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 cole Royale de la Marine at Calais, Harvey had a short spell in the merchant marine before entering the navy in May 1751 aboard the Centaur 20, Captain Henry Cosby, seeing later duty on the Nightingale 20, Captain Dudley Digges, and serving on both vessels in North American waters.

In April 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 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.

Sir Henry Harvey

From April 1763 Harvey served off North America, initially as the 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 whilst retaining her until November 1767. 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 to the North Pole as the first lieutenant of the Racehorse 18 under his friend, Captain Hon. Constantine John Phipps. He was promoted commander on 15 October at the expiration of the voyage.

In January 1776 he joined the sloop Martin 14 in which he was present at the Relief of Quebec on 6 May, afterwards being sent down the St. Lawrence to Sorel in order to ascertain whether it was feasible to transport six armed vessels across the rapids to Lake Champlain. He next joined the squadron commanded by Vice-Admiral John Montagu at Newfoundland, and on 9 May 1777 was posted by Montagu to the frigate Squirrel 24 at St. John s. He returned to England via Lisbon with a convoy in November, several of whose captains he castigated in a letter to the Admiralty for failing to remain in company.

In the last week of January 1778 the Squirrel arrived at Portsmouth from the Downs, and in the middle of the following month set sail for Senegal with a convoy under the orders of Captain John Stott of the Minerva 32. She spent the summer on the Guinea Coast before reaching the Scilly Isles with the return convoy towards the end of September, prior to putting into Portsmouth with a valuable prize snow that she had taken in passage. During the following month she sailed from Portsmouth to Plymouth with wages for the dockyard workers,

In December 1778 Harvey was appointed to commission the Convert 32, which as the French frigate Pallas had been captured prior to the Battle of Ushant earlier in the year, however, whilst she was fitting for sea he temporarily commanded the Courageux 74 for the newly ennobled Captain Lord Mulgrave who was required to give evidence as a key witness in Admiral Hon. Augustus Keppel s court martial. Departing Spithead at the end of January, he patrolled off Cape Clear in February with the Valiant 74 under an acting-captain and the Arethusa 32, Captain Charles Holmes Everett, in order to protect the outgoing victuallers for North America. The Courageux then entered Portsmouth on 1 April to be refitted and coppered.

Rejoining the Convert, Harvey sailed for the Channel Islands in April 1779 and was present at the relief of Jersey in May under the orders of Captain John Lewis Gidoin before being despatched in search of the American privateer commander John Paul Jones off Ireland in the following month. He later sailed to Quebec with the trade, prior to departing the St. Lawrence at the end of October and arriving back at Portsmouth on 4 December.

On Christmas Day 1779 the Convert departed England with the several convoys and a grand fleet under the overall command of Admiral Sir George Brydges Rodney, and being detached with the Leeward Islands convoy she reached Barbados in the company of the Andromeda 28, Captain Henry Bryne, and thirty sail under escort on 12 February 1780. Remaining on that station, Harvey spent some time either cruising or shadowing the French, and in August joined a small squadron that was sent to detain a number of American vessels at neutral St. Martens. The Convert was present at the Battle of St. Kitts on 26 January 1782, and during March was sent with several smaller vessels to drive an American squadron under John Paul Jones away from Tortola, although by the time they arrived the enemy had already departed. She was later with the fleet prior to the Battle of the Saintes on 12 April and returned home with a convoy in August to be paid off in the following month.

In December 1782 Harvey was appointed to the Cleopatra 32, in which he cruised out of Portsmouth in the following year before being paid off at Sheerness at the end of April 1783 following the termination of the American Revolutionary War.

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 HRH Prince William. For a short time the prince acted as the 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 the headstrong prince. He sailed once more for Newfoundland in May 1787, returning to Portsmouth on 17 November as was the custom, and then departing for the station again in May 1788 and returning to Portsmouth in November to be paid off in the following month. During this period Harvey lost his eldest son Henry, an acting-lieutenant, when the Rose s hammock stanchions gave way and he fell overboard after a number of men had rushed to the side of the frigate off St. Pierre to observe a fish caught by the gunner.

