HARVEY, Eliab (1758-1830), of Rolls Park, Chigwell, Essex.

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



27 May 1780 - 1784
1802 - 1812
1820 - 20 Feb. 1830

Family and Education

b. 5 Dec. 1758, 4th but 2nd surv. s. of William Harvey of Chigwell by Emma, da. and coh. of Stephen Skynner of Walthamstow. educ. Westminster 1768; Harrow 1770. m. 15 May 1784, Lady Louisa Nugent, da. and coh. of Robert Nugent, 1st Earl Nugent [I] 2s. d.v.p. 6da. suc. bro. William 1779; KCB 2 Jan. 1815; GCB 11 Jan. 1825.

Offices Held

Midshipman RN 1771, lt. 1779, cdr. 1782, capt. 1783, r.-adm. 1805, v.-adm. 1810, adm. 1819.

Cdr. Essex sea fencibles 1798-9.


As Member for Maldon on the Strutt interest, Harvey rallied to Pitt’s ministry in 1784, but did not seek re-election that year. In 1790 he resumed active service in the navy. He served in the reduction of Martinique and Guadeloupe and was again in the West Indies 1796-7. By 1799 he had retrieved his affairs after losing some £60,000 at gambling and was worth £5,000 p.a. He was with the Channel fleet in 1802 when, on the retirement of Bramston as county Member, he stood for Essex, which his father and brother had represented. Lord St. Vincent informed Bramston, 20 May 1802, that

the only consolation I feel for the loss of your public services is in the hope of my friend Captain Harvey being your successor, and I wish most heartily I had any influence to offer him, for a more zealous officer does not exist.1

Harvey was returned unopposed on the ‘old Tory’ interest which had returned Bramston, though his wife was connected with the Grenvilles. He spoke in the House from time to time, mostly on naval matters. He favoured the inquiry into naval abuses, 18 Dec. 1802, and on 6 July 1803 regretted that naval defence was not being debated,2 though he doubted (23 July) whether the French could effect a landing in England. On 2 and 10 Aug. 1803 he presented petitions from naval officers calling for the better regulation of prize awards, which might be given to commissioners of inquiry to investigate; it was a step he had himself advocated in the House on 28 June. He was subsequently at sea and in the lists of 1804 appeared as ‘doubtful’ and ‘doubtful Fox and Grenville’. After voting against the censure of Melville, 8 Apr. 1805, he appeared in the majority for his criminal prosecution on 12 June. A month later he was listed ‘Pitt’ and in supporting the motion for the payment of Pitt’s debts, 3 Feb. 1806, claimed that he ‘generally agreed with him’, though they necessarily ‘sometimes’ differed.

Meanwhile he had been one of the heroes of Trafalgar. His relatives the Grosvenors had wished Pitt to bestow an Irish peerage or the red ribbon on him.3 On 11 Feb. 1806 he was a spokesman for Lord Collingwood’s annuity bill. He opposed a clause proposed to penalize collectors for excessive charges under the property duty bill, 19 May 1806. He then proceeded to the West Indies, so his attitude towards the Grenville ministry escaped definition. He was re-elected in absentia that year and listed adverse to the abolition of the slave trade, but ‘at sea’.4 On 10 July 1807 he disparaged Lord Cochrane’s motion alleging naval abuses. He voted for Burdett’s motion for an inquiry into the droits of Admiralty, 11 Feb. 1808. On 9 and 16 May he defended the professional reputation of Sir John Thomas Duckworth*, then under attack: he had already done so earlier (7 June 1805). As Member for a ‘barley county’ he opposed the veto on distillation from grain, 13 Apr., 19 May 1808, as it was calculated ‘to ruin the farmer for the sake of affording partial relief to the West India planters and merchants’. On 23 May he presented a constituents’ petition against it. He defended the Plymouth Dock police bill, 8 June.

