Matthew Harris

Property Owner, Private Means

Terms served on Council

Title Council From To
Alderman City of Sydney 1883 1900
Mayor City of Sydney 1898 1900

Family background

Matthew Harris, younger brother of John Harris was born at Magherafelt, County Londonderry, Ireland, on 18 September 1841, son of banker John Harris and Nancy Ann, née McKee. On 4 August 1868 in Sydney, he married Frances Snowden Lane (1851–1915) with Free Church of England rites. He died at Potts Point, NSW, on 8 June 1917, survived by six sons and two daughters. The family vault is in the Presbyterian section of Rookwood Cemetery.

Occupation & interests

Matthew Harris arrived in Sydney with his family about 1842 after his father inherited part of the Ultimo estates of his great-uncle Dr John Harris. He was educated at the Normal Institution and the University of Sydney, receiving a BA in 1863. On reaching the age of 21, he inherited property from his father and spent time managing his real estate. He built a substantial residence, Warrane, at Crown Road and surrounded it with rented terraces.

Community activity

Matthew Harris was a Director of the Sydney Hospital in 1896 and its President in 1912-17. He was Vice-President of the Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales, President of the Wentworth Park Trust and of the Australasian Pioneers Club in 1912. He assisted with the organisation of Commonwealth inaugural celebrations. He was an ardent collector of Australiana and Japanese Art.

Parliamentary service

Matthew Harris was elected MLA for Sydney, Denison, 1894-1901.

Honours & awards

Sir Matthew Harris was knighted in 1899.

Local government service

Harris was Alderman for Denison Ward from 1 December 1883 to 6 December 1900. He was a free trader and supported the unitary plan for a Greater Sydney. Harris was Mayor in 1898-1900.


Martha Rutledge, ‘Harris, Sir Matthew (1841–1917)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 15 January 2013.

City of Sydney Archives. Aldermen’s Files; Photos: CRS 54/386, 54/409; and THC 88/364

Connolly, C N 1983, Biographical Register of the New South Wales Parliament 1856-1901, ANU

Fitzgerald, Shirley & Golder, Hilary 1994, Pyrmont & Ultimo: Under Seige, Hale & Iremonger

Parliament of New South Wales, Former Members, Sir Matthew Harris

Society of Australian Genealogists: Rookwood index

Sydney Morning Herald, 9 June 1917, p. 11


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