The Harper Family
The Ancestors of Emma Louisa Harper
John, Maria & Emma Harper

Harper Family Album

G5 Lawrence Harper
(1772 - 1856)
Margaret Sizeland
(1770 - 1835)
John Bussey unknown Thomas Stapleton
(bef 1770 - )
Hannah Wallis
( - )
unknown unknown
G4 John Harper
(1798 - 1867)
Mary Bussey
(1799 - 1885)
John Stapleton
(1797 - ca 1872)
Lucy Bartaby
(ca 1799 - 1859)
G3 John Harper
(1829 - 1900)
Maria Stapleton
(1827 - 1905)
G2 Emma Louisa Harper
(1871 - 1957)
= 1896
William James Joy
(1867 - 1935)
Stratton Strawless
Harper is a fairly common name, based on the occupation of harp player, and so will have many unconnected origins. This is confirmed by The Surname Distribution map of the Harper family in Great Britain in 1881, which shows no particular center.

John Harper (ref 1) notes that the name appears in the records of Norfolk from as early as the 1350s with a Hugh Harper, freeman of Norwich during the reign of Edward III.

John's research shows that our Harper family lived in Norfolk since at least the start of the 17th century. Tristram was born c. 1610 and married Elizabeth England in Horstead near Norwich in 1636. The family lived in and continued to live in the immediate neighbourhood until at least the 1720s.

The records for Stratton Strawless in the Norfolk Transcription Archive show that Harpers were living in the Stratton Strawless area at least until the 1901 census. Whether they were the same family is unknown.

Stratton Strawless Village
St Margaret's, Stratton Strawless
William White's History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Norfolk 1845:

Stratton-Strawless is a small but pleasant village, 4 miles S. by E. of Aylsham, and 7 miles N. of Norwich, comprising in its parish 277 inhabitants, and 1583 acres of land, including an open heath of 341 acres, and several large plantations.

The whole is the property of Robert Marsham, Esq., who resides at the HALL, a large mansion of white brick, with a well-wooded park. This manor has been held, since the time of Edward I., by the Marsham family; one of whom, Robert Marsham, Esq., F.R.S., who died in 1797, aged ninety, was a distinguished naturalist, and excelled much in the art of planting and rearing trees, as may be seen by the flourishing plantations round the hall.

The Church (St. Margaret,) has a massive but short square tower, rebuilt in 1422, and now containing six bells. It has some curious specimens of stained glass, and several handsome monuments, one of which has the recumbent effigy of a man in armour, supposed to represent the last Sir Ralph de Stratton; and on an altar-tomb of black marble, is the effigy of Thomas Marsham, in his shroud, leaning on a pillow, above which are two angels, blowing trumpets. In a chapel, is an altar-tomb of black and white marble, with four effigies of Henry Marsham, (ob. 1692,) his wife, and his son and daughter.

Move to The Raynhams
In about 1729 Tristram's Great-Great-Grandson Francis married Susan Lord in West Raynham, about 30 miles west of Stratton Strawless. The Harpers continued to live in the Raynhams until modern times. In the mid 19th C three brothers migrated to New Zealand and settled in the Kaiapoi area near Christchurch.

encompass 3 Raynham parishes; East, West and South Raynham.

Today, there are still two villages at West and South Raynham. The village at East Raynham, mentioned in White in the mid 1800s (opp.), appears to have largely vanished. All that seems to remain is a few farm houses on the main road where the village is marked. The parish of East Raynham include the Hall and St Mary's Church.

St Mary's Raynham
St Mary's, Raynham Park
Raynham Park from the ruins of St Margaret's, West Raynham
Extracts from Francis White's History, Gazetteer and Directory of Norfolk 1845 and 1854:

EAST RAYNHAM (or Raynham St. Mary) is a small village on the Swaffham road, 4 miles S.W. by S. of Fakenham, has in its parish 23 houses, 128 inhabitants, and 1,635 acres of land, including 212a. of wood, which, with 550a. of lawn and about 25a. of water, form the extensive and beautiful park of RAYNHAM HALL, the seat of Captain John Townshend, R.N. and M.P. for Tamworth. This splendid mansion was built near the site of an ancient moated Hall, in 1630, by Sir Roger Townshend, Bart., under the direction of the celebrated architect, Inigo Jones ; but it was enlarged and beautified by Charles, second Viscount Townshend, who added a wing, excavated a lake, and altered the principal apartments ; and further improvements were made by the first Marquis Townshend, who increased the park to its present magnitude.

WEST RAYNHAM is 4 miles S.W. of Fakenham, is a village and parish, comprising 391 inhabitants, 79 houses, and 1,354a. 1r. 2p. of land, the property of Capt. John Townshend, R.N., the lord of the manor. The Church, dedicated to St. Margaret, has long been dilapidated, but is still an interesting ruin, mantled with ivy. The inhabitants use St. Mary's Church, at East Raynham.

The directory for West Raynham includes Jno. Harper, basket maker, possibly John Harper who married Mary Bussey, 1824.

SOUTH RAYNHAM (or Raynham St. Martin) is 5 miles S.W. by S. of Fakenham, has in its parish 32 houses, 155 souls, and 1,033 acres of land, nearly all the property of Capt. John Townshend, R.N., the lord of the manor, impropiator, and patron of the Church, which is dedicated to St. Martin.

We do not know a lot about the Stapleton family at this time. Maria Stapleton of , Norfolk, married John Harper of nearby East Raynham in 1851.

The distribution of the Stapleton name in 1881 implies that they may have originally come from further west.

The Norfolk Archive lists only a few Stapletons and which perhaps confirms that they were recent 'emigrants' into the area. Also see this site and for extensive databases on Norfolk and interesting information on the area this family lived.

Follow this link to see the Stapleton family tree.

Notes & References
  1. John William Harper - The entire Harper / Stapleton section is based on John's work. Thanks John for the permission to reproduce your work here. Mistakes are more likely to be mine than John's!
  2. Norfolk Archive
  3. Paddy Apling's Web Site