Category Archives: Larrison

English Origins of Colonial NJ Larrison Family?

I love, love, love New England records! What does that have to do with a colonial New Jersey family? Everything!

Sometimes answers come in the most unexpected places, like New Haven, Connecticut court records.

My husband is the Larrison descendant, as Elsie Larrison married Revolutionary War soldier John Stufflebean. There is still one missing link, but circumstantial evidence and eliminating other men leads me to believe that Elsie Larrison Stufflebean and George Larrison, both living in Kentucky by the 1790s, were children of George Larrison of New Jersey. Family genealogies state that George Larrison reportedly went to Pennsylvania.

With the exception of finding George in Pennsylvania, the Larrison family history goes back to John and James Larrison who lived in Middleburgh and Newtown, Long Island, New York, by the 1660s.

Early Larrison family historians came up with a fanciful story about John being a Danish lord that has long since been debunked. Given that the Dutch controlled New York in its infancy, it seemed more likely that the Larrisons might have been Dutch.

Now, however, thanks to some New England research, I think the truth is that John Larrison was English, through and through.

Sometimes, genealogy gifts appear out of nowhere. A Canadian Larrison cousin, Jim, found my blog and we began exchanging Larrison notes and ideas. He mentioned that a researcher placed John Larrison in New Haven, Connecticut before he removed to New York.

Although the earliest Larrison generations are long gone, I feel like I’ve gotten to know them fairly well. They were a contentious lot, not easy to get along with, not even with each other.

How can I be sure of that? Well, the Larrisons’ second home was the court room. I am thankful that they spent years filing complaints, suing and counter-suing because without those court records, we would know almost nothing about them.

Once I heard that a researcher had identified John Larrison in Connecticut, I set out to find the records. It turns out that Frederick C. Hart, Jr., FASG, completed a research project for the Seeley Genealogical Society. The society, in turn, posted the report on its website.

The first list of attachments to the report contained clues that I think have solved the mystery of the Larrison family origins:

A. “Lawre(n)son – Seeley Events,”

A quick summary of the details state that Richard Malbon was a signer of the New Haven agreement in 1639. By 1 March 1643, the New Haven Court found John Laurence and Valentine, servants to Mr. Malbon, guilty of embezzling their masters goods, keeping disorderly night meetings with Will Harding, plotting with him (Harding) to carry off their masters’ daughter “to the farms in the night,” and concealing all these misdeeds, “all of which they confessed and was whipped.”

On 4 January 1643, John Lawrenson was fined a shilling for being late to military training.

In May and June 1647, John Lawrenson was back in court for being late to watch and was fined 2 shillings.

On 1 February 1647/48, John Lawrenson and his wife were fined 20 shillings for selling “strong waters.”

That was the last Lawrenson appearance in the New Haven Court.

The family apparently moved on to Stamford, where they were back in court once again, on 3 December 1648, for selling wine without a license.

On 1 March 1651, “James Leareson,” who Mr. Hart says might or might not be the same man as John Lawrenson, was an “adjoining resident” in Stamford, Connecticut.

The final mention of John Lawrenson in Connecticut was recorded on 5 May 1651 when Obadiah Seeley states that John Lawrenson had paid all his debts.

Mr. Hart continues on, noting that John and James “Lorison” appear to be the same two men found in the Stamford, Connecticut records in 1651, but by 9 March 1661, were residents of Newtown, Long Island, New York.

Mr. Hart’s Seeley research, by coincidence, has provided several clues to the English origin of the Larrison family of New Jersey, who are all descendants of this John “Lawrenson.”

The biggest clue is the discovery that John Lawrenson was a servant of Mr. Richard Malbon, who returned to England c1648. Malbon is a unique surname in New England and is not a common surname in England. For him to have the social status to be a signer to the original New Haven agreement in 1639, I would guess that he was likely born before 1600.

A quick check of English church records includes the baptism of one Richard Malbon in 1585 in Prescot, Lancashire, England. FamilySearch adds the full date of 1 March 1585 and includes the church – St. Mary’s.

Out of curiosity, I also looked for the baptism of John Lawrenson. There were two, one baptized on 9 January 1608, the son of James Lawrenson and a second baby baptized 13 Janaury 1611, the son of George Lawrenson, both in – – – – – drum roll – – – – St. Mary’s Church, Prescot, Lancashire, England!

Both James and George are names that continue in the New Jersey Larrison family well into the 1700s, so are not much help in guessing which John, if either, is the man who lived in Connecticut and New York.

More work needs to be done on both the Malbon and Lawrenson families because the name appears often in the late 16th and early 17th century, both in Lancashire and next door in Chester towns.

The 1585 Richard Malbon and 1608 or 1611 John Lawrensons might or might not be the men who lived in New Haven, Connecticut.

