HARRISON, Richard (1646-1726), of Balls Park, Herts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



25 Oct. 1669
Mar. 1679

Family and Education

b. Oct. 1646, 4th but o. surv. s. of Sir John Harrison being o.s. by 2nd w., half-bro. of William Harrison. educ. Peterhouse, Camb. 1663; M. Temple, 1663. m. lic. 28 Apr. 1668 Audrey, da. of George, 4th Visct. Grandison of Limerick [I] 8s. 6da. suc. fa. 1669.1

Offices Held

Gent. pens. by 1671-bef. 1679.2

J.p. Herts. 1670-?Feb. 1688, Hertford 1687; collector of coal imposition, London 1672-87; commr. for assessment, Herts. and Mdx. 1673-80, Lancs. 1673-4, 1679-80, recusants, Lancs. 1675; capt. of militia ft. Herts. by 1680, lt.-col. 1681-?87, dep. lt. 1681-7.3


Harrison succeeded to an estate of £1,600 p.a.; but it was soon extended for a debt to the crown of £6,000. Sir John Shaw and his father’s other partners made their own arrangements with the Treasury, leaving Harrison to plead total ignorance of customs affairs and to extricate himself as best he could. Privilege of Parliament was the first essential if he was to escape arrest, and aided by his father’s legacy of £100 to the poor of Lancaster, he succeeded without difficulty to his seat. His father-in-law, who was captain of the gentlemen pensioners, proved a tower of strength, and by enrolling him in his corps gave him protection during recesses. The salary was only £100 p.a.—‘a small pension, proportionable to his understanding’, as the opposition pamphleteer sneered—but it gave him a breathing space, and in 1672 Lord Grandison was able to take over the extent on his lands and to secure for him the office of collector of the tax on coal in London imposed to pay for the rebuilding of St. Paul’s. By then the worst of Harrison’s difficulties were over.4

Harrison was not an active Member of the Cavalier Parliament. He was appointed to only 16 committees and made no recorded speeches. He was not involved in any measures of political significance or of particular concern to his constituents, but he was named to two Hertfordshire estate bill committees, and took an interest in highway legislation, and a proposal for the relief of debtors. He received the government whip in 1675, but was subsequently ‘doubted’ by Sir Richard Wiseman. However, according to the list of 1676 he was to be sent for to attend, and he was noted by Shaftesbury as ‘doubly vile’. In 1678 he figures on both lists of court supporters.

Harrison was re-elected to the first Exclusion Parliament, but took no part in its proceedings so far as is known. Huntingdon marked him as a court supporter, but he was absent from the division on the exclusion bill. It is possible that Harrison’s property at Lancaster had been sold by this time; in any case, whether because of the difficulty of maintaining the family interest in the borough from a distance or because he had been blacklisted in the ‘unanimous club’, he did not stand again. Presumably he opposed James II’s religious policy, for he was removed from the lieutenancy in 1687. But he became a non-juror after the Revolution, and spent the remainder of his long life in retirement, though three of his sons sat for Weymouth, Hertford and Old Sarum under the Hanoverians. He died on 17 Jan. 1726 and was buried at All Saints, Hertford.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Irene Cassidy


  • 1. Clutterbuck, Herts. ii. 186; London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 636.
  • 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. iii. 854.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1672, p. 622; 1680-1, p. 423; Chauncy, Herts. i. 521.
  • 4. Fanshawe Mems. 22, 45; CSP Dom. 1671-2, p. 75; Cal. Treas. Bks. iii. 994, 1348; VCH Lancs. viii. 33.
  • 5. VCH Lancs. viii. 60; Herts. Recs. i. 386.