Herborne, butcher, as a freeman of Dublin by special grace at Christmas 1656.  This is followed by the burial in St. John’s, Dublin, on 14 April 1657 of ‘Harborne, Edward sonne to William’.  Then in Pender’s Census c1659, William Harborne, gent., appeared as a titulado (or property title-holder) in ‘Wood Key Ward’ in St. John’s parish.  There my quest for the origins of the Irish Harbournes dried up decades ago.

Vague attempts to link these Harbournes to families scattered around England never came to anything till I stumbled on a reference to an inheritance dispute involving Harborne and Marishall in London.  This caused me to re-examine the name of Jeffrey’s brother.  It was consistently spelt with the ‘i’.  It transpired that in 1644 a William Harborne married Mary, the widow of David Marishall, a Huguenot.  At about the same time William Harborne’s son William married Elizabeth, daughter of David and Mary Marishall.  By 1650, when she made her will, Mary was again a widow.  She made her ‘well loved sonne in law William Harborne of London Merchant’ one of her executors.

Not all of London’s church registers for this period survive, due to the Great Fire of 1666.  William and Elizabeth Harborne appear to have moved a few times within the same area of London.  I have found only three references to potential children for them: one burial – Mary (1652, St. Botolph Aldgate) and two baptisms – William (1645/6, St. Peter Le Poer) and Edward (1656, St. Andrew Holborn).  The record of Edward is what interests me most.  He was born on 25 April 1656 to William Harborne, merchant, and his wife Elizabeth in Shoe Lane, and baptised the next day.

I am not satisfied that the connection is yet proven, but I believe that this child Edward, born in Shoe Lane, London, in April 1656, was the child who died in Dublin in April 1657.  This being the case, the family moved from London to Dublin between April and Christmas 1656.  If this is so, the Irish Harbournes have been in Ireland for exactly 360 years.

On a visit to London last year I walked the length of Shoe Lane, from Fleet Street to Holborn, after dark with two genealogist friends.  What the Great Fire failed to obliterate of the environment in which the early Harbornes lived the Blitz completed.  Shoe Lane is now home to large office blocks and only the street sign retains the connection with the past.