However, I’d say the evidence points quite strongly to not a Danish or Dutch origin for the Larrison family, but instead to English origins in either Lancashire or Chester.






Larrisons in the 1700s Outside of New Jersey

Combing through Pennsylvania records is proving to be a bit difficult. First, I have no idea who thought up the indexing system for county land deeds, but it is extremely cumbersome given that indexes are not in straight alpha order and digital images take way longer to scroll through than a microfilm.

I can’t believe that I actually just said – indirectly – that I prefer microfilm, but I did!

Added to the indexing issues is the fact that I couldn’t find a single land deed for Larrisons in Pennsylvania, my main focus is the clue that it is thought that George Larrison, son of William who died in 1749, settled there.

Hunterdon County, New Jersey 1797
David Rumsey Historical Map Collection

The Larrisons were mostly settled in New Jersey in the area in or near what became Hunterdon County. Because Hunterdon County borders Pennsylvania, migrating family members could actually have walked to Pennsylvania as it’s that close.

I am not one who like to admit defeat, but a distinct lack of Larrison records in Pennsylvania covering the middle portion of the 18th century might be a permanent brick wall linking the New Jerseyans with the Kentuckians, or even the Ohioans, where many later Larrisons settled.

New Jersey has the same dearth of easily accessible mid-18th century records as Pennsylvania. With the early federal censuses missing for New Jersey, there is a gaping hole.

As we leave New Jersey, we have John Larrison and his brother, George, each probably born in the 1710-1720 time period and named in the 1749 will of their father, William Larrison.

It is possible that this George is the same George Larrison who married Abigail Moone, probably c1737, had one child, Keziah, and all were named in the will of Abigail’s father, Dr. Jacob Moone.

For a while, I wondered if Keziah’s name tied her father to James and Keziah Parke’s family, but Keziah was an in-vogue name at the time and George himself had a sister Keziah who married (Henry?) Van Tilberg.

Here are the few crumbs I’ve found:

1. Jacob Larrison, born c1750 reportedly in Pennsylvania, served in the American Revolution. His widow, Joanna, was allowed a small “gratuity” for his service by the state.

The family lived in what became Lycoming County in 1795 after it was set off from Northumberland County and then Tioga County was set off from Lycoming in 1804.

In 1830, Theodore Larrison, aged 50-60 (born 1770-1780) was living next door to John Larrison, aged 20-30, in Tioga County. There is also a Jacob Larrison, aged 20-30, living in Jackson Township, like the other Larrisons. This Jacob married Elizabeth Grey according to the 1912 death certificate of their daughter, Anna Everett.

It seems likely that these Larrisons are all descendants of the Revolutionary War soldier, Jacob Larrison. Jacob is not a name found anywhere in the earlier Larrison lines and I have to wonder if Jacob is a son of George and Abigail (Moone) Larrison who was named for Abigail’s father.

In support of this theory, two men appear on the 1787 tax list for Muncy Creek, Northumberland County – Jacob Larrison and Peter Moon.

Next, it is important to understand county formation dates when looking at Washington County, Pennsylvania. Each of these counties was formed from the parent county. It means a lot of digging is required to locate potential records for families that might have lived in Washington County years before it was formed:

Lancaster, formed 14 October 1728
Cumberland, formed 27 January 1750
Bedford, formed 9 March 1771
Westmoreland, formed 26 February 1773
Washington, formed 28 March 1781
Greene, formed 9 February 1796

2. John Larrison, born no later than 1760 and possibly quite a bit earlier, appears on the 1781 tax list for Cumberland Valley Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania. This man is not in Bedford County at the time of the 1790 census.

2A. Somewhat intriguing is a record for one Larrison Campbell who appears on the 1st Pennsylvania Battalion in Captain Robert Cluggage’s Company organized in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. This man served from 18 May 1776 to 18 July 1776.

3. John Larrison, born no later than 1760 and possibly quite a bit earlier, appears on the 1781 tax list for Washington County, Pennsylvania, which makes him eligible for patriotic service during the American Revolution. However, Washington County formed in 1781 from part of Westmoreland. Therefore, it appears that this John is not the same man as John above. He also appears on the Washington County tax lists in 1782 and 1785 and in the 1790 census. At that time, there was one man over 16, three males under 16 and two females. One of the females is said to be Nancy Larrison who married William Gibson and removed to Guernsey County, Ohio. John Larrison died after 14 July 1804, according to the DAR Patriot Index.

John Larrison (born no later than 1755) also appears in Washington County in 1800 with one male 45+, one female 26-44, three males 16-25, one male under 10 and three females under 10.

