Samuel Harris 1815-1905


Samuel Harris

Son of Samuel Harris, a merchant from Allonby, Cumberland, and Margaret Redfern, christened at St Mathews 6 December 1815, his parents had married at Kirk Braddan on 28 March 1813. Married Anne Bateman Craig at Onchan 20 Jun 1839 - 8 children in IGI .

                  Samuel I = Mary
        |                  |
      Esther               |
       1775                |
                      1813 |   1821
      Margaret Redfern = Samuel II = Ann Holyland
        d.1819         | 1780-1852     1793-1833
                  |                                      |
                  |   1839                               |
                Samuel = Ann Bateman Craig             Thomas
            1815-1905  |     1821-1892                1819-1848
     |        |        |        |        |        |          |        |
Margaret  Georgina   Samuel   Edward   Anne   Charlotte   Thomas    Cecil
           Maria     Joseph   Craig           Frances      John     Henry
  1841      1843      1844     1846    1847     1849       1851      1853
            1870      1893     1851    1918     1882       1852
              married Louisa __ + several children

Samuel I is conjectured on basis of IGI and known link to Cumberland; a Samuel Harris, taylor, is noted as applying for a licence to sell alcohol in Douglas in 1789. Margaret Redfern could be daughter of Jno Redfern and Ann Woods (ch. 1795), the Redferns were associated with hotel trade around this period.

Samuel II is first noted in 1810 as a lieutenant in the South Manks Volunteers, in 1823 he is shown as a wine & spirit merchant, linen & woollen draper, tea dealer, &c. on Custom House-quay; in the 1837 directory again listed as linen draper and wine & spirit merchant on North Quay. In 1825 he purchased the land on which the high class Harris Terrace was later built (Slack in Streets of Douglas dates the houses to c.1837). He was also an early director of the IoMSPCo.

Samuel Harris was educated at Samuel Haining's school, and later articled to High Bailiff James Quirk and called to the Manx bar in 1842 - however by this time he was 27, assuming a 3 year pupil-ship that would appear to have started the year of his marriage. The first 5 of his children were christened at Onchan, the next two at St Barnabas and the last at more up-market St George. Partner in law firm of Harris and Adams.

Built the Imperial Hotel on the site of the old courthouse at the foot of Red Pier which opened in 1861. Associated with H.B. Noble and one of the prime movers behind the formation of the Isle of Man Bank Ltd in 1865 for which he was chairman 1872-1894.

Appointed High Bailiff (chief stipendary magistrate) for Douglas in 1864 which post he held until his resignation in 1900. However held numerous other official posts including Registrar of Deeds (and thus Companies Registrar), Sumner-general, secretary to Bishop etc. Appointed Vicar General in 1884 which gave him a seat on the Legislative Council.

He topped the poll in the election for the first Douglas Town Commissioners in 1860, and was appointed chairman; he played a major part in upgrading the town's amenities including the all-essential sewerage and the development of what was later named Harris Promenade in 1868 some years before the Loch Promenade scheme. He was offered the first Mayoralty of Douglas on the incoporation of the town in 1896 but turned it down, saying he had too many other commitments.

He was a tall commanding figure who was in constant demand as a speaker on formal (and informal) occasions - he suffered a minor stroke whilst opening the new Douglas Market Hall in 1900, after which he started to relinquish his various public duties. He died at his home, Marathon, Victoria Road. His funeral was a major display of public recognition. He left some £40,000 in his will.





Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received MNB Editor
© F.Coakley , 2003