Biography

MASTER BUILDER
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Died: 1760

The master builder John Harrison II was the son of John I and Mary Harrison and the brother of Joseph and Daniel Harrison. According to Paster Eric Bjork, John II and Joseph helped their father complete Holy Trinity Church, Wilmington, DE in 1698, and both are known to have worked at Gloria Dei Church, Philadelphia the following year. Like his father, John Harrison appears to have specialized in finer carpentry. He received substantial payments for work at Christ Church in 1711 and for "Inside Work of the State-house" in 1741.

Admitted a freeman of Philadelphia in 1717, John Harrison II may have been a founder of The Carpenters' Company of the City and County of Philadelphia. Doubtless familiar with the London craft companies from discussions with his father, Harrison would have favored the 1705 ordinance "for restraining those that are not admitted freemen of this City to keep open Shopes, or be master workmen." However well intended, the freedom requirements appears to have been more honored in the breach. Since the freedom requirement was not or could not be inforced, the crafts petitioned "to be Incorporated the better the Serve ye Publick in their respective Capacities." In February of 1726/7, a group of master carpenters--including John and Joseph Harrison--formed The Carpenters' Company. Unfortunately all the early Company records were lost during the Revolution. What we know of The Company prior to the 1760s is but fragments from unofficial sources.

Harrison died in 1760, and his friends and colleagues Thomas Boude and Joseph Thornhill inventoried his estate. They noted that he owned "Four Book of Devinety four of Architecture...2.0.0".

Written by Roger W. Moss.

Clubs and Membership Organizations

  • Carpenters' Company of Philadelphia

 

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