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John Harrison, purser on the Dolphin 1767

The following memoranda were endorsed by S.B. Ward Esq. of Mount Pleasant, Sheffield upon a silhouette of the above John Harrison formerly in the possession of Miss Eliza Ward of Winthorpe, Notts and by her bequeathed to Miss Margaret Myers of Knot End, Cumberland. (Transcribed by C.H. Newbald in 1893):


John Harrison Esq
born Oct 3rd 1733
Died at Masham aged 75 June 19th 1808

He was at the taking of Quebec by General Wolfe Sep 13th 1759. He was 26 years old.
He sailed around the world with Captain Wallis and was Purser on his ship "The Dolphin". They left England in 1765 and in 1767 discovered Otaheite (Tahiti). He fought under Admiral Rodney 12 April 1782. He left his fortune to his niece, Grace Martindale, who married Samuel Broomhead Ward Feb 19 1809. She died aged 44 Jan 8th 1822. John Harrison was Mrs Grace Ward's uncle and best friend. She erected a handsome monument to his memory in Masham Church


This started me on an interesting piece of genealogical detective work as I really wanted to include this illustrious character in my family tree but I couldn't find the connection between Grace Martindale and her 'uncle' John Harrison. The IGI provided his parents as Harrison and Aiskell, birthplace Warcop, and three sisters but none of them had married a Martindale or a Thwaites.
Mel Towler at Headstones in Yorkshire photographed the Masham Church and memorial for me, the photographs are wonderful but the memorial provided no further clues.

Masham Church
Masham Church interior
Masham Church memorial

The full transcription of the memorial is as follows:

"In memory of John HARRISON Esq. formerly Purser in the Royal Navy who died at Masham June 19th 1808. Aged 74. A man much esteemed both in his public station, and in his retirement, respected by the honourable for his Integrity, courted by the social for his Vivacity & Information and much sought after by the sick & needy for his active Benificence.
Also of Phillis HARRISON his sister who died April 23rd 1800. Aged 68.
This monument is erected by Grace the wife of Samuel BROOMHEAD WARD Esq. of Mount Pleasant near Sheffield and daughter of the late Thomas MARTINDALE of Masham. Gent. who died May 14th 1789 aged 74, as a small tribute of Gratitude to a Relative who was a kind friend and Benefactor to her & her family."

A search of the Masham Parish registers confirmed all the dates I had for the Martindales and Thwaites taken from the "Masham Bible" formerly belonging to Thomas Thwaites of Masham dated 2nd Mar 1771, passed to Miss Margaret Myers (owned by Noel Myers). I found a William Harrison married a Martha Thwaites 26 June 1764 but couldn't find a connection between John Harrison and the Martindale/Thwaites families.
I had the PCY and Masham Peculiar Court records searched but no will was found. It was suggested that I try the PCC and success at last - the last Will and Testament of John Harrison in which he bequeathed 'an annuity of £50 to Margaret Martindale, widow of my late cousin Thomas Martindale.'
I went back to the IGI and searching for Aiskell in Warcop I found Phyllis Aiskell (father Henry) married John Harrison in 1725 and Dorothy Aiskell (father Henry) married John Martindale in 1715. So John Harrison and Thomas Martindale's mothers were sisters. John Harrison was actually Grace Martindale's father's cousin, even though she called him Uncle.

Cambridge Alumni: John Harrison: adm sizar (age 17) at Pembroke June 26 1751, Matric 1751, BA 1755. Born Oct 3 1733, son of John Harrison of Appleby. Died June 19 1808.

Royal Navy service: First traced on the muster rolls for HMS Nottingham.
He entered this ship 'per warrant' on 16 Jul 1762, serving as a Purser. There is no indication on which ship he served before this date. Ships stations shown include Havana and Jamaica.
Transferred to HMS Dolphin on 5 Jul 1766 (Purser). He served with the Dolphin up to 10 Jun 1768, when the ship appears to have been paid off, as there are no further musters for it until Apr 1770.

Pursers were warranted by the Admiralty, although they did not attain wardroom rank (ie treated as commissioned officers) until 1808. Their duties were to oversee the supply and issue of victuals, clothes and any ship's stores.
Many of the crew from the Dolphin went on to sail with Captain James Cook.

