Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Harris Family Crest

The Name and Family of Harris

It is claimed by some authorities that the name of Harris is of Welsh origin and means “son of Harry.” The Christian name of Harry is a diminutive form of Henry, which was originally German. Its meaning is “chief or head of the house.” Hence, the probable meaning of Harris is “son of the head of the house.”

About 1086 one Hericues of France has a son who was called Ivo Fitz Herice or de Heris. Many of the branches of the Harris family are descended from Ivo, who became Viscount of Nottingham before 1130. The sons of Ivo were Ralph Hauseline, Robert Fitz Herice, William de Heris of Nottingham, and Humphrey Harris of Berks. The difference in surnames of men belonging to the same family, which occurs here, was quite usual at that time.

It is believed that from this line were descended most of the numerous branches which were to be found in England and Wales in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In the eighteenth century members of the family emigrated to Ireland, but the greater portion of these soon went on to America.

John Harris, of Wiltshire, England, bought from William Penn in 1681 the right to lands in the proposed Colony of Pennsylvania. These lands he left to his son, John and also Edward. The brothers, however, sold the lands, and the sons of the elder of the two, John, are believed to have been the first of this line to emigrate to America. The name of these emigrants were William, John, and Thomas.

Thomas appears on the records of Chester County, Pa., in 1747. John is on record in 1754 in Bucks County, Pa., and William came to Philadelphia from Ireland, where he had lived for some time in 1742.

John Harris, of Charlestown, Mass. (not the John mentioned above), married Amy Hills at Charlestown in 1658. Their children were Samuel, John, Thomas (died early), Thomas, and Joseph. Joseph, the youngest son of John, was the father by his wife, Naomi Stevens, of Joseph, Jonathan, Amos, Samuel, Naomi, Mary, Josiah, and Huldah.

Another of the name to settle in Charlestown was Thomas Harris, who, with his wife, Elizabeth, came from England in 1630. Anthony, Daniel, John, Thomas, Ann, and William are believed to have been their children.

The date when Robert Harris, of Gloucestershire, removed to America is not certain, but his name is on record in Roxbury, Mass., as having married Elizabeth Boffee (or Boughey) in 1642. The children of this marriage were Elizabeth, John, Timothy, Daniel, and Priscilla.

James Harris, of Boston, married Sarah Deccison in 1666 and had by her eleven children; Sarah, Deborah, James, Margaret (died early), Asa, Elizabeth, Mary (died early), Hannah, Ephriam (died early), Mary, and Ephriam.

The eldest son of James and Sarah, Lieutenant James Harris, had issue by his wife, Sarah Rogers, of Sarah, James, Mary, Jonathan, Alpheus (died early), Abigail, Lebbeus, Alpheus, and Deligh.

Another James Harris, progenitor of the New Jersey branch of the family, emigrated from the city of Bristol, Somersetshire, England, to Essex County, New Jersey, about 1725. He married a Miss Boleyn and had Abigail, Thomas, George, John, and three other sons whose names are not certain.

Captain Thomas Harris, a member of the Virginia Company in 1609, was probably the first of the name to settle in America. He made his home in Virginia in the year 1611. Captain Harris married, first, Adrea Osborne, and had one son, Robert. By his second wife, Joane, he had three children, Thomas, William, and Mary.

Others of the Harris family to settle in Virginia were Sir William Harris, who came from Grixes, England, and was one of the incorporators of the third Virginia Charter; and Henry Harris, who came to Virginia in 1691 and was given a grant of land by King William of England.

Those of the Harris family who fought as officers in the war of the Revolution were Lieutenant Arthur, of Maryland; Lieutenant Benjamed, of Virginia; Captain David, of Pennsylvania; Lieutenant Edward, of Vermont; Lieutenant-Colonel Francis Henry, of Virginia; Surgeon Jacob, of New Jersey; Lieutenant- Colonel James, of Virginia; Lieutenant John, of Virginia; Lieutenant Jordan, of Virginia; Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph, of Connecticut; Ensign Joseph, of Rhode Island; Captain Josiah, of Mass; Captain Robert, of Maryland; Lieutenant Robert, of Massachusetts; Major Thomas, of North Carolina; Surgeon Tucker, of South Carolina; Lieutenant West, of North Carolina; and Lieutenant William, of Pennsylvania.

