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SIR ELIAB HARVEY, G.C.B.
THE SENIOR ADMIRAL OF THE BLUE; KNIGHT IN PARLIAMENT
FOR THE COUNTY OF ESSEX; AND FELLOW OF THE ROYAL
Sir Eliab was the last male descendant of a family which settled at Chigwell, in the person of Sir Eliab Harvey, brother to William Harvey, M.D., the immortal discoverer of the circulation of the blood. His father, William Harvey, Esq., was Member for Essex from 1722 to 1727, and from 1747 till his death in 1763. William Harvey, Esq., elder brother to Sir Eliab, was elected in 1775, but died in 1779, at the age of thirty-five. After his death, the subject of this Memoir was under the guardianship of his uncle, General Edward Harvey, Adjutant-general of the Forces. Eliab, another uncle, was a King's Counsel, and some time M. P. for Dunwich.
Mr. Eliab Harvey 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) M.Bride. He served in the same capacity in the Lynx, of 10 guns, at the Leeward Islands; and subsequently with Lord Howe, in the Eagle 74, whom he joined in 1775 on the coast of North America, at the eventful period of the revolt of the American provinces. Whilst on that station, he was occasionally lent to the Mermaid and Liverpool, and had the misfortune to be cast away in the latter upon Long Island.
He returned to England with Lord Howe, October 25. 1778, and was soon after promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. In 1781, he joined the Dolphin, of 44 guns, on the North Sea station; and from that 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, Captain Harvey was appointed to the Santa Margaritta, a fine frigate, in which he served at the reduction of Martinique and Guadaloupe.
In the autumn of 1794, he assisted at the destruction of La Felicité French frigate, and two corvettes, near the Penmarks. Early in 1796, he removed into the Valiant, of 74 guns; and on the 11th of 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, he 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 ; and on the renewal of hostilities in 1803, he assumed the command of the Temeraire, a second rate, in which ship he greatly distinguished himself at the battle of Trafalgar, October 21. 1805. 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.*
A few days after the battle, Captain Harvey received the following handsome communication from Nelson's brave and worthy
“ 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 unburt; 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 be again attempt any thing. I am, dear Sir, with great esteem, your faithful humble Servant,
* 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.
At the general promotion that took place on the 9th of the following month, in honour of the 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 feet, under the orders of Earl St. Vincent. Previously to his sailing, he attended the funeral of his late heroic chief, and was one of the supporters of the pall at that memorable solemnity.
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,
Rear-Admiral Harvey continued to serve in the Channel fleet until the spring of 1809, at which period a serious misunderstanding took place between him and Lord Gambier, who at that time held the chief command.
On the 22d of May, 1809, a Court-Martial assembled on board the Gladiator at Portsmouth, for the trial of Rear-Admiral Harvey, on charges which imputed disrespect to his superior officer, Admiral Lord Gambier, Commander-in-Chief of the Channel fleet'; and which charges were comprised in two letters addressed to the Secretary of the Admiralty. The first letter stated that when he (Lord Gambier) had informed Rear-Admiral Harvey that the Admiralty had ordered Lord Cochrane to be employed in attempting to destroy the enemy's fleet in Basque Roads, the Rear-Admiral declared in the most violent and disrespectful manner, and desired Lord Gambier to consider it as official communication, that if he were passed by, and Lord Cochrane, or any junior officer, appointed in preference, he should immediately desire to strike his flag and resign his commission. In the progress of the conversation, the Rear Admiral complained of his having been neglected, both by Lord Gambier, and other members of former Boards of Admiralty; and declared that he had differed from him with respect to his conduct in the command of the fleet, and that he would impeach him for misconduct and bad management. The second letter requested a Court-Martial to be held upon Rear-Admiral Harvey. Lord Gambier, Sir Harry Burrard Neale, Captains