Harvey Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Harvey Meaning
name Harvey is thought to be a Gallicized version of the name Herve –
coming from an
older Breton name of Aeruiu
or Haerviu which comprised
elements haer meaning
“battle” and vy
Herve was apparently a minstrel of ancient Brittany
and the name was thought to have been brought to England, perhaps in
legend or in song, by Breton mercenaries at the time of the Norman
conquest. The Domesday Book contained several references to Herve as a first name, such Herueu de Berruarus in Suffolk.  Spelling variants are Hervey and, in Scotland, Harvie.

Resources on

Harvey Ancestry

Early Harveys
were Hervey le Breton, a Breton cleric who became the first bishop of
Ely in 1109 and Hervey de Leon, the forebear of the Harveys of Ickwell
Bury in Bedfordshire.

Norfolk Some
think that the first use of Harvey as a surname occurred in
Norfolk on the east coast. This part of England was certainly the
home of three illustrious Harvey families:

  • Harveys
    in Beachamwell parish records in Norfolk date from the 1500’s.
    John Harvey of Beachamwell founded the Norwich branch of the
    family. They were Norwich’s leading merchants and
    civic leaders during the 18th century.
  • a branch of the Hervey family from Thurleigh in Bedfordshire
    became masters of
    Ickworth Hall in Suffolk (near Bury St.
    Edmunds) in the early 1500’s and were prominent in court
    during Tudor times. These Ickworth Herveys,
    pronounced Harveys,
    developed a
    reputation for eccentricity, as Lady Mary Wortley’s jibe
    would suggest: “There are three types of human beings; men, women and
    Herveys.” Other Herveys from this family settled in Romford,
  • the Harveys of Chigwell in Essex
    came originally from Folkestone in Kent. This merchant family
    boasted William
    who discovered the circulation of blood, and, later, Admiral Eliab
    Harvey, an eccentric and hot-tempered naval officer who nevertheless
    distinguished himself at the battle of Trafalgar. Richard
    Morris’s 2007 book, Merchants,
    Medicine and Trafalgar: The History of the Harvey Family
    describes these Harveys.

SW England There were
also Harveys in the
southwest of England. Harveys in Ashill (near Taunton) in
Somerset date from the early 1500’s. Turner Harvey of Ashill was
acclaimed as “a renowned archer and warrior who fought for Henry
VIII.” There were more Harveys further west in Devon and

Harveys in Linkinhorne in Cornwall (near Bodmin Moor) started in
Elizabethan times. And there was a Harvey line at Maen near
Penzance soon after. Harveys became more prominent during the
hey-day of Cornish mining. The Harveys of Chacewater, there
from the early 1700’s, were miners; and John
Harvey established his famous foundry for mine equipment on the coast
at Hayle in
1800. From a Harvey family in St. Ives came the Bristol Harveys,
creators of Harvey’s Bristol Cream sherry.

Many Harveys left the area or emigrated when Cornish mining collapsed
in the 1860’s. Robert Harvey was one who came back. He had
gone with a group of Gwennap miners to Peru in 1872, made his fortune
in nitrate mines there, and returned in 1885 a rich man.

Channel Islands. The
Harveys in Guernsey may have come originally from Cornwall. They made their money in the
18th century from shipping and privateering, which they used to expand
their land holdings on the island. The most well-known of these
Harveys was a daughter, Margaret Anne, who became Mrs. Neve:

“She survived three days of concussion
after falling over the banister and hitting her head on a flagged floor
as a small child to live to the age of 110, her life spanning three
centuries (from 1792 to 1903). She had married John Neve of Kent.
After his death she returned to Guernsey in live in her picturesque old
home, Rouge Huis.”

She could recall the time when her father was in charge of the island
militia during the Napoleonic wars. A later Harvey, Winifred
Harvey, lived through the German occupation and published her diary of
those times, The Battle of Newlands,

Scotland. The
Harvey name came north to Scotland as well. The Harvey name was
associated with the Keith clan near Aberdeen from early times.
There was also a presence in Ayrshire. Often the spelling
was Harvie. But as the 19th century progressed the English
spelling of Harvey became increasingly predominant

. Many of the
Harveys in Ireland were originally of English extraction. They
to be found in Ulster (mainly in Armagh and Tyrone) and in county

The earliest English arrival appears to have been a Harvey family from
Bosworth in Liecestershire which settled in Wexford in the
1590’s. They
later owned Bargy castle
and were one of the leading
families of south Wexford. Bagenal Harvey of this family, a
plotter in the 1798 rebellion, met an untimely end when that revolt was

Harveys from Cornwall came to Derry as part of
the Protestant plantations of the early 1600’s. They
established themselves at Malin Hall in Ennishowen, Donegal.
Another Harvey
family, this
time from Scotland, was in Derry by the late 1600’s.