John Harrison was a friend of the Master of the Dolphin, George Robertson. In Robertson's account of the voyage he describes him as 'our good merry friend, the purser.' Harrison was skilled in mathematics and took readings when they observed the eclipse: Wallis's log book says 'we took the longitude by taking the distance of the sun from the moon and working it according to Dr Masculine's [sic] method which we did not understand.'


Read Wallis's Account of the Discovery of Tahiti.


Public record Office: ADM6/20 Warrant and Commission Books; ADM36/6214-5,7580 ships' muster rolls

Carrington H. The Discovery of Tahiti: An Journal of the 2nd Voyage of the HMS Dolphin written by her master George Robertson. London: 1948

Log book of Captain Wallis, HMS Dolphin, qMS-2114, Alexander Turnbull Library.


Descendants of Henry Aiskell


Generation No. 1


Children of HENRY AISKELL are:

2. i. DOROTHY AISKELL, b. 1686.

3. ii. PHILLIS AISKELL, b. 1701, Warcop.


Generation No. 2

2. DOROTHY AISKELL was born 1686. She married (1) JOHN MARTINDALE February 28, 1715 in Warcop. She married (2) PHILIP BIRD October 10, 1723 in Warcop. She married (3) HODGEN/HODGINS Aft. 1724.


4. i. THOMAS MARTINDALE, b. 1717; d. May 14, 1789, Masham.



ii. Lieutenant Colonel Bird, killed at the Battle of German Town during the American War Sept 1777.The Americans lost 300 slain, 600 wounded and 400 taken prisoner. The losses of the British were 535 men including 70 of whom were killed. He was unmarried and left his property to his half brother Thomas Martindale.


3. PHILLIS AISKELL was born 1701 in Warcop. She married JOHN HARRISON September 12, 1725 in Warcop. He was born Abt. 1707 in Appleby.



ii. PHILLIS HARRISON, b. 1732; d. April 23, 1800.

iii. MARY HARRISON, b. 1740; d. September 09, 18141; m. THOMAS PIERSON; d. February 04, 1816.

iv. JOHN HARRISON, b. October 03, 1733; d. June 19, 1808, Masham.


Generation No. 3

4. THOMAS MARTINDALE was born 1717, and died May 14, 1789 in Masham1. He married MARGARET THWAITES September 22, 1764 in Castlegate Church, York, daughter of THOMAS THWAITES and GRACE FOTHERGILL. She was born May 01, 1743, and died May 19, 1814 in Ecclesall.



i. DOROTHY MARTINDALE, b. August 13, 1765, Masham; d. June 24, 1782.

ii. MARY MARTINDALE, b. September 23, 1766, Masham1; d. June 25, 18051; m. (1) RICHARD FIELDER, February 21, 1789, Castlegate Church, York; d. November 10, 1802; m. (2) HENRY BOLLAND.

iii. PHILLIS MARTINDALE, b. December 14, 1767, Masham; d. November 23, 1811.

iv. ELIZABETH MARTINDALE, b. March 09, 1769, Masham; d. January 09, 1845, London; m. FRANCIS SMITH.

v. MARGARET MARTINDALE, b. April 05, 1770; d. January 01, 1798, Swinton.

vi. JOHN MARTINDALE, b. August 30, 1772.

vii. THOMAS MARTINDALE, b. December 27, 1775, Masham; d. January 29, 1801, York.

viii. GRACE MARTINDALE, b. July 12, 1781; d. January 08, 18221; m. SAMUEL BROOMHEAD WARD, February 09, 1809, Masham; b. May 24, 1770; d. July 27, 1849, Ecclesall, Sheffield, Yorkshire.

ix. CATHERINE MARTINDALE, b. November 09, 1780, Masham; d. April 21, 1799, York.

x. ISABELLA MARTINDALE, b. March 26, 1784, Masham; d. March 31, 1784, Masham.

xi. WILLIAM MARTINDALE, b. August 19, 1785, Masham; d. August 26, 1785, Masham.

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