HERVEY, Sir Thomas (1625-94), of Ickworth, Suff.
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Family and Education
b. 25 May 1625, 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of Sir William Hervey† of Ickworth, and bro. of John Hervey. educ. Pembroke, Camb. 1641. m. 21 July 1658, Isabella (d. 5 June 1686), da. of Sir Humphrey May† of Carrow Priory, Norf., chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster 1618-30, 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 3da. Kntd. by 1661; suc. bro. 1680.1
Commr. for assessment, Suff. 1661-80, Bury 1673-80, Suff. and Bury 1689-90; j.p. Suff. 1663-d., dep. lt. by 1671-Apr. 1688, 1689-d.; ald. Bury St. Edmunds 1684-Oct. 1688.2
Commr. for navy 1664-8.3
Hervey is said to have ‘ventured his life ... in the service of the King and country in the time of Charles I’, but he does not seem to have played a conspicuous part in the Civil War. During the Interregnum he occupied himself with courting his future wife, who was living in Bury St. Edmunds, but it was eight years before he was able to marry her. He was knighted either by Charles II in exile, or soon after the Restoration, and seems to have run the family estate after his father’s death in September 1660, presumably because his elder brother did not care to leave London. This responsibility, however, did not prevent Hervey from buying a seat on the navy board from Lord Berkeley of Stratton in 1664 for £3,000. His colleague Samuel Pepys found him ‘a very droll’ drinking companion, but disapproved of his working habits, particularly his absence during the plague. In November 1666 Pepys wrote that he
begins to crow mightily upon his late being at the payment of tickets; but a coxcomb he is and will never be better in the business of the navy.
During the inquiry into the miscarriages of the war, Hervey expected the Commons ‘to make a great rout among us’. He accompanied Pepys to several of the hearings, but with the assurance of compensation for loss of office he left the defence of the naval administration to his colleague. When the board complained of his slow progress with auditing the accounts of Sir George Carteret, Hervey was, according to Pepys:
mighty angry, and particularly with me, but I do not care, but do rather desire it, for I will not spare him that we shall bear the blame, and such an idle fellow as he have £500 a year for nothing.
Nevertheless on his resignation in February 1668 he received £2,000 as royal bounty.4
Hervey was returned to the Exclusion Parliaments for Bury St. Edmunds, three miles from Ickworth. Presumably he stood on the family interest because his elder brother was unacceptable as a courtier and an absentee. Shaftesbury marked him ‘base’, but he missed the division on the first exclusion bill, served on no committees, and made no speeches. He was nominated to the corporation in the new charter of 1684 and re-elected in the next year as a Tory. Listed among the Opposition in James II’s Parliament, he was appointed only to a private committee. The flight of Lord Dover at the Revolution encouraged him to attack both seats at the general election of 1689, but his son John was defeated by Sir Robert Davers. In the Convention Hervey voted to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant, but his only committee was on the bill for the export of leather. He continued to take part in local affairs, but did not stand again. He died on 27 May 1694 and was buried with his wife at Ickworth. A memorial inscription describes them as ‘most eminent examples of piety, charity and conjugal affection’. Their son sat for Bury St. Edmunds from 1694 as a Whig until he obtained a peerage through the good offices of the Duchess of Marlborough in 1703.5
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Paula Watson
- 1. Vis. Suff. ed. Howard, ii. 195-7; A. Hervey, Hervey Fam. 89-99.
- 2. Add. 39246, ff. 23, 26, 30; SP44/335/128.
- 3. G. F. Duckett, Naval Commrs. 6.
- 4. Hervey, 101-5; Clarendon, Life, ii. 333; Pepys Diary, 7 June 1665, 10 Feb., 7 Nov. 1666, 26 June, 16 Nov. 1667; CSP Dom. Add. 1660-85, p. 223; Cal. Treas. Bks. ii. 247.
- 5. IHR Bull. liv. 203; Vis. Suff. ii. 147.