HARVEY, Sir Eliab (1758-1830), of Rolls Park, Chigwell, Essex and 8 Clifford Street, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



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† (d. 1763) of Chigwell and Emma, da. and coh. of Stephen Skynner of Walthamstow, Essex. educ. Westminster 1768; Harrow 1770-5. 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 Harvey† 1779; KCB 2 Jan. 1815; GCB 11 Jan. 1825. d. 20 Feb. 1830.

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.


Admiral Harvey, a hero of Trafalgar, whose volcanic temper had landed him in serious trouble and ended his active naval career in 1809, at the age of 50, was a reformed gambler turned skinflint. A veteran Pittite, who found routine parliamentary business boring and the expenses and obligations of a county Member burdensome, he had given up his Essex seat on financial grounds in 1812.1 At the general election of 1820, however, he offered in the room of the retiring Tory Member and was returned unopposed with the advanced Whig Western. At the nomination, when a late bid to start another Blue to run with him failed, he said that

the times were so alarming, that ... nothing but a signal defeat should drive him back ... He was ... not alarmed with fear and trepidation, but ... [had] a manly and decided determination to meet the radicals and their crew when called upon ... They found themselves opposed neither to friend nor enemy; their hand grenades, daggers, or the midnight murders of innocent men going to their dinners; there were none of these things on board ships; they fought like men, not like assassins ... He was church and king to the backbone, and a king’s man he would be for ever.2

Harvey presented petitions against, 11 May, and for, 16 June 1820, the bill to divide the Essex sessions between Colchester and Chelmsford. He spoke against it and was a teller with Western for the hostile majority, 20 June.3 He joined in calls for a grant of money to the innovative naval architect Seppings, 9 June. On 1 July his long-suffering wife, on whom he habitually vented his spleen, told their daughter Louisa, the wife of William Lloyd of Aston Hall, Shropshire, that he was ‘wrapped up in the House of Commons and can give his mind to no one other thing’.4 He voted with the Liverpool ministry against economies in revenue collection, 4 July 1820, and in defence of their conduct towards Queen Caroline, 6 Feb. 1821. He demanded an increase in the marine force, 2 Feb. He opposed the metropolis roads bill, 27 Feb., 27 Mar., 24 May.5 On 28 Feb. he presented the archdeaconry of Essex’s petition against Catholic claims and voted accordingly; he ‘sat up all night to be in a minority’ against a clause of the relief bill, 23 Mar.6 The committee on the state of London Bridge (12 Feb.) - he was keen for a new one to be built - also kept him busy that month.7 He divided with government on the revenue, 6 Mar., but was in the majority for repeal of the additional malt duty, 21 Mar., and did not vote when ministers had this rescinded, 3 Apr.8 He voted with them on the army estimates, 11 Apr., and against the forgery punishment mitigation bill, 23 May 1821. That November he was willing to do what little he could to promote his son-in-law’s aspirations to a seat for Shropshire (which were frustrated), but warned him against involvement in a contest and that ‘the manner in which debates and the public business are conducted is tedious beyond belief (excepting upon the public questions)’. He subsequently told Lloyd that in their correspondence on the matter he had

mistaken my party principles, for a most decided party man I am, and notwithstanding I claim to be as independent as any Member in the House of Commons ... I am church and king, and moreover I belong to several Pitt Clubs ... The expenses of being chosen and attending Parliament even without an opposition are by no means trifling, including the attendance at county meetings, subscriptions to public charities and other institutions ... and the times by no means favourable to country gentlemen collecting such monies as may reduce them ... It is right to bring these things under your consideration for there is no passport to happiness in this life beyond our own fireside.9

