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Harris, George (1831–1891)

Mr. George Harris, of the well-known Queen street firm of Messrs. George Harris and Co., died very suddenly at his residence, Bankside, North Quay, on Saturday evening at half-past 6 o'clock. He had been ill for only sixteen hours, and Dr. Bendle, who attended him, certified that death had resulted from acute laryngitis, or swelling in the throat. The deceased gentleman took so ill early on Saturday morning that medical aid had to be sent for, and at 6 o'clock his son (Mr. J. E. Harris) was summoned. The latter promptly answered the summons, and remained with his father until the end. The old gentleman passed away quietly, dying in his son's arms. The late Mr. George Harris had attained the age of 60 years, and leaves a widow and grown-up family of four —namely, Mrs. R. G. Casey, of Normanby station; Mrs. G. O. Taylor, of Bellevue, Esk district; Mr. J. E. Harris; and Mr. George E. Harris. The deceased was born in England, and arrived in Australia when only 2 years of age. After being educated and obtaining some knowledge of business, he entered into partnership with his brother, Mr. John Harris, under the name of Messrs. J. and G. Harris, merchants. The firm was dissolved some years after. Mr. Harris then embarked in business as a merchant on his own account under the style of Messrs. George Harris and Co. In this business he remained until his death. The deceased gentleman was well known in social circles, and there still remain in the minds of a large circle of sorrowing friends pleasant reminiscences of many a happy evening passed at Newstead, where he resided until quite recently. About thirty-two years ago he was wedded to Miss Jane Thorn, daughter of the late Mr. George Thorn, sen., who resided at Clermont, Ipswich, and sister of the Hon. George Thorn, of Ipswich. Besides being a prominent merchant in this city, the deceased was American Consul here for about twenty-five years. He was a member of the Upper House of the first Parliament of Queensland.

A correspondent writes:—"The late Mr. Harris spent his early youth in Victoria and New South Wales, and like most Australian young men of spirit worked at the diggings in the former place, his 'mates' (if I remember rightly) being Captain Sholl and the late Donald Coutts, of Jondaryan and Bulimba. Mr. Harris, with his brother John, his sister and mother arrived in Brisbane about 1847, and carried on business first at South Brisbane, and afterwards at Short-street, on a site purchased from the late Hon. James Gibbon. The late Mr. George Harris was a gentleman of great vital business energy and hospitality. The writer has known him in 1866 and 1887 to clear out and pile up the merchandise in his capacious store at the Short-street wharf, cover it up with red and blue blankets and white calico in a decorative style, and give a grand dance and supper on the premises to the leading people of Brisbane, the proceedings lasting till 4 a.m., when he, having shaken hands with the last guest, would set to work, replace the merchandise, and be at full swing of business again at 9 a.m., without one minute of sleep, and without having lost a moment of the working business hours in the twenty-four. But "sanitary" science (from a municipal standpoint) was then unknown in Brisbane, and everyone was strong and healthy."

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'Harris, George (1831–1891)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/harris-george-3907/text25118, accessed 24 November 2017.

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