Select Harvey Miscellany

Here are some Harvey stories and accounts over the years:

Early Herveys

The surname Harvey was said to have emerged as a family name in the counties of Norfolk and Cambridge. Here they were recorded as a family of great antiquity seated with manors and estates in those shires.  This family claimed descent from a Norman noble at Hastings, Robert FitzHarvey.  The closer connection was with Hervey le Breton, a Breton cleric who became the first bishop of Ely in 1109 and founded the monastery of Thorney in Cambridgeshire.

Another Hervey, Hervey de Leon, came to England in the 12th century to assist King Stephen in his fight with the Empress Maud.  He was defeated by the Earl of Gloucester and forced to leave England.  By 1200, however, it appears that his family was back in favor - obtaining lands in Bedfordshire, first at Risley and later, after the dissolution of the monasteries, at Ickwell Bury.  A branch of this family from Thurleigh settled in Suffolk.

There were other Herveys in England whose names did not transpose into surnames; Hervey de Sutton who was granted estates in Nottinghamshire in 1079; Hervey Bagot who through marriage became Hervey de Stafford in the early 1100's; and Hervey de Montmorency who joined Strongbow's invasion of Ireland in 1170. 

Harvey House in Norwich

The following plaque is to be found on the side wall of 20 Colegate in Norwich:

"Robert Harvey 1696-1773.
Born in this house, mayor of Norwich in 1738.
He was one of ten members of the Harvey family to become a mayor of the city."

Harvey House, one of the largest houses in Norwich at the time, was built in 1720 by Edward Harvey, whose father was Robert Harvey of Beachamwell.  This family were wool merchants who had connections in that trade with Downham market, Hilborough, Rainthorpe and Norwich, to mention just a few places.  John Harvey who founded the Norwich branch of the family was a worsted weaver.  He was admitted a freeman of the city in 1695.

The Herveys of Ickworth

The Hervey family fortunes always fluctuated.  Generations addicted to gambling and excess meant a succession of boom and bust.  When times were good they were very good, and cash was lavished on the estate; when they were bad they were very bad, and the money ran out.  Times were bad in the late 1600's and Ickworth Hall fell into ruin.

Plans for the new house went on hold from 1702 and it was not finished until 1828.  Meanwhile the family lived in a converted farmhouse.  The first earl’s son John was a notorious libertine, famed for his ambivalent sexuality.  He died young.  While the second earl hired Capability Brown to work on the Ickworth grounds, it was his sailor brother Augustus, vice-admiral of the Blue, who grabbed the limelight.  Wartime adventures at sea in the 1770's and 1780's and amorous adventures on land ensured this third earl spent little time in Suffolk, but added richly to the family.

Step forward the eccentric Frederick, earl bishop of Cloyne and Derry.  It will be no surprise he was no enthusiastic clergyman, but fond of travel, Irish nationalism and horse racing.  He was considered clever and cultured, but licentious and eccentric.  It was he who laid the foundations for the new Ickworth.  The earl bishop then fell out with his son before his death in 1803, cutting him short of funds in his will.  So work on the rotunda stopped abruptly and it was not until 1821 that the funds became available again.

Lady Mary Wortley said that there were three types of human beings; men, women and Herveys.  Dr. Johnson thought them good company: "If you call a dog Hervey," he said, "I shall love him."

Recent Herveys have continued this eccentric tradition.  Lord Nicholas Hervey was a tabloid fixture in the 1980's who killed himself at the age of thirty six.  His half-sisters are the socialites, Lady Victoria and Isabella Hervey, who have dabbled in celebrity.  In 1998, the Herveys had to sell off their remaining lease on Ickworth House to the National Trust, partly for funds and partly to ward off an eviction notice based on their behavior as tenants.

William Harvey Day

Early June sees Folkestone mark one of its most famous citizens with the annual William Harvey commemoration.

William Harvey was born in Folkestone in 1578, one of seven sons to Thomas and Jane Harvey.  He went to school in Canterbury and studied in Cambridge and Italy before becoming a doctor and a lecturer in London.  His area of research was the circulation of the blood and the way the heart works.  His book Concerning the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals was published in 1628. 

In Folkestone there is a statue of William Harvey on the Leas.  When Harvey died in 1657 he left money in his will for the founding of a boy's school in Folkestone.  This opened in 1674 and the Harvey Grammar School has had a continuous history since that time. 

William Harvey Day is marked by a procession including the Folkestone mayor, town councillors, and others from the Burlington Hotel on Earls Avenue to the William Harvey statue on the Leas.  They arrive there at 3pm and a short service of thanksgiving is held. 

The Harveys of Bargy Castle

Bagenal Harvey was the owner of Bargy Castle in the 1790's and part of a liberal pro-Catholic alliance of wealthy families in county Wexford.  In early 1798 he had gathered many of them together in his banqueting hall to plot what came to be known as the 1798 Rebellion.

Three months later, one of the guests at that gathering returned to Wexford town and saw the heads of three of those who had gethered there gaping from spikes over the courthouse door.  All the others, excepting two, had met a similarly horrible execution.

Bagenal Harvey had distinguished himself during the rebellion for his bravery and his chivalry.  He had taken refuge after Wexford's surrender in a cave in the Saltee islands with John Colclough and his wife, from whence they planned to escape to France.  But soldiers traced them down there.  To save Mrs. Colclough (who had stood by her husband throughout the battles), both men surrendered and, with the others, were executed that June and hung on Wexford bridge.

The castle itself was confiscated by the British Government, but was then restored to Bagenal's brother James in 1816.  It stayed with the Harvey family until 1947.  Now the owner is the singer Chris be Burgh and his family. 

