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date: 17 January 2020

Harrison, Peterlocked

(b York, June 14, 1716; d New Haven, CT, April 30, 1775).
  • Ronald J. Onorato


(b York, June 14, 1716; d New Haven, CT, April 30, 1775).

American architect of English birth. Born to Quaker parents, he probably trained in York with William Etty and his son John Etty. On the latter’s death in 1739, he followed his seafaring elder brother Joseph and became first a mate and then a captain in the transatlantic trade until captured by a French privateer in 1744. He was imprisoned at Louisburg, Nova Scotia, where he secretly copied plans of the fortress and charts of the coastline. Released in early 1745, he passed the copies to William Shirley (1694–1771), Governor of Massachusetts, who then captured Louisburg in June that year. Harrison settled in Newport, RI, and in 1746 married Elizabeth Pelham (1721–84), a kinswoman of Shirley’s wife, which secured his social position. Harrison had two advantages in the colonies: first-hand knowledge of English architecture and a unique library. His library was impressive for the American colonies and included works by Abraham Swan and Isaac Ware, James Gibbs’s pattern books, several treatises on the art of building, and drawings and books by Robert Morris, Sébastien Leclerc (i), Edward Hoppus and William Salmon covering ancient architecture, ornament, Palladio and contemporary English architecture. These resources, coupled with surveying, cartography, engineering and carpentry skills, established Harrison’s reputation as a learned architect, an important consideration for Colonial patrons who sought to keep up with their English cultural heritage, and many buildings have been attributed to him....

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A. K. Placzek, ed.: Macmillan Encyclopedia of Architects, 4 vols (New York, 1982)