4. Phillip Catchem (Ketcham) was also living in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1790. There was one male over 16, one male under 16 and two females at home. Phillip is a name found in the Ketcham family as early as the 1660s.

5. William Maple is a third FAN club member living in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1790. There was one male over 16, one male under 16 and two females in the household. This man married (1) Keziah Larrison, daughter of George and Abigail (Moone) Larrison. He is said to have died in Jefferson County, Ohio before August 1813. His second wife was Annie Moore.



Larrison Family: Where Are the Clues Pointing Us?

I’ve rambled on now about the Larrison family for several days over the last week or so. Where has all this information gotten me? Well, there is no definitive answer yet about possible siblings George and Elsee Larrison or there parents, but there are a number of clues that have made themselves known. It’s time to recap some of the data.

Hunterdon County, NJ to Estill County, KY, about 650 miles
Source: Google Maps

There are two research questions – Is George Larrison the brother of Elsee Larrison? – and, if so – Who are the parents of George and Elsee Larrison?

Kentucky Clues

  1. Estill County, Kentucky records create a FAN club between the Stufflebeans, Larrisons, Stouts, Parkes, Ketchams, Barnes, Snowdens and Stewarts that all lead back to the Hunterdon County, New Jersey area.
  2. George Larrison’s known children include: Elsee, Abigail, George, David and William. Was Elsee named for George’s possible sister, Elsee Larrison Stufflebean?
  3. George Larrison first appears on an 1800 tax list in Madison County, Kentucky. He purchased land in Estill County, next door, in 1809. The Stufflebeans also lived in Estill County. He was born 1760-1770, based on census records. Given that daughter Elsee married David Stewart in Madison County in 1807, placing her birth year no later that 1793 and possibly as early as 1787, George was most likely born c1765 at the latest.
  4. Elsee Larrison deposed in 1844 that she was 82 years old, so born c1762.
  5. Elsee Larrison Stufflebean had many sons – William (thought to be her stepson), James, Michael, Andrew, Jacob, Hiram, Richard and John. James and Andrew, two of her oldest sons, have names that definitely never appear in the German Stufflebean clan. It also appears that the Stufflebeans lost at least two unidentified sons before they reached adulthood.
  6. Elsee Larrison Stufflebean’s youngest child, Richard, reported in 1880 that his father was born in New York (proven true) and his mother was born in Pennsylvania (possible, but New Jersey is also possible.)
  7. Elsee Larrison married (1) Joseph Ketcham and had at least one child, Joseph, born in the early 1790s, before Joseph Sr. died. The Ketchams have  a long FAN club association with the Larrisons stretching back into the mid 1600s in Newtown, New York.

While no direct evidence has been found proving that George and Elsee Larrison are siblings, I believe they most likely are. The strongest pieces of preponderance of evidence are (1) that they are in the same FAN club by marriage connections and neighborhood, (2) are both born in the 1760s, (3) are the only known Larrisons (not a common surname in  itself) anywhere in Kentucky and (4) George’s eldest daughter was named Elsee.

That pretty much sums up the crumb trail in Kentucky. At this point, I would be very surprised to discover that they were NOT siblings!

New Jersey Clues

Connecting George and Elsee to parents is a totally different conundrum with a chasm called Pennsylvania in between them and New Jersey. First, we need to review New Jersey evidence.

Cutting to the chase in New York and New Jersey means accepting for the moment that William Larrison who died in 1749 was most likely a son of John Larrison and grandson of James Larrison, the immigrant. There has been no finding of evidence that would negate that belief and it actually has no bearing on the possible parentage of George and Elsee.

1. William Larrison, born probably in the 1670s or 1680s, removed from Newtown, New York to what became Hunterdon County, New Jersey in the early 1700s and appears on a Hunterdon County tax list in 1722. He died in 1749, leaving a will that named: eldest son James, William, Thomas, John and George, in that order. He also named daughter Elizabeth Stout and made her husband, David, executor of his will. A codicil written on the same day as his will further identified daughters Martha Hyde, Mary Higgins, Rebeckah Brittain, Deborah Shippey and Keziah Van Tilburg. Because he named his son-in-law, and his own son John (NOT James), as executors, I believe Elizabeth was one of his oldest children and David was likely older than William’s other children, too. Birth years for William’s children are only estimates, but I believe the estimate that James was born c1695 is too early. There is no mention of a previous wife and his known wife, Keziah Parke, was said to have been born c1717. Their children’s births began about 1737. I believe James Larrison was more likely born about 1710-1715. If no other children were born in between those surviving and the children were born approximately every 2 years, then we can estimate, if sons were named in birth order: Elizabeth, born c1710, James c1712, William c1714 (and died 1777), Thomas, c1716, John, c1718 and George c1720, Martha c1722, Mary c1724, Rebeckah c1726, Deborah c1728 and Keziah c1730. Yes, I’ve seen birth dates for some of these children, but no documentation to support their sources, so I am sticking with my estimated dates. I also realize that the sons and daughters except for eldest son James and likely eldest daughter Elizabeth were mixed in terms of birth order, but this gives a visual picture of the range of years. If James was really born c1695, then the range would be Elizabeth c1697, James c1699, William c1701, Thomas c1703, John c1705, George c1707, Martha c1709, Mary c1711, Rebeckah c1713, Deborah c1715 and Keziah c1717. Both of these alternatives seem to be reasonable.

