HARVEY, Eliab (1716-69), of Claybury Hall, Barking, Essex

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1761 - 1768

Family and Education

b. 23 May 1716, 2nd s. of William Harvey, M.P., and bro. of Edward and William Harvey.  educ. Westminster 1724; Trinity, Camb. 1734; I. Temple 1733, called 1741.  m. 20 Nov. 1756, Mary, da. of Richard Benyon of Gidea Hall, Essex, sis. of Richard Benyon.

Offices Held

K.C. 1758; reader, I. Temple 1766, treasurer 1767.


Harvey was nominated by Henry Fox at Dunwich, for which place his brother Edward had been originally selected. On 17 Feb. 1761 Fox wrote to Fitzmaurice:1 ‘Mr. Eliab Harvey will be chose at Dunwich and keep his seat there, if the Colonel [Edward Harvey] keeps his at Midhurst. If not the Counsellor will give way to the Colonel.’ Consequently when a compromise at Midhurst left Edward Harvey without a seat, Eliab was offered the chief justiceship of Ireland in lieu of Dunwich. ‘Surely he should accept what will secure him a fortune’, wrote Fox to a friend,2 ‘and if he lives ten years, a peerage and head of the law in Ireland.’ But Harvey refused. ‘He says his fortune is easy’, wrote Richard Rigby to Newcastle, 10 Mar. ‘and his practice in his profession increasing, and therefore he does not choose leaving his own country.’3 He was returned unopposed at Dunwich, and Edward was left without a seat.

Harvey was a frequent speaker on a diversity of subjects. Horace Walpole thought that his speech against the war in Germany, 13 Nov. 1761, was ‘very sensible’;4 and Lord George Sackville reported that he spoke ‘ably and like a gentleman and was attended to accordingly’.5 James Harris noted that as a speaker he had ‘force and precision’.6

Classed in Bute’s list of December 1761 as a follower of Fox, he appears in Fox’s list of Members favourable to the peace preliminaries, December 1762. He was present at the meeting at Sir Francis Dashwood’s, 25 Feb. 1763, of ‘60 or 70 persons, Tories and others’, met to give the King their opinion about troops in Ireland, and declared ‘that an augmentation in Ireland could not be made without an Act of Parliament’.7 Harvey is not known to have voted in opposition till 1766, when he opposed the repeal of the Stamp Act, 22 Feb. He voted with Chatham’s Administration on the land tax, 27 Feb. 1767.

Harvey did not stand again for Dunwich in 1768, the interest there no longer being at the disposal of Government. He was nominated for Essex at a meeting of country gentlemen discontented with the sitting Members, but came bottom of the poll, with 1792 votes against 2035 for Jacob Houblon, the other unsuccessful candidate.  He died 23 Oct. 1769.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Mary M. Drummond


  • 1. Lansdowne mss.
  • 2. Hen. Fox mss.
  • 3. Add. 32920, f. 74.
  • 4. Mems. Geo. III, i. 73.
  • 5. HMC Stopford-Sackville, i. 86.
  • 6. Harris’s ‘Debates’.
  • 7. Add. 32947, ff. 92-93.