Lancelot Harrison, gunsmith and truss maker 

The gravestone of Lancelot Harrison, is sited near the entrance to Beacon Edge Cemetery, Penrith. It stands out for two reasons: first, it looks ‘too new’ for someone who died in 1880, and; secondly, he is the only person named on it, with a lot of blank space underneath.

As for his age…

Lancelot Harrison

Harrison is a common surname in the north-west of England. And Lancelot isn’t a rare first name. You can read more about ‘lots of Lancelots’ in this post.

But with exact dates, you’d think it would be fairly simple to find him in the easily available records.

And yet, no.  

To start at the end

There is a death notice, that says Lancelot Harrison died in Victoria Road, Penrith. (The probate entry says 4 Victoria Place). The date is right, but the newspaper says he was 87.

And so does the General Register Officer record for his death.

But this does at least give us an address to work on. And distinguish him from other Lancelot Harrisons.

An 1875 auctions notice includes two shops in Victoria Place, occupied by Lancelot Harrison and John Armstrong. Sounds promising, but what sort of shop? The short version is there’s nothing to tie Lancelot Harrison with any kind of shop beyond this notice.

Lancelot Harrison, a man of means

He may have rented the shop, but he owned property: in 1870, he was advertising To Let a house in Brunswick Terrace. And the 1868 poll book has a Lancelot Harrison (but no address to confirm it was this one). For sure, this Lancelot qualified to vote in the (higher) category of: ‘voters in respect of property, including tenant occupiers at a rent of £50 and upwards’.

The muddy crossing

In 1873, local folk had complained that the footpath in Victoria Road ‘nothing but hills and holes,’ and ‘more like a ploughed field than a street’. Particularly the crossing between the residences of Lancelot Harrison and Mr S K James, the solicitor. The Board of Health agreed the crossing should be repaired and the footpath asphalted. 

Rewind to 1864, and ‘the causeway between the houses of Lancelot Harrison and Mrs Wilkinson’ had already been before the Board. It doesn’t state Victoria Road, but ‘Netherend’ fits, as does ‘it was simply a road crossing’.

The census

So, you’d expect Lancelot to show up on the 1871 census at Victoria Road/Place. I did find him on 1871, eventually, but will come back to that.

The Carlisle City and District Banking Company

In 1856-1870, a Lancelot Harrison, gentleman, was one of many participants in the Carlisle City and District Banking Company. Was it ‘ours’?

Well, in 1861, the bank’s returns have him as being of Union Place, Penrith. And in 1856, a Lancelot Harrison of Union Place was advertising To Let a house on the High Terrace, Brunswick Square, which sounds like the Brunswick Terrace house of 1875.

But to confuse things, if you go back to 1850-55, the Carlisle City and District Banking Company lists included Lancelot Harrison, gentleman, ‘of Carlisle’.

The census (again)

1851 Union Place, Penrith.

Lancelot Harrison, single, aged 50 or 54, retired gunsmith, born Dalston. And a domestic servant. If it is 54, that means born circa 1796. 50 would be circa 1800. Next door is a Sarah Clark, 44.

Now we are getting somewhere!  

1861, Union Place, has Lancelot as 50, ‘income from house dividends etc’). Born Dalston, so has to be same one. Next door is a Sarah Clark, 54. But how can Lancelot be aged 50?!!

There is no Union Place, Penrith, on current or old maps. But a ‘furniture for sale’ advert in 1864 refers to ‘Union Place, Victoria Road’. And a To Let notice in the same year refers to ‘Union Place, Roper Street’. Which runs off Victoria Road. 

To sum up, Lancelot Harrison, retired gunsmith/property owner, living in the right location to be ‘ours,’ was born either 1796 OR 1800, OR 1811. 

But wouldn’t have been 86/87 in 1880.


So if Lancelot was once a gunsmith, there is….

1841 Scotch Street, Carlisle.

Joseph Crozier Harrison, 20, gun maker (wife Anne, baby Anne), Thomas Harrison, 25, not born in Cumberland, Launcelot Harrison, 35, independent means, Margaret Harrison, 15, ditto, and a domestic servant. I have no idea whose sister (?) Margaret was!

That sort of fits, BUT even allowing for 1841’s round-up/down, ‘Launcelot’ was born 1799 at the earliest. And what relation was he to Joseph Crozier Harrison?

