Harris, Henry (DNB00)

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HARRIS, HENRY (d. 1704?), chief engraver to the mint and seal-cutter, was engraver of the public seals throughout the reign of William III, and for a short time under Anne (Wyon, Great Seals of Engl. p. 190). In this office he succeeded East (who worked for James II), and was himself succeeded by John Roos (Cal. Treas. Papers, 1714–19, p. 228). In March 1689–90 he was appointed to the higher office of ‘chief graver of the stamps and irons of the king's mint’ (chief engraver to the mint) in the place of George Bower, lately deceased [see Bower, George, fl. 1681] (ib. 1556–1696, p. 108, under date 19 and 22 March 1689–90; Ruding (Annals of the Coinage, i. 45) dates Harris's appointment as engraver to the mint as early as 1680). Harris declares in his petition for the place to the lords of the treasury (Cal. Treas. Papers, l. c.) that he had been ‘educated in the art’ of die-cutting; but no coins or medals by him are known, and he appears to have exercised a general superintendence at the mint, and to have left the practical part of the work to his assistants. On his appointment the Roettiers were employed to act under him. On 22 May 1696 (ib. 1556–1696, pp. 513, 514) James Roettier is mentioned as his assistant. From 1697 till his death Harris had the able assistance of John Croker [see Croker, John, 1670–1741]. On 2 Feb. 1696–7 a committee of the House of Commons appointed to inquire into the clandestine removal of coin-dies from the Tower reported that though Harris (whom they had examined) was ‘the patent officer, and ought to have the inspection of the dies, yet … Roettier would never suffer him to come into the house where the press and dies were kept’ (J. H. Burn, ‘Memoir of the Roettiers,’ in Numismatic Chronicle, vol. iii.). Harris died before 12 Oct. 1704 (Cal. Treas. Papers, 1702–7, p. 297), at which date ‘the graver's place’ is spoken of as vacant through his decease. His successor, John Croker, was not appointed till 7 April 1705. Walpole calls him ‘Captain’ Harris and confuses him with Joseph Harris (fl. 1661–1699) [q. v.], the actor (Anecdotes of Painting, ed. Wornum, p. 570).

[Calendar of Treasury Papers, &c., cited above.]

W. W.