2. William’s son, James, married Keziah Parke, c1734 and had a SUPPOSEDLY well documented family (but I find no documentation for family members): John, born 1737; married Mary Pelton, but had no children; Andrew, born 2 February 1739; died c1800; married (1) Miss Green (2) Lavina Severns; William, born 24 January 1741; died 21 October 1816; married Francina Blackwell; Anne, born 11 February 1743; married Judge Jared Sexton; Roger, born 1745; married Lenar?; Elizabeth, born 1747; married Aaron Runyon; Catherine, born 1750; married (1) Benjamin Sexton, 24 November 1779 (2) Benjamin Parke; Achsah, born 1752; married John Humphrey; Elijah, born 1754, died 26 October 1827; married Elinor Stout; David, born 8 March 1757, died 29 November 1800, married Jerusha Smith.

3. Little is known about William’s sons, John Larrison and George Larrison, although it has been remarked that George is thought to have gone to Pennsylvania.

4. George Larrison married Abigail Moone, daughter of Dr. Jacob Moone, of Somerset County, New Jersey, who left a will in 1760 [not proved until 28 May 1773] identifying them and their daughter, Keziah Larrison, who was to receive her bequest when she was 18 years old. It is not known whether this George is the son of William, but he is an excellent fit. If this George is the son of William, then he most likely was born no later than 1718 if he married at 21 and had one child in 1760.

5. William Maple married Keziah Larrison, daughter of George and Abigail, c1773. William Maple is enumerated in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1790. Also in Washington County are one John Larrison and one Philip “Catcham.” This John Larrison had a daughter, Nancy, born c1773, who married William Gibson and they moved on to Guernsey County, Ohio. John Larrison was then born no later than 1750 and possibly much earlier. Is he the son of William Larrison who died in 1749?

6. In 1840 John Stufflebean, Revolutionary War pensioner, was living in the home of David Snowden in Estill County, Kentucky. David’s father, David Snowden Sr., also served in the Revolution and lived in Washington County, Pennsylvania at that time.

7. John Larrison of Washington County, Pennsylvania appears on a 1781 tax list, owning 200 acres, 3 horses and 3 cattle, and again on a 1786 list. In 1790, there is one male over 16, three males under 16 and two females in his household. One of the females would be his daughter, Nancy. Is the other female his wife or a daughter? No way to determine that answer as he is not there in 1800.

8. Finally, although she was born much later, there is an Elsee Larrison, born c1804, who married Joseph Buren of Middlesex County, New Jersey. She is said to be the daughter of David Larrison and grandchild of William Larrison (who died 1777) and great grandchild of William Larrison who died i n1749. Elsee is most definitely a Larrison name passed down through the family.

To sum up the New Jersey clues, at first glance, given that Elsee Larrison Stufflebean had two older sons named James and Andrew, I would suspect that she, and George, might be descended from James Larrison and Keziah Parke. However, James’s and Keziah’s son George, born c1770, married Catherine Lambert, daughter of the New Jersey governor 1802-1804, John Lambert, and remained in New Jersey, as apparently did their other children.

Where do I got from here? Well, I mentioned that little chasm in the way of getting to Kentucky. In 1790, the following counties existed and were within striking distance of the Pennsylvania Road (today I-76) and are counties in which Larrisons – George and whoever else – might have lived in after they departed from New Jersey: Bedford, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Huntington, Lancaster, Mifflin, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Washington, Westmoreland and York. There are 19 counties in all, but it isn’t an overwhelming task.

Virginia Clue

While researching a totally different family, I was looking at entries on various pages and, totally by chance, my eye was drawn to one name in a list of many. It was in Chalkley’s volumes of the Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish. The name I saw was George LARSON in volume 2 on page 414. His name was included on a 1748 delinquent tax list and it said “not found.” That was the one and only entry for any name like Larson or Larrison so I have to wonder. Might George Larrison have meandered into Augusta County, Virginia for a while on his westward trek?

My plan? I will be trying the easy way first by checking indexes for land records, court minutes and probate, along with tax lists, hoping against hope that I can connect the dots together. Time will tell.