Harvey may also be Irish. A Galway clan originally called O’hAirmheadhaigh, meaning “the
descendant of the son of Airmed,”
was said to have anglicized their name to Harvey; as apparently did the
O’hEarchaidhs of county

Early Harveys (and Herveys) included:

  • Nicholas Hervey, a Catholic, who
    was one of the
    first settlers in Maryland. He arrived on the Ark and the Dove from Essex in 1634.
  • Thomas and William Harvey from Somerset who landed in Dorchester,
    Massachusetts in 1636 and later moved onto Boston.
  • Thomas Harvey, who was to be found in Perquimans county, North
    Carolina in the 1680’s. A descendant, Blassingame Harvey, was one
    of the pioneer settlers in Texas.
  • Onesiphorus Hervey, possibly
    from Cornwall, who was in Northumberland counry, Virginia by
    1702. A descendant is believed to be Thomas Hervey of Halifax
    county, North Carolina.
  • two Quaker Harveys, Joseph (from Staffordshire) and William
    (from Worcestershire), who came to Pennsylvania in 1702 and 1712
  • and the
    Scots Irish Henry Hervey
    who left county Monaghan in 1770
    and settled in Brooke county, Virginia (close to the Pennsylvania
    line). His farm there was still in the possession of his son
    David 107 years later.

Many Harveys followed the migration westward in the 19th century.
Turlington Harvey left New York for Chicago in the 1850’s.
He became a wealthy lumberman there and organized a real
estate syndicate to promote his new town of Harvey, Illinois.
Isaac Harvey headed west from Indiana for the goldfields of California
and ended up as the first mayor of Salinas City.

“His wife Sarah’s life mirrored her
restless husband’s, moving many times from Indiana to Missouri and
across the plains in a covered wagon to California and the gold rush
towns. Along the way Sarah gave birth to ten children. She
buried five of them as infants and one as a young man of sixteen.”

Fred Harvey, an Englishman, found his metier in Kansas in the 1870’s
when he started the Harvey House chain of restaurants, souvenir shops,
and hotels along the route of the railroad. They continued until
the 1960’s. A film musical which paid tribute to his business, The Harvey Girls, was made in
1946. It starred Judy Garland.

A Harvey family
was one of the first settlers of Bermuda in the 1600’s. Samuel
Harvey was recorded as a member of the Assembly in 1696 and there were
various other Harveys on the island by that time. These Harveys
had become involved in trade with Newfoundland by 1700 and they
gradually moved their business there during the 19th century.

early Harveys on Canada’s Eastern Seaboard were from diverse

James Harvie and his family came from Ayrshire in Scotland via Rhode
Island to Nova Scotia in 1760. These “New England planters” had
been given grants of land there after the French had vacated the
area. Harvie’s land was in Newport Landing and was handed down to
his descendants. It is still partly with the Harvie family

A Harvey
fishing family
from the Channel Islands came to the
Newfoundland coast in 1810. And Eugenius Harvey arrived from
Bermuda in 1820 to establish Harvey & Company, one of
Newfoundland’s most successful business enterprises. The company
has been involved primarily in shipping and the fish trade and it still
operates out of St. John’s today. Later there was a Moses Harvey
from Armagh in Ireland who arrived in St. John’s in 1852 to be the
pastor of its Presbyterian Free Church.

mining slump in Cornwall saw many Cornish miners head for Australia
and, in particular, to the Kapunda mine in South Australia. They
included a number of Harveys:

  • John and Elizabeth Harvey, who reached Adelaide on the Waterloo in 1840
  • George and Mary Harvey, who arrived there around the same time
  • and Arthur and Elizabeth Harvey,
    who came on the Robert Lees in

The sporting Harveys were from these Cornish mining roots. Four
of the sons of Horace and Elsie Harvey became first-class cricketers,
the most prominent of them being Neil Harvey who represented his
country in 79 Test matches between 1948 and 1963.


