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Royal Naval Biography/Harvey, Eliab


SIR ELIAB HARVEY,

Admiral of the Blue; Knight Commander of the most honourable Military Order of the Bath; and Member of Parliament for the county of Essex.

This officer, descended from an opulent family in the county he now represents, is a son of the late William Harvey, of Rolls, Chigwell, Esq., M.P. for the same shire, and was educated under the guardianship of his uncle General Edward Harvey[1]. He entered the naval service in 1771, as a Midshipman, in the William and Mary yacht; and was thence removed to the Orpheus frigate, commanded by Captain (afterwards Admiral) Macbride. We next find him serving in the same capacity on board the Lynx, of 10 guns, at the Leeward Islands; and subsequently with Lord Howe, in the Eagle, of 74 guns, on the coast of North America[2]. Whilst on the latter station, he was occasionally lent to the Mermaid and Liverpool, and had the misfortune to be cast away in the latter, upon Long Island.

Mr. Harvey returned to England with Lord Howe, Oct. 25, 1778, and was soon after promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. In 1780, upon the death of Mr. Nassau, he was elected M.P. for the borough of Maldon, in Essex; and subsequent to the action between Sir Hyde Parker and Admiral Zoutman, Aug. 5, 1781[3], he joined the Dolphin, of 44 guns, on the North Sea station, from which ship he removed into the Fury at Spithead, a few days prior to his being made a Commander in the Otter brig, then recently launched, and fitting at Deptford. In this vessel, Captain Harvey was employed in the North Sea until January 1783, on the 20th of which month he was advanced to post rank by the express command of his late Majesty, but does not appear to have served again afloat until the Spanish armament, in 1790, when he obtained the command of the Hussar, of 28 guns.

At the commencement of the French revolutionary war, our officer was appointed to the Santa Margaritta a fine frigate, in which he served at the reduction of Martinique and Guadaloupe by the naval and military forces under the orders of Admiral Sir John Jervis, and General Sir Charles Grey[4].

In the autumn of 1794, Captain Harvey assisted at the destruction of la Felicité, French frigate, and two corvettes, near the Penmarks[5]. Early in 1796, he removed into the Valiant, of 74 guns, and on the llth August in the same year, sailed for the West Indies in company with Vice-Admiral Sir Hyde Parker, and the trade bound to that quarter. After remaining some time at the Leeward Islands, our officer proceeded to the Jamaica station, and invalided from St. Domingo in 1797.

On the first establishment of the Sea Fencibles, in the spring of 1798, Captain Harvey was entrusted with the command of the Essex district, on which service he continued about fifteen or sixteen months, and then received an appointment to the Triumph, of 74 guns. He served with the Channel fleet during the remainder of the war.

At the general election in 1802, Captain Harvey succeeded Mr. Bramston as M.P. for Essex, and continued to represent that county until 1812, when he retired to avoid the expence of a contest. On the renewal of hostilities in 1803, he assumed the command of the Temeraire, a second rate, in which ship he greatly distinguished himself on the ever memorable 21st Oct. 1805[6]. The Temeraire was that day the next vessel astern of the Victory, bearing Lord Nelson’s flag, and had no less than 47 men killed and 76 wounded; 43 of her crew likewise perished in the prizes, after the battle[7].

A few days after the action, the subject of this sketch had the satisfaction of receiving the following handsome communication from Nelson’s brave and worthy successor:

Euryalus, Oct. 28, 1805.

“My dear Sir. I congratulate you most sincerely on the victory his Majesty’s fleet has obtained over the enemy, and on the noble and distinguished part the Temeraire took in the battle; nothing could be finer; I have not words in which I can sufficiently express my admiration of it. I hope to hear you are unhurt; and pray send me your report of killed and wounded, with the officers’ names who fell in the action, and the state of your own ship, whether you can get her in a state to meet Gravina, should he again attempt anything.

“I am, dear Sir, with great esteem,
“Your faithful humble servant,
(Signed)Cuthbert Collingwood.

Captain E. Harvey, Temeraire.

At the general promotion that took place on the 9th of the following month, in honour of the above mentioned victory, Captain Harvey was advanced to the rank of Rear-Admiral; and on the change of administration in the ensuing spring, he hoisted his flag on board the Tonnant, of 80 guns, in the Channel fleet, under the orders of Earl St. Vincent. Previous to his sailing he attended the funeral of his late heroic chief, and appears to have been one of the supporters of the pall on that melancholy occasion.

On the retirement of Earl St. Vincent from the command of the grand fleet, his Lordship addressed the following letter to the Rear-Admiral:

Mortimer Street, April 22, 1807.

“Sir.– I cannot retire from the command of the Channel fleet, without expressing the high sense I entertain of the ability, zeal, and perseverance displayed by you in the command of a detached squadron during an unexampled long cruise off the north coast of Spain; and assuring you of the esteem and regard with which I have the honour to be, Sir,

“Your most obedient humble servant,
(Signed)“St. Vincent.

Rear-Admiral Harvey.

Our officer continued to serve in the Channel fleet until the spring of 1809, at which period a serious misunderstanding took place between him and the noble Admiral who at that time held the chief command. The nature of this mjsunderstanding is so delicate, and the character of the officers between whom it existed, so unimpeachable, that we purposely draw a veil over circumstances that must, with the mutually high opinion entertained by each of the other’s respective merits, have been exceedingly painful to both parties.

The subject of this sketch was promoted to the rank of Vice-Admiral, July 31, 1810; nominated a K.C.B. Jan. 2, 1815; made a full Admiral, Aug. 12, 1819; and re-elected Knight of the shire for Essex in 1820.

Sir Eliah Harvey married Lady Louisa, daughter of the late Earl of Nugent, and sister of the late Marchioness of Buckingham. His eldest daughter married, Oct. 8, 1804, William Lloyd, of Aston, in Shropshire, Esq.; and another married, April 22, 1816, John Drummond, Esq. son to the London banker of that name.

Country seat.– Rolls Park, Chigwell, Essex.

Town residence.– 6, Clifford Street, Bond Street.

  1. This gentleman appears to have been Adjutant-General of the forces. Eliab, another uncle of the subject of this memoir, was a King’s Counsel.
  2. Mr. Harvey joined the Eagle in 1775, the eventful period at which the American provinces revolted; and the whole of Lord Howe’s command became a scene of obstinate and sanguinary warfare; nevertheless, every enterprise in which the British fleet was concerned, proved successful; and the conquest of New York, of Rhode Island, of Philadelphia, of every settlement within the reach of a naval force, are irrefragable proofs of that nobleman’s abilities and zeal.
  3. See note §, at p. 175.
  4. See p. 19.
  5. See p. 213.
  6. For an account of the battle of Trafalgar, see p. 202, et seq.
  7. Vice-Admiral Collingwood, in his official account of the action, reported that the Temeraire had been boarded by a French ship on one side, and a Spaniard on the other. This was not the case. The error probably arose from the circumstance of one of the Spanish prizes, with her colours over the quarter, bearing up, on the approach of Rear-Admiral Dumanoir’s division, and mixing with the Redoubtable and Fougueux, which ships had been lashed to the Temeraire during the conflict. The enemies’ three ships were all boomed off at the same time. When the despatch alluded to was written, no communication had taken place between the Vice-Admiral and Captain Harvey.