HARVEY, Sir Eliab (1635-99), of Cokayne House, Broad Street, London and Rolls Park, Chigwell, Essex.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



c. Oct. 1669
Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679
7 Dec. 1693
1698 - 20 Feb. 1699

Family and Education

bap. 3 June 1635, 1st s. of Eliab Harvey, Grocer and merchant of Laurence Pountney Hill, London and Hempstead, Essex by Mary, da. of Francis West, Grocer of London, lt. of the Tower 1645-52; cos. of Daniel Harvey and Michael Harvey. educ. Merchant Taylors’ 1643; Padua 1656. m. 7 Dec. 1658. Dorothy, da. of Sir Thomas Whitmore, 1st Bt., of Apley Park, Salop, 3s. (2 d.v.p.) 4da. Kntd. 27 May 1660; suc. fa. 1661.2

Offices Held

Asst. Levant Co. 1670-2; commr. for assessment, Essex and Kent 1673-80, London 1677-80, Essex and Wilts. 1689-90; freeman, Salisbury 1679; lt. Waltham forest by 1681-d.; j.p. Essex 1692- d., dep. lt. ?1692-d.3


Harvey’s father was one of the wealthiest Royalists in the City, and sufficiently prominent for a reward to be offered for his capture in 1645. He escaped with a brief imprisonment and a payment of £885 to the committee for the advance of money, no doubt owing to his marriage to the daughter of a London train-band officer standing second to none in the confidence of the radicals. Harvey was knighted at the Restoration, together with his cousin Daniel Harvey; but he seems subsequently to have taken both his religion and his politics from his mother’s family, hence his long exclusion from all but a token part in local government in Essex, despite an inherited estate estimated at £3,000 p.a. His failure to achieve municipal office in London is more puzzling, since he did not give up trade as a Turkey merchant till shortly before 1680. Harvey’s Whitmore connexions doubtless gave him early warning of the death of (Sir) John Denham in 1669, and after a contest he was returned for the vacant seat at Old Sarum. The interest is not known, but a decline in Harvey’s balance with Robert Clayton and John Morris from £4,631 in 1669 to £2,156 in 1673 may signify a considerable outlay. He became a very active Member of the Cavalier Parliament in which he was appointed to 149 committees, acted as teller in 23 divisions, and made 44 recorded speeches. In his first session he was appointed, perhaps ironically, to the committee to prevent abuses in parliamentary elections, and in 1670 he took part in the inspection of treasury and admiralty accounts. On 1 Dec. he acted as teller against the land tax. In the debate arising out of the assault on Sir John Coventry, he spoke in favour of suspending all other business.4

From the third Dutch war onwards Harvey’s name is seldom absent from politically important committees, especially of an anti-Papal character. He was the first merchant, with no more than a primary education, to achieve prominence in debate from the opposition benches during the Cavalier Parliament. In the spring session of 1673, he acted as teller in three important divisions: against seeking the concurrence of the Lords in the address for ease to Protestant dissenters, against incapacitating dissenters from sitting in the Commons, and against adjourning the debate on the printing of grievances. On 8 Mar. he moved that the cancellation of the Declaration of Indulgence should be recorded in the Journal, and a week later he seconded the motion for leaving the supply bill on the table. During the summer, Sir Nicholas Armourer wrote to Secretary Williamson:

I hope you will bring us peace against October. If not, look to it; my friend Sir Eliab Harvey, Sir Lewis and Robin Thomas will belt you all. There are close cabals and profound ones, as time will show.

Harvey was indeed, as his ‘friend’ forecast, one of the fiercest doves in the autumn session. He was among those appointed to prepare an address against the second marriage of the Duke of York, and to devise a test to distinguish between Papists and Protestants. On supply he said:

Giving of money now is certainly to ruin King and kingdom. Give money, and you destroy the revenue of the nation, wool. You are letting the King of France be the merchant of the whole world. By falling out with Spain, we spoil the best trade we have. He [i.e. Harvey] has kept one hundred men at work upon the woollen manufacture, and now cannot keep one.

