1789, Sudbury Hall, Derbyshire, England.

April 1871, likely in or near Nuneham Park, Oxfordshire.

Fourth son of Edward Vernon-Harcourt, the Archbishop of York, William served in the navy, on the West Indian station, for five years. He then persuaded his father to agree to his becoming a clergyman, and he entered Christ Church, Oxford, in 1807. He graduated BA in 1811, and MA in 1814, and remained a student of Christ Church until 1815. He was a personal friend of Cyril Jackson, the dean; and Dr. John Kidd, then a teacher of chemistry at his college, who imbued him with a lifelong love of that science.

Taking Holy Orders, Harcourt became began duties as a clergyman at Bishopthorpe, Yorkshire, and actively aided the movement to establish an institution in Yorkshire for the cultivation of science. He built a laboratory, and occupied himself in chemical analysis, aided by his early friends Davy and Wollaston. In 1821, remains of prehistoric life found by Buckland in the cavern of Kirkdale went to form the basis of a museum, connected with the Yorkshire Philosophical Society, of which Harcourt was the first president. In 1824, he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society.

Harcourt became Rector of Kirkby-in-Cleveland, and Canon Residentiary of York, in 1823; Rector of Wheldrake, Yorkshire, in 1824; and Rector of Bolton Percy in 1837. Upon the 1861 death of his elder brother, George Granville Harcourt, he succeeded to the family property, Nuneham Park, Oxfordshire. His works include:

  1. For Succor to My God I Cried
  2. Seedling of Jesse Shall Flower, A
  3. Thank the Lord Who Made the Earth