HARRIS, Christopher (c.1553-1625), of Radford, Devon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. c.1553, 1st s. of William Harris of Radford by Catherine, da. and coh. of Henry Trecarell of Trecarell, Cornw. m. (1) Barbara (d.1598) da. of John Arscott of Dunsland, Devon, 1s. d.v.p.; (2) Bridget, da. of Richard Grenville II, of Stowe, Cornw., s.p. Kntd. 1607.

Offices Held

Servant of the 2nd Earl of Bedford by 1578-85, then of Sir Walter Ralegh; j.p. Cornw., Devon from 1591; dep. (to Ralegh) v.-adm. Devon 1596, v.-adm. 1600; acting capt. Plymouth fort 1601.


Harris was returned at Plymouth through the influence of the 2nd Earl of Bedford, whose servant he was and at whose funeral in 1585 he was a gentleman usher. As far as is known he took no part in the affairs of his only Parliament: references in the 1584 parliamentary journals to a ‘Mr. Harris’ are probably to Thomas Harris I. After Bedford’s death he began acting for Sir Walter Ralegh in local administrative matters. He was appointed a commissioner to investigate a ‘suspicious hulk’ in 1589, and three years later, after assisting Ralegh in taking care of the prizes brought in by the Madre de Dios, he was appointed to look after the carrack. Upon Sir John Gilbert’s death in 1596, Ralegh appointed Harris deputy vice-admiral, and, after the arrest of Sir Ferdinando Gorges, Harris took charge of Plymouth fort, submitting a report to the Privy Council on essential repairs in 1602. Harris, whose small estate was in Devon, took the oath of supremacy in Cornwall, and was active in both counties. Harris was at one and the same time country gentleman, servant of a great man and efficient local official. He worked for Ralegh right up to the latter’s downfall (which affected his life not at all), afterwards continuing active in local affairs until his death.

Biographical details come from the Roberts thesis.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: P. W. Hasler