HARVEY, Michael (c.1635-1712), of Clifton Maybank, Dorset.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Family and Education

b. c.1635, 1st s. of Michael Harvey, merchant, of Bishopsgate, London by Mary, da. of John Mellish, merchant, of London; educ. G. Inn, entered 1650; Emmanuel, Camb. 1651; Padua 1656. m. (1) c.1662, Susan da. of William Underwood, merchant, of London, s.p.; (2) 1 Sept. 1664, Agnes, da. of Thomas Yeoman, s.p. suc. fa. 1643.1

Offices Held

J.p. Dorset July 1660-70, June 1688-?d., commr. for assessment Aug. 1660-80, 1689-90, sheriff 1672-3, dep. lt. May 1688-1702.


Harvey’s father, who died in the early days of the Civil War, had been reckoned one of the richest inhabitants of his ward in 1640. On Harvey’s behalf the Clifton Maybank estate was bought in 1650 for £11,288—a good bargain since it had changed hands at £28,000 only 16 years before. The dominant influence on his boyhood was probably his stepfather, William Steele, who rose to be lord chancellor of Ireland during the Protectorate and to receive a summons to the Cromwellian Upper House. Harvey became, in contrast to his cousins, an Independent in religion, but he conformed at the Restoration, and it was through him that the nonconformist plot at Sherborne in 1662 was discovered. Measures against the plotters were largely in the hands of that redoubtable Anglican Giles Strangways, who supported Harvey at the Weymouth by-election of 1667 as candidate of the country party, against the courtier Sir John Coventry, nephew to the chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Ashley (Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper). ‘I am sure Mr. Harvey is a sober man, a godly religious person, and our own countryman’, proclaimed another of his supporters. Their zeal and ingenuity, and some highly irregular proceedings on the part of the sheriff, appeared at one time to have assured his triumph. But his return was finally rejected by the House on 20 Nov. 1667. In 1669 Harvey was reported to be keeping a conventicle in his house, and in the next year he either resigned or was removed from the commission of the peace. But on the death of Strangways in 1675 he was mentioned as a possible contender for the county. This must be attributed to the prestige conferred by his occupation of Clifton Maybank, whose previous owners, the Horseys, had frequently sat for Dorset for over 200 years. Harvey stood down in favour of the court candidate, Lord Digby (John Digby), a step which must have materially contributed to the overwhelming defeat of his fellow-dissenter, Thomas Moore. Moore had been put foward by Ashley, now Lord Shaftesbury and leader of the country party, and presumably Harvey was thus obtaining revenge for his defeat at Weymouth eight years before.2

But it was probably at least with the assent of Shaftesbury, who now described him as ‘honest’, that Harvey at last entered Parliament for Weymouth at the general election of February 1679. One of Lord Wharton’s Presbyterian correspondents about this time calls him a ‘fanatic’. He voted for exclusion, but was appointed only to the committee on the state of the navy in the first Exclusion Parliament. Shortly before its successor met he entertained the Duke of Monmouth at Clifton Maybank, thereby renewing an old family connexion, for Harvey’s grandmother had given shelter to Lucy Walter in her house in Rotterdam shortly after the Duke’s birth. Although he left no trace on the records of the next two Parliaments, he was now doubly a marked man, for his political as well as his religious connexions. At the Lent assizes of 1684 he was presented as disaffected, but refused to give security.3

Harvey was defeated at the general election of 1685, and his petition was never heard. When his former guest landed at Lyme, Harvey was at once arrested, though there is no evidence that he had any contact with the exiles. While he was under arrest, his brother and heir was on duty with the militia, and died of wounds received in a skirmish at Bridport. Harvey was soon released on giving ‘assurance for dutiful and good behaviour’.4

Harvey was restored to the commission and made a deputy lieutenant in May 1688, when James II was gathering support from the dissenters. The government electoral agents reported that he had joined with Thomas Freke I as candidate for Dorset, and they had ‘so great interest that it is not to be supposed they can oppose them’. But by September he had fallen back on Weymouth, where he hoped also to bring in his cousin William Harvey, both of them being described as ‘right’. In this he failed, but he was able to regain his own seat, unlike most of the court candidates of 1688. An inactive Member of the Convention, Harvey probably served on nine committees, including those for the mutiny and corporation bills in the first session. His name appears on neither of the division lists, and he made no speeches. Harvey continued to sit for most of William III’s reign and generally voted with the country party, though he did not refuse the Association in 1696. He died on 19 Feb. 1712, aged 77, and was buried at Bradford Abbas. His cousin Edward Harvey succeeded to the estate.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 2), iii. 331, 362.
  • 2. Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 2), ii. 37; Cal. Comm. Adv. Money, 138-40, 603; Eg. 784, f. 103; Som. and Dorset N. and Q. xxviii. 288-90; V. Pearl, London and the Outbreak of the Puritan Revolution, 150; SP29/61, ff. 91, 97; Hutchins, Dorset, ii. 435-6; CSP Dom. 1666-7, p. 473; 1675-6, p. 232; CJ, ix. 23; G. L. Turner, Early Nonconformity, i. 124.
  • 3. D. R. Lacey, Dissent and Parl. Pols. 409; Hist. and Biog. Tracts ed. Smeeton, i. 2, 32; R. Morrice, Entering Bk. 1, p. 434.
  • 4. CJ, ix. 718; CSP Dom. 1685, pp. 178, 281.
  • 5. Hutchins, iv. 123.