Eldon House’s final 50th anniversary lecture – Marriage and drama thanks to the Harris daughters
The final presentation, made by historical interpreter Cathy Luke, provided a glimpse into the lives of the Harris daughters and how their lives changed after the British garrison was established in London in the late 1830s.
And, she also explained what happened to the Harris girls after they married.
The Harris daughters were seven in all, four of whom married officers from the British garrison and eventually emigrated to England. The other three married “fairly well”. John and Amelia Harris must have been relieved to have all their daughters married off in succession, including those whose looks were considered to be less than spectacular. But not all the marriages translated into matrimonial bliss. Some suffered miscarriages, illness, serious money troubles and even death: one daughter was widowed early in her marriage and another died in a tragic shipwreck.
You can read more about each of the daughters here.
Of interest to our research was Sarah’s marriage to Robert Dalzell. Despite his disdain for all things Canadian, he took a shining to Sarah and married her in 1846, removing her to England where they lived in Torquay for many years. Unfortunately, they suffered the consequences of a suspended title (the earldom of Carnwath) and a lacklustre career with the military. To worsen matters, their finances suffered at the hands of Sarah’s Canadian brothers who seem to have mismanaged funds and who were slow to provide the investment dividends the Dalzell’s needed to live. Sarah was often very unhappy and sometimes sick, although the Harris letters and diaries aren’t clear as to what ailed her. Perhaps she was just ‘sick’ of it all.
It’s no surprise that after Robert’s death in 1878, Sarah focused on more pleasant thoughts such as her long lost love, Wenman Wynniatt, who died 40 years earlier in London, Canada. She also benefitted from the extended visit of her niece Milly Harris and two of John Labatt’s daughters who stayed with Sarah while they attended school in England, paying her for room and board.
In fairness to the Dalzell line, she was not left completely destitute: she enjoyed the company of her children, including two of her sons who had excellent military careers and who managed to reclaim the Dalzell title of 11th and 12th Earls of Carnwath. This made Sarah Harris twice the mother of British Lords. Not bad.
Hear what Cathy had to say after her presentation: