Sisters at a Glance #6 Augusta Harris

By Michele Leggott and Brianna Vincent

‘Your loving sister Augusta.’ Augusta’s signature (crosswritten against the rest of the letter). MS letter to sister Emily Cumming Harris, Nelson, NZ. Written at Snelgrove St, Wellington, NZ, 27 Jan 1870. Cranstone Papers. Copy at ATL. MS-Papers-0489. Item 8.

Augusta Harris
1 August 1848 – 31 August 1870

August 1st. In 1847 Augusta Harris was born. (Sarah Harris, Harris family history. 1871, p.128)

I believe I must conclude by telling 5o’clock p.m. Corbyn’s driving in at the gate, Emily at crochet work, Kate looking to see what is in the cart for the house, Frances feeding the calf, Mary the pet lamb, Augusta and Ellen making a garland of daisies and roses for the lamb’s neck, Papa reading Sharp’s Magazine, Mamma writing. (Sarah Harris to sister Emma Jane Hill. Woodville, New Plymouth, [1853])

I think I have now given you all the news. I hope papa will sell his pictures and get some pupils, I wish Augusta and Ellen would make me some crochet edging. Give my love to the girls, tell Kate & Frances that one letter was as much as I could write. I wrote to Aunt Emma last mail & intend writing this. (Emily Harris, letter to mother Sarah Harris in Nelson. New Plymouth, 4 February 1861)

Dear Emily

As the Murray is going out tomorrow, I shall just have time to write you a few lines. The festivities are all over. The Flying Squadron left this morning at 7 o’clock. We were dreadfully disappointed that they did not stay until this evening, as we did not go on board yesterday. Mr Duncan thought it was too rough but it was not, and we might have gone on board before the picnic. We enjoyed the ball immensely, danced almost every dance on the program and some extra ones. Mr Duncan has sent Mama the paper with a list of the officers’ names. Take care of it and then we can tell you the names of some of those we danced with. I took it as a compliment that all those I danced with asked me for another dance. I danced 3 times with the admiral’s secretary, Mr Bowling, and one of the officers had nine or ten dances between Fran and I.

We went to the picnic yesterday with Miss Warren and Willie Knowles. When we got down to the wharf we could not find Mr Duncan anywhere, we went on board the St Kilda and waited, as he did not come we thought he must have gone on board one of the ships and could not get back. Mr Wallace, one of the committee, said it would be all right about the tickets, so we thought we had better go, and it was lucky we did, the St Kilda did not make another trip. We got there all right and were having lunch when Mr D. arrived, it was just as we thought, he had gone on board with Mr Russell and had not been able to get back in time, finding we had gone he took a trap and drove down. We were dreadfully vexed we had not gone to see the ships early in the morning as we had arranged, only he thought it was too rough. We did not enjoy the picnic much and there were no officers we knew as those who went to the ball were not allowed to go to the picnic. I had such a bad cold I could only speak in a whisper. The picnic was held in Mr Lang’s grounds. I never saw such a pretty place, the house is not much, but the grounds are beautifully laid out and nearly all the trees are natives. Mr Duncan wrote to Mama by the Ahuriri but he lost his letter and after a great hunt found it, when it was too late, in the pocket of his coat. We shall be quite glad to get back. Mr Duncan will try and find out when the steamer sails and let you know. If you could get Stockwell to come down for our boxes when the steamer arrives it would be very convenient. And now dear Emily I must give you all other particulars when we get back. Give my love to all and believe me, Your loving sister, Augusta.

(Augusta Harris, letter to Emily Harris in Nelson. Wellington, 27 January 1870)

Augusta Harris (1848-1870) was born 1 August and baptised 27 August 1848 at St Mary’s Anglican Church, New Plymouth. She was named for her paternal aunt Augusta Dobson née Harris. She died of consumption 31 August 1870, aged 22, in Nelson and is buried in Wakapuaka Cemetery. A letter of 27 January 1870 from Augusta to Emily Harris is archived in the Cranstone Papers and is the sole extant written record in Augusta’s hand held by the family. It reports on an excursion by Frances and Augusta to take part in celebrations in Wellington of the 30th anniversary of the founding of the colony.

No photos of Augusta Harris have been identified.

Image 1

Harris, Augusta. MS letter to sister Emily Cumming Harris, Nelson, NZ. Written at Snelgrove St, Wellington, NZ, 27 Jan 1870. Cranstone Papers. Copy at ATL. MS-Papers-0489. Item 8.

Photo of Augusta’s handwriting from ‘Augusta Harris, letter to Emily Harris in Nelson. Wellington, 27 January 1870’, the only letter that we have in her hand.

Image 2

Gravestone at Wakapuaka Cemetery, Nelson. Photo sourced from Find a Grave database, memorial page for Augusta Harris (ID 143736375)

Photo of the Harris family gravestone in Nelson’s Wakapuaka Cemetery, recording Edwin and Sarah Harris and their daughters Augusta, Ellen, and Emily.

The inscription reads:

Sacred to the Memory of Edwin Harris. Died May 25 1895 Aged 89 Years. Also of his beloved Wife Sarah Harris. Died Sept 5 1879 Aged 73 Years. And the daughters of the above

Augusta Harris. Died Aug 31 1870. Aged 22 Years

Ellen Harris. Died March 29 1895. Aged 44 years

Emily Cumming Harris. Died Aug 5 1925. Aged 88 Years


Sisters at a Glance: Navigation
#0 Introduction
#1 Emily Cumming Harris
#2 Catherine Harris
#3 Unnamed Daughter
#4 Frances Emma Harris
#5 Mary Rendel Harris
#6 Augusta Harris: Here
#7 Ellen Harris

Lead writers: Michele Leggott and Brianna Vincent
Research Support: Dasha Zapisetskaya, Makyla Curtis, Betty Davis

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