Harvey Miscellany

Early Herveys.  The surname Harvey was said to have emerged as a family name in
the counties of Norfolk and Cambridge. Here they were recorded as a
family of great antiquity seated with manors and estates in those
shires.  This family claimed descent from a Norman noble at
Hastings, Robert FitzHarvey.  The closer connection was with
Hervey le Breton, a Breton cleric who became the first bishop of
Ely in 1109 and founded the monastery of Thorney in Cambridgeshire.

Another Hervey, Hervey de Leon, came to England in the 12th century to
assist King Stephen in his fight with the Empress Maud.  He was
defeated by the Earl of Gloucester and forced to leave England.
1200, however, it appears that his family was back in favor –
obtaining lands in Bedfordshire, first at Risley and later, after the
dissolution of the monasteries, at Ickwell Bury.  A branch
of this family from Thurleigh settled in

There were other Herveys in England whose names did not transpose into
surnames; Hervey de Sutton who was granted estates in Nottinghamshire
in 1079;
Hervey Bagot who through marriage became Hervey de Stafford in the
early 1100’s; and Hervey de Montmorency who joined Strongbow’s invasion
of Ireland in

Harvey House in Norwich.  The following plaque is to be found on the side wall of 20 Colegate in

“Robert Harvey 1696-1773.
Born in this house, mayor of Norwich in 1738.
He was one of ten members of the Harvey family to become a mayor of the

Harvey House, one of the largest houses in Norwich at the time, was
built in 1720 by Edward Harvey, whose father was Robert Harvey of
Beachamwell.  This family were wool merchants who had connections
in that trade with Downham market, Hilborough, Rainthorpe and Norwich,
to mention just a few places.  John Harvey who founded the Norwich
branch of the family was a worsted weaver.  He was admitted a
freeman of the city in 1695.

The Herveys of Ickworth.  The Hervey family fortunes always fluctuated.  Generations
addicted to gambling and excess meant a succession of boom and
bust.  When times were good they were very good, and cash was
lavished on the estate; when they were bad they were very bad, and the
money ran out.  Times were bad in the late 1600’s and Ickworth
Hall fell into ruin.

Plans for the new house went on hold from 1702 and it was not finished
until 1828.  Meanwhile the family lived in a converted
farmhouse.  The first earl’s son John was a notorious libertine,
famed for his ambivalent sexuality.  He died
young.  While the second earl hired Capability Brown to work on
the Ickworth grounds, it was his sailor brother Augustus, vice-admiral
of the Blue, who grabbed the limelight.  Wartime adventures at sea
in the 1770’s and 1780’s and amorous adventures on land ensured this
third earl spent little time in Suffolk, but added richly to the

Step forward the eccentric Frederick, earl bishop of Cloyne and
Derry.  It will be no surprise he was no enthusiastic clergyman,
but fond of travel, Irish nationalism and horse racing.  He was
considered clever and cultured, but licentious and eccentric.  It
was he who laid the foundations for the new Ickworth.  The earl
bishop then fell out with his son before his death in 1803, cutting him
short of funds in his will.  So work on the rotunda stopped
abruptly and it was not until 1821 that the funds became available

Lady Mary Wortley said that there
were three types of human beings; men, women and Herveys.
Dr. Johnson thought them good company: “If you call a dog Hervey,” he
said, “I shall love him.”

Recent Herveys have continued this eccentric tradition.  Lord
Nicholas Hervey was a tabloid fixture in the 1980’s who killed himself
at the age of thirty six.  His half-sisters are the socialites,
Lady Victoria and Isabella Hervey, who have dabbled in celebrity.
In 1998, the Herveys had to sell off their remaining lease on Ickworth
House to the National Trust, partly for funds and partly to ward off an
eviction notice based on their behavior as tenants.

William Harvey Day.  Early June sees Folkestone mark one of its most famous
citizens with the annual William Harvey commemoration.

William Harvey was born in Folkestone in 1578, one of
seven sons to Thomas and Jane Harvey.  He went to school in
Canterbury and studied in Cambridge and Italy before becoming a doctor
and a lecturer in London.  His area of research was the
circulation of the blood and the way the heart works.  His book Concerning the Motion of the Heart and
Blood in Animals
was published in 1628.

