HARRIS, William I (b.1504), of Radford, Devon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. 10 Mar. 1504, 1st s. of Francis or Richard Harris of Radford by Philippa (d. 8 June 1524), da. of Sir Thomas Grenville of Stowe in Kilkhampton, Cornw. m. by June 1527, Catherine, da. and coh. of Henry Trecarrell of Trecarrell, Cornw., 1s. Christopher 1da. suc. fa. 8 Feb. 1509.1

Offices Held


On his father’s death William Harris became the ward of Philip Harris, Reginald Gayer and Sir John Arundell. The last named may have been either Sir John Arundell of Trerice, whom shortly before his death Francis Harris had appointed one of his feoffees, or his namesake of Lanherne, husband to William’s maternal aunt and brother to Humphrey Arundell, soon to become Philippa Harris’s second husband; this second Sir John was receiver-general of the duchy of Cornwall and father of the Sir John Arundell who was later to be recorder of Launceston. Two years after attaining his majority Harris was accused of destroying, with the connivance of his father-in-law Henry Trecarrell, one of the abbot of Tavistock’s weirs on the Tamar. Trecarrell lived some four miles south-west of the borough of Launceston, of which he was an alderman by 1512, high steward between 1520 and 1532, and later mayor, as well as being a generous benefactor of its parish church and other institutions. It was presumably Trecarrell who secured Harris’s election in 1529 as a Member for one of the two constituencies there, although the nomination was probably also favoured by other influential kinsmen, among them his mother’s cousin Richard Grenville I, a namesake (d.1546) whose home lay three miles away at Stone, and not least the sheriff, his uncle by marriage, John Chamond, who was chief steward of Launceston priory and a former mayor of the borough. Harris probably sat in the following Parliament, when the King asked that the previous Members should be chosen again, and he may have done so in either or both of the next two Parliaments, in 1539 and 1542, the names of the Members being lost.2

Nothing has been discovered about Harris’s later career beyond a petition he presented to Chancellor Wriothesley against Richard Mayo. In this he declared that he had mortgaged lands in Plymstock to the defendant on the understanding that the arrangement should be void if he delivered to Mayo certain quantities of tin at specified times, and that on his failure to do this Mayo had ejected him and his family from the property and had refused to accept his offer of £79, a sum agreed after arbitration by his second cousin John Harris, serjeant-at-law. Although Wriothesley’s judgment has not survived Harris probably won the case, for the property remained in his family’s possession for several generations. At his death, the date of which is unknown, his manor of Radford and other lands in Devon passed with one third of the Trecarrell inheritance to his son.3

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: J. J. Goring


  • 1. Date of birth given at mother’s i.p.m., C142/81/204. Vis. Cornw. ed. Vivian, 206, 209; C1/824/12-13, 826/28; 142/24/5.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, ii, iv; R. and O. B. Peter, Launceston and Dunheved, 31, 176, 180, 184, 306, 312, 401; C142/24/5, 74/31, 81/204; St.Ch.2/30/115.
  • 3. C1/1132/7; R. Carew, Survey Cornw. ed. Halliday, 185; Vis. Cornw. 206.