The Harvey Family
Throughout the occupation of Guernsey (1940-45) Winifred Harvey (1888-1976) kept a diary, which has been edited and published under the title The Battle of Newlands, and which is still in print. In keeping her diary, she followed a family tradition; the Harveys have left behind them comprehensive records from the middle of the 19th century, so detailed that their lives could virtually be reconstructed from them, and much of that material is here at the Library. Their house, Newlands, is illustrated in the photograph above, from the Library Collection.
Winifred Harvey (1888-1976) was a leading light in the Guernsey Guiding movement.1 She was extremely public-spirited, following the family tradition. She lived at Newlands, a large house in Prince Albert's Road in St Peter Port, which her father bought in 1906, and in which she remained until infirmity forced her to leave in 1975, having never married. Throughout the occupation of Guernsey (1940-45) she kept a diary, which has been edited and published under the title The Battle of Newlands,2 and which is still in print.
In keeping her journal she followed another family tradition; the Harveys have left behind them comprehensive records from the middle of the 19th century, so detailed that their lives could virtually be reconstructed from them. Through the Victorian and Edwardian period the family included several long-lived spinsters, who kept scrapbooks and copied all their correspondence, as well as that of their close family members. They kept almost everything, and their journals and diaries can now be found shared between the Priaulx Library and the Island Archives. In addition they retained older family documents, including wills and property transactions.
Winifred’s immediate family had a strong link with the army, in particular, the 25th Regiment of Foot, known as the King’s Own (Scottish) Borderers. Her father, Henry James Harvey (1840-1921), retired as Major in 1888 at the age of 47. In 1849, his brother, Ensign John Richard Harvey, from 77th foot, was made Ensign in the 25th Foot; this seems to be the beginning of their long familial association. Another brother, Thomas Peter, became a Major in the 77th Foot, and died at Weymouth. John Richard retired as Lieutenant-Colonel in 1885; he has left behind him an extraordinarily rich set of papers, including detailed illustrated journals and scrapbooks of his time in India and his voyage around the dominions in various military ships, collecting and delivering invalided soldiers. Henry James was later promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel. He served in the Afghan War (1878-9): a report by him of an action in the Khyber may be found here, and a journal entry from the Library's own collection, here. In 1887 he married Beatrice Emmeline, daughter of Rev. James Watson, Vicar of All Saints’, Upper Norwood, London, at Futegharh. They produced three children: Winifred Beatrice (b. 1888), Edith Mary (b. 1890), and Henry John (b. 1892). Henry became a Colonel in the KOSB, having survived the First War.
The Harveys were a wealthy family. They claimed descent from the Harveys of Hale in Linkinhorne, a parish near Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. A search of the records of the area does indeed reveal a long Harvey history there, with the family receiving subsidies from Henry VIII; there may well be connections with an extinct peerage—Harvey of Hale in Linkinhorne—three descents before 1620. Arms:—Arg. a chevron between three harrows, Sable.3 A note amongst their papers shows an attempt at a family tree, with the oldest ancestors named as John Harvey and Jane Gwavas, who married in 1695; unfortunately the records from Linkinhorne, although comprehensive, are not complete and no trace of John and Jane Gwavas is detectable there (although the Gwavas name is very localised in other parts of Cornwall and the couple may remain to be found elsewhere). It is possible that the Guernsey family is linked with the Harvey wine merchant family in Bristol, but no concrete evidence is as yet available to corroborate this, although the Library does have documents linking them closely to the Harvey family of Falmouth. This is through John Harvey (of Guernsey)'s brother Benjamin, who lived in Falmouth; John also had a brother Henry, and a brother Samson, who lived in Philadelphia; their father was Benjamin Harvey, presumably son of John and Jane Gwavas. A document in the Guille family file in the Library gives another attempt at the tree, in which Benjamin Harvey of Falmouth is married to Jane Gwavas. Their son John is described as 'Master John Harvey, son of Mrs Benjamin Harvey of Falmouth, came to Guernsey with his mother in 1755.'
