HARRIS Surname Meaning and Origin

Great Britain

belterz/Getty Images 

Harris is generally considered to mean "son of Harry." The given name Harry is a derivation of Henry, meaning "home-ruler." Like many patronymic surnames, the surnames HARRIS and HARRISON are often found used interchangeably in early records - sometimes with the same family.

Harris is the 24th most popular surname in the United States according to the 2000 census and the 22nd most common surname in England.

  • Surname Origin: English, Welsh

Fun Facts

The popular Harris Tweed cloth takes its name from the Isle of Harris in Scotland. The cloth was originally handwoven by islanders on the Isles of Harris, Lewis, Uist and Barra in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, using local wool.

Famous People with the Surname HARRIS

  • Arthur Harris - Marshal Arthur "Bomber" Harris, Commander in Chief of the Royal Air Force Bomber Command during World War II
  • Franco Harris - NFL running back, Pittsburgh Steelers. Best known for his immaculate reception during a 1972 AFC divisional playoff game
  • Bernard Harris - 1st African-American to walk in space
  • Jillian Harris - star of the reality TV show The Bachelorette, 5th season
  • Neil Patrick Harris - American actor
  • Mary Harris - early 1900s labor organizer; best known as Mother Jones

Genealogy Resources for the Surname HARRIS

  • Harris Y-DNA Project: If you are a male and have the Harris (or a variant spelling of the) surname, then this Y-DNA project invites you to join to help establish as many Harri lines as possible.
  • HARRIS/HARRIES/HERRIES/HARRISS Genealogy: Genealogist Glenn Gohr has compiled a nice collection of information and genealogy on Thomas Harris (c. 1586 of England and Virginia, as well as general information about the Harris surname.
  • Harris Family Genealogy Forum: Search this popular genealogy forum for the Harris surname to find others who might be researching your ancestors, or post your own Harris query. There is also a separate forum for the HARRISON surname.
  • FamilySearch - HARRIS Genealogy: Find records, queries, and lineage-linked family trees posted for the Harris surname and its variations.
  • HARRIS Surname & Family Mailing Lists: RootsWeb hosts several free mailing lists for researchers of the Harris surname.
  • Cousin Connect - HARRIS Genealogy Queries: Read or post genealogy queries for the surname Harris, and sign up for free notification when new Harris queries are added.

Can't find your last name listed? Suggest a surname to be added to the Glossary of Surname Meanings & Origins.


  • Cottle, Basil. Penguin Dictionary of Surnames. Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1967.
  • Menk, Lars. A Dictionary of German Jewish Surnames. Avotaynu, 2005.
  • Beider, Alexander. A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia. Avotaynu, 2004.
  • Hanks, Patrick, and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford University Press, 1989.
  • Hanks, Patrick. Dictionary of American Family Names. Oxford University Press, 2003.
  • Smith, Elsdon C. American Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997.