The favorite Christian names of the family for its male members were William, Thomas, John, and Joseph.

-- Compiled by Media Research Bureau
Washington, D.C.

The Harris Coat of Arms

A Coat of Arms is an emblem or a device which is displayed by titled persons, persons of royal blood, and their descendants. Coats of Arms were originally used for purposes of identification and recognition on the field of battle as well as in civic life.

It is claimed by some writers that Coats of Arms, in a crude form, were used by Noah’s sons after the flood. There are records of other coats of arms, in one crude form or another, at different periods of ancient history. Heraldry, however, as we know it today, did not become of much importance until soon after the invasion of England by William the Conqueror, A.D. 1066.

The Harris Coat of Arms is the basic arms of the Welsh family of Harris. The ancestors of the Earls of Malmesbury bore this coat, and it forms part of their insignia today. In a simpler form, and with different motto and crest, it is the Arms of the descendents of William de Heriz, who came to England from France in the middle of the twelfth century.

Coats of Arms similar to this are used by Baron Harris; the Harrises of Radford, county Devon; of Radford Boreatton, county Salop, Bowden; and many others. Numerous other branches of the Harris family had coats of arms resembling it.

This is the most widely used of all Harris Coats of Arms and had been in existence for many centuries. It is described in “Burke’s General Armory”, “Burke’s Landed Gentry”, “Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage”, and other reliable works of heraldry, in many cases accompanied by illustrations and pedigrees. It had been used for generations by many American branches of the Harris family.

Sir Bernard Burke, of Heralds College, London, said; “Heraldry is prized by all who can show honorable ancestry or wish to found honorable families.”

Besides its family significance this Coat of Arms makes an excellent mural decoration and inspires the admiration and comment of all who see it.

It is quite appropriate that members of the Harris family who have a pride in their ancestry should display the family Coat of Arms, in proper colors.


Heraldic Language
Arms Azure, a chevron ermine between three hedgehogs
Crest A hedgehog
Motto Ubique patriam reminisci

English Description
Arms An ermine chevron between three golden hedgehogs on a blue shield
Crest A golden hedgehog
Motto To remember your county everywhere

(From: J. Montgomery Seaver’s Harris Family Records published by the American Historical-Genealogical Society.)

Battle Hymn of Harris
(Tune: “Battle Hymn of the Republic”)

There’s something strong and mighty in a good old family name;
The name of Harris shineth high upon the scroll of fame;
For nearly all the Harrises pursue a lofty aim.
The clan goes marching on!

Chorus: Glory to the sons of Harry,
Virile, worthy, brave and loyal!
Yes, “patriam reminisci!”
The clan goes marching on!

Ivo Fitz Herice was the father of our clan;
Posterity of Edward, John, and Samuel never ran;
Tom and James were virile, Robert was a sturdy man.
The clan goes marching on!

James and Henry were the faithful servants of the Crown;
Thad was secretary to a statesman of renown;
John Harris was the founder of a Pennsylvania town.
The clan goes marching on!

Herbert was a hostage for King James in twenty-three;
Captain Thomas saved the lives of many men at sea;
Every Harris can be proud of Harris pedigree.
The clan goes marching on!

Our Saxon family cherishes tradition of the past;
With the world’s great movements they have all their fortunes cast
They are “lords and masters” and are loyal to the last.
The clan goes marching on!

The Harris Clan is mighty-- nearly half a million strong;
In seventy-six, a thousand kinsman fought to right a wrong;
Forty towns bear Harris names. Sure, let us sing that song--
The clan goes marching on!

When danger threatened country or a battle to be won;
Or righteous causes need defenders or work to be done;
Brave Harrises were there, and never did a Harris run.
The clan goes marching on!

The Harris sons have courage any task or foe to face;
The Harris girls are lovely with their beauty, charm, and grace;
The Harris leaven is a blessing to the human race.
The clan goes marching on!


  1. Genealogy research led me here today. Not sure if/where I fit into the chain, but I have found solid references to my paternal lineage to Iowa, US and hinted-at references to Pennsylvania, so that would be my guess.

  2. Not sure why I am showing up as Unknown. I am William Harris. I live in Seattle, WA. If you would like contact info, just ask.

