HARVEY, Thomas (by 1512-77 or later).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Mar. 1553
Oct. 1553
Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1512, s. of (Sir) Nicholas Harvey of Ickworth, Suff. by 1st w. Elizabeth, da. of Sir Thomas Fitzwilliam of Aldwark, Yorks.; half-bro. of George Harvey. m. 2da. ?suc. fa. 5 Aug. 1532.1

Offices Held

Sewer extraordinary by 1533; gent. pens. by 1547-53 or later; knight marshal Mar.-Dec. 1558.2


Thomas Harvey’s fluency in classical and modern languages surpassed his father’s and was praised by his one-time tutor Nicolas Bourbon in Nugarum libri octo published in 1538. His father died in 1532 but ten years later when his kinsman Sir William Fitzwilliam I, Earl of Southampton, died Harvey had not received plate worth 100 marks left to him by his father. His early advancement at court was almost certainly due to Southampton as treasurer of the Household and much of his progress after Southampton’s death to his kinship with Anthony Browne I, later Viscount Montagu. Browne was the sheriff who in February 1553 returned him for New Shoreham and as lord of Midhurst twice procured his election under Mary. His return for Orford in September 1553 may also have been under Browne’s sponsorship, but his own connexions in Suffolk were probably sufficient in themselves to account for it: his name and that of his fellow-Member George Jerningham are both inserted in a different hand on the indenture. Of his part in the House all that is known is that Harvey did not oppose the initial measures to restore Catholicism in 1553 nor did he quit Parliament prematurely without leave a year later.3

Harvey supported the plan for Queen Mary to marry the 11th Earl of Devon and after the earl’s departure for the Continent in 1555 he delivered many of the earl’s letters to friends. He himself despaired of the ‘many fair promises with numbers of feigned words’ which he and others at court had to suffer and longed to join the earl abroad, but he was dissuaded from this, perhaps by Montagu. In 1557 he served as muster master under Montagu in the St. Quentin campaign, and during the invasion scare a year later he was busy as knight marshal in making the south coast ready against a French landing. Shortly before Mary’s death he acted as a courier between the Council and the commissioners negotiating peace with the French. When Elizabeth did not renew his appointment as knight marshal Harvey went into exile. In August 1559 he was at Louvain and in April 1560 at Amboise where he told (Sir) Nicholas Throckmorton that he had left England for conscience’ sake. In 1561 he assured Elizabeth and Cecil of his loyalty while asking for a licence to stay abroad, but neither felt him trustworthy. Their caution seems to have been justified as for the next 16 years he was employed in various capacities by Philip II, Don Juan of Austria and the Duke and Duchess of Feria, and during his travels he openly consorted with English malcontents. In the autumn of 1577 Thomas Wilson reported his arrest at the order of the States General on entering the Netherlands. Elizabeth was asked by friends to intercede for his release but she is not known to have responded. Harvey may have died in captivity as no further trace of him after September 1577 has been found.4

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: R. J.W. Swales


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Vis. Suff. ed. Howard, 139, 192; Procs. Suff. Inst. of Arch. ii. 415-17.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, ii; LC2/2, f. 42, 4/7, f. 23v; Stowe 571, f. 31v; CPR, 1557-8, p. 75; APC, vii. 25.
  • 3. PCC 16 Spert; C219/21/147.
  • 4. CSP For. 1553-8, p. 401; 1558-9, p. 595; 1560-1, p. 539; 1561-2, p. 289; 1569-71, pp. 427, 478; 1577-8, pp. 58, 176, 407; SP11/11/7, 12/57; 12/3/35, 6/8, 10, 15, 37, 38, 7/8; 15/20/16; HMC Foljambe, 6; CSP Dom. 1566-79, p. 372.