- Born: 27 Apr 1827, Marston, Bedfordshire, England
- Marriage: Jane Barnard on 24 Feb 1846 in Parish Church, Marston, Bedfordshire, England
- Died: 22 Oct 1883, Marston, Bedfordshire, England aged 56
- Buried: Saint Mary The Virgin, Marston, Bedfordshire, England
James Harris was a twin. His sister Ann only lived for a few hours after birth.
According to Joan Harris (MacCrae):
Mary Ann Barnard, (Jane Harris' sister) and Mary Ann's first husband, John Shore, raised James and Jane Harris' daughter; Mary Harris (Wells).
It is known that Mary Ann Barnard was a fiercely religious woman. She felt that the decadent atmosphere of a pub (James Harris owned two of them) was surely no place to raise a fine young lady.
It is thought that, due to her strong disapproval of James' business, that Mary Ann Barnard told young Mary that her Father had two families, one at each pub at the opposite ends of Marston. By doing this it is assumed that Mary Ann was hoping to keep Mary away from her Father's pub's and almost certain moral peril. It is unfortunate that Mary Ann chose to use James as an object of immoral behaviour. Mary Ann Barnard's callous treatment of James (and Jane) caused both Father and Daughter to always have a very distant relationship.
The rumour that James Harris had another family with a mistress seems to have begun here. Amazingly enough, this rumour has travelled down over six generations in the Harris family - and was documented in James Laxer's autobiography - "Red Diaper Baby" less than five years ago.
Archives show that James was married only once to one woman, that being Jane Barnard. There is no documentation of other children born to James Harris other than the ones he parented with Jane Barnard.
But...this rumour is further re-inforced in a letter from James Wells Jr. to Joseph Harris written in 1936. In the letter James Wells refers to this story and even adds to it. In the said letter, James Wells states that his Mother Mary told him that James Harris had also seduced Jane Barnard's sister, Millicent. This seduction supposedly caused the Barnard family to banish James from the "Barnard Menage" as James so eloquently puts it.
This writer has not ever come across any records of a Millicent Barnard. If this reported treachery occurred in reality, it would be easy to understand why "Millie" was exempt from Jane Barnard Harris' family history document.
According to James Wells, "Aunt Millie" never married - he remembers her as a "kindly older woman who wore white lace and had a twinkle in her eye". We must assume then that Millicent did exist. We must also bear in mind that James Wells' information did come from his Mother Mary, who was raised by her Aunt Mary Ann (Barnard) as discussed previously.
This matter is still ongoing research and open for debate. A copy of this letter is in the family database for study and reference.
In the 1851 Census, James & Jane live at #7 Wood End, Marston.
#8 Wood End is occupied by Ann Burridge, the widow of Thomas Burridge. Thomas Burridge was the father in law of James' Aunt Martha (Harris) Burridge. That would make Ann Burridge James' great aunt by marriage.
James married Jane Barnard, daughter of William Barnard and Caroline Ellingham, on 24 Feb 1846 in Parish Church, Marston, Bedfordshire, England. (Jane Barnard was born on 13 Mar 1827 in Egington, Bedfordshire, England, died on 5 Feb 1895 in Marston, Bedfordshire, England and was buried in Saint Mary The Virgin, Marston, Bedfordshire, England.)