Family Lessons 106: Messrs Harrison

My 5x great gramps was one Jonathan Harrison, born at Forton, in 1778. My 6x great gramps was one Jonathan Harrison, born at Cockerham, in 1752. My 7x great gramps was one Jonathan Harrison, born at Cockerham, in 1717. My 8x great gramps was one Jonathan Harrison, born at Thurnham, in 1685. The Harrisons, like many English families of the time, named their eldest son after his father (though the latter Jonathan’s father was called Thomas, curiously, and the former had daughters only). It is not only DNA, character and silverware we inherit from our forebears, but our names.

When I moved to Barnoldswick fifteen years ago, I was a little amused by the small town mentality I sometimes encountered. At some political meeting, I recall a fellow party member exclaiming, in response to the name of a local businessman called T****th, “Never trust a T****th! Aye, my grandfather always said to never trust a T****th!”. Quite why grandpops had felt the need to never trust a fellow townsman, and then to transmit that mistrust down his generations, I cannot say.

Of course, I never inherited the name Jonathan Harrison (though it has a pleasant ring to it on account of its syllables’ balance), nor the reputations of the four ancestors who held it in succession, nor their occupation of husbandmen (small farmers). Yet there are those today who suffer from their families’ ill names and sour reputations. Some are stereotyped because of surnames or skin tones. Some have poor standings and reputations because their very actions warranted them. In Christ, however, the old is gone and the new has come: we are made new creations. We shall one day be given a new name with our new body, but for now we revel in our new status of forgiven sinner and adopted child. He breaks the chain of Adam’s legacy, re-creating his progeny as He will one day re-creating his Eden. I cannot vouch for Messrs Harrisons’ good name or good looks, but in Christ, all is made new.

Photo: Cockerham Parish Church whereat the Harrisons were baptised and buried.