HERVEY (HARVEY), Sir William I (c.1565-1642), of Soberton, Hants and The Strand, Westminster; later of Kidbrooke, Kent

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. c.1565,1 o.s. of Henry Harvey of Chessington, Surr., sgt. of the buckhounds 1564-89, and Jane, da. of James Thomas of Llanvihangel, Glam.2 m. (1) c. Dec. 1598, Mary (d.1607),3 da. of (Sir) Anthony Browne†, 1st Visct. Montagu, wid. of Henry Wriothesley, 2nd earl of Southampton, and of (Sir) Thomas Heneage† of Copt Hall, Essex, v.-chamberlain 1587-95, s.p.;4 (2) 4 Feb. 1608,5 Cordelia (d. 23 Apr. 1636),6 da. and coh. of Brian Ansley† of Lee, Kent, 3s. d.v.p. 4da. (2 d.v.p.).7 suc. fa. 1589;8 kntd. 28 June 1596;9 cr. bt. 31 May 1619,10 Bar. Hervy of Rosse [I] 5 Aug. 1620,11 Bar. Hervey of Kidbrooke 27 Feb. 1628.12 bur. 8 July 1642.13

Offices Held

Gent. pens. by 1589, standard-bearer by 1603-?20.14

Capt. RN 1596,15 r.-adm. 1627;16 member, Council of War 1625-30;17 commr. inquiry into the Navy 1626-7.18

Kpr. St. Andrew’s Castle, Hants 1589-1604;19 commr. piracy, Southampton and I.o.W. 1603,20 survey, L. Inn Fields, Mdx. 1618,21 sewers, Mdx. 1619,22 Kent 1626-31, 1640.23

Remembrancer of first fruits 1605-d.24

Member, E.I. Co. 1618;25 treas. Guiana Co. 1619.26


Hervey was the last of a younger branch of the Ickworth family founded by his grandfather.27 With his uncle Sir George Hervey*, he served with conspicuous gallantry against the Armada, capturing a Spanish ship by swimming up to her, piercing her hull and then overpowering the crew in hand to hand combat. He was officially but erroneously presumed to have lost his life while engaged on a venture overseas in 1590.28 He sold the Chessington property that he had inherited from his father in 1594, and invested the proceeds (less £1,400 required for the modest portions of his seven sisters) in maritime enterprise.29 He skippered his own ship, the Delight of Portsmouth, in the raid on Cadiz in 1596, returning with seven or eight tons of brimstone as his share of the loot.30

Early in James’s reign Hervey was granted the office of remembrancer of ecclesiastical first fruits and tenths in the Exchequer in reversion to Sir Edward Stafford*. He held St. Andrew’s Castle on the Hampshire coast on a grant dated 12 Aug. 1578, and probably resided at Soberton, ten miles from Petersfield, during his first marriage.31 He was returned for the borough at the general election in 1604. His first appointment, on 26 Mar., was to help prepare for a conference with the Lords on wardship and other grievances.32 He was subsequently among those appointed to consider the bill for the restitution of his stepson, the 3rd earl of Southampton (2 Apr.), who rewarded him with a life grant of Soberton.33 In the second session Hervey was added to the committee for the free trade bill on 10 Apr. 1606.34 His committee appointments in the third session were for bills to prevent ecclesiastical pluralities and non-residence (4 Mar.), and to reform the ‘negligent, unfaithful and treacherous dealings’ of mariners (1 May).35 On 28 May 1607 he was added to the committee for a bill to secure better attendance.36 Although he had played no other recorded part in the Union debates that dominated the session, he acted as teller for the witnesses clause in the Union bill on 4 June 1607.37 He is not mentioned in the records of the fourth and fifth sessions in 1610.

