John Scandrett Harford

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John Scandrett Harford
Born(1785-10-08)8 October 1785
Died16 April 1866(1866-04-16) (aged 80)
Blaise Castle, Bristol

John Scandrett Harford, FRS (8 October 1785 – 16 April 1866) was a British banker, benefactor and abolitionist.


Harford was born the son of John Scandrett Harford, a prominent banker in the English city of Bristol and educated at Christ's College, Cambridge. By the end of the 18th century he was a wealthy banker in his own right and known as being a landowner, a staunch Quaker and an abolitionist (and friend of William Wilberforce).[citation needed]

Harford had a sizeable portfolio, including the Blaise Castle Estate at Henbury. This was originally property of Thomas Farr, but Farr went bankrupt in 1778 following the American Revolutionary War. The estate then changed hands a number of times until Harford's father eventually purchased the land and buildings.[1] John Harford the Elder had a plain but substantial house built and asked the landscape architect Humphry Repton to lay out the grounds. Repton became a partner of John Nash, whom Harford commissioned to design a group of cottages, Blaise Hamlet, as homes for his retired servants. Nash created sketches of the cottages, which George Repton built.[2] Diamond Cottage is an example of the extremely picturesque style of the cottages.[3] John Harford the Elder patronised Hannah More's schools in Somerset in the 1790s.[1]

In 1819, he also acquired the Peterwell estate at Lampeter, making the purchase jointly with his younger brothers. It was previously owned by his father-in-law, Richard Hart Davis, who had built c.1812 a house within its bounds. The estate descended to his nephew John Battersby Harford, who remodelled the house in the Italianate style in 1859 as Falcondale.

It was shortly after a meeting with Bishop Burgess, the founder of St David's College, Lampeter in 1820, that Harford offered to donate to him the site of Lampeter Castle, 'Castle Field' or 'Cae Castell' in Welsh, which, as Lords of the Manor of Lampeter, he and his brothers now owned. As such, it is on land donated by Harford that the Lampeter campus of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David now stands. A bust of Harford is in the collection of the University, and is currently on display in that institution's main library building on the Lampeter campus. Two halls of residence at the university, Harford I and Harford II, are also named after him. He was appointed High Sheriff of Cardiganshire for 1825–26.[4]

He was also a moderately successful artist, and his oil paintings can often be found at auctions in the UK. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1823, and was the founding President of what is now the Royal West of England Academy (then the Bristol Academy of Fine Arts) from its inception in 1844 until 1859.

He married Louisa, the daughter of Richard Hart Davis. In later life he went blind and died at Blaise Castle in 1866.[5]

Maria Edgeworth claimed that the main character in Hannah More's popular novel Coelebs in Search of a Wife was modeled on Harford.[6]


Correspondence, journals and personal papers of John Scandrett Harford and the Harford family are held by Bristol Archives (Ref. 28048) (online catalogue). Additional correspondence including letters sent by William Wilberforce to Harford is held by Duke University: William R Perkin Library.[7] There also records of the Peterwell and Falcondale estates of the Harford family at the National Library of Wales.[8]

Published works[edit]

  • Aeschylus : Agamemnon....Translated from Greek by J. S. Harford, London : Murray, 1831
  • Coelebs of Hannah More
  • Life of Michaelangelo Buonarroti, Longman & Roberts, 1857; Spottiswoode & Co., 1858.
  • Life of Thomas Burgess, London : Eyre & Spottiswood, 1840. 2nd ed. London : Eyre, 1841
  • Reminiscences of W. Wilberforce during nearly thirty years, 1864
  • Some account of the life of Thomas Paine, Bristol, 1819

See also[edit]


  • Dictionary of National Biography
  • Annals of the Harford Family, Alice Harford, Westminster Press 1909
  • Nine Letters from an Artist The Families of William Gillard, Joan M Richmond, Porphryogenitus 2015, ISBN 978-1-871328-19-6.
  1. ^ a b M J Crossley Evans, Hannah More, University of Bristol (Bristol branch of the Historical Association), 1999
  2. ^ The history of Blaise Hamlet, National Trust, retrieved 23 August 2016 CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "Blaise Hamlet, Diamond Cottage, Bristol", BLB: British Listed Buildings, retrieved 23 August 2016 CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "Cardigan Boroughs". History of Parliament Online. Retrieved 10 July 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Walsh, William Shepard (2015). Heroes and Heroines of Fiction. Forgotten Books. ISBN 978-1330331149. OCLC 989864825.
  7. ^ "National Archives Discovery Catalogue page, Duke University William R Perkins Library". Retrieved 22 February 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ "National Library of Wales, Peterwell and Falcondale Estate records". Retrieved 22 February 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)