Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Harvey, John (1740-1794)

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HARVEY, JOHN (1740–1794), captain in the navy, third son of Richard Harvey of Eastry in Kent, and younger brother of Admiral Sir Henry Harvey [q. v.], was born on 9 July 1740. In 1755 he joined the Falmouth with Captain William Brett, and from her was promoted to be lieutenant on 30 Jan. 1759. After the peace he commanded the Alarm cutter, on the coast of Scotland, from 1766 to 1768, when he was promoted to the rank of commander and placed on half-pay. In January 1776 he was appointed to the Speedwell sloop; and in September 1777 was posted from her to the Panther of 60 guns, as flag-captain to Rear-admiral Robert Duff [q. v.] in the Mediterranean. The Panther was employed in the defence of Gibraltar during the early part of the siege in 1779–1780; but in July 1780 she sailed for England; and in November was sent out to the West Indies in the squadron under Sir Samuel Hood [q. v.]; but being found barely seaworthy returned to England in the following summer. Early in 1782 Harvey was appointed to the Sampson of 64 guns, which formed part of the Channel fleet, and was present at the relief of Gibraltar and the rencounter off Cape Spartel. In 1787 he was registering captain at Deal; from 1788 to 1792 he commanded the Arrogant guardship at Sheerness; and in February 1793 was appointed to the Brunswick of 74 guns, one of the Channel fleet under Lord Howe. On 1 June 1794 she was the Queen Charlotte's second astern, but was separated from her by the close order of the French line astern of the Jacobin [see Howe, Richard, Earl]. Harvey attempted to force an opening ahead of the Vengeur, when the Brunswick's starboard anchor hooked in the Vengeur's forechains and dragged the Vengeur along with her. The master proposed to cut her free. ‘No,’ said Harvey, ‘as we've got her we'll keep her.’ The two ships remained firmly grappled through a great part of the battle. Towards the close other English ships came to the Brunswick's help; and the Ramillies poured two tremendous raking broadsides into the Vengeur. The grappling had been cut away, but after a short time the Vengeur, dismasted and with the water pouring in through her smashed side, showed English colours in token of surrender. The Brunswick, not having a boat that could swim, was unable to take possession, and the Vengeur dropping astern was endeavouring to make off when she was brought to by the Culloden and Alfred. Every effort was made to remove her men, but she sank with more than half her crew still on board. The Brunswick, severely damaged, had fallen far to leeward, and being unable to rejoin the fleet bore up, and reached Spithead on the 12th. She had lost 44 men killed and 114 wounded. Early in the action Harvey's right hand was shattered by a musket-ball; afterwards he was stunned by a heavy splinter striking him in the small of the back; and a round shot afterwards smashed his right elbow. He was landed at Portsmouth, where he died on 30 June. He was buried at Eastry, but a monument, jointly to his memory and that of Captain Hutt of the Queen, who also died of his wounds, was erected, at the national expense, in Westminster Abbey.

Harvey married, in 1763, Judith, daughter of Henry Wise of Sandwich, by whom he had a large family, including Vice-admiral Sir John Harvey [q. v.], Admiral Sir Edward Harvey [q. v.], and Sarah, who married her first cousin, Vice-admiral Sir Thomas Harvey [q. v.] His eldest son, Henry Wise, the only one that did not serve in the navy, was afterwards represented in it by two sons: John, born 1793, died, a retired captain, in 1882, and Henry Wise, died, a retired lieutenant, in 1861.

[Ralfe's Naval Biography, ii. 113; Naval Chronicle, iii. 241. The extraordinary duel between the Brunswick and Vengeur is described by James, Naval History (ed. 1860), i. 178, and by Chevalier, Histoire de la Marine française sous la première République, pp. 140, 159–61. Compare also Carlyle's Essay on The Sinking of the Vengeur.]

J. K. L.