Hervey’s first wife died in 1607, leaving him much of the spoils of her late second husband’s adventuring.38 Only months later Hervey married again, to a woman whose unusual Christian name, Cordelia, and her efforts to protect a senile father from his two elder daughters, suggests she may have been the model for her namesake in King Lear.39 Hervey himself is one of the many candidates for identification as ‘Mr. W.H.’, the dedicatee of Shakespeare’s Sonnets in 1609.40 Cordelia brought Hervey a Crown lease of Kidbrooke manor, and in 1609 he purchased the freehold for £1,200.41 With the income from his post in the Exchequer in addition to his Kentish estate, he was now in easy circumstances; but he retained his commercial interests. As a ship-owner, he contracted with the earl of Cork to import a large quantitiy of pipe-staves from Ireland in 1617; he also invested in the East India Company, and acted as receiver of subscriptions for the Amazon venture in 1619.42 It was a condition of his Irish peerage that he should acquire freehold land in the kingdom to the value of at least £100 per annum, and when a canny Scots courtier discovered that he had failed to do so he forfeited £600.43

Hervey was appointed to help investigate the Navy following the failure of Lord Willoughby’s expedition in 1626. An active member of the commission, he submitted a proposal for the defence of the coasts and Channel in February 1627.44 Rear-admiral of the fleet sent to relieve La Rochelle in the summer of 1627, he was afterwards rewarded with an English peerage. His last surviving son, William, inherited his adventurous disposition; but in 1632, returning from travels in Asia, he was killed in the Thirty Years’ War.45 Hervey was in poor health by the time he made his will on 16 Dec. 1637, and was rumoured to be dying.46 He expired four years later and was buried in Westminster Abbey on 8 July 1642.47 His will was proved in 1648 by his daughter and heir Elizabeth, who later married her distant cousin, John Hervey† of Ickworth.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: John. P. Ferris / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. C142/232/50.
  • 2. Add. 5750, f.190; G.T. Clark, Limbus Patrum, 273.
  • 3. Illustrations of Brit. Hist. ed. E. Lodge, iii. 209.
  • 4. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 39, 67; HMC Hatfield, viii. 372; xiv. 80.
  • 5. S.H.A. Hervey, Dict. of Herveys, iv. 118, 121.
  • 6. Reg. St. Martin in the Fields (Harl. Soc. Reg. lxvi), 308.
  • 7. Hervey, iv. 120.
  • 8. C142/232/50; VCH Surr. iii. 265.
  • 9. S. and E. Usherwood, Counter-Armada 1596, p. 148.
  • 10. CB, i. 121-2.
  • 11. C66/2253/5.
  • 12. CP, vi. 516.
  • 13. Reg. Westminster Abbey (Harl. Soc. Reg. x), 136.
  • 14. Add. 31825, f. 23; E407/1/36; PRO 30/26/186; Lansd. 273, f. 29.
  • 15. C.C. Stopes, Henry, 3rd earl of Southampton, 97; HMC Hatfield, vi. 354-5, 361.
  • 16. T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Chas. I, i. 247.
  • 17. Birch, i. 21.
  • 18. CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 494; SP16/45, f. 93.
  • 19. Lansd. 165, f. 64v; CSP Dom. 1598-1601, p. 19; 1603-10, p. 127.
  • 20. C181/1, f. 73v.
  • 21. T. Rymer, Foedera, vii. pt. 3, p. 83.
  • 22. C181/2, f. 347.
  • 23. C181/3, f. 203v; 181/4, f. 100v; 181/5, ff. 168, 177v.
  • 24. Chamberlain Letters, i. 204.
  • 25. CSP Col. E.I. 1617-21, pp. 228, 365.
  • 26. HMC Rutland, iv. 516.
  • 27. Hervey, iii. 389-91.
  • 28. Hervey, iv. 114-16.
  • 29. VCH Surr. iii. 265.
  • 30. HMC Hatfield, vi. 354-5.
  • 31. VCH Hants, iii. 259, v. 465; L. Stone, Fam. and Fortune, 221.
  • 32. CJ, i. 154a.
  • 33. Ibid. 162a.
  • 34. Ibid. 296a.
  • 35. Ibid. 347b, 366a.
  • 36. Ibid. 376b.
  • 37. Ibid. 379b.
  • 38. Lodge, iii. 209.
  • 39. HMC Hatfield, xv. 266.
  • 40. Stopes, 41.
  • 41. H.H. Drake, Hundred of Blackheath, 136-7.
  • 42. R. Boyle, Lismore Pprs. (ser. 2) ed. A.B. Grosart, ii. 69; HMC Rutland, iv. 516.
  • 43. C66/2253/5.
  • 44. SP16/45, f. 75.
  • 45. HMC Cowper, i. 475.
  • 46. Hervey, 126; C115/109/8822.
  • 47. Reg. Westminster Abbey (Harl. Soc. Reg. x), 136.