Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry Harris, John (1782 - 1855)

MRCS March 4th 1803; FRCS Dec 11th 1843 one of the original 300 Fellows; JP.

30 June 1855
Exeter, Devon
General surgeon


Came of a West Country family which held property in Cornwall and Devon and used coat-armour from the reign of Queen Elizabeth. He was one of eight children, and in 1810 married Miss Delpratt, a Huguenot, by whom he had two sons. He was educated near Plymouth, was apprenticed to Samuel Luscombe from 1798-1802, and learned surgery afterwards under John Sheldon, who lived in Exeter after his retirement as a teacher in the Hunterian School in London.

Harris was elected Surgeon to the Devon and Exeter Hospital on May 23rd, 1815, in succession to Peter Radford, and died at his house at Southernhay as Senior Surgeon on June 30th, 1855. He was in partnership with Mr Cornish, a well-known surgeon of Exeter, and was the first of the hospital surgeons to take part officially in the municipal affairs of the city. He was sheriff twice, mayor once, and was for many years the senior magistrate and deputy mayor. He was a member of the old 'Chamber' and was one of the Charity Trustees, as well as a Surgeon to the Exeter Dispensary and Lying-in Charity.

Brought up as a Quaker, he became a staunch member of the Church of England. He passed for a wit, was an excellent draughtsman, and was a lover of the animals which Wombwell often brought to the city. He became a singularly graceful operator, with a vein of originality, both in carrying out operations and in planning treatment. He is described as "rather tall, of pink complexion, with comical eyes and a laughter-provoking expression". His portrait in oils hangs in the Hospital, having been given in 1889 by his grandson, J Delpratt Harris, Surgeon to the Devon and Exeter Hospital.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Delpratt Harris's The Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, Exeter, 1922, 131].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England