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HARRIS, JOSEPH (1704 - 1764), Assay-master at the Mint

Name: Joseph Harris
Date of birth: 1704
Date of death: 1764
Spouse: Anne Harris (née Jones)
Child: Anna Maria Hughes (née Harris)
Parent: Susanna Harris (née Powell)
Parent: Howell Harris
Gender: Male
Occupation: Assay-master at the Mint
Area of activity: Economics and Money; Public and Social Service, Civil Administration
Authors: Robert Thomas Jenkins, Llewelyn Gwyn Chambers

Eldest son of Howel and Susannah Harris of Trevecka, and brother of Howel and of Thomas Harris. He was christened at Talgarth 16 Feb. 1703/4. After working as a blacksmith with his maternal uncle Thomas Powell, he went to London in 1724, was brought to the notice of Halley the astronomer-royal, and was sent on two voyages to the West Indies (1725, 1730-2) to test mathematical instruments used in navigation. He was then for a while private tutor, but in 1737 became deputy to the Assay-master at the Mint (with quarters in the Tower), and in 1748 Assay-master. He wrote some important works, among them A Treatise on Navigation, 1730; The Description and Uses of the Celestial Globe and Orrery, 1729, of which ten editions appeared before 1768; An Essay Upon Money and Coins, 1757; and A Treatise upon Optics (posthumous, 1775).

Joseph Harris was author of several anonymous works on astronomy and mathematics and invented the ‘New Azimuth Compass’ and ‘Forestaff’. Government ministers were often advised by him (unbeknown to many because of his shyness) and he received a pension of £300 per annum from the king from 1753. To a great extent he was responsible for standardising the U.K.'s weights and measures mid — 18th c.

His contacts with his family and his countryside remained close; in particular he strove vainly to inculcate prudence into his brother Howel (e.g. he came down to Trevecka in 1735, expressly to convey Howel to Oxford for his matriculation), and there are 81 letters of his in the Trevecka collection at the National Library of Wales, besides 49 letters from Howel to him; it may be noted too that Joseph Harris was one of the promoters of the pioneer Brecknockshire Agricultural Society in 1755. There are two references to him in the Morris Letters (i, 183, ii, 46 — the latter noting a guinea given by him to Goronwy Owen); another letter by Richard Morris (Cymm., xlix, 963) refers to Harris's part in the standardization of weights and measures; and he was a member of the Cymmrodorion Society. He d. 26 Sept. 1764; he was buried in the Tower. His wife (d. May 1763) was Anne, daughter and co-heiress of his former neighbour Thomas Jones of Tredustan. Their daughter, ANNA MARIA HARRIS, m. SAMUEL HUGHES (he was one of the witnesses of the marriage of Elizabeth, Howel Harris's daughter); to her was left the property of her uncle Thomas Harris; and so it was that Samuel Hughes, ‘of Tregunter,’ became sheriff of his county in 1790. Their daughter, AMELIA SOPHIA HUGHES, m. firstly Roderick Gwynne and secondly William Alexander Madocks, see D. R. Hughes in Cylch. Cymd. Hanes M.C., xxiii, 118-21.

Mr. E. G. Millward points out that in J. E. Griffith, Pedigrees, 315, Mrs. Madocks is styled ‘Eliza Anne’; so too in Cynhaiarn MS. 80 at U.C.N.W., a document reciting that Madocks ‘bequeathed all his estate unto his wife Eliza Anne Madocks’; she is so styled also in Cynhaiarn MS. 79. This lady cannot have been a second wife of Madocks, for there is ample evidence (including these manuscripts) that after her husband's death she retired to Tregunter, Talgarth, her uncle's bequest to her. Yet, Theophilus Jones (Hist. Brecknock, 3rd ed., iii, 47, but here reproducing the first and contemporary ed.) distinctly states that Samuel Hughes and his wife had only one daughter; and the record of this daughter's christening (17 June 1786) names her ‘Amelia Sophia.’ Clearly, we have here one and the same person. It may be that she disliked her loyal but portentous baptismal names, and adopted simpler names — and this before her first marriage (to Roderick Gwynne), for Poole (Brecknockshire, 102) calls her ‘Eliza Anne Hughes’ in his reference to that marriage. It may be added that her daughter, too, who m. J. W. Roche and lived at Tregunter, was called ‘Eliza Anne’ — her tombstone styles her ‘Eliza Anna Ermina’ (Theophilus Jones, op. cit., iii, 53).

Authors

Published date: 1959

Article Copyright: http://rightsstatements.org/page/InC/1.0/

Corrections

HARRIS, JOSEPH (1704 - 1764).

See ‘Etifeddion Harrisiaid Trefeca’ in R.T. Jenkins, Yng Nghysgod Trefeca, (1968). Eliza Anne was one of the daughters of Samuel Hughes, not the only daughter — her sister Amelia Sophia had d. in 1794. Her first husband (1804) was Roderick Gwynne, Buckland. He d. 20 Mar. 1808, and she m. William Alexander Madocks, 2 Apr. 1818.

Author

  • Evan David Jones, (1903 - 1987), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1997

Article Copyright: http://rightsstatements.org/page/InC/1.0/

Corrections