Benjamin Harrison IV

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Benjamin Harrison IV (1693 – July 12, 1745[1]) was an American Virginia planter, politician, and Member of the Virginia House of Burgesses. He was the son of Benjamin Harrison III, and the father of Benjamin Harrison V, who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the fifth Governor of Virginia.[2][3] Harrison is also known as the builder of Berkeley which is believed to be the oldest three-story brick mansion in Virginia and is the ancestral home to two Presidents of the United States: William Henry Harrison, his grandson, and Benjamin Harrison his great-great-grandson.[4] Two powerful and influential families in colonial Virginia, the Harrison family and the Carter family, were united when Harrison married Anne Carter, the daughter of Robert "King" Carter.[5] His family also forged ties to the Randolph family as four of his children married four grandchildren of William Randolph I.[1][2]


The mansion on the Berkeley Plantation built by Benjamin Harrison IV in 1726.

Benjamin Harrison IV was born in a small house on the plantation named "Berkeley Hundred" or "Berkeley Plantation".[5] Upon completion of his studies at The College of William & Mary, he became the Harrison family's first college graduate.[6] Harrison settled on his family estate and, like his predecessors, he increased his land holdings.[3][6] Around 1722, Harrison married Anne Carter, whom William Byrd II had described as "a very agreeable girl".[1] As part of a dowry from Robert Carter, Harrison managed and received profits from land that was technically owned by his father-in-law.[7] This land was entailed by Carter to Harrison's son, Carter Henry Harrison.[7] Using bricks fired on the Berkeley plantation, Harrison built a Georgian-style three-story brick mansion on a hill overlooking the James River in 1726.[8][nb 1] Berkeley would later earn a distinction shared only with Peacefield in Quincy, Massachusetts as the ancestral home for two United States Presidents.[4] In 1729, Harrison purchased 200 acres of the Bradford plantation from Richard Bradford III.[10] From 1736 to 1742, he represented Charles City County, Virginia in the House of Burgesses.[11]

Harrison and his wife had eleven children:[1]

Anne Carter is thought to have preceded Harrison in death.[1] In 1745, he and his "two youngest daughters" (one of which was very likely Hannah) were killed when lightning struck his house.[1][nb 2] Harrison's will expressed his intent to be buried near his son, Henry,[1] and it broke with the British tradition of primogeniture by leaving large amounts of wealth to all of his children.[16] The six plantations that comprised Berkeley, along with the manor house, equipment, stock, and slaves, became the responsibility of Benjamin Harrison V, the oldest son.[6] Eight other plantations were divided among the remaining sons and his remaining daughters were given cash and slaves.[6]

One source indicates that Harrison's tomb is located on the grounds of the "old Westover Church",[10] but another states he was buried in his family's cemetery.[11]


  1. ^ Meg Greene reported that the mansion was built after Harrison received "a grant of twenty-two thousand acres of land", but does not state precisely when he acquired the land.[9]
  2. ^ Reports around the incident do not name the two others who died, however, in 1924 W.G. Stanard named them as "Lucy" and "Hannah". The survival of Lucy is well documented, which suggests that Stanard's report is at least partially in error.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Cowden, Gerald Steffens (July 1981). "Spared by Lightning: The Story of Lucy (Harrison) Randolph Necks". The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. Richmond, Virginia: Virginia Historical Society. 89 (3): 294–307. JSTOR 4248494. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Cutter, William Richard, ed. (1915). "The Harrison Line". New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of Commonwealths and the Founding of a Nation. 3. IV. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company. pp. 2088–2089. 
  3. ^ a b c Abbot, Willis John (1895). "The Harrison Family". Carter Henry Harrison: A Memoir. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company. pp. 1–23. 
  4. ^ a b Haas, Irvin (1991) [1976]. "William Henry Harrison:". Historic homes of the American Presidents (Second ed.). New York: David McKay Company Inc. pp. 47–54. 
  5. ^ a b Roberts, Bruce (1990). Kedash, Elizabeth, ed. Plantation Homes of the James River. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: The University of North Carolina Press. pp. 10, 32. ISBN 978-0-8078-4278-2. 
  6. ^ a b c d Moore, Anne Chieko (2006). "The Harrison Heritage". In Hale, Hester Anne. Benjamin Harrison: Centennial President. First Men, America's Presidents. New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc. pp. 5–6. ISBN 978-1-60021-066-2. 
  7. ^ a b Mooney, Barbara Burlison (2008). "Reason Reascends Her Throne: The Impact of Dowry". Prodigy Houses of Virginia: Architecture and the Native Elite. Charlottesville, Virginia: University of Virginia Press. p. 129. ISBN 978-0-8139-2673-5. 
  8. ^ Renouf, Norman; Renouf, Kathy (1999). "Central Virginia: Charles City County". Romantic Weekends in Virginia, Washington DC and Maryland. Edison, New Jersey: Hunter Publishing, Inc. p. 90. ISBN 978-1-55650-835-6. 
  9. ^ Greene, Meg (2007). "Child of the Revolution". William H. Harrison. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Twenty-First Century Books. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-8225-1511-1. 
  10. ^ a b Bradford, David Thomas (1993). "Philemon and Mary: The Harrisons". The Bradfords of Charles City County, Virginia, and Some of their Descendants, 1653-1993. Gateway Press. p. 84. 
  11. ^ a b O'Neill, Patrick L. (2010). "William Henry Harrison". Virginia's Presidential Homes. Images of America. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing. pp. 76–77. ISBN 978-0-7385-8608-3. 
  12. ^ a b Page, Richard Channing Moore (1893). "Randolph Family". Genealogy of the Page Family in Virginia (2 ed.). New York: Press of the Publishers Printing Co. pp. 249–272. 
  13. ^ Tyler, Lyon Gardiner, ed. (1915). "Fathers of the Revolution". Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography. II. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company. pp. 11–12. 
  14. ^ Jane Crisler (January 1992). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Hunting Quarter" (PDF). Virginia Department of Historic Resources. 
  15. ^ Hooker, Mary Harrison (1998). All Our Yesterdays. pp. 25–30. 
  16. ^ Kornwolf, James D.; Kornwolf, Georgiana Wallis (2002). "England in Virginia, 1585-1776". Architecture and Town Planning in Colonial North America. Two. Baltimore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 633. ISBN 978-0-8018-5986-1.