Unfolding the Harris Family Story

Welcome to my Harris Family Website and HARRIS Family Tree

I am documenting my findings about My Harris Ancestors and the discoveries of relatives we never knew existed since the death of Enriquetta Harris.

My Research (and this website) began when my father, by pure chance, read the Sunday Times one rainy Sunday afternoon. The obituary page which he happened to scan, had a name on it that just jumped out at him. A very unusual name, Enriquetta Harris, which he remembered was the same name as a great aunt he had met when he was a boy.

I documented all my findings on this website, which generated a lot of interest. It provided me with a lot of feedback from readers interested in some of the characters discovered along the journey. From a small family of four, we generated a family tree of over two hundred people, and found cousins and other relatives now all over the world. We discovered my father’s half brother who had been adopted, and never knew anything about his bloodline and who now has a real half brother, my father.

Unfortunately, we were never able to discover what my fathers father actually did during the war

I have also created a website, www.tomasharris.com, who was an MI5 controller for Garbo in the war, a famous artist in his own right, and a Fran Goya expert we learned was my father’s, fathers brother. Now that’s another story!

Dads Big Day

Family day out in Oxford

Half brothers Ron and Martin have only known of each others existence for less than a year, and have met three times now.

Yesterday we met in Oxford and the 5 cousins (half cousins to be precise) finally met each other for the very first time. All fourteen of us had a ‘grand day out’ together and had a really wonderful day. It poured outside during lunch, but before we had even finished eating, the sun came out and stayed out for the rest of the day, and we all thoroughly enjoyed the lunch and the glorious walk along the river and through the beautiful city.

So out came the camera, to capture a perfect day.

Click Photo to view the Grand Day Out Photo album

Click photo to view the Oxford Photo family Gallery

OR

Click here for the Slideshow ( then click the full screen icon to view in FULL screen)

Back in 2006 my father had, quite by chance, read Enriqueta Harris’s obituary in the Sunday Times, and recognised her unusual name from one in his own grandfathers will, which clearly stated that my grandfather, William Harris, had three sisters (one called Enriqueta Harris), three brothers (one called Tomas Harris) and was also the son of Lionel Harris, founder of the Spanish Art Galleries in Madrid and London. This was all new to me, and so my own research into  the Harris Family began.

I started by creating a family tree (with my fathers email address as the contact name) on a public website and because of the unusual names on it, it was quickly discovered by a researcher working for Nigel Glendinning, and contact with my father was made, and we met – This was back in November 2009..

I recently received the following document written by Nigel Glendinning –  about Enriqueta and Tomas Harris

I was first in touch with Enriqueta in the late 1950s and early 1960s when I was a Lecturer in the Department of Spanish at Oxford. My research on an eighteenth-century Spanish writer for my doctorate had led to my finding by pure chance Spanish MS materials that were related to one of  Goya,’s Caprichos and I consulted Enriqueta when I  wrote my first Goya article about it. Later I told her I had found  other Goya-related MS in the Ashmolean and the Bodleian and was writing articles about them too. We also worked together as committee members for the GoyaandHisTimesexhibition at the Royal Academy in 1962-63. Enriqueta gave me Tomás’s address in Majorca so that I could tell him what I had found in Oxford: more particularly a copy of Goya’s Tauromaquia with MS title page and list of subjects put together with a set of the Tauromaquia etchings, some still in proof state when Goya was preparing his bull-fighting series for publication.

Tomás came down to Oxford with his wife to look at this and subsequently included references to it in his Goya. EngravingsandLithographs. I continued to write to him and he to me, exchanging gobbets of information now and again. His premature Death in a car crash put an end to our contacts, but of course Enriqueta and I were already good friends and remained so for nearly half a century. When she was house-bound I used to visit her once a fortnight, and I learnt a lot about her family from her as well as from the research I carried out in the Family Records Centre and the Probate office when preparing the piece I wrote for the act of Homage paid her in 2002 by the Fundación Amigos del Museo del Prado. She did not go to Madrid for this occasion, because of her severe mobility problem at that stage.

Tomás and Enriqueta were the youngest children of Lionel Harris’s family and no doubt adored and slightly spoiled by their parents. They were both handsome people as well as exceptionally talented and I was not at all surprised when Enriqueta hinted at some of her early romantic attachments to British and Spanish male art historians, and explained the perils of visiting the collection of Lázaro Galdiano in Madrid when what is now a museum was still that ageing Lothario’s house , inclined to pinch the bottoms of  young female art historians.

Tomás was also an attractive person and multi-talented. Enriqueta told me he often played the piano, and he’d been admitted to the Slade School as an unusually young art student with a scholarship too, I think,  -the details are given in the entry on him in the Dictionary of National Biography written by Anthony Blunt. His prints and paintings show his delight in the naked female body and carry a considerable erotic charge. No doubt his fondness for fast cars –he arrived at the Ashmolean driving an open tourer (definitely not red in my recollection, black or maybe grey more likely), tallish and arty looking I’d say- also attracted the opposite sex too.. No doubt his charm and his sharp eye for quality works of art made him a highly successful art dealer when he took over the family Art Gallery from his father.

There is a strongly imaginative streak in his Art work and his self-portraits show that he enjoyed working in a variety of styles, which he seems to have used as a kind of disguise, so maybe he developed a taste for things through art which would have been useful during his time at MI5. Enriqueta wasn’t involved in undercover work at all. She worked for the Ministry of Information in the Spanish Section from 1942 to 1946, keeping a sharp eye on the Spanish Press I imagine and vetting broadcasts by Spanish exiles working for the World Service of the BBC.

With regard to the politics of the family, Enriqueta had been involved with Jewish scholars in exile from Nazi Germany and Austria at the Warburg Institute when it was first transferred to London. I think Lionel Harris helped to support  the German art historian, August Mayer, employing him to give expertise on paintings. The family also helped Spanish exiles during and after the Spanish Civil War. Enriqueta also got involved with the Basque children when they came to Britain to escape the perils of the war and were billeted with supportive British families. Enriqueta drove round to make sure they were happily settled and to sort out any potential problems.

Enriqueta’s obituary – Times Online

Last month, Martin and his wife Gill met my parents and sister for the first time and got to know each other a little over a memorable lunch at my parents house. Now I really cant wait to meet my new Half Uncle and Gill, and my new Cousins and their families in the New Year.

Martin emailed me some lovely photographs, so that I don’t feel too left out and so that I  know what they all look like.  These can also be viewed in the  HARRIS Family Photo Gallery .

I have also added Martins family to the HARRIS FAMILY TREE.

Ron (left) and Martin - New Half Brothers Martin and Gill  Sharon, Julie  and Mark - My New CousinsJulie and JohnJane, Oliver and SharonMark and KareneGrandson Jack - Mark and Karenes Son

Interestingly,  Martin Goodall was named “William Maurice Evans” on his original birth certificate.

William was Martins fathers name (my grandfather).

Maurice was Williams Brothers name.

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