Bargy castle is said to be the oldest inhabited castle in Ireland.  A stained glass window bearing the Harvey cross is to be seen by the central tower.  Outside there is a stone covered with figures supposed to represent Queen Elizabeth I and her crest, and, above, a large machiolation where missiles could be launched.  Recently, a  dungeon, crypt, sepulchres, a secret passage, and walled-up entrances yielding weapons and gunpowder have been discovered.   Not surprisingly, the castle appears to be haunted.

A Cornish Inheritance: Harveys of Chacewater

A Cornish Inheritance: Harveys of Chacewater by David Gore is the story of a Cornish mining family which was caught up in the great emigration of the mid 19th century.  Samuel Harvey married there in 1710 and the village became the Harvey home for the next two hundred years.  The book tells of his son Samuel and the mines of old Cornwall, of his cousins the buccaneering Pellows, the Hichens of St. Ives waterfront, and the Penroses of Redruth, and we follow some of Samuel's 63 grandchildren to their new lives in America and other lands.

There is the tale of the brilliant but reclusive artist who left Cornwall as a baby, became a conscientous objector in World War 1, and was arrested as a spy in 1944; and the entrepreneur, game hunter, and unethical chancer, thrown out of Kenya in his youth, who became an arms dealer, apparently selling to both sides in the Iran-Iraq war - a far cry from the lives of their ancestors, those hardy old men of Cornish mining with which this history begins.

Harveys and Harvies in Scotland

% Harvie
1841 census
1901 census

Reader Feedback - Herveys from Ireland to America

This Hervey family was of Scotch origin, the members of it being Presbyterian in their religious belief and church connection.  At the time of the religious persecution in Scotland the family ancestors emigrated to the north of Ireland and settled in county Monaghan.  Henry Hervey was born there in 1740.  

At the age of thirty, in company with his cousin William, he came to America, landing at Philadelphia in 1770. Two years later, they came west of the Allegheny mountains and Henry settled in Brooke county, Virginia, then by the western frontier.

During the troublous times of the Revolution, Henry and his wife Margaret were exposed to frequent alarms from fear of the Indians who often passed though this section.  For mutual protection, the settlers built fort "Wells," situated near the site of the old Lover Buffalo church, and about three miles east of the farm on which Mr. Hervey resided.  During the six or seven summers after their marriage, Mrs. Hervey lodged with others in the "fort," while her husband armed for defense, would go out on Monday morning to his work on the farm, remain during the weekend, and return on Saturday evening and spend the Sabbath with his family in the fort.  

They raised nine children, five sons and four daughters.  The seventh-born David, who became the Rev. David Hervey, was born in 1794 and was still living in 1879 (aged 85), the only one still living then of the nine children.  He was living in the old family farm which had been continuously in the ownership of his father and himself ever since the land was taken up by his father in 1772.

Barbara Palmer (

Ann Harvey, the Newfoundland Heroine

The Isle aux Morts, rocky islands off the coast of Newfoundland, had - as its name suggests - witnessed many a shipwreck.  In the summer of 1828, this fate befell the British brig Despatch.  She had left Londonderry in Ireland in late May en route to Québec City, crammed with 200 Irish immigrants.  On Saturday July 10, 1828, forty-two days after leaving port and about three quarters of the way to her destination, a raging storm blew the Despatch onto the rocks near Isle aux Morts.

The Harveys, fishermen from the Channel Islands who lived about four miles from the wreck site, had spotted debris being washed ashore that evening but were unable to investigate due to the storm and approaching darkness.  Upon discovering the wreck the next morning, with the survivors clinging to the rocks, the Harveys started their rescue mission with a vengeance.

Over an incredible three day period, young Ann Harvey - working night and day with her father, 12 year old brother Tom and their Newfoundland dog - was instrumental in saving 168 of the passengers and crew, getting them to land over stormy seas in the Harvey's twelve foot skiff.  With all survivors safe on shore as of Tuesday night, the Harveys continued their incredible rescue operation.  For another exhausting five days, they built makeshift shelters on the beach, shared their home, clothing, all the family's food secured for the winter, and helped to row the survivors to Port aux Basques.

Ann was just seventeen at the time of the shipwreck.  Her accomplishment was recognized in her time and is still remembered today.  In 2003, the artistic director of Shallaway, Susan Knight, commissioned Stephen Hatfield to compose a folk opera to celebrate Ann's legacy.  The resulting work, Ann and Seamus, made its debut in St. John's in 2006.  Contact was made with descendants of the Despatch's survivors and several travelled to St. John's to attend the premiere and to meet descendants of Ann and the Harvey family.

Neil Harvey: A Cricketing Star but not a Superstar

Neil Harvey played cricket for Australia in the 1950's when it was the administrators who ran the game and reaped its rewards, not the players.  The players received money for playing for their country.  But it was a modest stipend - they should be sportsmen rather than mercenaries.  Most needed outside employment to support themselves.

Neil Harvey's early employment history had been chequered.  A three year apprenticeship as a fitter in Melbourne City Council's electric supply department had taken six because of his frequent cricketing absences.  In 1950,  his cricketing captain Lindsay Hassett offered him a step up, a job in his sporting goods store.  He was by that time Australia's premier batsman.

Even with a high public profile, his personal circumstances did not change very much.  He remained at home, sharing a bedroom with his brothers Brian and Ray until he married in 1953.  He continued for many years to wear the cricketing trousers that he had worn in England in 1948.  When his playing days were over in 1963, Neil and his wife went into partnership selling Tupperware as Har-V-Sales.

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