William Harris (MP)

For other politicians of this name, see William Harris (disambiguation).

William Harris (c. 1652 October 17, 1709) was an English landowner who served two terms as a member of the Parliament of England and one term as a member of the new Parliament of Great Britain.


Harris was a member of the landed gentry family of Harris of Hayne (in Devon) and Kenegie (in Gulval, Cornwall). While nothing is known about his educational background, on 12 May 1682 he and three other men (including John Tredenham) were granted a patent for a new device to drain water out of mines, with especial reference to Cornish tin mines.[1] On 4 October 1685, he married Jane St. Aubyn of Clowance, Cornwall; they would have three sons, Christopher, John and William, and one daughter, Jane.[2] In 1686, his father inherited the estate of Hayne from his cousin, Sir Arthur Harris.


He became MP for St. Ives in 1690 (he was regarded by Lord Carmarthen as a probable supporter of the Carmarthen Ministry if it were to come under attack); but did not stand for re-election in 1695. He remained active in local politics, becoming a councilman in the new Plymouth corporation in 1696. He was again elected to Parliament (this time for Okehampton, which his cousin Sir Arthur had once represented) in 1699, and was classed as a Country Whig, but by 1701 was regarded as having become more or less a Tory. He did not stand in 1702, but again remained locally active, serving as a Sheriff (1703–04) and Deputy Lieutenant for Devon (March 1705). In 1705 he was defeated for election to Parliament, but in 1708 was elected, in part because he was seen by the strong Whigs as being a more Whiggish choice than Tory incumbent Thomas Northmore. He died 17 October 1709 aged 57, and was succeeded in Parliament by his son Christopher, who was also his executor.[2]


  1. Boase, George Clement and William Prideaux Courtney. Bibliotheca cornubiensis: A catalogue of the writings, both manuscript and printed, of Cornishmen, and of works relating to the county of Cornwall, with biographical memoranda and copious literary references Longon: Longmans, Green, Reader and Dyer, 1874; p. 210
  2. 1 2 Burke, John. Burke's genealogical and heraldic history of the landed gentry, Volume 1. H. Colburn. p. 540. Retrieved 15 September 2011.
Parliament of England
Preceded by
Walter Vincent
Member of Parliament for St Ives
1690 – 1695
With: James Praed
Succeeded by
John Michell
Preceded by
John Burrington
Member of Parliament for Okehampton
1698 – 1702
With: Thomas Northmore
Succeeded by
Sir Simon Leach
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Thomas Northmore
Member of Parliament for Okehampton
1708 – 1709
With: John Dibble
Succeeded by
Christopher Harris
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