The Family of a South African Mercer


The Ancestry of John Henry Harris

1.     John Henry HARRIS b. 10 May 1826, St Helena Island, m. 30 Nov 1850, in Jamestown, St Helena Island, Eloise Grove O'CONNOR, b. 1 Oct 1827, St Helena Island, d. 25 Jul 1900, Lady Grey, Cape, RSA, buried: Lady Grey, Cape, RSA. John died 14 May 1914, Lady Grey, Cape, RSA.


During his early life on the Island of St. Helena, John Henry worked as a storekeeper for the Liberated African Establishment, which had been brought into existence at the time of the abolution of the slave trade. During this time Her Majesties ships were cruising St. He4lena waters, capturing slavers and bringing them to the Island where the slaves were eventually liberated.

He came out to South Africa sometime between 1854 and 1856 settling first at Aliwal North and then moving to the fledgling community of Lady Grey in 1861/2.

Lady Grey only became a town in 1861 with the formation of the D.R. Church congregation, so it can be seen that the Harris family were one of the very first families to settle in the town.

John Henry was appointed Post Master of the town by the Governor of the Cape on the 19th July 1864 at a salary of six pounds per annum, plus commission. He had donated one of the rooms of his house to be used for the Post Office, and this served its purpose until a Post Office was built in the town in 1878.


In total, John Henry Harris served the town of Lady Grey for a period of thirty-four years, fist as Post Master, and as Justice of the Peace, a position he accepted in 1868. He also served on the commision to draw up aschool regulations and had his name attached to a list guarenteeing a specific amount per year, for three years, to assist in the running of the school. This commission formed the fist school committee and John Henry audited the books.

He also served on a school management committee to investigate the building of a school and hostel, becoming a shareholders representative in the school, when it was decided to raise funds for the school by offering shares.

He also owned a Trading Store in the town, which sold grain, etc. During the Boer War, the boers came into the shop and took all the stock, leaving a receipt for what they had taken, which proved to be worthless because the Transvaal Republic was bankrupt at the time.

It can thus be seen that he was active in the affairs of the community and that he undoubtedly made a valuable contribution to the development of Lady Grey.

A Photograph of John Henry Harris and his wife Eloise Grove hang in the Lady Grey Council Offices.



2. Henry Boyce HARRIS m. 13 Aug 1825, in Jamestown, St Helena Island, Edith SMITH.

3. Edith SMITH.


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This page last updated on the 23 May 2011

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