Harvey voted against more extensive tax reductions to relieve distress, 11, 21 Feb., but divided against government for admiralty economies, 1 Mar., and abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar., 2 May 1822. He presented and endorsed a petition from Essex grand jury for more frequent gaol deliveries, 27 Mar. On 1 Apr. he confirmed Western’s statement of the ‘great extent’ of agricultural distress in the county, and he presented parish petitions calling for relief, 22 Apr., when he dissociated himself from Western’s currency fixation, and 3 May.10 At the Whig-inspired county meeting to petition for relief, 8 May, he argued that taxation and the metallic currency were less damaging than his colleague reckoned; but in the House, 17 May, he admitted the respectability of the gathering.11 He was in the minority of 24 for a 40s. fixed duty on corn imports, 8 May. He voted against Canning’s bill to relieve Catholic peers, 30 Apr. He presented a West Ham churchwardens’ petition against the poor bill, 30 May, and seven from Winchester publicans against the beer retail bill, 17 July.12 He was in the ministerial majority for the aliens bill, 19 July 1822. The death on 2 Mar. 1823 of his only surviving son William (whose elder brother had been killed at Burgos in 1812) devastated Harvey, created a ‘house of misery’ at Rolls and made his temper even fouler than before.13 No votes of his have been found for that session, but he presented clerical anti-Catholic petitions, 17 Apr., and the Essex agricultural distress petition, 2 May.14 In early November 1823 his wife went to Paris with their unmarried daughters. Anticipating with dread his arrival later in the month, she told Louisa, ‘I wish the admiral would stay away as it is such good fun without him’. He duly arrived, ‘very disagreeable [and] dreadfully shabby’, and proceeded to find ‘faults with everything’ and make everyone miserable. He returned to England on 28 Jan. 1824, ‘so out of spirits’, as his wife reported, ‘that it was quite uncomfortable to us all’; he took ‘a little frightful dog’ as his noisy travelling companion.15

He presented several Essex petitions for repeal of the coastwise coal duties in February 1824.16 His only known vote of that session was in the majority against the production of information on Catholic office-holders, 19 Feb. He presented Colchester and Romford anti-slavery petitions, 17 Mar.17 To the dismay of his wife, who thought he ‘looks ill’, he rejoined her in Paris in early April and went on to be ‘very disagreeable ... to us all and to everybody and everything’. On 3 May, shortly before he went back to England, Lady Harvey told Louisa that his ‘temper is really so bad that I am annoyed to death and worried out of my life with him’; she was tempted to leave him.18 He presented a petition for the easier recovery of small debts, 24 May.19 He brought up a Romford petition for inquiry into the prosecution of the Methodist missionary John Smith in Demerara, 1 June, but he did not vote in that sense on the 11th.20 Opposing Hume’s motion for an investigation of naval impressment, 10 June, he said that ‘no probable good could arise from ... inquiry into a law of the land, which policy and long experience had fully justified’. He supported the Norfolk assizes bill, 10 June 1824, 24 Feb. 1825. Next day he presented a Hornchurch petition against the coal duties and voted for the Irish unlawful societies bill.21 He presented the Essex archdeaconry’s anti-Catholic petition, 28 Feb.;22 and on 15 Mar. he complained that it had been ‘received with an uproar and clamour which was more worthy of a bear garden than of the House of Commons’. He divided against Catholic relief, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May, and the Irish franchise bill, 26 Apr. He opposed the Metropolitan Fish Company bill, 15, 16 Mar.23 He presented an Essex agriculturists’ petition for the better prevention of the theft of grain, 18 Apr., and one from Rochford against interference with the corn laws, 28 Apr.24 On the warehoused corn bill, 13 May 1825, he approved Holme Sumner’s suggestion of a specific limitation on annual Canadian imports.

