Reverend Robert Harrison MS, c1810
The Reverend Robert Harrison was, during the early 19th century, the incumbent of a church at Temple Sowerby some miles to the east of Penrith in north west England.
Brief introduction by Chris Partington, followed by information on Robert Harrison researched by Barry Callaghan.
The book was unearthed by Chris Metherall, investigated by the late Barry Callaghan, restored by subscription in his memory and presented to the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. It was transcribed into ABC for the Village Music Project by Simon Wilson, 2006.
It is 7 1/2 inches wide by 6 inches tall and has eight staves on each page.
There are 579 musical items. The great majority of the tunes are in the same hand except for a very few added in two different hands at the end. It is thought that his daughter Ann may have contributed to the book.
The very first page consists of a partial index, amongst which are the following inscriptions in the same hand as the music:-
“The Revd. Robert Harrison’s Book”
“Reverend (..Robt..?) Harrison”
“Anne Harrison’s Tune Book. ..Ger.. Flute..?”
These are the only inscriptions in the book not directly connected to a particular tune.
There are no dates given in any of the inscriptions.
However there is enough indirect evidence, as follows, in the choice of tunes to hazard a date.
Wragg’s tunes at the beginning are from a well known tutor for the German or transverse flute of the 18th Century, a copy of which is amongst the Senhouse papers collection lodged in Cumbria Record Office, Carlisle.
[This and the compass of some of the tunes would seem to suggest that he played the flute, but he bequeathed his violin to his son Robert (see below) so perhaps he played both.]
Some of the tunes mention characters from the Napoleonic wars – Gen. Napoleon’s March, Lord Nelson’s Hornpipe, which puts it into the 19th C. but there are no Quadrilles to place it any later than say 1818. My round figure would be five years either side of 1810.
It is a large collection. Only a few others of this size exist.
Only one of the tunes, Alstone Slow March, has any possibly specific local significance, all the rest are typical of published music books of the period available anywhere in the kingdom.
Temple Sowerby, in what was Westmorland and is now part of Cumbria, is a small village in the Eden Valley, a few miles to the east of Penrith.
Chris Partington, 2007.
The Following Notes by Barry Callaghan, 2006
The Rev. Robert Harrison
1770 – 1834
The Rev. Robert Harrison, born in 1770 and buried at Temple Sowerby, Cumbria (formerly Westmoreland) on 17th May 1834, was Perpetual Curate of Temple Sowerby from 1803 until his death, and also officiated at Kirkby Thore, a few miles away.
He is remembered for having improved the fabric of Temple Sowerby church, there being a plaque in the entrance recording his building of the tower c1814.
He was married to Elizabeth, and had four sons and two daughters; Elizabeth married a Temple Sowerby Currier, Joseph Dover, and gave birth to John in 1831, Ann became Mrs. Parkin. Of the sons, three continued in the Church: Thomas died just over a year after his father (who died aged 64 after being in ill health), Robert (the son) became vicar of Temple Sowerby from 1845 to 1862, having been an assistant minister from 1832. A painting of Robert Harrison Junior hangs in the vestry of Temple Sowerby church (photo available). The third son, John Brownrigg Harrison became assistant curate of the small church at Culgaith. Of the fourth son, James, described in Harrison’s will as ‘now in London’, it is noted ‘And I freely and heartily forgive him for all the grief and anxiety of mind he has caused me, and I hope God will forgive him also.’
He was also survived by his sister, Elizabeth Braithwaite, of Hawkshead
In his will he bequeaths to son Robert, along with his two globes, ‘my tenor fiddle’. (i.e. Violin), though much of the evidence of the tune book seems to suggest Harrison played the german/transverse flute.
In 1960 (15 Nov), R.H. Jeffery (deceased) is noted as having donated a clock for the church tower in memory of his great grandfather, Rev. Robert Harrison. I imagine that for this to be his great-grandfather, this would have referred to Robert Junior (d.1862)
(passing note: in the Temple Sowerby Directory of 1829, where Rev Robert Harrison is listed as Curate, there is also listed John Brownrigg, Currier. There is also a George Harrison, joiner and cabinet maker.)
Barry Callaghan, 2006.