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Benares House Gallery
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Title: Letter – Arthur Harris to Mary Magrath 1881
Identifier: 2005.1.163 1-3
Donor: Geoffrey Sayers
Item Date: 1881
Image Creator: Museums of Mississauga
Creation Date: 2006
Location: Benares Historic House

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Description: .1) A handwritten letter in ink on beige translucent paper which is folded. The letter is to Mary from Arthur B. Harris. It refers to Mary staying with her Aunt; Bess having a cold; a letter to Lucy from Lilly Glazebrook; and asks to be remembered to Mrs. Magrath and Minnie. The letter is headed: "Benares May 4th" .2) An envelope addressed to Miss Mary Magrath, 128 Peter Street, Toronto. The envelope is postmarked with one circle on the front "Clarkson, Ont. My 5,8". There is a hole in the envelope where the stamp has been cut out. There are two postmarks on the back of the envelope: 1. "11:30 May 5" and 2. "Toronto, Ont AM My 5 81". .3) Transcript of handwritten letter includes the year 1881 although that is not in the original letter. "81" is postmarked on the envelope addressed to Mary Magrath. The transcript is a single sheet of double-spaced typewritten text on white office paper. At the bottom in brackets: "Miss Magrath living at 128 Peter St." (probably with C. Magrath & wife), has been added. The reverse of the transcript is a text on rising accident frequency and its effect on insurance premiums. History: The items are part of a box of original papers, letters, transcripts, and research notes compiled and transcribed by Geoffrey and Kathleen Sayers. Letter is to Mary Harris from her husband Arthur. Mary Horatia Magrath Harris (1859-1954) was the granddaughter of Reverend James Magrath (1769 1851), who was the first rector of St. Peter's Anglican Church in Erindale. Her parents, Christiana (née Sutherland) and William Melchior Magrath, married in 1856. Christiana died after the birth of her third daughter, Isabel, in 1860. Mary and her two sisters were raised by their aunt, Anna Cordelia Magrath, at Erindale Estate. Both the Magraths and Harrises were members of the St. Peter's Anglican Church and the families knew each other well. It was at church that Mary and Arthur Harris first met and later married in 1881. Mary and Arthur had three children, Annie (1882- 1986), Naomi (1883-1968) and Margaret (1887). Oral tradition suggests that Mary never fully recovered from the sad loss of her third child and she suffered hearing impairment soon after. Mary was a very generous woman and held in high esteem by all who knew her. She enjoyed polishing silver, crocheting, and gardening. Mary died at the age of 94, January 20th, 1956. Arthur Beveridge Harris (1843-1932) was the only surviving son of Elizabeth (née Molony) (1829-1884) and Captain James Beveridge Harris (1797-1884). He later married Mary Magrath (1859-1954) and they had three children, Annie (1882-1986), Naomi (1883-1968), and Margaret (1887) who died shortly after birth. Arthur helped his father with the daily tasks of maintaining a farm. He inherited Benares in 1884, upon the death of his father, Captain Harris. In the same decade, both Arthur and Mary received a number of inheritances that made life easier at Benares. Charles Eneas Magrath (1809-1884) was born in Ireland, the third son of Rev. James Magrath and Mary Douglas. In 1827, he emigrated with his family to Canada and settled at Springfield-on-the-Credit. Charles was of great assistance to the Magrath family when in 1844-45 he went to Ireland to settle some family inheritances. Transcripts of letters Charles received from his father, brothers and sister while away in Ireland make an interesting chronicle of daily life in this area at that time. Charles decided to study Law when he returned and did become a lawyer. He served as Bursar of Trinity College for many years. He married Louisa Newbiggin Stanton, the widow of family friend Robert Stanton.
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