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Harris Family History
The Harris, Harries, Harriss, Haris, Herries, Harrison and Harry surnames all have the same origins, and derive from the personal name 'Harry' which is a diminutive of Henry which was introduced to Britain after the Norman Conquest of 1066.
Other origins of this surname include the Old Norse, Harri, as well as the Flemish personal name, Hariche. In Ireland, there are some examples, particularly in relation to County Mayo families, where both Harris and Harrison may be anglicised forms of the Gaelic Ó hEarchadha.
In American Jewish communities it is an Americanised form of any of various like-sounding Jewish names, and as such it is perhaps an anglicised form of Aaron.
As a surname it is patronymic – this means that the addition of the 's' ( or 'son') at the end of the name would indicate 'the son of Harry', Harry being a reference to an ancestor who would have lived some centuries ago. In England, hereditary surnames such as Harris, Harries and Harry, had been established by around 1400, but in Wales they only became evident between the 16th and 19th centuries.
In Wales, 'Harries' is a common version of the surname. Although recorded throughout the country, historically as a surname Harris/Harries was slightly more popular in south Wales. In some parts of south Wales, in particular in the county of Glamorgan, 'Harry' (without the 's' ending) was adopted as a surname when it became hereditary between the 16th and 19th centuries.
There are approximately 1,023,744 Harris family members around the world. It is estimated that the largest group of Harris family members lives in USA with 761,684 members. Around 863,900 members reside in England, 110,892 in Wales, 46,772 in Australia, 32,408 in Canada, 22,598 in South Africa, 6,383 in New Zealand, 40,722 in Ireland, and 27,803 in Scotland.
The 1891 census shows hat the Harris family name was predominant in London, Devon, Warwickshire, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Kent, Hampshire, Essex, and Somerset.
Early bearers of the surname include: Willelmo Harries, who appears in the poll tax of 1379 (Devizes, Wiltshire); Willelmo Herys, 1379 poll tax (Luton, Bedfordshire); Isabella Harreis, 1381 poll tax (Fairford, Gloucestershire); William Harrys, 1406 in Eynsham Cartulary (Oxfordshire); Lawrence Harryes, 1468 Fine Rolls (Hertfordshire); John Harys, 1540 (Saint Peter's parish register, Sandwich, Kent); George Haris, 1554 (Coleshill, Warwickshire); Ralfe Harris, 1575 (Isle of Sheppey parish register, Kent).
The most common Harris occupation in the UK in 1881 was agricultural labourer, followed by labourer and farmer.
Geographically, there are towns named Harris and Harriseahead (Staffordshire) in the United Kingdom from which some Harris families may have taken their name. Harris is located in Scotland on the largest island in the Outer Hebrides.
- Rodney Harris CBE, FRCP, FRCPath (1932-2017) was a British geneticist, Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (FRCP) and a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists (FRCPath).
- Iestyn Harris (b. 1976), rugby league and rugby union player, nicknamed 'the Welsh Wizard'. Born in Manchester to Welsh parents, he has played for both the Wales and Great Britain teams.
- Emmylou Harris (b. 1947), American singer, songwriter, and musician. A prolific artist, she has, among other honours, won 14 Grammys and has been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
- Howel Harris (1714–1773), prominent religious reformer who was one of the main leaders of the Welsh Methodist Revival, and the founder of the Presbyterian Church of Wales.
1881, 1891 Census
Homes of Family Names in Great Britain, H.B. Guppy, London 1890
International Genealogical Index, https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/igi
The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, P.Hanks, Coats, McClure OUP 2016
1860 Lower, Mark A Patronymica Britannica: a dictionary of the family names of the United Kingdom, London: J.R Smith. Public Domain
1857 Arthur, William An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. New York: Sheldon, Blakeman. Public Domain
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