Margaret Harris

Margaret Harris, born in 1844, inherited a quarter of her father’s half share of Surgeon Harris’s estate. As Ultimo developed swiftly from the 1860s onwards, her 20 acres of land yielded a bountiful income. She built Littlebridge as her home in William Henry Street and lived there all her life.

Margaret devoted her life to charities, a wide circle of good friends, and nurturing her brothers’ children. A keen Presbyterian (but not a censorious one), she helped to fund the manse for the Church in Quarry Street (now the Harris Centre). The Sunday Times (28 June 1908) commented on her good nature and popularity, and observed that “there are few institutions that have not benefitted by her kindness”.

Royal Prince Alfred Hospital gained £1,000 for a new ward, for example: other beneficiaries included the Home for Incurables at Ryde, Burnside Homes (a new wing), the Fresh air League which provided country holidays for poor city children and coastal holidays for country children, the National Council of Women, and the Mission to Seamen.

Margaret was well aware of the value of a woman having her own financial resources. When she died in 1926, leaving £76,000, she bequeathed more money to her nieces than to her nephews.

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