The Library’s first reference to the Harveys in St Peter Port is to John (1736-1778), whose marriage to Margaret Anne Parker (d. 1790) is recorded in 1759. Amongst the papers, the 1767 will of Jane Harvey, wife of William Vionnée, mariner, names her mother, Jane Harvey, as beneficiary; the mother may have been John Harvey's sister. This awaits confirmation. The Harvey papers include several 18th century legal documents that involve Margaret Anne and John Harvey, mostly in disputes over property with other members of the Parker family, from which a Parker family tree can be gleaned; her father, Daniel Parker, is documented as renting out property in the Pollet in 1719; his father was Pierre Parker Snr, and he had brothers Pierre Jr, Samuel, and Robert as well as a sister, Elizabeth, all of whom survived to be of an age to quarrel over inheritances in the 1760s. (The extent of the Parker's property empire in the Pollet can be gleaned from the Livres de Perchage of e.g. 1732.) The Parkers (or Parquer) can be traced in Guernsey back to the middle of the 17th century (their last house was the short-lived Old Court, demolished to create St Julian's Avenue). T. F. Priaulx’s article, with which he was helped by Winifred Harvey, refers to an unspecified Harvey (who could be John and Jane's son) coming to Alderney as a shipmaster and marrying a Miss Blaize, whence the couple removed to Guernsey. The inscription on the family vault in the Brother's Cemetery in St Peter Port does not bear this out,4 but a search of the Alderney records reveals that
Daniel, son of Pierre Parker of the island of Guernsey, and Suzanne daughter of Sieur Blaize Le Ber, Justice, were married after midnight night of 10 to 11 February 1723 without publication of banns, after paying the dues to the Dean of Guernezey and paid the minister at his discretion, as a stranger.
The tree in the Library's Guille family file also gives this marriage, Susanne Le Ber being the daughter of Blaize Le Ber and Marguerite Ollivier; her grandmother is said to be Christine Audoire.
John and Margaret Anne lost several of their children, including Thomas,5 whose beautifully written school workbook is held at the Library, but John, born in 1771, survived and married Elizabeth Guille, daughter of Richard Guille and Marie, daughter of Robert Mourant. They were both 19 years old; Elizabeth died at the age of 99.
T F Priaulx’s article mentions that John Harvey took up merchant shipping and privateering with the Guille family of St George, whether before or after his marriage is not clear; there is no evidence of this so far found, but the Harveys certainly acquired a great deal of property through the years. It is possible that advantageous marriages brought the wealth, as John and Elizabeth’s son, also called John (1793-1865), married Anne Sophia Grut (1802-1844), daughter of Peter Grut (1771-1855) and Anne Collings. Winifred Harvey was their grand-daughter. 'Miss Harvey' is recorded as having
a charming miniature of Richard Guille, Marie Mourant's husband, and his eldest daughter, my grandmother Harvey, as well as spoons, sugar tongs, Mr Mourant's clock, and other relics. Blaize Le Ber's old chest is upstairs; he was Judge of Alderney in 1722 [Guille family file.].
John and Anne-Sophia's son Thomas is well documented. He lived in Guernsey, serving as a member of the militia and marrying Jane Payn of Jersey, daughter of Jurat Francis Payn. He then became a merchant in Leeds, from where he travelled on a ship called The New World in 1849 to Racine County, Wisconsin and set up a planing mill. His son William founded the Harvey Spring Company in Racine. The Harvey papers in the Priaulx Library contain warm correspondence with this branch of the family continuing into the 20th century.
John and Elizabeth’s first child, however, was a daughter, Margaret Anne, born in the Pollet in 1792. 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 (she died in 1903). She became famous as Mrs Neve, the Old Lady of Rouge Huis, having married John Neve, a man of substance from Tenterden in Kent. The National Trust of Guernsey have in their possession a quilt that belonged to Mrs Neve that dates from this period. They lived in Kent for 25 years; childless, following her husband’s death, she returned to Guernsey to live with her mother in the beautiful family farmhouse in St Peter Port known as Rouge Huis. On the Town Map of 1842,6 the house belongs to Jean Harvey and is called simply 'Chaumière' ('The Cottage'). Originally belonging to John de Jersey, a note amongst the family papers tells us that it was bought from the De Jersey family in 1808, and that a watercolour of it was painted by the well-known Guernsey artist Paul Jacob Naftel in 1869. It has been, alas, impossible to trace the painting, but a photograph of the house can be seen here.
ODE A MADAME NEVE
De Rouge Huis, Guernesey.
Sur le 100eme Anniversaire de sa Naissance,
Le 18 Mai, 1892
'Je te verrai sans ombre,
O vérité Céleste!
Tu te caches de nous,
Dans nos jours de sommeil
Cette vie est un triste songe,
La mort est un reveil!' Voltaire.
Salut! Reine par âge,
De l’Archipel Normand;
Grace à ton Bocage,
A ton climat charmant!
Vis, vis encore un lustre,
Dans ton Huis—l’Oasis,
D’une famille illustre,
Pres d’un Mont bien assis!
Ton Dieu! Ce Dieu suprème,
Exaucéra nos voeux;
Il t’ouvrira lui-même,
Le Portail de ces Cieux!
Amen, oui, oui, Amen!
