Date added: 25 Apr 2015
Images: Medals of Tom Harris and Col Tom Harris post Waterloo
Thomas was born on 9 October 1783 and was educated at Uppingham School.He joined the 87th Foot as anEnsign in 1801 aged 17, was a Lieutenant in the 52nd Foot bypurchase in 1802 and given the post of Adjutant in the 25th Foot in1804 on promotion of the previous post-holder.In 1805 he transferred without purchase to the 18th LightDragoons, stationed in Ireland. On 11 October 1804 in St Mary’s Cathedral,Limerick, he married Elizabeth Hemsworth (1789 -1836), daughter ofThomas Hemsworth (1758 -1811) of Abbeville, Tipperary, and Mary d’Esterre. Thomas and Elizabeth are recorded as havingthree sons: 1 Hamlyn Lavicount b Ireland1805 d 1869 – see below; 2 Henry Thomas b Ireland1806 d 1834 as a lieutenant in the Royal Navy in a fall from the mast of his ship‘Caledonia’.This incident was described by ClementBettesworth Harris in his ‘Brief Memoir’ as being the result of a wager with amarine officer as to who could perform ‘certain evolutions aloft in the quickesttime’; 3 Thomas Noel b Whitwell 1808 dPaddington London1889 m 1834 Mary Elcock (1812 – 1893) of Barbados, aWest Indian plantation heiress, only child of Reynold Alleyne Elcock(1789 – 1821) and Mary Mercy Applewhaite (1795 – 1846) – see below. All three sons were christened by their grandfather at Whitwell inAugust 1808. In 1807 Thomas is recorded as having purchased a troop and therefore a captaincyin the 18th Light Dragoons, subsequently exchanging in 1808 into the7th Foot and then the 1st Dragoons. In 1809 he sold out but was commissioned intothe local militia as Adjutant to the Carlisle Regiment. Two of his firstcousins, Mary Anna Frances Antoinette and Elizabeth Harris, had marriedbrothers from Cumberland,which may account for the connection. RobinStanes speculates that this change of career may have been related to the deathof his elder brother. The consequence ofselling out was, according to Clement Harris’ memoir, a loss of two steps inmilitary rank and eight years of service when he rejoined the Army in March 1811with the purchase of a cornetcy in the 13th Light Dragoons followedby a return in August by purchase to the 18th Light Dragoons asLieutenant. From 1811-13 he was with Wellington in the Peninsula, seeing action at Fuentesd’Onoro in 1811, and Cuidad Rodrigo and Badajozin 1812.. By 1812 he was ADC to Wellington’s AdjutantGeneral, Charles Stewart. In 1813 hefollowed Stewart (by now Sir Charles Stewart) as ADC to support him in his workwith Crown Prince Bernadotte of Swedenand the Prussian monarchy in Berlin in the alliance(England, Prussia, Swedenand Russia)against Napoleon.Following the battle of Leipzigin October 1813, he was given a presentation sword by Edward Solly, a wealthyEnglish businessman and art collector who had close dealings with the Prussiancourt. In January 1814 Thomas wasattached to the staff of General Blucher and entered Paris with the Allies on 30 March 1814. The following day he was despatched to takethe news of the capture of Paris to London through what was still enemy held territory innorthern France. He arrived in London on 5 April and was much feted. By 25 April he was back in Paris and in May was awarded the Prussianmedal ‘Pour le Merite’ (the ‘Blue Max’). In July 1814 he was promoted withoutpurchase to be a captain of a company in the 36th Foot. In October 1814 he was also given the RussianOrder of St Vladimir and St Anne. At theend of the month he was sent to Irelandas ADC to Lt Gen John Cuming and remained there until spring 1815. On 1 April 1815 Thomas was appointed on half pay as Brigade Major to SirHussey Vivian of the 6th cavalry brigade and was sent to France. Brigade majors were chiefs of staff, holdingthe rank of Major and commanding the brigade's "G - Operationsand Intelligence" section directly and overseeing the two other branches,"A - Administration" and "Q - Quartermaster". Intentionallyranked lower than the Lieutenant Colonels commanding the brigade's combatbattalions, their role was to expand on, detail and execute the intentions ofthe commanding Brigadier. Thomas was present at the Duchess of Richmond’s ball in Brussels on 15 June, and fought at Waterloo on 18 June where he was not only woundedby a musket ball in the chest (which troubled him for the rest of his life) butalso lost his right arm. He was foundlying in the mud at Waterlooafter the battle by his cousin, John Clement Wallington of the 10thHussars. He seems to have made aremarkable recovery from the loss of his arm, writing with his left hand withina month, and riding and driving a carriage one-handedly for the rest of hislife. In 1854, on his return to Englandfrom India, his nine year old grandson, Hamlyn Lavicount Harris, was taken byhis mother to visit Thomas and,according to Florence Stacy’s memoir, “what impressed the small boy was the wayin which he flourished the carving knife as he sliced, with his left hand, thebig sirloin which the butler held steady with the fork”. For his injuries he was given an annual pension of £200 and in 1817 hewas transferred from the staff as Brigade Major and made a full major.In 1823 he was made a brevet Lt Col andappointed as Inspecting Field Officer of the Militia in Nova Scotia.In Halifax, Nova Scotia he was the Surveyor General of Ordnance responsible for therebuilding of the fortifications of Halifax.In 1830 he was given a commission as an unattached major in the infantry andlater that same year made Deputy Adjutant General to the troops serving in Canada. He was also made a Knight of the RoyalHanoverian Guelphic Order (an order instituted by the Prince Regent in 1815 andnot conferred after 1837 when the personal union of the United Kingdom andHanover ended with the accession of Queen Victoria who could not, under SalicLaw, inherit the Hanoverian titles and estates), and in 1832 he was appointedas Assistant Adjutant General in Ireland.In 1834 he left the Army. He was then appointed as the Chief Magistrate of Gibraltar. By 1838 he was a widower (his wife died in1836) and on the Isle of Wight in 1838 hemarried Eliza Hastings, DowagerCountess of Huntingdon (1781 – 1846). ElizaMary Bettesworth, daughter of Joseph Bettesworth of Ryde (a wealthy attorney,owner of property in Ashey and Ryde) had been married twice before: in 1801 shemarried Alexander Thistlethwayte, six weeks before his death, and in 1820 shemarried Hans Francis Hastings, 12th Earl of Huntingdon (1779 -1828)who was a naval officer. In 1838 Thomas retired from his post in Gibraltar and moved to live inRegent’s Park, London. In 1840 he was appointed a Groom of the PrivyChamber to Queen Victoriaand in 1841 he was knighted again.St. James'sPalace, April 28, 1841.The Queen was this day pleased to confer the honour of Knighthood upon Thomas NoelHarris, Esq. late Lieutenant-Colonel in the Army, Knight .of the Royal Order ofMilitary Merit of Prussia, and of the Imperial Orders of St. Wladimir and ofSt. Anne of Russia, Knight of the Royal Hanoverian Guelphic Order, and one of theGrooms of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Chamber.The LondonGazette 30 April 1841In 1846 his wife Eliza died in Boulogne. She was buried at St Laurence’s ChurchRamsgate.
Date added: 8 Jun 2015
This painting of Thomas Noel Harris is by Jim Dann from Bow, London in the early 1990's