George Harris, 1st Baron Harris

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Lord Harris
Born 18 March 1746
Died 19 May 1829
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Rank Lieutenant General
Commands held Madras Army
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath

George Harris, 1st Baron Harris GCB (18 March 1746 – 19 May 1829) was a British soldier.

Military career[edit]

Harris was the son of the Reverend George Harris, curate of Brasted, Kent. He was educated at Westminster School and at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, he was commissioned to the Royal Artillery in 1760, transferring to an ensigncy in the 5th foot (Northumberland Fusiliers) in 1762. Three years later he became lieutenant, and in 1771 captain. His first active service was in the American War of Independence, in which he served at Lexington, Bunker Hill (severely wounded) and in every engagement of Howe's army except one up to November 1778.

By this time he had obtained his majority, and his next service was under Major-General Medows at St. Lucia in 1778-1779, after which his regiment served as marines in Rodney's fleet. Later in 1779 he was for a time a prisoner of war. Shortly before his promotion to lieutenant-colonel in his regiment (1780) he married. After commanding the 5th in Ireland for some years, he exchanged and went with General Medows to Bombay, and served with that officer in India until 1792, taking part in various battles and engagements, notably Lord Cornwallis's attack on Seringapatam in the Third Anglo-Mysore War.

In 1794, after a short period of home service, he was again in India. In the same year he became major-general, and in 1797 Commander-in-Chief of the Madras Army. Up to 1800 be commanded the troops in the presidency, and for a short time he exercised the civil government as well. In December 1798 he was appointed by Lord Mornington, the governor-general, to command the field army which was intended to attack Tipu Sultan, and in a few months of campaigning Harris reduced the Kingdom of Mysore and stormed the great stronghold of Seringapatam, where the Tipu died in its defence.

His success established his reputation as a capable and experienced commander, and its political importance led to his being offered the reward (which he declined) of an Irish peerage. He returned home in 1800, became lieutenant-general in the army the following year, and attained the rank of full general in 1812. He bought Belmont House near Faversham in 1801.

In 1815 he was made a peer of the United Kingdom under the title Baron Harris of Seringapatam and Mysore, and of Belmont in the County of Kent. In 1820 he received the GCB, and in 1824 the governorship of Dumbarton Castle. Lord Harris died at Belmont in May 1829. He had been colonel of the 73rd Highlanders since 1800.

His descendant, the 4th Baron Harris (b. 1851), best known as a cricketer, was Under-Secretary for India (1885–1886), Under-Secretary for war (1886–1889) and Governor of Bombay (1890–1895).

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Stephen Rumbold Lushington, Life of Lord Harris (London, 1840), and the regimental histories of the 5th Northumberland Fusiliers and 73rd Highlanders.
Military offices
Preceded by
Alured Clarke
C-in-C, Madras Army
1797–1800
Succeeded by
John Braithwaite
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
New Creation
Baron Harris
1815–1829
Succeeded by
William George Harris