House History #7 – The Harrisons

Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 11.56.30The 1916 Kelly’s Directory for Leicestershire and Rutland shows John Harrison Jnr. living in this house, Mostyn, 3 years before he purchased it, so he must have been renting the property from Thomas Cawdell at the time.

7125947869_75b2ba9059_zJohn Harrison was one of the “Sons” of Harrison and Sons, seed merchants and owners of the Royal Midlands Seed Warehouse. The building still exists today and is featured here on the website Derelict Places.

Screen Shot 2014-09-06 at 16.44.29

On 26th September 1919 this house was sold by Thomas Cawdell, a draper,  to John Harrison.


The house sold for £1440 with Harrison taking out a mortgage of £1000.


Harrison owned the house throughout the 1920s and sold it on 16th March 1931, having lived here for at least 15 years.

IMG_4091The newspapers I found the other day from 1928 would have been his.

IMG_4083I wonder if he drank Beefex (The Best of the Beef) to ward off flu.

John was born on the 6th of August 1878 to parents John and Sarah. He was one of 12 children. He entered the family business and married Elsie Edith Bruce in 1903. Elsie was born in Malden, Surrey, in 1877.

Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 12.12.37John was made a Freeman of the City of Leicester on June 2nd, 1905.

John and Elsie’s first child, Donald John Bruce Harrison was born in 1905 and died at the age of 5. Their daughter Margaret Elsie Harrison was born in 1907, followed by Rosemary Vera Harrison (born 1909) and Kenneth Bruce Harrison (born 1912). When John bought the house in 1919 he was 41, Elsie 42 and their children Margaret 12, Rosemary 10 and Kenneth 7.

John’s father died in 1929 leaving an estate worth £27,442.


In 1931 John sold this house to Ronald Beresford Weston-Webb.

fcff9265-6e55-4dac-8552-2f978beb1795In 1932 John bought The White House in the village of Scraptoft, just outside of Leicester. The house was built in the late 1920s by Tom Crumbie from stone salvaged from Normanton Hall in Rutland. John was responsible for laying out the gardens, orchard and paddock. They must have had quite comfortable lives. In the summer of 1934 the family travelled first class to Rangoon, Burma on a steam ship called The Chindwin.


Elsie died at the age of 69 in 1946 and John sold the White House in 1950 for £14,500 to the Northampton Brewery, who turned it into a pub.

It appears that John moved to 57 Spencefield Lane Leicester, as this is the address given for his son Kenneth’s early death in 1959 as well as the address stated on incoming ship passenger lists for John and his adult children around the same time. Margaret still lived at the family home as a ‘housekeeper’ and Rosemary had married and was a school matron in Salisbury. Margaret died in 1982 but I can’t find Rosemary’s death record.

There are several possible dates for John’s death but I can’t confirm which is his unless I were to order the death certificates. He was certainly alive in 1959 at the age of 81 when he travelled to South Africa. An unconfirmed date of 1960 is given in another family tree on but the probate records from 1961 suggest this is a different John Harrison. I can only find other deaths in Leicestershire for a John Harrison born around 1878 in the years 1963 and 1974. The Will and Probate records for 1963 are for the wrong John yet again, so my educated guess is he died in 1974 at the age of 96.

3 thoughts on “House History #7 – The Harrisons

  1. Great work. Thanks for sharing.
    Wow the dad’s 1929 estate was 25 times the value of a 1905 house.
    I love history and that beautiful copperplate handwriting but I did have to look up ‘messuage’: “synonyms for tenement – manor, messuage, parcel, penthouse, pesthole, pigpen, pigsty, plague spot,”
    Going away now to sip beef tea and practice my cursive script.

  2. Pingback: House History | Edwardian House Renovation

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