    1. Hi William. I am busily working on my Harris family name heritage and noticed your comment on this blog. I have a brother William who was named after my grandfather William Edwin Harris of Minnesota/North Dakota/MIchigan. If you'd care to drop me an email at pwhitakeronedge@gmail.com.. :)

    2. Any family in Kansas? I have me an a brother named of harris-Ham mother named breeh Harris with a Uncle John harris

  3. From Cape Town South Africa - Got my surname from my Grandfather that was Muslim. I guess the Harris clan dabbed a bit into other religions too??

    1. Hi Winston.. I am intrigued by your comment post to this blog. Quite by accident I happened onto it. I've always been curious about how the Harris name fit in with the dark-skinned and white-skinned Harrises so that really caught my eye. I am a Harris of the white variety. and would be very interested in chatting with you about family backgrounds if you'd care to... you can reach me at pwhitakeronedge@gmail.com. Hoping to hear from you! Regards, Patricia Whitaker

  4. William Harris of Seattle here again. Some of my previous research seems to have been misled. I now have confirmed connections to a piece of property in West Virginia (an oil company, of all people, contacted my sister about locating descendants of a landowner there to pay oil drilling royalties to). So, here's hoping I can narrow that research down.

  5. Imogen Harris- Born and Proud :)

  6. Tony Harris. Just starting to look into my family history. Still a lot of unknowns at this point. There is a family bible that I would like to get a hold of. Not sure who currently has it. I live in AZ. My Dad's family lives in Georgia & North Carolina.

    1. My Dad's family is in Georgia too. Are you by chance Donald Lee Harris's half brother??

  7. Tony Harris. Just starting to look into my family history. Still a lot of unknowns at this point. There is a family bible that I would like to get a hold of. Not sure who currently has it. I live in AZ. My Dad's family lives in Georgia & North Carolina.

  8. Ronnie Harris my great grand father was Frank Harris of the Isham Harris I have a complete ancestry on ancestry .com just trying to find family from my line which is direct descent of the De Beaugency line

    1. Any family in Kansas? I have me an a brother named of harris-Ham mother named breeh Harris with a Uncle John harris

  9. Ronnie Harris my great grand father was Frank Harris of the Isham Harris I have a complete ancestry on ancestry .com just trying to find family from my line which is direct descent of the De Beaugency line

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. I also know this sounds strange as well but I somehow always end up being connected extremely close to dark skinned people. Racism is a huge thing in this world we live in today but I grasped to concept that no one can give a legit excuse as to why after all these years its still as strong as it is. I'm strongly interested if down the line I may have dark skinned heritage.

  12. Ronnie Harris here currently residing in West Virginia but I go by Junior on the reason of my suffix Jr. Curiosity drove me here. Googled my name being curious as I am to find nothing at all. No Records at all. So I started at the beginning trying to figure out where Harris began. Quite intriguing stuff here aha

  13. Hello my name is Janice Lewis my mother's family name is Harris from Tazewell County VA. The family spans before sides of the border of Va and WV.

  14. This website has 37 different arms for Harris:

  15. my fathers line are from East Kent Uk and travelled in a circuit carting and blacksmithing. The firstborn sons were called Frank and were thought to originaly be Gypsy.Names like Rosina Sunday, George Swan and Jubilee support this.I am B+ blood (known as the nomadic group) and presumed the name was from the Northern Indian Jat Gypsy Hari's-'Sons of God'.However now Im told we may be from Suffolk, Celtic Iceni, in which case it means Happy Shining!Our Gypsy Harris's marry into the Smiths, Waynes and Farrs-many of whom are blond and grey eyed. My uncle Roy's first wife was one of the last showman entertainers with Two Ton Tesse.

  16. I'm looking for parents of David Bowen Harris (1818-1894) from probably Salem, New Jersey. Not sure how we fit in...

  17. Hello, just checked in, Im Marlone Harris, Grandson of ARthur G Harris, descendant of William Harris, Heir of the Family coat of arms. nice to see some of my relatives here. Im certian im the few Black people on the family tree and proud to carry the HARRIS name.

  18. Hello, I'm Barbara Harris, daughter of Joseph James Harris. Its very interesting to know our history and coat of arms.

  19. Hello, I am Jeffrey Chad Harris (San Diego), son of Harlan Ray Harris (Dallas), son of William Ray Harris (Dallas). I have fathered Loralei Lavon Harris and Katherine Grace Harris.