Beresford and Bowen, and Lord Cochrane, were severally examined in support of the charges. The latter admitted that Admiral Harvey had said he was no canting Methodist, no hypocrite, no psalm-singer; but it was evidently unpremeditated, and arose from the warmth of his feelings at the moment. On the following day the Court re-assembled, when the Rear-Admiral shortly stated his intention not to trouble the Court with calling any witnesses, but delivered in a paper, which he desired to be read.. This request was complied with. In the paper the Rear-Admiral observed, that the charges had not been sustained ; that he could not justify one part of his conduct, for which he offered an apology to the Court ; that for the offence he had given to Lord Gambier he had already offered an apology satisfactory to his feelings; that his remarks had been made to officers of rank only, and at a time when he was greatly irritated, in consequence of his offer of attacking the French fleet having been passed over without any acknowledgment of its having been made; in fine, that excess of zeal, and impatience of restraint, where an opportunity of enterprise presented itself, although faults, were such as the most eminent naval commanders had not been free from; and that the effects of those were all that could be found blameable in his conduct. To the paper were appended two letters, one from Admiral Collingwood, the other from Earl St. Vincent, both acknowledging, in high terms, the meritorious services of Rear-Admiral Harvey. After a short deliberation, the Deputy Judge Advocate declared that the Court were of opinion that the charge of using insulting language to Lord Gambier, as well as speaking disrespectfully of him to several officers, had been proved; and adjudged Rear-Admiral Harvey to be dismissed his Majesty's service.
The character, however, of both parties engaged in this lamentable affair was so unimpeachable, that a veil was thrown over the circumstance; and Rear-Admiral Harvey was duly promoted to the rank of Vice-Admiral, 1810; nominated a K. C.B. 1815 ; made a full Admiral, 1819; and a G.C.B. 1825.
Sir Eliab Harvey first entered Parliament in May, 1780, as a Burgess for Maldon, on the death of the Honourable Richard S.
Nassau ; he was re-chosen at the general election in that year, and sat till 1784. He was elected a Verderer of Waltham Forest on the death of Sir William Wake, Bart., in 1786 ; but was not again returned to the House of Commons until chosen for the county at the general election in 1803, when he succeeded Thomas B. Bramston, Esq., whose son is now elected in his room. Sir Eliab has not, however, represented Essex from that time without interruption; he was re-elected in 1806, and 1807, but retired in 1812. In 1812 and 1818, John Archer Houblon, Esq. was returned; but in 1820, Sir Eliab was again successful, and was reelected in 1826. In his political opinions, as descended from an old Tory family, he gave a steady but not servile support to the administrations of Mr. Pitt and the late Earl of Liverpool ; but was in the minority on the great question of Roman Catholic Emancipation.
His death took place at Roll's Park, Chigwell, on the 20th of February, 1830, at the age of seventy-one.
Sir Eliab Harvey married, May 15. 1784, Lady Louisa Nugent, younger daughter and coheir of Robert Earl Nugent, and aunt to the present Duke of Buckingham and Earl Nugent. His eldest son, Captain Harvey, was slain at the siege of Burgos in 1812; William, the younger, died soon after the completion of his twentyfirst year, in 1823. Six daughters survive, of whom the eldest was married, October 8. 1804, to William Lloyd, of Aston, in Shropshire, Esq.; Georgiana, the fourth, April 22. 1816, to John Drummond, jun. Esq. banker; and Emma, the second, February 16. 1830, only four days before her father's death, to Colonel William Cornwallis Eustace, C.B. On the 12th of August, 1830, another daughter, Eliza, was married to Thomas William, son of T. G. Bramston, of Skreens.
The remains of Sir Eliab were deposited, on the 27th of February, in the family mausoleum at Hempsted Church, where also repose those of his great relative, the celebrated Dr. William Harvey. A numerous tenantry, by whom he was most highly respected and beloved for his liberality, preceded the procession. The carriages of Viscount Maynard, the Lord Lieutenant of the county, and other neighbouring gentlemen, followed the corpse.
“ Marshall's Royal Naval Biography,” and “ The Gentleman's Magazine," have furnished the materials for the foregoing Memoir.