Harvey, William Wigan (DNB00)

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HARVEY, WILLIAM WIGAN (1810–1883), divine, born at Great Stanmore, Middlesex, in 1810, was second son of George Daniel Harvey, barrister-at-law, and a commissioner of bankruptcy. He was educated at Eton as a king's scholar, and in 1828 matriculated at King's College, Cambridge, graduating B.A. in 1832, M.A. 1836, and B.D. 1855. He was elected fellow of King's 1831; was Tyrwhitt Hebrew scholar 1833, and divinity lecturer at King's College from 1836 to 1844, and again from 1862 to 1863. Harvey was ordained deacon 1833, and priest 1834, and was appointed to the college rectory of Buckland in Hertfordshire in 1844. He was also a J.P. for Hertfordshire, and F.S.A.

In 1872 Harvey came prominently into public notice. In December 1871 he was appointed by the prime minister, Mr. Gladstone, to the rectory of Ewelme, near Oxford, to which the crown had the right of presentation. The living had been joined previously to the regius professorship of divinity at Oxford, and an act of parliament had been passed in 1871 separating the two offices. In this act there was a special provision that future rectors of Ewelme were to be members of the Oxford house of convocation. Harvey was a Cambridge man, and to qualify himself for the preferment he was incorporated at Oriel College, Oxford, and was admitted M.A. by incorporation, 10 Oct. 1871. When parliament met Mr. (now Sir) J. R. Mowbray, M.P. for Oxford University, brought the matter before the house. After some preliminary questions a long debate took place, 8 March 1872. It was argued that Harvey was ineligible for the living, as sufficient time had not elapsed for him to become a member of convocation before his institution. No charge was alleged against Harvey's personal fitness for the office. But Mr. Gladstone was accused of evading the obvious meaning of the act. In reply, Mr. Gladstone vindicated the appointment on the grounds of Harvey's personal merits, and that the letter of the statute had been complied with. The subject was closed by a statement from Mr. Gladstone on 14th March, that Harvey had been appointed to Ewelme only after ‘two distinguished Oxford gentlemen’ had declined offers of the living. The remainder of Harvey's life was passed at Ewelme, and he died there in 1883.

Harvey was a voluminous writer, but the larger number of his productions consists of single sermons, pamphlets, reviews, and articles in theological dictionaries. His principal works are: 1. ‘Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ Vindex Catholicus,’ 1842. 2. ‘History and Theology of the Three Creeds,’ 1854. 3. ‘S. Irenæi quæ supersunt Opera,’ 1857.

[Hansard's Parliamentary Debates, 3rd ser. ccix.; Annual Register, 1872; private information.]

E. H. M.