|Description: An eye shaped hair brooch surrounded with an inner white and blue enamel border with an outer border of white seed pearls. The hair is brown and is arranged so that it looks like it is woven. The hair is covered with glass. |
History: This brooch belonged to Matilda Lindsay (c.1802-1887), Captain James Harrisís sister who lived in Perth in Scotland. Matilda Lindsay was a consistent correspondent with her brother and sent many care packages to Captain Harris and his family. In a list of jewellery she sent to Canada c. 1882, Matilda lists a hair locket with stones that look like diamonds surrounding it. The hair inside belonged to Major General John Harris ( c.1743-1833), Matilda and Captain Harrisís father.
Hair jewellery's popularity began in the 17th century with the custom of distributing mourning rings with a lock of the deceasedís hair. The trend grew and increased in variety in the 18th and 19th centuries. Queen Victoria is credited with the English fascination with hair jewellery as she often wore and gave hair jewellery throughout her life. By the mid-19th century hair was no longer only used under glass in lockets or rings but made into entire pieces of jewellery. Hair was woven into intricate designs and pieces including bracelets, watch chains, earrings, etc. Hair jewellery was popular in France, England and the United States.
Major General John Harris had the most illustrious career of all the Harris military men. Little is known about his childhood and early life other than he was the eldest son of William Harris. His father died around the age of thirty-two some time in the mid 1760s. John did have two siblings, a sister, Susan, and an unnamed brother who served as a midshipman and is said to have died early in life in the West Indies.
John Harris first joined the army in the Royal Regiment of Artillery as a Gentleman Cadet in August 1779. He rose fairly quickly through the ranks becoming Second Lieutenant in May 1781, First Lieutenant in 1790, Captain Lieutenant in 1794 and Captain in November 1800. His career further advanced when he became a Major in 1805, Lieutenant Colonel in 1808 and Colonel in 1814.His final rank of Major General was achieved in 1825. Two months later he retired from active duty. He died in Plymouth, England, 12 September 1833.
John married Margaret Marshall, daughter of Thomas Marshall, Esq., in 1788. Despite transferring from post to post, John and Margaret were able to have six children, two girls and four boys. All four boys served in the military including his third son Captain James Beveridge Harris (1797-1884) of the 24th Regiment of Foot who settled in Upper Canada at Benares.