This past week’s victory by England over Australia allows us to take a look at a different sort of photograph taken by Knights-Whittome. To date we’ve concentrated on images of locals coming into his shops in Sutton and Epsom, including mothers, children, WW1 soldiers and nurses.
But Knights-Whittome had a much wider clientele. Known as “Photographer to the King”, he photographed three different generations of the royal family and through this made important contacts, enabling him to go on to photograph over 50 stately homes in Britain, European royalty and their palaces, and leading individuals in Britain.
One such person was George Robert Canning Harris, 4th Baron Harris, GCSI, GCIE. Lord Harris was an English amateur cricketer and sometime politician who played cricket for most of his life captaining both Kent and England. He appeared in 224 first-class matches, including four Test matches.
His cricket career began in 1870 when he made his first-class début for Kent, a team he continued to play for until 1889. He played for Oxford, 1871 – 1874 and during 1872 he toured the United States and Canada with R A Fitzgerald‘s XI (the first MCC tour abroad) which included W G Grace.
Harris played in four Tests between January 1879 and August 1884, all as captain. He led the English cricket team in Australia and New Zealand in 1878–79 and was a central figure in the events of 8 February 1879 when the crowed rioted at a match in Sydney objecting to the English umpire’s call against the New South Wales team. “While two thousand spectators stormed the pitch, Lord Harris himself remained steadfastly in position, believing that if he fled the game would have to be conceded.” Alas the game had to be abandoned after the riot continued for an hour and a half but was resumed the following day with England beating the New South Wales team.
In 1880 he captained England at The Oval, in what was later recognised as the inaugural Test match in England, winning by 5 wickets, and led in two of the Tests played in 1884, his team winning by an innings and 5 runs at Lord’s and drawing the final match in the series at The Oval.
Lord Harris’ political career, not without controversy, lasted from 1885 to 1900 and included being Under-Secretary of State for India from 25 June 1885; Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for War from 4 August 1886 to 1890; Governor of the Presidency of Bombay from 1890 to 1895; and Lord in Waiting to Queen Victoria from 16 July 1895 to 4 December 1900. While he was in India he tried to use sport, cricket in particular, to reduce the friction that existed between Europeans and the local population.
Harris had a long association with Lord’s and the MCC as both player and administrator. He was president of MCC in 1895, a trustee from 1906 to 1916 and treasurer from 1916 to 1932. In 1929, at the age of 78, he played there for the last time, representing MCC v Indian Gymkhana.
He died at his home, Belmont House, Kent on the 24 March 1932.
* Quote from the Wanganui Herald, Volume XII, Issue 9344, 11 February 1879, Page 2. Source: Papers Past