Robert Harris came from the Midlands to Somerset as agent to Lord Lovelace. He was a man of some means and good social standing and bought Clibsome and another home near Washford, Somerset, where he retired from the agency — and he married into a country family, the Jenkins of Haveliscombe. The wife was a gentle, refined and charming lady, but her married life was not a happy one. Her husband drank and neglected her—she devoted herself to her children’s education. Brought up very strictly herself, she trained them in the tradition of an age that had almost passed. The five daughters were, Elizabeth, Jane, Lucy, Louisa and Harriet. The three sons were Robert, William and Anthony. Anthony was named after his great uncle Anthony Jenkins, who was an officer in the Navy on the “Xenephon” or (Xeres) and whose sword has been handed down in the family. Harriet often spoke of the home at Clibsome to her grandchildren. The waterjack in the kitchen was worked by a running stream in the garden, that turned the spit on which joints and poultry were roasted in front of the open hearth fire. Her father liked venison and game so high that they were almost alive before they were cooked. She told them of the rush lights for kitchen use, the wax candles and snuffers ub dining and drawing rooms, the flint and tinders for lighting fires and candles. Her evening task as a child was to replenish the tinder box with cotton waste for the morning, by unraveling old pieces of linen and cotton with a pin — so much to be done each evening before she went to bed. She could remember her mother’s sweet face and gentle ways, but little else, because first little Lucy in early childhood, died of tuberculosis, and then the mother. Mrs. Harris’s unmarried sister, Aunt Jenkins came to keep house for them. It was she who trained Harriet in the old fashioned etiquette, she never forgot. Harriet was educated at a boarding school at Exeter, traveling there by stage coach. She was a wonderful needlewoman, but books did not appeal to her much. In early manhood Robert and William died of tuberculosis and soon after Harriet left school, her father died too.
Robert Harris loved good company, good cheer and good wine, and at his death it was found he had spent all his small fortune and the two farms had to be sold. Elizabeth and Jane were married. Louisa opened a school for girls at Minehead, Somerset — Anthony bought a sadler’s business. What should Harriet the youngest do? Elizabeth — Mrs. Francis Risdon — offered her a home — but Harriet was independent; she could not teach or she might have joined Louisa — she would go into a shop. This decision horrified Jane and Elizabeth. A penniless young lady could teach or be a companion and not lose caste — but not go into a shop. Harriet persisted and for some years she helped Mr. & Mrs. Symons in their grocery and drapery business in a house known as “Green Dragon”, in previous centuries this house had been frequented by smugglers and it had many hiding places. The Symons family had a wonderful old maid, Betty who worked from early morn to late evening for F6 yearly ($30) and a new dress or scarlet cloak from time to time — she was so busy she never had time to find out that times had changed and wage scale risen! Harriet later went to Stogumber where she met John Thorne, whom she married. They had two children - Sarah Jane and Robert John. The Family moved to Watchet and Harriet’s brother Anthony, who was in poor health, came to live with them. Tuberculosis developed and he died, thus Anthony Jenkins’ sword came into the Thorne family. Harriet was a woman of remarkable personality, with strong opinions and deep predjudices, rather hard on her own ex, but very pitiful to real sinners saying “Poor foolish man how could he be so silly as to do it.” She believed man was superior to woman and should be the head, yet managed with great determination to hold her own with her strong-willed husband. She was a very good cook, famous for her lambs’ tails and pigs’ trotters pie, apple pastries and roast hare — she loved a game of whist and in her old age her happiest evenings were those on which her nephews, Edward, James, and Walter Risdon came for supper and whist — it was charming to see the deference paid by these tall bearded men to the little old lady with the pink cheeks and black lace cap trimmed with tiny gay flowers. The eldest Harris sister Elizabeth married Francis Risdon. She was (unreadable) beautifully kept, her family well disciplined. She had three sons, Edward, James and Walter, who all became farmers; two daughters, Louise (Mrs. Tilley) and Edna (Mrs. Howard). Mrs. Francis Risdon died of tuberculosis. Her three sons married. Edward had no children. James - three daughters and a son, and Walter had three daughters and seven sons, two of whom settled in the States and two in Canada. Harriet’s children - Sarah Jane married Thomas Morgans — they had two sons, Humphrey (Married and had five children) and Godfrey (married and had no children). Godfrey visited the United States and met Dr. A.V.Cole. Robert John married Elizabeth Gumblett, had three girls — Emily, Isett and Winifred, and two boys who died young.
Jane Harris also married a Risdon-George. Jane was very beautiful and her husband a very handsome man, known as “Gentleman George”. Unfortunately he was not very business like — he had flour mills at Washford - but got into difficulties and moved to Romsey Hauls. Later the family emigrated to America. The Washford mills still run and are a paying concern. Jane returned to England once to visit her sister Harriet — she was as goodlooking in middleage (70) as in youth and her English long remembered her visit. The Risdon family, a very old one, came originally from Risdon, Gloucestershire and settles at Bableigh, Devon in the Reign of Edward I (1272-1307). Their coat of arms is three birdbolts sable (black) their crest an elephants headerased-ermine eared, and armed on or gold.
Louisa Harris who kept school at Minehead, married Mr. Hadlon the senior clerk to Mr. Ponsford, a Lawyer — they lived at Torre near Washford, within a short distance of her girlhood home, not far from Jane’s first home Washford Mills. They had two children - Georgia and Harris, when they were still young developed tuberculosis. Someone told her snail broth had been known to cure her trouble. She drank the nauseous concoction saying to her sister, Harriet, with tears “I would take anything to live for my children.” Jane and Harriet were the only ones in the family who lived to old age. Harriet to 87. Jane was [text missing?] Georgia Haddon never married. She was a stately, gracious woman, and more than one man was attracted to her — but she suffered at times from eczema, and decided against marriage. She lived with her brother Harris and his wife at Stream Farm. Harris and Bessie Haddon Had the kindest hearts and kept open house, They had four sons and two daughters, the eldest son Jack emigrated to Canada and has a long family. The youngest girl is married in So. Africa.
The following are in response to Jennifer's "USA Letter" (Jennifer Topham in England).