James Harris, the nephew of the philosopher Shaftsbury, was born near Salisbury where he attended the grammar school before matriculating at Wadham College in 1726; he also attended Lincoln's Inn before inheriting the family estate in 1731. As an independent man of letters, Harris devoted himself to philology, music, and antiquarian studies. He was a lifelong friend of Henry Fielding, once his neighbor at Salisbury, and was acquainted with many of the literary figures of the day.
Hermes: or a philosophical inquiry concerning universal grammar. 1731.
Philosophical arrangements. 1775.
Philosophical inquiries in three parts. 2 vols (1780-81).
Works, ed. James Harris (son). 2 vols, 1801.