Before the adjournment he had time to express the hope that the House would declare the troops raised for the war to be a grievance, and when Parliament reassembled in January 1674, he was named to the committee to draw up an address on the subject. He moved for the banishment of Lauderdale and the removal of Buckingham from Court, and on 11 Feb. was among those appointed to examine a Scottish law which enabled the former to send forces south of the border. On the prorogation he was one of the ‘guilty commons’ who abandoned their dinner in the suburbs to seek safety in the City.5

In the spring session of 1675 Harvey introduced the bill to extend habeas corpus. He helped to draw up the addresses for the removal of Lauderdale and the recall of British subjects from the French service, which he had been the first to propose, and for which he acted as teller. He was chairman for the bill to naturalize the daughter of Sir James Rushout which was lost owing to the quarrel between the Houses over Shirley v. Fagg, in which he was also prominent, being twice required to draw up reasons for a conference. On 3 June he was detailed to attend the conference demanded by the Lords in the Four Lawyers’ case. In the autumn debate on the navy, Harvey’s mercantile knowledge and statistical grasp made him a formidable opponent for Samuel Pepys. ‘We have 27 docks, slips, and launches’, he remarked on 22 Oct. ‘Would know whether, if all these should be employed, building merchant ships will not be stopped.’ On 3 Nov. he assured the House that £14 per ton was an extravagant estimate for the cost of new warships. He was teller for a vote of no further supply that session on 8 Nov., and for tacking an appropriation clause to the supply bill. On 13 Nov. he informed the House that John Fagg I had again been summoned to appear before the Lords. He was appointed to the committee for the liberty of the subject.6

In the 1677 session Harvey was marked ‘thrice worthy’ by Shaftesbury, and sat regularly with the chiefs of the opposition. On 26 Feb. he complained that ‘the Speaker looks not so easily this way as the other’. He served on the committee to prevent illegal exactions, again acted as teller against supply for the navy, and opposed the issue of passes by the Navy Office to secure British ships from the Barbary corsairs, believing that ‘this granting passes is to set up a particular office for particular men’. On 5 Mar. he carried the Rushout naturalization bill to the Lords, and he was later called on to manage a conference on the general principles of naturalization. He helped to draw up three addresses for international action to preserve the Spanish Netherlands, speaking in favour of and acting as teller for a specific reference to the Dutch. He was by now unmistakably hawkish:

Never was a better time than now to break with France; for in the end of the summer France will make a peace, and then we shall be much more unfit for war than now. He is for war.

He served on the committee for educating the royal children as Protestants, and to counter a possible Papal fifth column in the hierarchy proposed that all church dignitaries should marry, or else be incapable of their preferments. On 14 Apr. he acted as teller against the Lords amendments to the supply bill.7

The rapidity of developments on the Continent in the early months of 1678 caught the Opposition off balance. Harvey began by helping to draw up an address demanding that France be reduced to her frontiers of 1659; but he was against permitting Secretary Jenkins to read a list of allowances for general officers, and condemned as unsatisfactory the Dutch alliance which he had so persistently demanded in the previous year. Although active as a teller, he did not speak on these subjects, concentrating on a demand for economic sanctions against the aggressor. He spoke as a merchant, he said, though his name does not appear in the 1677 Collection and he had leased his London house to the excise commissioners: ‘By suffering French commodities to come, in that abundance, we do maintain his army to fight against us to doomsday’. On the other hand, he would give the Government no compensation for the loss of customs revenue if French imports were forbidden. It must have been a relief for Harvey to help draw up the comparatively straightforward reasons for a conference on burying in woollen on 8 May. In the last session of the Cavalier Parliament, Harvey was appointed to the committees to inquire into the Popish Plot, to draw up reasons for a conference, and to prepare the impeachment of Lord Arundell of Wardour. During November he helped to draft five addresses, those for the publication of Coleman’s letters, for the administration of the oaths to the servants of the Queen and the Duchess of York, for the trial of the Popish priests under arrest, for the offer of rewards to informers, and for the raising of the militia. On Secretary Williamson’s dispensations to Popish officers he remarked: ‘If ministers do at this rate, you must not only send one minister to the Tower, but all’. On 29 Nov. he was one of the Members ordered to prepare instructions for disbanding the army. An amusing incident followed: his Hempstead tenants, no doubt well aware of their landlord’s redcoat bogey, sent him word that they were afraid to pay him their rents because of the soldiers quartered in the neighbourhood, whereupon Harvey, without obtaining the leave of the House, went down to collect them in person. Consequently on 11 Dec. he was ordered among others to be sent for in custody and not to be re-admitted without paying the serjeant’s fees. He was sufficiently annoyed to separate himself temporarily from his usual cronies, and on 16 Dec. he found himself sitting on the government benches next to his kinsman Daniel Finch. But his estrangement from the country party was brief; on 19 Dec. he acted as teller for the impeachment of Danby, and two days later he was assigned to the congenial task of drawing up reasons for a conference on disbanding the army.8

Harvey was returned for Essex unopposed with Henry Mildmay at the first general election of 1679, and marked ‘worthy’ on Shaftesbury’s list. He was an active Member of the first Exclusion Parliament, with 16 committees and seven speeches. He was one of the managers of the conference on Danby’s impeachment on 4 Apr., and was named to the committee for security against Popery. On 14 May he spoke against the adjournment:

We have new councillors, but I fear we have so many old ones that we are on the same bottom still. ... What is become of all this money we gave? We cannot set out twenty ships, and so the nation is ruined and undone. ... We have not made one step towards the security of the Protestant religion, nor is one Popish priest hanged. Therefore, I would not adjourn the debate.

