Harvey, Beauchamp Bagenal (DNB00)

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HARVEY, BEAUCHAMP BAGENAL (1762–1798), politician, son of Francis Harvey of Bargay Castle, Wexford, was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and called to the bar in 1782. He acquired considerable reputation as a barrister, and promoted the public movements for catholic emancipation and parliamentary reform. On the death of his father in 1792 Harvey inherited estates in Wexford and Waterford, with an annual rental of 3,000l. He presided as chairman in 1793 at meetings of the Society of United Irishmen, Dublin. Although diminutive in stature and of feeble constitution, he distinguished himself as a duellist. He was nominated as a delegate by a public meeting in Wexford in March 1795 to present an address to Earl Fitzwilliam and a petition to the king. Before the commencement of the Wexford insurrection in 1798, Harvey induced his tenants to give up the arms with which they had provided themselves. After the government troops had evacuated Wexford on 30 May 1798, the leaders of the insurgents unanimously agreed on 1 June, in their camp, that Harvey should be appointed to command them in chief. Apprehensive for his own safety, and in the hope of checking excesses, Harvey unwillingly accepted the post. As commander, he sent a despatch to General Johnson at New Ross on 5 June, demanding the surrender of that town, with a view to avert rapine and bloodshed, but the messenger who carried the paper was shot. On the following day Harvey, as commander-in-chief, signed a series of orders summoning men to his camp and prohibiting, on pain of death, plunder and excesses. He exerted all his energies to restrain his followers, and publicly reprobated the destruction of life and property. The insurgents, after their repulse at Ross, deposed Harvey from the command. He subsequently sought safety in flight, and took refuge in a cave on a rocky island outside Wexford Harbour. He was arrested there, brought to Wexford, and arraigned before a court-martial with Cornelius Grogan [q. v.] and John Henry Colclough [q. v.] After an elaborate defence Harvey was sentenced to death. He was hanged on 26 June at the bridge of Wexford, on which his head, with those of others, was impaled. Harvey left no children; he was attainted in July 1798, but his brother was allowed to acquire his property.

[Proceedings of Society of United Irishmen, Dublin, 1794; Hay's History of Wexford Insurrection, 1803; Barrington's Personal Sketches, 1827, and Rise and Fall of the Irish Nation, 1833; Cornwallis Correspondence, 1859; Madden's United Irishmen, 1860.]

J. T. G.