Eliab Harvey

Eliab Harvey

Admiral Sir Eliab Harvey, GCB (5 December 1758 – 20 February 1830) was an eccentric and hot-tempered officer of the Royal Navy during the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars who was as distinguished for his gambling and dueling as for his military record. Although Harvey was a significant naval figure for over twenty years, his martial reputation was largely based on his experiences at the Battle of Trafalgar, when he took his ship HMS Temeraire into the thick of the action. Harvey used Temeraire to force the surrender of two French ships of the line and later created his family motto from the names of his opponents in the engagement; "Redoutable et Fougueux".

In his civilian life, Harvey pursued political interests and spent three spells as a Member of Parliament for Maldon and later Essex. During this period he was also knighted. However, Harvey was not a peaceable man and his life both in and out of the Navy was frequently punctuated by disputes with fellow officers and politicians. One such dispute, a consequence of the Battle of Basque Roads, eventually cost Harvey his career; a bitter exchange with Lord Gambier forcing Harvey into early retirement in 1809. Although reinstated a year later, Harvey was never again employed in an official capacity and further promotions were only bestowed as a matter of seniority.

Harvey was also notable in his time for his extravagant lifestyle. The deaths of his father and elder brother while he was still a young man provided Harvey with a considerable fortune, much of which he squandered gambling in London. Harvey's exploits at the gaming tables became legendary, one story claiming that he once bet £100,000 on a single game of chance and lost, only to win most of it back on the following throw. Despite his dissolute lifestyle, Harvey was married and had numerous children; he was survived by six daughters and had three sons who predeceased him.

Read more about Eliab HarveyEarly Life, Civilian Life, Return To Service, Trafalgar, Retirement, Ancestry

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Essex (UK Parliament Constituency) - Members of Parliament - 1640-1832
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