George Harris, 4th Baron Harris

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The Lord Harris
George Harris, 4th Baron Harris.jpg
Personal information
Full name George Robert Canning Harris
Born (1851-02-03)3 February 1851
St Anne's, Trinidad and Tobago
Died 24 March 1932(1932-03-24) (aged 81)
Faversham, Kent, England
Nickname Lord Harris
Batting style Right-handed
Bowling style Right-arm round-arm fast
Role All-rounder, administrator
International information
National side
Test debut (cap 13) 2 January 1879 v Australia
Last Test 11 August 1884 v Australia
Domestic team information
Years Team
1870–1911 Kent
1871–1895 MCC
1871–1874 Oxford University
Career statistics
Competition Tests FC
Matches 4 224
Runs scored 145 9990
Batting average 29.00 26.85
100s/50s 0/1 11/55
Top score 52 176
Balls bowled 32 3446
Wickets 0 75
Bowling average 23.44
5 wickets in innings 1
10 wickets in match 0
Best bowling 5/57
Catches/stumpings 2/– 190/–
Source: [1], 24 March 1932

George Robert Canning Harris, 4th Baron Harris, GCSI, GCIE (3 February 1851 – 24 March 1932) was a British politician, cricketer and cricket administrator.[1][2] He succeeded to his title in November 1872, before which he was known as The Honourable George Harris.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Trinidad when his father, George Harris, 3rd Baron Harris, was serving as Governor, then moved to Madras when his father was posted to the governorship there. At the age of 13, the young Harris was sent to Eton to finish his education. His first important cricket match was the 1868 Eton-Harrow fixture at Lord's, where the 17-year-old started inauspiciously with 23 and six. In the same fixture the following year, when CJ Ottaway scored his celebrated 108 to seal victory for Eton by an innings and nineteen runs, Harris went runless, and, in 1870 (by which time he was on the Kent Committee), he managed just twelve and seven.

Cricket career[edit]

Lord Harris was the second-ever captain of the English cricket team. He also played for Kent and Oxford University. He won two of his four Tests as English captain, losing one and drawing the other.

In 1878–1879, Harris led a touring England side to Australia. They played one Test match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground – the third Test ever played. Australia, led by Dave Gregory, won by 10 wickets. Later in the tour, a match against New South Wales led to the Sydney Riot of 1879 when an umpire employed by the English team made a decision against the locals.

Harris led England against Australia on three further occasions:

  • 1880 at The Oval – England won by 5 wickets in the first Test played in England.
  • 1884 at Lord's – England win by an innings and 5 runs.
  • 1884 at The Oval – Drawn.

He played for Kent for over forty years, from 1870 to 1911, captaining them from 1871 to 1889 (some sources (e.g. CricketArchive) say 1875–1889, with no official captaincy appointment for 1871-4). He was President in 1875 and Secretary from 1875 to 1880.[3]

In the early 1880s there were a number of bowlers who were widely considered to have unfair actions, with the Lancashire pair of Jack Crossland and George Nash coming in for particular criticism. After playing for Kent against Lancashire in 1885, when he faced the bowling of Crossland and Nash, Harris decided to take action. He persuaded the Kent committee to cancel the return fixture. Later that season, Crossland was found to have broken his residential qualification for Lancashire by living in Nottinghamshire, and Nash dropped out of the side. Thus the two counties resumed playing each other the following season. Harris's Wisden obituarist wrote: "...there can be no doubt the action of Lord Harris, even if it did not entirely remove the throwing evil, had a very healthy effect on the game."[4]

He had a long association with Lord's as both player and administrator. In 1862, aged eleven, he was practising at Lord's. It was not till 1929, at the remarkably advanced age of seventy-eight, that he played there for the last time, for MCC v Indian Gymkhana.[5] He served as President of the MCC in 1895. He was a Trustee of MCC from 1906 to 1916 and Honorary Treasurer from 1916 to 1932. Additionally he was for some years chairman of the MCC Finance and Cricket Sub-committees. It is therefore not surprising that it was written of him: 'No man has exercised so strong an influence on the cricket world so long...'[6]

Lord Harris

In July 1909 he chaired a meeting of representatives of England, Australia and South Africa which launched the Imperial Cricket Conference and agreed rules to control Test cricket between the three nations. In 1926, he presided at a meeting at The Oval, when it was agreed that 'governing bodies of cricket in countries within the Empire to which cricket teams are sent, or which send teams to England' should be eligible for ICC membership. The meeting had the effect of creating three new Test-playing nations: West Indies, New Zealand and India.[7]

Not all thought that he used his power well. Alan Gibson once wrote that he was 'an antediluvian old tyrant', though he later retracted this, saying that Harris was a more complex figure than that.[8] But, complex or not, Harris was never accused by contemporaries of being an intellectual; and he might have robbed England of the services of one of its greatest batsmen, Walter Hammond. Hammond had been born in Kent but chose to play for Gloucestershire, where he had gone to school. Hammond had not fulfilled the required period of residence to qualify, and once Harris discovered this Hammond was barred from playing for them again until the necessary time had elapsed. The affair resulted in Harris complaining about what he called 'Bolshevism' influencing cricket.