In Folkestone there is a statue of William Harvey on the
Leas.  When Harvey died in 1657 he left money in his will for the
founding of a boy’s school in Folkestone.  This opened in 1674 and
the Harvey Grammar School has had a continuous history since that

William Harvey Day is marked by a procession including
the Folkestone mayor, town councillors, and others from the Burlington
Hotel on Earls Avenue to the William Harvey statue on the Leas.
They arrive there at 3pm and a short service of thanksgiving is

The Harveys of Bargy Castle.  Bagenal Harvey was the owner of Bargy Castle in the 1790’s and
part of a liberal pro-Catholic alliance of wealthy families in county
Wexford.  In early 1798 he had gathered many of them together in
his banqueting hall to plot what came to be known as the 1798 Rebellion.

Three months later, one of the guests at that gathering
returned to Wexford town and saw the heads of three of those who had
gathered there gaping from spikes over the courthouse door.  All
the others, excepting two, had met a similarly horrible execution.

Bagenal Harvey had distinguished himself during the rebellion
for his bravery and his chivalry.  He had taken refuge after
Wexford’s surrender in a cave in the Saltee islands with John Colclough
and his wife, from whence they planned to escape to France.  But
soldiers traced them down there.  To save Mrs. Colclough (who had
stood by her husband throughout the battles), both men surrendered and,
with the others, were executed that June and hung on Wexford bridge.

The castle itself was confiscated by the British Government,
but was then restored to Bagenal’s brother James in 1816.  It
stayed with the Harvey family until 1947.  Now the owner is the
singer Chris be Burgh and his family.

Bargy castle is said to be the oldest inhabited castle in
Ireland.  A stained glass window bearing the Harvey cross is to be
seen by the central tower.  Outside there is a stone covered with
figures supposed to represent Queen Elizabeth I and her crest, and,
above, a large machiolation where missiles could be launched.
Recently, a  dungeon, crypt, sepulchres, a secret passage, and
walled-up entrances yielding weapons and gunpowder have been
discovered.   Not surprisingly, the castle appears to be

A Cornish Inheritance: Harveys of Chacewater.  A Cornish Inheritance: Harveys of Chacewater by David Gore is the story of a Cornish
mining family which was caught up in the great emigration of the mid
19th century.  Samuel Harvey married there in 1710 and the village
became the Harvey home for the next two hundred years.  The book
tells of his son Samuel and the mines of old Cornwall, of his cousins
the buccaneering Pellows, the Hichens of St. Ives waterfront, and the
Penroses of Redruth, and we follow some of Samuel’s 63 grandchildren to
their new lives in America and other lands.

There is the tale of the brilliant but reclusive artist
who left Cornwall as a baby, became a conscientious objector in World
War 1, and was arrested as a spy in 1944; and the entrepreneur, game
hunter, and unethical chancer, thrown out of Kenya in his youth, who
became an arms dealer, apparently selling to both sides in the
Iran-Iraq war – a far cry from the lives of their ancestors, those
hardy old men of Cornish mining with which this history begins.

Harveys and Harvies in Scotland

Harvey Harvie Total % Harvie
1841 census   1,401    682   2,083     33
1901 census   3,746    821   4,567     18

Reader Feedback – Herveys from Ireland to America.  This Hervey family was of Scotch origin, the members of it being
in their religious belief and church connection.  At
the time of the religious persecution in
Scotland the family ancestors emigrated to the north of Ireland and
settled in
county Monaghan.  Henry Hervey was
born there in 1740.

the age of thirty, in company with his cousin William, he came to
America, landing at Philadelphia
in 1770. Two years later, they came west
of the Allegheny mountains and Henry settled in Brooke county,
Virginia, then by the western frontier.

the troublous times of the Revolution, Henry
and his wife Margaret were exposed to frequent alarms from fear of the
who often passed though this section.  For
mutual protection, the settlers built fort “Wells,” situated near the
site of the old Lover Buffalo church, and about three miles east of the
farm on
which Mr. Hervey resided.  During the six
or seven summers after their marriage, Mrs. Hervey lodged with others
in the
“fort,” while her husband armed for defense, would go out on Monday
morning to his work on the farm, remain during the weekend, and return
Saturday evening and spend the Sabbath with his family in the fort.

raised nine children, five sons and four
daughters.  The seventh-born David, who
the Rev. David Hervey, was born in 1794 and was still living in 1879
(aged 85),
the only one still living then of the nine children.  He
was living in the old family farm which had
been continuously in the ownership of his father and himself ever since
land was taken up by his father in 1772.

