HARVEY, Charles (1756-1843), of Brandon Parva, Norf.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1812 - 1818
1818 - 1826

Family and Education

b. 1756, 3rd s. of Alderman Robert Harvey, merchant, banker and twice mayor of Norwich, by Judith, da. of Capt. Anthony Onley, RN, of Staverton and Catesby, Northants. educ. Lynn; Caius, Camb. 1772-7; M. Temple 1774, called 1780. m. (1) Mar. 1783, Sarah (d. 12 Mar. 1805), da. of John Haynes of Twickenham, Mdx., 1s. 3da.; (2) 27 Mar. 1817, Charlotte Haynes, his first w.’s sister, s.p. suc. mat. uncle Rev. Charles Onley of Stisted Hall, Essex and took name Savill Onley, 14 Dec. 1822.

Offices Held

Bencher, M. Temple 1783; steward, Norwich 1783, recorder 1801-26.

Capt. Norwich vol. inf. 1797, maj. 1803, lt.-col. 1804, col. 1807-8.

Chairman, Penclawdd Copper Co. 1815.


Harvey came of a long established Norwich corporation family, members of which were seven times sheriffs and eight times mayors of Norwich between 1720 and 1800. They were wool merchants and bankers and leaders of the Orange and Purple or ministerialist party in the city, which Harvey’s grandfather Robert contested in 1761. His elder brothers Robert (1751-1820) and John (1755-1842) were prominent wool manufacturers.1 He himself was a barrister on the Norfolk circuit and by the influence of his family became first steward and subsequently recorder of Norwich. As steward he joined Henry Hobart* in presenting a loyal address to the King, 18 June 1792. On 29 Nov. 1793 he wrote to Pitt, asking him, on the strength of his family’s interest and Pitt’s previous acknowledgment of his services to government at Norwich, for a place, mentioning the stamp, salt and tax offices. He renewed this application on 11 Dec. 1793 and 30 July 1794.2

His brother Robert was at first mentioned as a candidate for Norwich on a vacancy in 1799, when Charles sponsored John Frere*, and Charles himself in 1802, as likely to please both parties. Yet his father would not promote his candidature, and though considered more liberal than the rest of his family, Harvey lacked the means, while his brother Robert was thought to be jealous. Nor would William Windham* give his blessing to it.3 After the county election of that year, Harvey acted as assessor in the scrutiny. In 1806 his brother Robert was interested in standing for Norwich, but was prevailed on to give way to John Patteson*; he hoped his father would be placated with a baronetcy.4 In 1807 it was Charles’s turn to come forward and yield to Patteson.5 In 1812, however, he resolved to stand in any case: Patteson had quarrelled over militia matters with the Harveys, all three of whom were militia officers. Although Harvey and Patteson joined forces, Patteson was defeated. Harvey’s election was marred by an unseemly wrangle with the other Member, William Smith, over precedence in the chairing procession, as a result of which he refused to take part in it.6

Harvey was listed a supporter by the Treasury after his election. He first spoke in opposition to Burdett’s submission of a petition on behalf of rioters detained in Ilchester gaol, 21 Dec. 1812. On 5 Mar. 1813 he opposed a clause in a Welsh canal bill because it appeared to authorize encroachment on private property. On the hustings he had promised support for Catholic relief and he gave it on 2 Mar. and 13 May 1813; but he supported Hippisley’s motion of 11 May deprecating concession without securities and on 24 May voted against the bill. He remained hostile in 1816 and 1817. He favoured Christian missions to India, 22 June 1813. On 9 Dec. he promoted a bill to preserve wild fowl from poaching. He approved Horner’s Poor Law bill, with reservations, 13 Dec. He deprecated the inflammatory language used by opponents of the Corn Laws outside the House, 13 May 1814, but voted against their alteration, 23 Feb., 3 Mar. 1815. On 19 Apr. he criticized the renewal of the property tax in its existing form, preferring a lighter burden for those who earned rather than inherited their income. On 1 and 8 June he complained of the ‘disgraceful scenes’ of nude bathing in the Thames near his residence. He voted with ministers on civil list questions, 14 Apr., 31 May 1815, 6, 24 May 1816; and for the army estimates, 6 Mar. 1816. On 8 Apr. he presented a Norwich petition against the malt tax and on 10 May, after three weeks’ leave of absence, spoke on the malt bill. He was in the government majorities on the finance committee and the Admiralty establishment, 7, 25 Feb. 1817. In debate he was obliged to vouch for the respectability of the Norwich reformer Edward Taylor, 28 Feb. 1817. On 8 May he secured a committee to investigate steam boat explosions, one of which had cost 11 lives at Norwich: statutory requirement of wrought iron boilers in steam boats ensued. He voted for the suspension of habeas corpus, 23 June 1817, and against censures on its operation, 10, 11 Feb. 1818. He opposed Brougham’s motion for inquiry into the education of the poor, 3 June 1818, having requested the exemption of Norwich free schools from investigation into abuses of charities.

In 1818 Harvey described himself in his election address as ‘too proud to court either the administration or the people’; which was odd, considering that he declined a popular contest at Norwich in favour of a ‘comeattible borough’ in Ireland, placed by Lord Charleville at Treasury disposal. He was not very active in the ensuing Parliament. Apart from voting against Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May 1819, and for the foreign enlistment bill, 10 June, he concerned himself in debate mainly with the findings of the Penryn election committee, of which he was a member. He opposed the extension of the franchise there, 22 June. He died 31 Aug. 1843.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. G. Cozens-Hardy and E. A. Kent, Mayors of Norwich, passim; Gent. Mag. (1842), i. 555.
  • 2. Norf. RO, Colman Lib. mss 37; PRO 30/8/142, ff. 308, 310, 312.
  • 3. Colman Lib. mss 632, ff. 17, 31; Frere mss, Frere to his wife, 15 May 1799; Bucks. RO, Hobart mss H.96-98.
  • 4. Add. 37884, ff. 205, 209, 212.
  • 5. Norf. Chron. 2 May 1807.
  • 6. The Poll (1812), 5, 12.