Political career[edit]

Lord Harris served in the House of Lords as Under-Secretary of State for India from 25 June 1885, then as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for War from 4 August 1886 to 1890 in the Conservative Government.

He served as Governor of the Presidency of Bombay in British India from 1890 to 1895. His appointment was not universally well regarded, with one anonymous writer penning a poem expressing the hope that Bombay would not suffer too greatly from Harris' political inexperience.[9]

His governorship was notable mainly for his enthusiastic pursuit of the sport of cricket amongst his fellow Europeans in the colony, at the expense of connecting with the native population. When the interracial Bombay riots of 1893 broke out, Harris was out of the city at Ganeshkind enjoying cricket matches. He returned to Bombay only on the ninth day of rioting, and then primarily to attend a cricket match there.[10]

Many later writers credited Harris with almost single-handedly introducing and developing the sport in India. The game was, however, well established among the natives before his arrival. Furthermore, in 1890, he rejected a petition signed by over 1,000 locals to relocate European polo players to another ground so that the locals could use the area for cricket matches. It was only in 1892 that he granted a parcel of land to the newly formed Mahomedan Gymkhana for a cricket field, adjacent to land already used by the Parsi Gymkhana. His reluctance to do so is evident in his written comment:

This memorial stone to Lord Harris is in the Harris Garden at Lord's
I don't see how we can refuse these applicants; but I will steadfastly refuse any more grants once a Gymkhana has been established under respectable auspices by each nationality, and tell applicants that ground having been set apart for their nationality they are free to take advantage of it by joining that particular club.[11]

When Harris left India, having virtually ignored famine, riots and sectarian unrest, a publisher circulated a collection of newspaper extracts from his time as governor. The introduction stated:

Never during the last hundred years has a Governor of Bombay been so sternly criticised and never has he met with such widespread unpopularity on account of his administration as Lord Harris.[12]

On his return to England, Harris again served in the Conservative Government, as a Lord in Waiting, from 16 July 1895 to 4 December 1900.

He held a commission as Assistant Adjutant-General for the Imperial Yeomanry (resigned in April 1901[13])


Lord Harris married the Hon. Lucy Ada Jervis, daughter of Carnegie Robert John Jervis, 3rd Viscount St Vincent, in 1874. He died in March 1932, aged 82, and was succeeded in the barony by his son George.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Harris, Tim (2009). "Lord Harris". Players: 250 Men, Women and Animals Who Created Modern Sport. Random House. 
  2. ^ "Harris, 4th Baron". Who's Who, 59: p. 786. 1907. 
  3. ^ Barclay's World of Cricket – 2nd Edition, 1980, Collins Publishers, ISBN 0-00-216349-7, p170.
  4. ^ Wisden Cricketer's Almanack, 1933 edition.
  5. ^ The Cricket Captains of England, Alan Gibson, 1989, The Pavilion Library, ISBN 1-85145-390-3, p14.
  6. ^ Barclay's World of Cricket – 2nd Edition, 1980, Collins Publishers, ISBN 0-00-216349-7, p170.
  7. ^ ICC History 1909–1963
  8. ^ The Cricket Captains of England, Alan Gibson, 1989, The Pavilion Library, ISBN 1-85145-390-3, p14.
  9. ^ A Corner of a Foreign Field: The Indian History of a British Sport, Ramachandra Guha, 2002, Picador.
  10. ^ A Corner of a Foreign Field: The Indian History of a British Sport, Ramachandra Guha, 2002, Picador.
  11. ^ A Corner of a Foreign Field: The Indian History of a British Sport, Ramachandra Guha, 2002, Picador.
  12. ^ A Corner of a Foreign Field: The Indian History of a British Sport, Ramachandra Guha, 2002, Picador.
  13. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27312. p. 3197. 10 May 1901.

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
No regular appointment
Kent County Cricket Club captain
Succeeded by
Frank Marchant and William Patterson
Preceded by
James Lillywhite
English national cricket captain
Succeeded by
Alfred Shaw
Preceded by
Hon. Ivo Bligh
English national cricket captain
Succeeded by
Arthur Shrewsbury
Political offices
Preceded by
John Kynaston Cross
Under-Secretary of State for India
Succeeded by
Sir Ughtred Kay-Shuttleworth, Bt
Preceded by
The Lord Sandhurst
Under-Secretary of State for War
Succeeded by
The Earl Brownlow
Preceded by
The Lord Reay
Governor of Bombay
Succeeded by
The Lord Sandhurst
Preceded by
The Lord Hawkesbury
Succeeded by
The Lord Kenyon
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
George Harris
Baron Harris
Succeeded by
George Harris