HARVEY, Daniel Whittle (1786-1863), of Feering House, Kelvedon, Essex.
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Family and Education
b. 10 Jan. 1786, 1st s. of Matthew Barnard Harvey, merchant, of Witham by da. and h. of John Whittle of Feering House. educ. I. Temple 1810. m. 23 May 1809, Mary, da. and h. of Ebenezer Johnston of Stoke Newington, Mdx., 1da. suc. fa. 1820.
Common councilman, London 1808-18; registrar metrop. public carriages Feb. 1839-40; commr. of police, city of London Jan. 1840-d.
Harvey, the hero of the Essex radicals and the favourite of the Essex dissenters, was the son of a respectable merchant and banker of a Unitarian family who married the heiress of the Whittles of Feering, which his son inherited, but failed in business in 1814. He was articled to Daniell, a Colchester attorney, and subsequently to Wimbourn and Collet at 62, Chancery Lane. By 1807 he was in business as a country attorney at Kelvedon and alienated neighbouring members of his profession by building up a large practice at their expense. Residing also at St. Helen’s Place, London, he was a common councilman for ten years from 1808 and a Friend of Constitutional and of Parliamentary Reform.1
In 1806 he had interested himself in obtaining a new charter for Maldon, which borough he tentatively canvassed in 1807, to the great annoyance of the Whig member Western, in whom he made another enemy. He subsequently transferred his practice to Colchester, where his friends proposed him as a candidate at the by-election of June 1812. Harvey declined then, but stood at the ensuing general election: strenuous exertions, including a smear campaign, were necessary to defeat him. Joseph Holden Strutt*, who claimed most of the credit, described him subsequently to Lord Liverpool as ‘a democratic eloquent unprincipled Whig attorney, who had been convicted of stealing important papers’ and alleged that his return would have constituted a triumph ‘of abilities without character’. Harvey’s friends raised a subscription to enable him to petition, but this failed. On the next vacancy, in March 1817, he stood down, though failing to secure the payment of his remaining election debts as a condition for doing so. He was defeated in the by-election of February 1818. At the general election of 1818, however, aided financially by members of his family, he stood successfully. Sir William Scott* reported ‘A very black sheep (Harvey) is come in at Colchester’.2
Harvey’s victory in 1818 was a strong stimulus to the Radicals in Colchester: in that year, a new borough charter was secured, an object of Harvey’s ambition since 1812. In 1817 he had also inspired the first public meeting for parliamentary reform in the town and had attacked the suspension of civil liberties. His platform was moderate in 1818—he eschewed universal suffrage and denied hostility to the established church—for though he drew on dissenting support, he had little sympathy for the dissenting ethos.3 His success inspired fresh ambitions in Harvey: he wished to become recorder of Colchester and to this end gave up his solicitor’s practice and applied to be called to the bar. This was refused, and on his appealing in 1821 the grounds given were that he stole a document to help one of his plaintiffs in January 1809, and that he withheld £500 of the purchase money on an estate which he sold for a client in October 1809. It was not until 1834, and at the instance of a select committee of the House, that Harvey was cleared of these charges: but the Inns still would not call him4. Radicalism at Colchester became tied up with Harvey’s personal vendetta.
In his first Parliament, Harvey, without committing himself to them, voted steadily with opposition and spoke on a variety of issues: on 25 Jan. 1819 he castigated another Member for flippancy during a debate on the state of convict ships. On 2 Feb. he presented a petition from ‘Orator’ Hunt on the Westminster hustings bill. He supported the addition of Brougham’s name to the committee on the Bank, 8 Feb. On 25 Feb. he condemned the Windsor establishment bill as ‘needless and wanton expenditure of the public money’. He supported legal reform. On 9 Mar. he unsuccessfully introduced the subject of the abuse of excise informations by the court of Exchequer: he raised the matter again several times. He described the London clergy’s complaint of financial hardship as ‘a mockery’, 24 Mar. Under constituency pressure he abstained on Catholic relief, which he had wished to support, 3 May. On 17 May he opposed the reform of the borough of Barnstaple by extending it into the hundred, as this was to extend the influence of the aristocracy and landed interest. He apparently voted for Burdett’s reform motion, 1 July:5 he had supported burgh reform on 1 Apr. (by pair) and 6 May. It was he who was largely responsible for the House’s delay in issuing a new writ for Camelford, until the corruption there had been sifted. On 8 June he opposed any additional taxation. On 6 Dec. he opposed the seditious meetings prevention bill and voted steadily against repressive measures that month. He wished Robert Owen’s plan to relieve distress to get a fair hearing, if only ‘to show the people that they sympathized with them under the diversity of misery which they were suffering’, 16 Dec. 1819. Harvey died 24 Feb. 1863.
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Authors: Lawrence Taylor / R. G. Thorne
- 1. Essex Review, viii. 236; xxiv. 24, 63, 132; London Gazette (1814), 1517, 2519; Boyd, Social Gleanings, 50; M. E. Speight ‘Politics in the Borough of Colchester’ (London Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1969), 276; Gent. Mag. (1863), i. 662; DNB; Sidmouth mss, Cartwright to St. Vincent, 9 Feb. 1809.
- 2. Add. 38379, f. 171; 40278, f. 172.
- 3. Colchester Gazette, 15 Mar. 1817; Chelmsford Chron. 16 June 1818.
- 4. DNB .
- 5. The Times, 5 July 1819 does not list him in the minority, for which Parl. Deb. supplied one name too many, but the Morning Chron. 6 July states he was in the minority.