Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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HARRIS , THOMAS ( 1705 - 1782 ),

second son of Howel and Susannah Harris of Trevecka , christened at Talgarth 6 Jan. 1705 . He went to Bath in 1728 , and in 1729 to London , at first as a tailor with his uncle Solomon Powell and afterwards working on his own.

He spent some forty years in London , and after initial misadventures made a large fortune out of army contracts. In 1768 he was sheriff of Brecknock , and bought the estates of Trevecka and Tregunter , rebuilding Tregunter mansion in 1770 . His life in London had been irregular, he was married, but it is not known who his wife was, nor when she d., and he had at least three children. One of these, Elizabeth Robinson , associated with the Trevecka community during her residence at Tregunter ; another, Thomas Robinson , a drunken boor, is known as the husband of the famous actress Mary Darby (‘ Perdita ’ — see D.N.B. ); their daughter was b. at Trevecka House and christened at Talgarth 25 Oct. 1774 . Mrs. Robinson (‘ Perdita has left an unflattering, ‘warts and all’ description of her father-in-law's person and habits in her autobiography, Memoirs of the late Mrs. Robinson written by herself (1803). He did little for her and left his property to his niece, the daughter of his brother Joseph .

Thomas Harris d. 23 Sept. 1782 . Letters which passed between him and his brother Howel are in the Trevecka Collection at the National Library of Wales .

Sources:

  • M. H. Jones , The Trevecka Letters, or the unpublished MSS. correspondence of Howell Harris and his contemporaries , 1932 , 48-51;
  • Cylchgrawn Cymdeithas Hanes y Methodistiaid Calfinaidd , x, 81-5, and further references therein;
  • R. T. Jenkins , Yng nghysgod Trefeca: Ysgrifau ar hanes crefydd a chymdeithas yng Nghymru yn y ddeunawfed ganrif , Caernarfon, 1968.

Author:

Emeritus Professor Robert Thomas Jenkins, C.B.E., D.Litt., Ll.D., F.S.A., (1881-1969), Bangor

Published date: 1959