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Echoes of Shakespeare: the surprising ancestry of Richard Harris

Richard Harris (1930-2002) was without doubt one of the greatest acting stars that Ireland ever produced. Throughout his life, Harris was tremendously proud of his Irish heritage and his Limerick City roots in particular. Yet when it came to his ancestry, there was so much more to Richard Harris than just Limerick or even Ireland.


On his father’s side, Richard Harris’s great-grandmother was Harriet Lund, daughter of a Danish shipping broker, Julius Theodor Lund. Born in Elsinore Denmark in 1845, Harriet married Scottish ship owner William Anderson in Edinburgh in 1865. The couple lived most of their married lives at Lossiemouth House, Elgin. In 1892 their daughter, also Harriet, went on to marry Richard's grandfather, also Richard Harris, the eldest son of a Limerick flour merchant.


Harriet Lund never lost contact with her Danish roots. She died in Copenhagen in 1906. It’s said that it was Richard Harris’s life-long ambition to play Hamlet and with an Elsinore-born great-grandmother in his family tree it isn’t difficult to understand why. Richard’s son, Jared, filled this role in 2001.


Harris’s paternal great-grandfather, William Anderson, was born at Urquhart, Moray, Scotland in 1831. Elgin is less than 30 miles from Cawdor Castle which history books name as the place where the Scottish king Macbeth killed Duncan in 1040. Perhaps it’s no accident that Harris was so fond of the Scottish Play.


William Anderson became a ship’s master in 1856 and like his father Alexander Anderson before him, he plied the coastal route out of Banff Harbour. According to Lloyd's Register, the many ships associated with William Anderson included: Vine, Rose, Laurel, Orient, Northern Chief and Chieftain. In the 1880s his vessels included Leader, Mabel and J.T. Fraser. (Renamed Craig Alvah.).........Find out More


Richard Harris ancestral surnames:

Harty. Lyddy. Sheehan. (O)Meehan. Coleman. Anderson. Lund. Weissi/Weisse. Bumann. Hundewadt. Simon. Mitchell.







Historyeye | Richard Harris (1930-2002)




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