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Harrison, John (1613?-1670) (DNB00)


HARRISON, JOHN (1613?–1670), presbyterian divine, son of Peter Harrison of Hindley, near Wigan, Lancashire, was born about 1613, and educated at Cambridge. After officiating for some time as curate of Walmsley Chapel, near Bolton, Lancashire, he became rector of Ashton-under-Lyne in the same county before February 1641–2, when he signed the protestation of the inhabitants as ‘minister’ of the town. Walker (Sufferings of the Clergy, 1714, pt. ii. p. 244) states that he was inducted, according to the custom of the time, by a party of soldiers; but the story is doubtful. He was one of the most active members of the presbyterian party in Lancashire, as an associate of Heyrick, Angier, Gee, and Hollinworth. He attended the meetings of the Manchester Classis regularly between 1646 and 1660, often acting as moderator. In 1648 his name appears as a signer of ‘The Harmonious Consent of the Ministers of the … County Palatine of Lancaster, with the Ministers of the Province of London, in their late Testimonie to the trueth of Jesus Christ, and to our Solemn League and Covenant,’ a document directed against the toleration of independents and other ‘sectaries.’ He was imprisoned at Liverpool in September 1651 on suspicion of corresponding with the king and of being in some way implicated in Love's plot (Newcome, Autobiog. p. 33).

In 1658 a controversy about presbyterian church government arose between the Rev. Isaac Allen of Prestwich and other episcopalians and the Manchester Classis, and Harrison was deputed by that presbytery to write in their defence. The volume of papers written on both sides was published in 1659, entitled ‘The Censures of the Church Revived,’ &c., and Harrison's part was done with considerable learning and skill. In September the same year he was imprisoned with other Lancashire ministers for complicity in Sir George Booth's rising for the restoration of the monarchy, but he was leniently dealt with, and liberated in January 1659–60 (ib. p. 111). On the passing of the Act of Uniformity in 1662 he resigned his living. The patron wished to put Harrison's son Maurice, a conformist, in his place; but the father thought the young man was unfit, and recommended Thomas Ellison, who was appointed. Harrison resided at Ashton until the Oxford Act was passed, when for a time he removed to Salford, eventually returning to Ashton, where he died on 31 Dec. 1670, aged 57. In his latter days he suffered severely from rheumatism, by which he lost the use of his limbs. He had been a strong, healthy man, ‘yet by his excessive studies, and assiduous labours and watchings, and sitting so close without fire in cold winter nights, his sinews became so contracted and his body so weak, that some years before he died he could not stir hand or foot; yet he was hearty and would often say, “If I were in the pulpit I should be well”’ (O. Heywood, Whole Works, i. 537). He was buried in the chancel of Ashton-under-Lyne Church, and his funeral sermon was preached by his successor, Ellison, who, as Calamy says, ‘gave him a great character, but not beyond his desert.’ His younger brother, Peter Harrison, D. D. (d. 1673), was rector of Cheadle, Cheshire, and conformed at the Restoration. Another brother, Jeremiah, was lieutenant-colonel in the army of the Commonwealth.

[Calamy's Account, 1713, ii. 396; Calamy's Continuation, 1727, i. 563; Newcome's Autob. (Chetham Soc.), pp. 33, 101, 111, 194, 284; Newcome's Diary (Chetham Soc.), pp. 68, 137, 155; Life of A. Martindale (Chetham Soc.); O. Heywood's Diaries (J. H. Turner), 1882, i. 62; Lancashire Church Surveys (Record Soc.), p. 21; Earwaker's East Cheshire, i. 222; Halley's Lancashire, 1872, pp. 369 et passim. Some of Harrison's manuscript sermons are in the Chetham Library.]

C. W. S.