I’ll come back to the Crozier ‘thing’.

1798 Dalston. A Lancelot was baptised, son of Lancelot H and Margaret Richardson. Dalston fits. And if ‘our’ Lancelot was 86 or 87 at death, then he was born in 1794 or 1793.

Lancelot and Margaret married in Skelton in 1783. Other children are: Thomas 1784, Mary 1786, Matthew 1789, William born 1792, and Ann 1795. 

Matthew died ‘suddenly’ in Shrewsbury, in 1820: ‘second son of Launcelot Harrison, gun-maker, Carlisle’. So, we are on the right track. 

1839 December. In Scotch Street, on the 5th, Margaret, widow of the late Mr Lancelot Harrison, gun maker, in the 82nd year of her age.

Other sources

‘Chat’ on a sporting website’s forum backs up this idea: Lancelot, born in 1758, was a blacksmith of Skelton, who set up in Rickergate as a gun-smith in 1807. He branched out from guns in 1811, and died in 1826.

Oddly, the only 1811 mention I can find is: 

‘All persons indebted to the estate of Lancelot Harrison, gun-smith are desired to pay their respective debts to Mr Blow, solicitor, otherwise Actions will be commenced for recovery thereof’.

Which sounds like Lancelot has just died.

The website says that Lancelot born 1798 ran the business after his father’s death, with sister Mary Ann. But Lancelot sold up when their mother died, in 1839.

The business was taken over then by his nephews and niece, Thomas and William Harrison and their sister Ann, who had married her cousin, Joseph Crozier Harrison. The first three were the children of his older brother, Thomas. Turns out Joseph was the son of Lancelot’s brother William.

and truss maker

There are adverts for Lancelot Harrison ‘gun and truss manufacturer,’ Rickergate, Carlisle. They start ‘Lancelot Harrison begs leave to acquaint ’ and include the information that L Harrison has been making ‘bandages for the rupture’ for ‘upwards of 20 years’. And also makes single- and double-barrelled fowling guns, pocket pistols and ‘every other article attached to gunnery’.


And finally, after a lot of digging, I found:

no 3 Union Court,aged, 60, rents from property etc, born Dalston. With a housemaid. And next entry up from no 32 Victoria Road. 

But ’60’ means born circa 1811.

So we have a Lancelot Harrison living at Victoria Road, but who, dying in 1880, would have been 80 at most and possibly only 70 (take your pick from the census returns!).

Crozier Hall

So in 1841, there was a Lancelot, in Carlisle with a Joseph Crozier Harrison, 20, gunsmith. He has to be ‘ours,’ surely. But he is 35, which (with 1841 rounding up/down) puts his birth (as other censuses) as 1805-1811.

With them are Joseph’s wife (and cousin) Anne, baby Ann, 3m, and Thomas Harrison, 25: Joseph’s brother.

Piggot’s Directory for 1828-29 has William Harrison at Crozier Hall, Penrith. It was in Sandgate. William must have died about then, for in 1830, Mrs Ann Harrison, of Crozier Hall, married William Mattinson of Sockbridge Hall. 

And by 1842 was occupied by Dr John Taylor, then by a family called Lowthian.

A guided walk leaflet has: 

‘Crozier Lodge, named after Ann Crozier and built in 1826 by (her) husband, a local gunsmith…’ 

Ann Henderson Crosier married William Harrison on February 18, 1817, in Carlisle. 

Joseph Crozier Harrison was baptised, son of William and Ann, in 1818. 

And a son Lancelot was baptised in 1824. Where is he in 1841?!  

1842. Crozier Hall, Penrith. To Let, that excellent mansion called Crozier Hall….. Apply Dr Taylor (the occupant) or to Mr Lancelot Harrison, Carlisle. 

Presumably ‘our’ Lancelot, looking after his nephew and niece’s interests. 

A man of conscience

If one or both of these are ‘our’ Lancelot:

1855 Lancelot Harrison, gentleman, was elected a church warden for Penrith parish for 12 months, along with three others.

1861 a Lancelot Harrison was among many kind Penrith folk who donated £1 to help relieve the Distress in Carlisle and Lancashire. And five shillings to the India famine relief fund. And in 1858, a Lancelot Harrison gave £1 towards restoration work to Queen Elizabeth Grammar School.