In 1744 Harris helped the Physico-Historical Society of Dublin to produce ‘The ancient and present state of the county of Down,’ 8vo. Some imperfect and inaccurate papers left by Harris came into the possession of a Dublin book-dealer, who, in 1766, printed them with the title of the ‘History and Antiquities of the City of Dublin’ (also London, 1766). Much of this work was reprinted, without acknowledgment and with additional errors, in ‘A History of the City of Dublin,’ by Whitelaw and Walsh, London, 1818.
[Manuscripts in relation to W. Harris in the possession of the writer of this article; Manuscripts of Kilkenny College, Hon. Society of King's Inns, Dublin, and Royal Dublin Society; Journals of House of Commons in Ireland, vol. v.; Faulkner's Dublin Journal, 1739–61; Review of the Civil Wars in Ireland, 1786; Reports of Irish Record Commission, 1810; Bibliotheca MSS. Stowensis, 1818; Hist. MSS. Comm. 8th Rep. 1881; Calendar of Ancient Records of the City of Dublin, 1889.]
HARRIS, WILLIAM (1546?–1602), catholic divine, born in Lincolnshire about 1546, was educated at Lincoln College, Oxford, where he was admitted B.A. 26 Jan. 1564–5. Shortly afterwards he was elected a fellow of his college, and on 10 July 1570 he commenced M.A. (Boase, Registrum Univ. Oxon. i. 256). Renouncing protestantism he proceeded to Louvain, where he pursued his studies, and was ordained priest. In 1575 he was admitted into the English College at Douay, and in the same year was sent on the English mission (Douay Diaries, pp. 7, 24). In a confession by Robert Gray, priest, preserved among the State Papers (Dom. Eliz. vol. ccxlv. No. 138), he is referred to as being at Cowdray, the seat of Viscount Montagu, in 1590. He is there described as ‘a tall man, blackish hair of head, and beard.’ Fuller says that ‘his writings were much esteemed by the papists,’ and that he was ‘as obscure among protestants as eminent with the popish party’ (Church Hist., ed. Brewer, ii. 419, v. 257). He composed a work, in ten books, entitled ‘Theatrum, seu Speculum verissimæ et antiquissimæ Ecclesiæ Magnæ Britanniæ, quæ ab Apostolicis viris fundata, et ab ahis sanctissimis Doctoribus a generatione in generationem propagata, in nostram usque ætatem perpetuò duravit.’ Dodd expresses a doubt whether this work was ever published. The author died in England in 1602.
[Gillow's Bibl. Dict.; Pits, De Angliæ Scriptoribus, p. 801; Tanner's Bibl. Brit. p. 379; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), i. 724; Wood's Fasti, i. 164.]
HARRIS, WILLIAM, D.D. (1675?–1740), presbyterian divine, was born about 1675, probably in Southwark, where his mother lived as a widow in 1692. Walter Wilson (following Josiah Thompson) thinks he was educated in the academy of Timothy Jollie [q. v.] at Attercliffe, near Sheffield (opened in 1689). The minutes of the presbyterian board show that in 1692–6 he studied successively in the academies of John Southwell at Newbury, Berkshire, and James Waters at Uxbridge, Middlesex. He began early to preach, and was some time assistant (unordained) to Henry Read at Gravel Lane, Southwark. On Read's death (1698) Harris was called to succeed Timothy Cruso [q. v.] at Crutched Friars, in spite of some opposition, and received presbyterian ordination. The accounts of his popularity are conflicting. There is no doubt that he was a leader of liberal dissent; his delivery was marred by hoarseness. For over thirty years (from 1708) he was one of the Friday evening lecturers at the Weighhouse, Eastcheap. He was one of the original trustees (1716) of Dr. Daniel Williams's foundations. At the Salters' Hall debates [see Bradbury, Thomas] in 1719, he sided with the non-subscribers. In 1723 he was one of the original distributors of the English regium donum. On 12 April 1727 he succeeded William Tong in the merchants' lecture at Salters' Hall. He received the degree of D.D. from Edinburgh, 8 Nov. 1728, and a similar honour from Aberdeen. Nathaniel Lardner [q. v.] was his colleague in his pastoral charge from 1729; an earlier colleague was John Billingsley the younger (1657–1722) [q. v.] He died, after a short illness, on 25 May 1740, and was buried (30 May) in Dr. Daniel Williams's vault, Bunhill Fields. Funeral sermons were preached by his intimate friend, Benjamin Grosvenor [q. v.] and by Lardner. To Dr. Williams's library he left nearly two thousand volumes; his portrait, now in the library, Gordon Square, London, was presented in 1768 by Lardner's executor; an engraving from it is given in Wilson's ‘Dissenting Churches.’
Harris published much, and, according to Wilson, ranked as ‘the greatest master of the English tongue among the dissenters.’ Among his works are:
- ‘Exposition of the Epistles to Philippians and Colossians,’ in the continuation of Matthew Henry's ‘Exposition,’ 1710, fol.
- ‘Practical Discourses on … Representations of the Messiah, throughout the Old Testament,’ &c., 1724, 8vo (intended as a reply to Anthony Collins).
- ‘Memoirs of … Thomas Manton, D.D.,’ &c., 1725, 8vo.
- ‘Funeral Discourses,’ &c.,