Dr William Harland, MD (1787-1866), was thrice Mayor of Scarborough and a successful physician, with his own medicinal baths at the bottom of Vernon Place in the town. His mother, Anne Pierson, was a talented artist who helped her husband with his engineering drawings.In 1846, aged 15, he took an apprenticeship at the engineering works of Robert Stephenson and Company in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Afterwards he was employed in Glasgow and again in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, before moving to Belfast in 1854 to manage Robert Hickson's shipyard at Queen's Island.
Four years later he bought the yard and renamed the business Edward James Harland & Company.
In 1861, he formed a business partnership with Gustav Wilhelm Wolff, his former personal assistant, creating Harland and Wolff.
Later, Harland recruited William James Pirrie, afterwards 1st Viscount Pirrie, as another partner.
Messrs Harland, Wolff and Pirrie ran a successful business, receiving regular orders from the White Star Line, before Harland's retirement in 1889, leaving Wolff and Pirrie to manage the shipyard.
Harland served as a Belfast Harbour Commissioner, too.
In 1885, Harland was granted a knighthood and a baronetcy:
LONDON GAZETTE, Friday, July 24, 1885:-Sir Edward served the office of Mayor of Belfast, 1885-86.
WHITEHALL, JULY 23
THE QUEEN has been pleased to direct Letters Patent to be passed under the Great Seal granting the dignity of a Baronet of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland unto Edward James Harland, of Ormiston, in the parish of Holywood, in the county of Down, and of Brompton, in the North Riding of the county of York, Esq., mayor of the borough of Belfast.
The Harlands' Belfast residence was for a period Ormiston House.
He later moved to London and served as North Belfast MP until his death on Christmas Eve, 1895, at his Irish home, Glenfarne Hall in County Leitrim.
Harland left no heir to his baronetcy, which expired on his death in 1895.
First published in September, 2010.