Exeter Civic Society

Exeter Civic Society

Harris, George

George Prideaux Robert Harris, 1775 – 1810, first deputy Surveyor General of Tasmania

The plaque is in Gandy Street, Exeter, EX4 3LF.

It reads:

Gandy Street was the childhood home of both Colonel David COLLINS RM first Judge Advocate of New South Wales (1788-96) and first Lieut. Governor of Tasmania (1804-10) and George P HARRIS first Deputy Surveyor General of Tasmania (1804-10) and previously with Col. Collins at Port Phillip.
Erected 1999 by the Exeter Civic Society, the Royal Overseas League and the Collins Site Committee in Australia.
Plaque unveiled 24 March 1999 by Mr David Ritchie, Deputy High Commissioner for Australia.
Reminiscing one evening in a tent at the convict settlement in South Australia, the two men discovered they had grown up in the same Exeter stree
t.

The Tasmanian “devil” (top) and “Tasmanian” tiger, engraved after drawings by George Harris.

Not much is known of GEORGE HARRIS‘s early life in Exeter, but he is likely to be the only Exonian to have made a scientific description of a “devil”. Harris was appointed deputy-surveyor of Tasmania under Col. David Collins in 1803, although it was not until later that the two men discovered they were both from the same city. Harris had talent as a naturalist. In 1806 he sent to England the first zoological drawing and description of the “Tasmanian Devil”, a native carnivorous marsupial later classified as Sarcophilus harrisii in his honour. He also was the first to describe the Thylacine, or Tasmanian “tiger”, which is now extinct. Harris died in Hobart on 16 October 1810. JM

More information: Australian Dictionary of Biography at http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/harris-george-prideaux-robert-2161

See also Col. David Collins