Harris Bigg-Wither (1782-1833) was the brother of Jane’s friends Alethea, Elizabeth and Catherine Bigg. “As described by Caroline Austen, Jane’s niece, and Reginald Bigg-Wither, a descendant, Harris was not attractive—he was a large, plain-looking man who spoke little, stuttered when he did speak, was aggressive in conversation, and almost completely tactless. However, Austen had known him since both were young and the marriage offered many practical advantages to Austen and her family” (Google).
“Jane was 6 years older than Harris, and a good deal cleverer, but they had known each other a long time, and he must have had some encouragement from her in the months or years before popping the question, or he wouldn’t have dared ask. And she said yes, after all: There might have been plenty of mutual regard, even love.
But after what must have been an agonizing night of second thoughts, Jane left Manydown abruptly and in confusion, having broken off her very short engagement” (Heroes and Heartbreakers).
For more information please see:
Harris Bigg-Wither – Notable Locals – Selwyn Kete
The people in Jane Austen’s life – The suitor: Harris Bigg-Wither – Includes pictures of of the Bigg-Wither estate.