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About Mary Harris (Fry)
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According to the New England Historical and Genealogical Register (April 2002 and July 2002) and genealogist Gale Ion Harris, Mary Fry Harris was born by 1604 (no records available) and married by 1621. Her birth date is given as 1592 on some unsourced websites, but there is no historical record known for that date. It is likely that someone subtracted two years from the approximate birth year of 1590 for Mary's husband, Walter, and that the approximate date has been passed along on-line as a result.
Death & Will
Mary died testate, with her will (attested by mark) dated January 19, 1655 at New London, Connecticut. Her date of death per records is listed as January 24, 1655 by both sources, and her place of death is recorded as New London, which was also the location of her husband's death in 1654.
See below for the full text of her will, with commentary.
Home in England
Peter H. Judd, in his Four American Ancestries, says that Mary was originally from Axminster, Devonshire, England, and that she is only commonly listed as being from Weymouth, Dorsetshire since that is the location from which she sailed. Church records in Devonshire show that Walter and Mary had seven children baptized there from 1621 and 1636, consistent with the ages and birthdates of the children of their six known children who sailed to America with them. They also show that at least some of the couple's children were born at Honiton, Devonshire.
Arrival in America
George Walter Chamberlain, in his four-volume History of Weymouth, Massachusetts, says there is no record of Mary or her siblings in New England before 1635, but that all had arrived by 1642.
Judd's more recent research agrees, saying that Walter and Mary came to America on the ship Speedwell from Weymouth, England and landed at Weymouth, Massachusetts (July 22, 1637). The passenger list reads,"Walter Harris, his wife, 6 children and 3 servants."
Life in America
Walter and Mary first settled in Weymouth, Massachusetts, moving to Dorchester in 1648. By December 5, 1653, he was living in New London [then known as Pequot or Pequet], Connecticut, where he was appointed by the town as an innkeeper the next year. On November 6, 1654, the day of Walter's death, the New London town records show that "Widdo Harris was granted by voat also to keep an ordinary if she will."
Frances Manwaring Caulkins, in her analysis of Mary's will in History of New London, Connecticut, notes that the family was much more well-off than other families of the time due to the goods that Mary left behind. She notes: "It is one of the oldest wills extant in the county, and is rich in allusions to costume and furniture.
Full Text of Will
The last Will and Testament of Mary Harris, taken from her own mouth this 19th of Jan. 1666. [NOTE: This transcription is from Caulkins in the 1850s; more recent scholars believe she misread the date.]
I give to my elder daughter, Sarah Lane, the Digest brass pan, and to her daughter Mary, a silver spoon. And to her daughter Sarah, the highest pewter dish and one silken ribbon. Likewise I give to her daughter Mary, a pewter candlesticke.
I give to my daughter, Mary Lawrence, my blew mohere peticote and my straw hatt and a fether boulster. And to her eldest sonne I give a silver spoone. To her second sonne a silver whissle.
I give more to my daughter Mary, my next brass pan and a thrum cushion. And to her yongest soune I give a pewter bassen.
I give to my yongest daughter, Elizabeth Weekes, a peecc of red broad cloath, being about two yards, also a damask ivery cloth, a gold ring, a silver spoone, a fether bed and a boulster. Alsoe, I give to my daughter, Elizabeth, my best hatt, my gowne, a brass kettle, and a woolen jacket for her husband. Also, I give to my daughter Elizabeth, thirty shillings, also a red whittle; a white apron and a new white neck-cloth.
Alsoe, I give to my three daughters aforesaid, a quarter part to each of them, of the dyaper table cloth and tenn shillings apeece.
I give to my sister Migges, a red pettcoat, a cloth jacket, a silke [handkerchief?], a cross-cloth, and a neck-cloth. I give to my cosen Calib Rawlyns ten shillinges.
I give to my two cosens, Mary and Elizabeth Fry, each of them five shillings.
I give to Mary Barnet a red stuff wascote.
I give to my daughter, Elizabeth, my great chest.
To my daughter, Mary, a ciffer and a white neck-cloth. To my sister, Hannah Rawlin, my best cross cloth.
To my brother, Rawlins, a lased band. To my two kinswomen, Elizabeth Hubbard and Mary Steevens, five shillings a peece.
I give to my brother, Migges, his three youngest children, two shillinges sixe pence a peece.
I give to my sonne Thomas, ten shillings, if he doe come home to be alive. [NOTE: According to Caulkins, "it may be inferred that Thomas Harris had been betrothed to Rebecca, daughter of Obadiah Bruen. This young man, according to tradition, had been sent to England to recover some property that had fallen to the family and was lost at sea.]
I give to Rebekah Bruen, a pynt pott of pewter, a new petticoate and wascote which she is to spin herself; alsoe an old byble, and a hatt which was my sonn Thomas his hatt.
I give to my sonne Gabriell, my house, land, cattle and swine, with all other goodes reall and personall in Pequet or any other place, and doe make him my sole [executor?] to this my will. Witness my hand,
Witness hearunto. The mark of "MARY HARRIES"
John Winthrop [Jr.]
Villm [William?] Nyecolls
- Caulkins, Frances Manwaring. History of New London, Connecticut. 1852 & 1860.
- Chamberlain, George Walter. History of Weymouth, Massachusetts. 1984.
- Harris, Charles. Walter Harris and some of his descendants. Cleveland, OH. 1922.
- Harris, Gale Ion. Early Harrises of Southwestern Connecticut. 2004.
- New England Historical and Genealogical Register. Walter and Mary (Fry) Harris of New London, Connecticut. 2002.
- Judd, Peter H. Four American Ancestries. 2009.
- Spear, Burton W. Search for the Passengers of the Mary and John. Toledo, OH. 1991.
The above written by J. Ashley Odell, January 2011. Please do not repost without attribution.
An unsourced website says that Mary Fry was born about 1592.
Max L. Lynds
Husband: Walter Harris
Born: at: Weymouth, England
Died: 6 NOV 1654 at: New London, Massachusetts Father:Walter Harris
Wife: Mary Fry Born: 1592 at: Weymouth, England Died: 24 JAN 1655/56 at: Dorchester, Massachusetts Father:William Fry Mother:Sarah Hill Other Spouses:
Name: Sarah Harris Born: 1616 at: Norfolk, England
Married: 1635 at: Hingham, Massachusetts
Died: 26 MAR 1695 at: Hingham, Massachusetts
Spouses: George Lane
Mary Harris's Timeline
Axminster, Devon, UK
February 29, 1605
New London, New London Co., Conn.
Weymouth, Dorset, England
January 24, 1655
New London, CT, USA
April 11, 1933
August 22, 1933
April 23, 1970