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Emily Lucy (Em) Harris (1851–1937)

Very early on Sunday morning, May 30th, 1937, there passed gently and peacefully to her eternal life and rest, Emily Lucy Louisa, relict of the late Hamlyn Lavicount Harris, of Wermatong, Tumut. The deceased lady was 85 years of age, and with her the last member in her generation of a pioneer family passed on. She was the daughter of late George Shelley, who settled on Bombowlee in 1830-31, and a few years later bought the Tumut Plains grant from the original grantee, Mr. Rose. Mrs. Harris was born at Tumut Plains House (now Camelot) on Sept. 14, 1851, being the youngest child of the family. A few months later Mr. George Shelley, while travelling to Melbourne with cattle, contracted typhoid fever and died in Melbourne. The little girl with her brothers and sisters was brought up by her widowed mother, her education being entrusted to governesses until she went at the age of 15 to Miss Henrichson's Young Ladies' College in the building called 'Springfield,' in Macleay St., Sydney.

In 1863 there arrived from England the future husband of Emily Shelley, who spent the first night at the Tumut Plains House and then proceeded to Blowering where for some years he gained 'Colonial Experience' with the late E. G. Brown, M.P.

In 1872 Emily Shelley was united in the bonds of holy matrimony with Hamlyn L. Harris, and shortly after wards Brown and Harris bought the Tumut Plains run from Mrs. George Shelley and settled in a selection homestead named 'Wermatong' (the name being given to it by George Shelley, junr., who had selected the area) after another Wermatong established by an other member of the Shelley family on the Upper Murray. The grandfather of these men and of Mrs. Harris and the original pioneer, was William Shelley, who came to Otaheti (Tahiti) in the ship 'Duff,' in 1797, with a party of missionaries who included among other well-known names those of Hassall, Oakes and Harper. In later life, the missionary William Shelley settled in Parramatta and his sons pushed on to Goulburn and Tumut, George becoming the father of the Tumut branch of the family.

Mr. and Mrs, Harris remained for the rest of their lives at Wermatong, eventually acquiring 3-5ths of the original Tumut Plains grant. With two short respites, when they visited England and India respectively, they lived a busy happy life developing the property and rearing their family of five sons and seven daughters all of whom remain and were present at Wermatong during the past week. With one exception, all are married. The names of deceased's children are as follows: Mrs. A. N. Stacy, Camelot, Tumut; Mrs. J. D. Mecham, Benalla, Victoria; Noel H. Harris, Oxley, Gilmore; Mrs. E. Nixon, Bunnydoon, Dunedoo; Lt. Col. G. H. L. Harris, First Light Horse; Mrs. E. Walker, The Rectory, Wollongong; Miss Edna Harris, Wermatong, Tumut; Mrs. R. Hamlyn-Harris, Corinda, Queensland; Clement D. Harris, Bank of New South Wales, Victoria; Dr. G. T. H. Harris, Launceston, Tasmania; Vernon H. L. Harris, Wermatong, Tumut. There are 33 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.

Mrs. Harris was possessed of a wonderful constitution, abounding energy and a happy and courageous nature. Until the actual eve of her death she never relinquished her personal responsibility for the comfort and being of the members of her household. She was a truly devoted wife and mother, and the correspondence which she carried on with the distant members of her family, was amazing. She retained her interests in affairs until the last, being very interested in the Coronation news. Her lively interest in the European situation was tinged with the personal reminiscences of her own anxiety during the Great War, when for almost the whole period her four sons were engaged — all of whom returned to comfort her declining years. She was a frequent attendant at C.W.A. meetings and ever a loyal member of the Church of England and a devout worshipper. Her religion was the main spring of her life, and it found its expression in her love for her children and her spirit of charity which prevented any expression of ill-will with regard to anyone.

After a long life of excellent health her rapidly failing strength was accentuated by a cold which proved the final test. She suffered no pain, murmured no regret, and said good-bye (or rather good-night) to all her family with the same composure which she would have shown at any evening of her life.

The first part of the burial service was conducted at Wermatong, the officiants being the Rev. S. Broadfoot and the Rev. E. Walker. Many beautiful wreaths and messages of condolence were received from numerous relations and friends and a large cortege followed the mourners who laid her to rest beside the grave of her husband in the Tumut cemetery.

Original publication

Citation details

'Harris, Emily Lucy (Em) (1851–1937)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 25 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Em Harris, 1871 photographer unknown

Em Harris, 1871 photographer unknown

from Hamlyn Lavicount Harris of Wermatong 1845-1925, by Florence Stacy

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Shelley, Emily Lucy

Tumut, New South Wales, Australia


1937 (aged ~ 86)
Tumut, New South Wales, Australia

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