Early in 1826 his wife complained that Harvey was ‘in one of his dreadful talking humours’, having ‘been ill’, and was `cross and ... stingy’.25 He presented petitions for the more effective recovery of small debts, 7 Feb., from Essex silk weavers against foreign imports, 23 Feb., and from Saffron Walden for the abolition of slavery, 13 Mar.26 He thought the provisions of the Scottish steam vessels regulation bill should be extended to the rest of the kingdom, 9 Mar. He was in the minorities against the emergency admission of foreign corn, 8, 11 May 1826, but announced on the 12th that he ‘would not persevere in the opposition’. At the general election the following month he came in again unopposed with Western, after quoting ‘Humpty Dumpty’ to illustrate the ‘danger in tampering with established institutions’ and assuring the electors that ‘they might rely upon his exertions to prevent the further encroachments of the Catholics’.27

In mid-November 1826 a furious Harvey joined his wife at Brighton, where he reprimanded her for leaving Chigwell on ‘a whim’ and putting him to expense. Two months later she reported that ‘at present his occupations are quarrelling with his servants ... and swearing dreadfully ... and saving money’.28 He presented Essex petitions against interference with the corn laws, 16, 27 Feb., 15 Mar., and voted in the protectionist minority against the corn bill, 2 Apr. 1827; he later told his daughter that ‘the corn question bears a better appearance and the harvest [is] delightful’.29 He presented anti-Catholic petitions, 2 Mar., 31 May, and paired against relief, 6 Mar. He brought up Dissenters’ petitions for repeal of the Test Acts, 30 May 1827, 19 Feb. 1828, but did not vote for that measure, 26 Feb. 1828.30 He divided in the minority of 58 for a 60s. pivot price for corn imports, 22 Apr., and presented and endorsed a Chelmsford agriculturists’ petition for enhanced protection, 28 Apr. He condemned the ‘bad and mischievous’ Maldon tolls bill, 24 Apr. He brought up petitions from wealthy East London sugar refiners in favour of the East London railway bill, 1 May, and from the corporation of Saffron Walden against the alehouses licensing bill, 2 May. He presented a Saffron Walden petition against Catholic claims, 6 May, and voted thus, 12 May 1828. Six months later his wife told Louisa that he was ‘in perfect health, but never by any chance in good humour, and is a constant fidget, scolding his servants or talking about his own health and eating’; and that he ‘looks thin and his eyes [are] staring out of his head and [he has] a settled furious cross countenance ready to fly at and eat up everyone’. On Christmas Day 1828 she wrote:

The admiral is sadly out of sorts. His temper is so irritable that he has given warning to five servants ... [He] has actually scraped up all his money to lend out at interest, depending on some interests of former sums he has lent, which are due to him now and which he has not received, which adds to his horrid temper ... He has not one guinea in his banker’s hands ... He has scraped up ... £35,000 ... and he is so proud of it, he is always boasting to me of the large sum he has put out.31

As expected, he opposed Catholic emancipation when the Wellington ministry conceded it in 1829. Presenting and endorsing a hostile petition from Saffron Walden, 17 Feb., he declared that ‘my opinion is strengthened, not relaxed, as to the propriety of maintaining the constitution as it now stands’. He presented many hostile Essex petitions in the following six weeks, said that the ‘most dangerous’ measure was ‘very much worse than I could possibly have imagined it would be’, 6 Mar., and accused Peel of betraying his followers, 12 Mar. He voted against emancipation, 6, 18 Mar., and paired against it, 23, 30 Mar. He brought up petitions against the East London waterworks bill, 25 Mar., 13 Apr., and 1 May, the Thames Watermen Act, 4 May, and the metropolitan roads bill, 11 May. In his last known speech in the Commons, 13 May 1829, he urged Western to withdraw his motion for repeal of the tax on husbandry horses because ministers had promised to review the assessed taxes.