In June 1790, during the Spanish Armament, Harvey was appointed to the Alfred 74, and in October removed to the Colossus 74. In early November this vessel s launch grounded in the surf near Blockhouse Point when attempting to work out of Portsmouth harbour and three women and a child were lost. He continued to command the Colossus through the Russian Armament of 1791 at Spithead until paid off in August.

In February 1793, following the commencement of the French Revolutionary War, he began commissioning the new Ramillies 74 at Chatham for service in the Channel, although his command was still in the Medway that April. Once at sea he participated in the Channel fleet cruises of July- August and October-December, and in the chase of Rear-Admiral Vanstabel s squadron on 18 November.

On 11 April 1794 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 with the death of all aboard. A further family tragedy occurred at the Battle of the Glorious First of June where Harvey’s younger brother, Captain John Harvey, was mortally wounded, despite the devastating support his ship, the Brunswick 74, received from the Ramillies. During the battle the Ramillies led the rear division and she lost two men killed and seven wounded, with Harvey s officers taking possession of the French Achille 74.Battle of the Glorious First of June in 1794

Harvey was promoted rear-admiral on 4 July and hoisted his flag at Deal six days later aboard the Pegasus 28, Captain Robert Barlow, before transferring to the Sheerness 44, Captain William Fairfax, in the middle of August. Under his command a squadron otherwise consisting of four frigates and two sloops was sent to Flushing to assist the Dutch in the defence of Zealand, and it then cruised in the North Sea, although with little joy. The squadron later embarked on a cruise off Norway where it was driven north by foul weather and the Sheerness was at one point given up for lost. Harvey was forced to return to the Downs on the last day of the year where he remained at anchor for some weeks before the Sheerness was sent around to Portsmouth.

By the end of January 1795 Harvey had raised his flag at Portsmouth aboard the Prince of Wales 98, Captain John Bazely, and he sailed with the Channel fleet in the following month. In March he took five sail of the line from Portsmouth around to the Downs in order to provide protection to the convoy bringing Princess Caroline of Brunswick to England, and he then received further orders to proceed to the Elbe to embark British troops, although he spent much of the next few weeks cruising in the North Sea. His enhanced squadron of five sail of the line and five frigates eventually appeared off the Northumberland coast at the beginning of May with one hundred and twenty transports carrying troops from Bremen to be landed at Sunderland. On 23 May he arrived back at Portsmouth, and put to sea with the Channel fleet under the command of Admiral Lord Bridport, and he was present at the Battle of Groix on 23 June where his ship did not suffer any casualties.

Harvey s nephew, Captain John Harvey, was appointed his flag-captain at the end of July 1795, at which time the admiral was waiting at Spithead with a squadron of six sail of the line to embark on a special mission, Accordingly at the end of August he set sail in escort of over two hundred transports carrying four thousand British troops, accompanied by the Comte d Artois and other members of the French nobility, who it had been intended would support the Royalist uprising in Quiberon Bay. However, as Republican forces had already quelled that revolt the troops were deposited on the Isle d Yeu with the intention that it be used for a base for future operations. During September and October Harvey cruised off the French coast whilst Bridport remained in England, and with the Royalist uprising proving futile the troops from the Isle d Yeu were re-embarked and he brought his fleet and the transports into Spithead on 2 January 1796.

On 29 February 1796 Harvey sailed from Spithead in command of six sail of the line and three frigates to search for a Dutch fleet which was at sea, and he deployed his squadron off Cape Clear, Ireland before returning to Portsmouth at the end of March. This Dutch squadron was the force which eventually surrendered to Vice-Admiral Hon. Sir George Keith Elphinstone in Saldanha Bay on 17 August.