On 14 Apr. 1809 the House was informed that Harvey was shortly to be tried by a court-martial at Portsmouth. His ‘intemperate manner’ was a byword in the profession, and he was found guilty of using threatening language to Lord Gambier and of speaking disrespectfully of him to other officers. His anger arose out of Lord Cochrane’s being given a special command. He was dismissed the service, but reinstated on petition, 21 Mar. 1810.5 He was promoted, but never received another command. In the doldrums—he was virtually sure of facing a contest for Essex at the next election—his politics wavered. He voted with ministers on the address, 23 Jan. 1810. He spoke in favour of an inquiry into the Scheldt expedition, to preserve professional honour, but voted against, 26 Jan. This was Canning’s doing. When Harvey asked him what line he would take and Canning told him, he ‘got up and took it before me’.6 On 23 Feb. he voted with the opposition majority on the same subject, reverting to ministers on 5 and 30 Mar. The Whigs were therefore justified in listing him ‘doubtful’ from their point of view at that time. On 3 Apr. he deprecated a court-martial on Sir Alexander Cochrane*. He was a critic of the Middlesex petition on Burdett’s behalf, 3 May, and voted against sinecure reform, 17 May, and parliamentary reform, 21 May. He was in the government minority on the Regency, 1 Jan. 1811. On 15 Mar. he joined in the debate on the naval estimates and favoured a committee to investigate the pay of naval officers on foreign stations, 9 Apr., 12 June. On 6 June 1811 he welcomed the reinstatement of the Duke of York in his army command, believing that he had been sufficiently punished by two years’ deprivation of it.

In the session of 1812 he again spoke on the naval estimates. On the subject of flogging servicemen, he insisted, 10 June 1808, 16 Mar. 1812, that the French were also given to it. He opposed the sea water baths bill, 9 Apr. 1812, out of deference to the fear of the Essex gentry that they would be overwhelmed by metropolitan bathers. On 4 May he opposed the sinecure offices bill. He pressed for an additional grant to the assassinated Perceval’s family, 13 May, and on 15 May seconded the motion for a monument to him in Westminster Abbey. On 21 May he was in the majority for a more effective administration, but, it appears, opposed to the address being carried to the Regent by the privy councillors. He was called to order by the Speaker while trying to justify this, but snubbed when he attempted to revenge himself by calling Whitbread and Charles Williams Wynn to order. He voted against Catholic relief, 22 June, and against the leather tax, 1 July.

Harvey faced a contest for Essex in 1812. His son-in-law hinted, 3 Oct.,

nothing but your being employed upon the American station (supposing war to be certain) could repay the loss. And unless your being Member for Essex is the main object, you may have a seat in Parliament for a fifth of the expense. Why not exchange with Mr Western?

(Charles Callis Western was vacating his seat for Maldon to contest the county, but the suggestion was not practicable). Harvey, who found that his colleague was not prepared to share the expenses, wished to give up ‘that wrangling House of Commons’ but to do so without loss of character: ‘I am complained of for not visiting the different towns, but I am idle and like my farm better than the blackguard canvass of low and interested free-holders’. He added that he would doubtless have to face ‘a second edition’ of the contest ‘within two or three years’.7 So he took leave of Essex, owning that his family could not be expected to face ‘expense without limit’. Others consoled him with the thought that he would be relieved of the embarrassment of being on opposite sides in politics from his wife’s family and that, if he had stood, he would have been successful.8 In 1820 he regained his seat unopposed. He died 20 Feb. 1830.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Authors: Winifred Stokes / R. G. Thorne


  • 1. DNB; Farington Diary (Yale ed.), iv. 1287; St. Vincent Letters (Navy Recs. Soc. lxi), 85.
  • 2. The Times, 7 July 1803.
  • 3. PRO 30/8/140, ff. 333, 348.
  • 4. Add. 51917.
  • 5. Farington, v. 173; Geo. III Corresp. v. 4111.
  • 6. NLW, Aston Hall mss 2847; Harewood mss, Canning to his wife, 27 Jan. 1810.
  • 7. Aston Hall mss 453, 7197.
  • 8. Ibid. 1735a, 2570; Morning Chron. 8 Oct. 1812.