Sir Henry Harvey

1737-1810. He was born in July 1737 at Elmton, Kent, the second son of Richard Harvey of Eastry, Kent, and his wife, Elizabeth Nichols. He was the father of Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Harvey, brother of Captain John Harvey, and uncle of Admiral Sir Edward Harvey and Admiral Sir John Harvey.

Having been educated at l’École Royale de la Marine at Calais he had a short spell in the merchant marine before entering the navy in May 1751 aboard the Centaur 20, Captain Henry Cosby, seeing later service on the Nightingale 20, Captain Dudley Digges, and serving on both vessels in North American waters. In 1756 he joined the Devonshire 66, Captain John Moore, forming part of Vice-Admiral Hon. Edward Boscawen’s Channel fleet, and on 10 March 1757 he was commissioned lieutenant of the Hampshire 50, Captain Coningsbury Norbury, serving off North America and at Jamaica. He removed thereafter as first lieutenant to the Hussar 28, Captain Robert Carkett, which joined the Jamaican station in 1760 but on 23 May 1762 was ship-wrecked off Cape St. Francis. Returning to Jamaica on parole, he was consequently a frustrated bystander during the expedition against Havana, and shortly afterwards left for England in the Dragon 74, Captain Hon. Augustus John Hervey.

From 1763-5 he served off North America, initially as first lieutenant aboard the Mermaid 28, Captain Joseph Deane, then as commander of the schooner Magdalen 6 from November 1764, in which vessel he patrolled the St. Lawrence waterway in the prevention of smuggling. After returning to England he commanded the revenue cutter Swift 4 in the Channel and the North Sea from 1768-71, and in March 1773 sailed as first lieutenant in the Racehorse 18 with his friend, Captain Hon. Constantine John Phipps, to the North Pole. He was promoted commander on 15 October 1773 at the expiration of the voyage.

In January 1776 he joined the sloop Martin 14 going out to North America, in which he was present at the relief of Quebec on 6 May 1776, afterwards joining the squadron commanded by Vice-Admiral John Montagu off Newfoundland. On 9 May 1777 he was posted by Montagu to the frigate Squirrel 24 at St. John’s, being engaged on convoy duty to Africa in February 1778, then in November was appointed to commission the new Convert 32 for service in the Irish Sea, off Scotland and on convoy duty, although he temporarily commanded the Courageux 74 whilst she was fitting out for his friend Phipps, the newly ennobled Captain Lord Mulgrave. His duties aboard the Convert took him to the relief of Jersey in May 1779 under the orders of Captain John Lewis Gidoin, in search of John Paul Jones off Ireland, and to Quebec with the trade. In December 1779 he joined Admiral Sir George Rodney’s fleet in the Leeward Islands where he spent some time either cruising or shadowing the French, and three years later fought at the Battles of St. Kitts on 26 January 1782. He was present but inactive at the Battle of the Saintes on 12 April before returning home in August 1782 and being paid off in the following month. In December he was appointed to the Cleopatra 32, which was paid off in April of 1783.

In March 1786 he was appointed to recommission the frigate Rose 28, but was then ordered to commission the Pegasus 28 which was fitting out for Newfoundland and was to be the command of Prince William. For a short time the prince was first lieutenant to Harvey, and then upon the young royal taking up his command Harvey reverted to the Rose, sailing in company with the Pegasus in June and rightly being praised for his skilful handling of a difficult situation. He returned to Newfoundland in May 1787 and May 1788, before the Rose returned to England to be paid off in December 1788. During this period Harvey lost his eldest son Henry, an acting-lieutenant, when having rushed to the side of the ship off St. Peter’s Island with a number of other men to observe a fish caught by the gunner he lost his footing when the hammock stanchions gave way under the press of men and fell overboard.

On 24 June 1790 Harvey was appointed to the Alfred 74 during the Nookta Sound dispute, and in October to the Colossus 74 which he commanded through to the following August at Spithead before going on half-pay.

Sir Henry Harvey

Sir Henry Harvey

In February 1793 he commissioned the new Ramillies 74 for service in the Channel, participating in the Channel fleet cruises of 14 July- 10 August and October-December, and participating in the chase of Rear-Admiral Vanstabel’s squadron on 18 November. He led the rear division at the Battle of the Glorious First of June 1794 where he lost two men killed and seven wounded, and at which engagement his brother, Captain John Harvey, was mortally wounded, despite the devastating support for his ship from the Ramillies. During the battle Harvey’s officers took possession of the French Achille.

He was promoted rear-admiral on 4 July 1794, commanding a squadron in the North Sea with his flag in the Sheerness 44, Captain William Fairfax, and later on a three month winter cruise off Norway where he was driven north by foul weather and was forced to return to the Downs without the majority of his squadron. During the year he lost a second son, Richard Harvey, who was serving as a lieutenant aboard the Ardent 64, Captain Robert Manners Sutton, when she blew up off Genoa on the 11 April 1794 with the loss of all hands.

From January 1795 Harvey flew his flag aboard the Prince of Wales 98, Captain John Bazely, serving in the Channel and being present at the action off Lorient on 23 June 1795 where his ship did not suffer any casualties. He was also being detached on a number of independent missions in command of small squadrons and with his nephew, Captain John Harvey, being appointed his flag-captain at the end of July. During September he commanded the blockade off Brest and Lorient whilst Admiral Lord Bridport remained in England, and in February 1796 he was sent in command of four sail of the line and two frigates to search for a Dutch squadron off Cape Clear, this being the force which eventually surrendered to Vice-Admiral Sir George Keith Elphinstone in Saldanha Bay on 17 August.

He was appointed commander-in-chief in the Leeward Isles when Rear-Admiral Hugh Christian was surprisingly recalled in April 1796, being based at Port Royal, Martinique, with his flag still aboard the Prince of Wales, Captain John Harvey. On 18 February 1797 he captured Trinidad with an Army commanded by Lieutenant-General Sir Ralph Abercromby, the Spanish scuttling three out of four sail of the line and a frigate. An attack on Puerto Rico in April proved unsuccessful, Harvey’s force being repulsed. By January 1798 Captain Richard Brown had assumed the duties of flag captain, on 14 February 1799 Harvey was promoted vice-admiral, and in July 1799 was succeeded at his own instigation by Vice-Admiral Lord Hugh Seymour, returning to England in the frigate Concorde 36, Captain Robert Barton.

In 1800 he was invested with the K.B and he joined Admiral Lord St. Vincent in the Channel with his flag briefly in the Atlas 98, Captain Richard Brown, and from January 1801 the Royal Sovereign 100, Captain Richard Raggett. He remained on this duty until the peace of the following year, commanding the fleet at sea when St. Vincent wintered ashore and after Admiral Sir Hyde Parker had departed to lead the Baltic Expedition. It was whilst he was in command that Admiral Ganteaume’s fleet cruised at sea from January to July 1801.

He became an admiral on 23 April 1804 and died at Walmer on 28 December 1810.

In 1768 he married Elizabeth Boys, 1740-1823, daughter of Captain William Boys the ex lieutenant-governor of Greenwich and had four sons, two of whom predeceased him in accidents at sea, together with a daughter.

From 1762 he enjoyed a great friendship with Constantine Phipps, the future Lord Mulgrave and first lord of the Admiralty. He was a devout Christian, and of a cheerful character.