Harvey was next appointed the commander-in-chief in the Leeward Isles in April 1796 when Rear-Admiral Hugh Christian was surprisingly recalled and that officer s initial replacement, the sickly and somewhat fatigued Vice-Admiral Hon. William Cornwallis, was brought to a court-martial for refusing to sail to the station upon a frigate. After attending the Admiralty in London on 11 April Harvey, with his flag still aboard the Prince of Wales, Captain John Harvey, departed St. Helens with the East India, Mediterranean and Leeward Islands convoys on 17 May and arrived safe at Barbados twenty-nine days later. On the same afternoon he left for the main British base at Port Royal, Martinique where he superseded Rear-Admiral Christian, and where he would remain for most of his tenure, particularly during the autumnal hurricane seasons.

On 14 November 1796 he put out on a cruise with four sail of the line but was back by the beginning of December, and on 18 February 1797 he captured Trinidad in co-operation with Lieutenant-General Sir Ralph Abercromby, the Spanish scuttling three out of four sail of the line and a frigate rather than let them fall into British hands. A subsequent attack on Puerto Rico in April proved unsuccessful, the combined force being insufficient to attack the superior number of the enemy. Later in the year, when news of the home fleet mutinies reached Martinique, Harvey was able to maintain discipline in the Leeward Islands by flogging several men around the fleet for attempting their own insurrections. He also had to deal with the notoriously highly strung Acting-Commander Lord Camelford after that officer had shot Lieutenant Charles Peterson at Antigua in cold blood during a dispute over seniority on 13 January 1798.

By January 1798 Captain Richard Brown had assumed the duties of flag captain aboard the Prince of Wales, and early that year Harvey took his fleet to sea upon receiving intelligence that a Spanish force was rumoured to be heading for the islands, although after a fortnight s cruise he put back to later discover that they had harboured in Puerto Rico. In September a serious outbreak of yellow fever occurred amongst the shipping at Fort Royal which had been closely anchored in protection against the hurricane season, and in the same period his secretary, a gentleman by the name of Briggs, was slain in a duel by the son of Rear-Admiral William Truscott.

On 14 February 1799 Harvey was promoted vice-admiral, and in July he was succeeded in the Leeward Islands at his own instigation by Vice-Admiral Lord Hugh Seymour, returning to Portsmouth on 19 September aboard the frigate Concorde 36, Captain Robert Barton, and being introduced to the King shortly afterwards. Throughout his period in command his cruisers had been most successful in capturing French privateers in addition to making many other prizes.

In January 1800 he was invested with the K.B., and he joined Admiral Lord St. Vincent in the Channel with his flag briefly on the Atlas 98, Captain Richard Brown, before transferring to the Royal Sovereign 100 with Captain Brown in Cawsand Bay on 30 August. He sailed from Torbay at the end of October in command of the fleet whilst St. Vincent remained ashore at Torre Abbey, but was regularly to put in to Torbay over the ensuing months as the weather and circumstances dictated.

In January 1801 Captain Richard Raggett became Harvey s flag captain aboard the Royal Sovereign 100, and he remained on Channel duty commanding the fleet at sea when St. Vincent wintered ashore and the second-in-command, Admiral Sir Hyde Parker, was detailed to lead the Baltic Expedition. On 8 January he was able to prevent a French squadron of seven sail of the line under Rear-Admiral Honor Ganteaume from putting to sea, although the tenacious French commander did manage to get away in stormy weather two weeks later. Following the termination of the French Revolutionary War Harvey struck his flag aboard the Royal Sovereign at Torbay on 6 April 1802 and this brought an end to his active service.

Harvey was advanced to the rank of admiral on 23 April 1804 and died at his residence at Walmer on 28 December 1810.

In 1768 he married Elizabeth Boys, 1740-1823, the daughter of Captain William Boys who had served as the lieutenant-governor of Greenwich Hospital, and the couple 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.