Barbara Palmer (barbtpalmer@yahoo.com)

Ann Harvey, the Newfoundland Heroine.  The Isle aux Morts, rocky islands off the coast of Newfoundland, had –
as its name suggests – witnessed many a shipwreck.  In the summer
of 1828, this fate befell the British brig Despatch.
She had left Londonderry in Ireland in late May en route to Québec
City, crammed with 200 Irish immigrants.  On Saturday July 10,
1828, forty-two days after leaving port and about three quarters of the
way to her destination, a raging storm blew the Despatch onto
the rocks near Isle aux Morts.

The Harveys, fishermen from the Channel Islands who lived about four
miles from the wreck site, had spotted debris being washed ashore that
evening but were unable to investigate due to the storm and approaching
darkness.  Upon discovering the wreck the next morning, with the
survivors clinging to the rocks, the Harveys started their rescue
mission with a vengeance.

Over an incredible three day period, young Ann Harvey – working night
and day
with her father, 12 year old brother Tom and their Newfoundland dog
was instrumental in saving 168 of the passengers and crew, getting
them to land over stormy seas in the Harvey’s twelve foot skiff.
With all survivors safe on shore as of Tuesday night, the Harveys
continued their incredible rescue operation.  For another
exhausting five days, they built makeshift shelters on the beach,
shared their home, clothing, all the family’s food secured for the
winter, and helped to row the survivors to Port aux Basques.

Ann was just seventeen at the time of the shipwreck.  Her
accomplishment was recognized in her time and is still remembered
today.  In 2003, the artistic director of Shallaway,
Susan Knight, commissioned Stephen Hatfield to compose a folk opera to
celebrate Ann’s legacy.  The resulting work, Ann and Seamus, made its debut in
St. John’s in 2006.  Contact was made with descendants of the Despatch’s
survivors and several travelled to St. John’s to attend the premiere
and to meet descendants of Ann and the Harvey family.

Neil Harvey: A Cricketing Star but not a Superstar.  Neil Harvey played cricket for Australia in the
1950’s when it was the administrators who ran the game and reaped its
rewards, not the players.  The players received money for playing
for their country.  But it was a modest stipend – they should be
sportsmen rather than mercenaries.  Most needed outside employment
to support themselves.

Neil Harvey’s early employment history had been chequered.  A
three year apprenticeship as a fitter in Melbourne City Council’s
electric supply department had taken six because of his frequent
cricketing absences.  In 1950,  his cricketing captain
Lindsay Hassett offered him a step up, a job in his sporting goods
store.  He was by that time Australia’s premier batsman.

Even with a high public profile, his personal circumstances did not
change very much.  He remained at home, sharing a bedroom with his
brothers Brian and Ray until he married in 1953.  He continued for
many years to wear the cricketing trousers that he had worn in England
in 1948.  When his playing days were over in 1963, Neil and his
wife went into partnership selling Tupperware as Har-V-Sales.


Select Harvey Names

  • William Harvey discovered the
    circulation of the blood in 1616.
  • Bagenal Harvey was an early
    leader of the 1798 Rebellion in Ireland.
  • John Harvey developed in the 1860’s the sherry known as Harvey’s Bristol Cream.
  • Alfred Harvey was the founder
    of the comic book publishers Harvey
    in the 1930’s.
  • Laurence Harvey, born Hirsh
    Skikne in Lithuania, was a British film star of the 1960’s.

Select Harvey Numbers

  • 65,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Surrey)
  • 42,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 34,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia).


Select Harvey and Like Surnames.

The Norman Conquest brought new rulers to England and they brought their names and language, a form of French, with them.  Over time their names became less French and more English in character.  Thus Hamo became Hammond, Reinold Reynolds and Thierry Terry and so forth.  The names Allen, Brett, Everett, and Harvey were probably Breton in origin as Bretons also arrived, sometimes as mercenaries.

The new Norman lords often adopted new last names, sometimes from the lands they had acquired and sometimes from places back in Normandy.  Over time the name here also became more English.  Thus Saint Maur into Seymour, Saint Clair into Sinclair, Mohun into Moon, and Warenne into Warren.

Here are some of these Norman and Breton originating names that you can check out.




Click here for return to front page

Leave a Reply