HARRIS, John (c.1675-1714), of Exeter, Devon.
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Family and Education
b. c.1675, poss. s. of Christopher Harris of Exeter, fuller.
Freeman, Exeter 1691.1
The details of Harris’ parentage have not been ascertained. He appears to have been a prominent Exeter merchant and a man of established Whig credentials. When he stood as a possible contender at the 1705 election, one news writer described him as ‘an eminent merchant in that city’, and he may have been a shipowner. In November 1705 he set up an annuity for poor tradesmen to be distributed ‘in remembrance of the birth and landing of King William of glorious memory and the deliverance of England from popery and arbitrary power’. He was unexpectedly successful against the Tory nominee at a by-election in April 1708, and was unopposed at the general election the following month. Classed as a Whig in a list of this Parliament, and as a ‘gain’ by Lord Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*), he voted in 1709 for the naturalization of the Palatines and the following year for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell. He died in 1714.2