Reports of Harvey’s death in early November 1829 were only slightly premature, for he died ‘suddenly’ at Rolls in February 1830, four days after the marriage of his daughter Emma to Colonel William Eustace, ‘so that the bridal apparel had not lost its freshness when it was exchanged for sable mourning’.32 On the face of it he ‘cut up well’: by his will of 9 June 1818 and a codicil of 7 Feb. 1830, proved under £120,000, he left £10,000 to each of his six daughters, to be raised by the sale of his town house in Clifford Street and of real estate at West Ham, Wanstead, Leyton and North Weald. His assets were put at £110,627 and his debts at £25,000. There were, however, protracted disputes and litigation among his children.33 Rolls House, the main seat of his family for over 160 years, passed to Louisa Lloyd and her husband and their male descendants, while Harvey’s manor of Abbess Roding went to his daughter Elizabeth and her husband Thomas William Bramston of Skreens, whose father briefly succeeded the admiral as county Member.34

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. HP Commons, 1790-1820, iv. 165-6; Farington Diary, iv. 1287.
  • 2. Essex RO, Gunnis mss D/DGu C1/2/3, Harvey to da. Louisa Lloyd, 10 Mar.; Suff. Chron. 11, 18 Mar. 1820; Procs. at Colchester and Essex Elections (1820), 45-46.
  • 3. The Times, 12 May, 16, 21 June 1820.
  • 4. Gunnis mss Z2.
  • 5. The Times, 28 Feb., 28 Mar., 25 May 1821.
  • 6. Ibid. 1 Mar.; Colchester Gazette, 3 Mar.; Gunnis mss Z1, Harvey to Louisa Lloyd [24 Mar. 1821].
  • 7. Gunnis mss Z1, Harvey to Louisa Lloyd, 15 Mar. 1821.
  • 8. Ibid. Z1, Harvey to Louisa Lloyd, 22 Mar. [1821].
  • 9. NLW, Aston Hall mss 460, 461.
  • 10. The Times, 23 Apr., 4 May 1822.
  • 11. Ibid. 9, 18 May 1822.
  • 12. Ibid. 18 July 1822.
  • 13. Gent. Mag. (1823), i. 285; Gunnis mss Z3, Lady Harvey to Louisa Lloyd [Mar. 1823].
  • 14. The Times, 18 Apr., 3 May 1823.
  • 15. Gunnis mss Z3, Lady Harvey to Louisa Lloyd, 13, 26 Nov., 30 Dec. 1823, 25, 30 Jan. 1824.
  • 16. The Times, 17, 19, 21, 26, 27 Feb. 1824.
  • 17. Ibid. 18 Mar. 1824.
  • 18. Gunnis mss Z3, Lady Harvey to Louisa Lloyd, 5, 9, 15, 28 Apr., 3, 8 May 1824.
  • 19. The Times, 25 May 1824.
  • 20. Ibid. 2 June 1824.
  • 21. Ibid. 11 June 1824, 25, 26 Feb. 1825.
  • 22. Ibid. 1 Mar. 1825.
  • 23. Ibid. 17 Mar. 1825.
  • 24. Ibid. 19, 29 Apr. 1825.
  • 25. Gunnis mss Z4, Lady Harvey to Louisa Lloyd, Tuesday [1826].
  • 26. The Times, 8, 24 Feb., 14 Mar. 1826.
  • 27. Colchester Gazette, 3, 16 June 1826.
  • 28. Gunnis mss Z4, Lady Harvey to Louisa Lloyd, 16 Nov. 1826, Jan. 1827.
  • 29. The Times, 17, 28 Feb., 16 Mar.; Gunnis mss Z1, Harvey to Louisa Lloyd, 2 Aug. 1827.
  • 30. The Times, 31 May 1827.
  • 31. Gunnis mss Z4, Lady Harvey to Louisa Lloyd [Nov.], 25 Dec. 1828.
  • 32. Colchester Gazette, 14 Nov. 1829, 27 Feb. 1830; Gent. Mag. (1830), i. 170, 365-6.
  • 33. NLS mss 2272, f. 67; PROB 11/1768/175; IR26/1227/75; Gunnis mss C8, E. Williams to W. Lloyd, 26 Oct. 1831; Z1, Louisa Lloyd to Harvey [1823].
  • 34. VCH Essex, iv. 5, 24, 28, 190.