George Harris, 3rd Baron Harris

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Harris
George Francis Robert Harris by Richard Beard, 1840s.jpg
George Harris in the 1840s
Governor of Madras Presidency
In office
28 April 1854 – 28 March 1859
Preceded by Daniel Eliott (acting)
Succeeded by Sir Charles Edward Trevelyan
Governor of Trinidad
Personal details
Born (1810-08-14)14 August 1810
Belmont, Kent, United Kingdom
Died 23 November 1872(1872-11-23) (aged 62)
United Kingdom
Nationality British
Religion Christian

George Francis Robert Harris, 3rd Baron Harris GCSI (14 August 1810 – 23 November 1872), was a British peer, Liberal politician and colonial administrator. He served as the Governor of Trinidad from 1846 to 1854 and Madras from 1854 to 1859.

Harris was born to William Harris, 2nd Baron Harris and his wife Eliza Selina Anne on 14 August 1810 and educated at Merton College, Oxford and Christ College, Oxford. Harris joined the Liberal Party and served as the Governor of Trinidad from 1846 to 1854 and Madras from 1854 to 1859. Harris retired as Governor of Madras in 1859 and died in England in 1872 at the age of 62.

Early life and education

Harris was born on 14 August 1810 to William Harris, 2nd Baron Harris and his wife Eliza Selina Anne. He was the grandson of George Harris, 1st Baron Harris, who had commanded the army of the British East India Company in the Fourth Mysore War. Harris had his early education at Eton College and under the private tutorship of Rev. John Shaw before joining Merton College, Oxford in 1829. Harris completed his matriculation from Merton College and graduated in arts from Christ Church, Oxford in 1832.

Governor of Trinidad

Harris was beset will ill-health and remained bed-ridden for some time in the city of Pau in France where he worked for a time for the Church of England. In 1846, Harris was appointed Governor of Trinidad.

Harris served as Governor of Trinidad from 1846 to 1854. During his tenure, Harris revamped the prevailing education system thereby laying down the foundation for the present-day system of education prevailing in Trinidad. Harris also mooted the idea of importing indentured labourers from India to replace the plantation slaves who had been freed following the abolition of slavery. Harris is considered to be one of Trinidad's best ever administrators though he had also been criticized for favouring his own men in appointments.

Governor of Madras

Soon after taking over as Governor of Madras, Harris found grave deficiencies in the police system in the Presidency and reorganised the force introducing reforms that would eventually give rise to the Indian police as it exists today. On 1 July 1856, Harris flagged off the first regular passenger train service in the province between the city of Madras and the town of Arcot. The University of Madras was established in 1857 when Harris was the Governor. In September 1854, Harris headed the Torture Commission appointed to investigate the allegations of torture inflicted on Indian peasants by revenue officials.

Throughout his tenure, Harris was critical of the attitude of the Anglo-Indian press in Madras and tried to regulate the freedom of the press. He criticized them as

disloyal in tone, un-English in spirit, and wanting in every principle

When the Indian Rebellion of 1857 broke out, the province of Madras remained loyal to the British Crown. As a result, Harris lent the whole Madras Army to the Government of India for quelling the rebellion. The Madras Army participated in the relief of Cawnpore in which Lieutenant-Colonel James George Smith Neill of the Madras Fusiliers indulged in indiscriminate massacre of Indians and was eventually killed. However, there is also evidence that suggests that one of the 52 regiments of the Madras Army refused to volunteer for service during the mutiny.[1]

Harris continued even after the transfer of sovereignty over India from the British East India Company to the British crown in 1858, eventually resigning as Governor in 1859.

Later life and death

Lord Harris died in November 1872, aged 62, and was succeeded in the barony by his son Robert Harris, 4th Baron Harris, who became a successful cricketer and Conservative politician.


Lord Harris married Sarah, daughter of the Venerable George Cummons, Archdeacon of Trinidad, in 1850. She died only three years later.

Political offices
Preceded by
The Lord Byron
Succeeded by
The Lord Talbot of Malahide
Government offices
Preceded by
Henry George Macleod
Governor of Trinidad
Succeeded by
L. Bourchier (acting)
Preceded by
Daniel Eliott (acting)
Governor of Madras
Succeeded by
Sir Charles Trevelyan
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
William Harris
Baron Harris
Succeeded by
Robert George Canning Harris


  1. David, Saul (2003), The Indian Mutiny: 1857, London: Penguin Books, p. 19, ISBN 0-14-100554-8<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>