He was one of the Members appointed to search out precedents for the trials of the lords in the Tower, and to draw up a reply to the proposals of the Upper House. Although Harvey, like Mildmay, voted for exclusion, at the following general election he was prevailed upon by the Duke of Albemarle ( Christopher Monck) to desert Mildmay and join his interest with the moderate Sir Thomas Middleton. Harvey was a keen sportsman, and the inducement was probably a promise of the lieutenancy of Waltham forest. He was crushingly defeated at the poll, finishing last with only 669 votes, and had to take refuge at Old Sarum, where his interest now rested on a firm property basis. ‘He will hardly recover the good reputation he formerly had’, commented one of Shaftesbury’s henchmen; and indeed he was never again a county Member. But his record in the second Exclusion Parliament shows no change in his politics and little decrease in his activity; he was named to 13 committees and spoke four times. He seconded the motion for an inquiry into abhorring, and was appointed to the committee, and he was one of the Members ordered to draw up the address for the preservation of the Protestant religion. Still smarting from the journalists’ treatment of the Essex election, he spoke in favour of sending for the printer who had libelled Sir Edward Dering. He took a prominent part in connexion with the bill to exempt Protestant dissenters from the Penal Laws, carrying it to the Upper House on 26 Nov. 1680 and later conveying the concurrence of the Commons with the Lords’ amendments. He served on the committee to prepare bills for security against arbitrary power. In the debate on the King’s speech rejecting exclusion, it was reported:

Sir Eliab Harvey can give no more money if this be all we shall have ... No mention of the bill of religion, nor that of association ... He has been nicked before, and would not be nicked now. We have had fair words, but never any deeds.

He was appointed to the committee to draw up the reply.9

Harvey was again returned for Old Sarum in 1681 and 1685. No further speeches are recorded, but at Oxford he was appointed to the committee of elections and privileges and to those to inspect the Journals relative to Danby’s impeachment, to prepare for a conference about the mysterious disappearance of the toleration bill in the last Parliament and to draw up Fitzharris’s impeachment. In James II’s Parliament he was appointed to the committee for relief of London widows and orphans, and perhaps, as ‘Mr Hervey’ to two others. He was noted as in opposition in 1687, but the King’s electoral agents gave conflicting reports on him. Under Old Sarum, they noted that he and (Sir) Thomas Mompesson ‘have always favoured dissenters and been for liberty’. But under Essex they reported that the Roman Catholics and most of the dissenters preferred (Sir) Josiah Child, Harvey enjoying the support only of the Church and the Presbyterian party. It is not known whether he went to the poll for either constituency in 1689; he certainly petitioned with Mompesson against the Old Sarum return, but this may have been on behalf of his son William Harvey. When he again appeared in the House after two further unsuccessful attempts for Essex, he acted with the Tories, like most of his family under William III, refusing the Association in 1696. He died on 20 Feb. 1699, and was buried at Hempstead.10

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. CJ, ix. 99, 102.
  • 2. Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 2), iii. 330-4.
  • 3. Information from H. Horwitz; Hoare, Wilts. Salisbury, 477; CSP Dom. 1680-1, p. 310; Essex RO, QS Rolls 472/1/17.
  • 4. Cal. Comm. Adv. Money, 138-40; Grey, v. 213; HMC Hastings, ii. 370; Aubrey, Brief Lives, i. 298; Guildhall Lib. mss 6428; Dering, 45.
  • 5. CJ, ix. 252, 266, 281; Dering, 134, 139; CSP Dom. 1673, p. 475; Grey, ii. 202, 216, 243, 254; Letters to Williamson (Cam. Soc. n.s. ix), 157.
  • 6. Dering Pprs. 64; Grey, iii. 104, 329, 388; ix. 9; CJ, ix. 322, 338, 341, 352, 374.
  • 7. Grey, iv. 157, 315, 319, 364; CJ, ix. 389, 414, 421, 424.
  • 8. Grey, v. 210, 213; vi. 219; CJ, ix. 439, 475, 500; Aubrey, i. 295; Cal. Treas. Bks. iv. 537; Finch mss, 11, 16 Dec. 1678.
  • 9. Grey, vii. 275; viii. 435; HMC 13th Rep. VI, 19; CSP Dom. 1671, p. 73; VCH Wilts. vi. 201; Finch mss, 27 Oct. 1680; HMC 12th Rep. IX, 99.
  • 10. CJ, ix. 708; x. 11; Universal Intelligencer, 10 Jan. 1689; Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 2), i. 384.