Harcourt, Octavius Henry Cyril Vernon (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 24
Harcourt, Octavius Henry Cyril Vernon

by George Clement Boase

HARCOURT, OCTAVIUS HENRY CYRIL VERNON (1793–1863), admiral, eighth son of Edward Harcourt [q. v.], archbishop of York, was born at Rose Castle, Cumberland, 25 Dec. 1793. He entered the navy in August 1806 as midshipman on board the Tigre of 74 guns, and in her in the following year witnessed the surrender of Alexandria, and was employed in boat service up the Nile. After assisting at the siege of Toulon, he was transferred into the Malta of 80 guns, and co-operated with the troops on the south-east coast of Spain, and served in the batteries at the siege of Tarragona. Becoming a lieutenant 11 Jan. 1814, he joined the Mulgrave of 74 guns, and landing with the seamen and marines near Piombo captured a martello tower and brought out a convoy which was anchored under its protection. In the Amelia of 38 guns in 1814 he served at the blockade of Elba. He was on half-pay from 1816 until 2 Feb. 1818, when he was appointed to the Sir Francis Drake, the flagship at Newfoundland, where on 3 Feb. 1820 he obtained the command of the Drake sloop, and for a short time in the same year of the Carnation of 18 guns. From 1824 to 1827 he served in the West Indies. He was promoted to be captain 7 July 1827. His last appointment was to the North Star of 28 guns, in which vessel he surveyed the coast of Central America and California, 1834–6. On 15 Jan. 1831 he assumed the additional surname of Harcourt. He was gazetted sheriff of Yorkshire in 1848, and was appointed a vice-admiral on half-pay 4 June 1861. He built at his own expense and endowed a church at Healey, near Masham, another church at Brent Tor, Devonshire, and restored the parish church of Masham. In 1858 he erected in Masham six almshouses which he endowed with 1,775l. three per cent. consols. He died at Swinton Park, Yorkshire, 14 Aug. 1863. He married, 22 Feb. 1838, Anne Holwell, second daughter of William Gater, and widow of William Danby of Swinton Park. She died on 26 June 1879, devising her Yorkshire estates to George, fifth son of Sir Robert Affleck, bart.

[O'Byrne's Naval Biog. Dict. 1849, p. 460; Gent. Mag. October 1863, pp. 507-8; Leeds Mercury, 17 Aug. 1863, p. 3.]

G. C. B.