The Priaulx Library collection includes many travel journals, including Mrs Neve’s honeymoon diaries, which describe the places she visited, including the battlefield of Waterloo, 8 years after the conflict. As she passed 100, her fame began to grow; international newspapers published articles about her on several occasions, including the New York Times. There is correspondence between the Royal Household and the Harvey family on the subject of Mrs Neve:
The Honourable Charlotte Knollys
Rouge Huis Guernsey
6th July 1901
We are very sensible of the honor Her Majesty the Queen has done Mrs Neve, in permitting a telegram of congratulation to be sent for her birthday. She entered her 110th year on 18th May last. But we are deeply concerned that Her Majesty should have been troubled by a stranger, who did not even know Mrs Neve’s name.
We replied by telegram yesterday to 'Lines, Yoxford,'—in the belief that we were doing so to an agent of 'The Queen' newspaper,—being misled by a very inaccurate telegram. The newspaper cutting from 'The News' enclosed in a letter from the Revd M. D. Lines, today, is altogether inaccurate.
Mrs Neve has now no memory. She had not the honor of having received a message from Queen Victoria on any birthday. She still enjoys her health, and often looks gratefully at the photograph near her armchair, sent her on 4th May 1896, through the Revd Percy de Putron, West Newton Parsonage, by the Queen; signed by herself expressly for the Old Lady.
Again entreating you to express the concern of Mrs Neve’s family, for this intrusion upon Her Most Gracious Majesty, and thanking Her for Her continued kindness
I am Dear Madam
Louisa M Harvey
Enclosed aunt’s last photo, and autograph, also one of her last birthday return thanks cards.
Pall Mall, S.W.
12th July 1901
I submitted you letter to the Queen; and I am now commanded by Her Majesty to thank you very much for it: and also for the photograph of Mrs Neve, which you so kindly forwarded with the same, for Her acceptance.
I am indeed sorry that the Queen should have been misinformed about Mrs Neve, and I am much obliged to you
The Hon Charlotte Knollys
HMY Victoria & Albert
Rouge Huis, Guernsey
July 17th 1902
Mrs Neve’s photograph, taken on Monday—namely two months after entering her 111th year—has come out so well that we are venturing to send you a copy for our most glorious Queen;
With most sincere wishes for the King’s complete restoration to health, from His Majesty’s Oldest Subject and her family.
I am dear Madam
Louisa M. Harvey.
The Priaulx Library has cuttings kept by the family that show how Mrs Neve became famous enough to generate her own mythology, newspapers from Chicago and Toronto claiming that Queen Victoria always sent her a birthday card (negated by the above correspondence) and that the Queen even had a portrait of her hanging at Osborne House.
1 Winifred B. Harvey, Quarterly Review of the Guernsey Society, Summer 1953, 'Girl Guides in Guernsey.' Belongings sold at auction see Guernsey Press November 12th 1976. The Library has recently received a very generous donation of significant additional family material from John Collins.
2 Winifred B. Harvey, The Battle of Newlands, The Wartime Diaires of Winfred Harvey, ed. Rosemary Booth, The Guernsey Press Ltd, 1995
3 Rev. Daniel Lysons, Samuel Lysons, Magna Britannia, vol. 3 (Cornwall), General History: Extinct Gentry Families, pp. CXVIII-CLXXIV, London: printed for T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1806-22
4 Priaulx, T. F., 'The Old Lady of Rouge Huis,' The Review of the Guernsey Society, 28 (1), Spring 1982, p. 11; Kreckeler, D., The Brothers burial ground 1719-1948, Rue des Frères, St Peter Port, Guernsey: Guernsey, 2008, Société Guernesiaise, Family History Section. Library File, Extracts from Le Vieux Registre of Alderney relating to Guernsey. The demolition of Rouge Huis house, which, along with the nearby La Porte, is said to have once been part of the ancient Chapel of St Jacques, is documented in the Guernsey Press of March 20th, 1911, p. 3.
5 Thomas died at the age of nineteen, as a result of having spent the night out on a militia emergency, which turned out to have been a hoax. His beautifully written Mathematics workbook is in the Library collection.
6 Map of St Peter Port, 1842, The Priaulx Library. An article from The Girl's Realm, 'A Girl when the Last Century was Young: A Chat with Mrs Neve,' in the Library's Guernsey Pamphlets XIII, a collection of offprints collected by Edith Carey (at LOC 050). This article contains interesting exterior and interior photographs of Rouge Huis house; the Library also has postcards and other photographs of the house in its collection. It has often been surmised that the family, with known connections to Falmouth, was also somehow connected with the Harveys of sherry fame, and this article does claim that Mrs Neve went to Bristol to finishing school at 15 because her father had relatives there.
7 Le Baillage, 13.08.1892. John Sullivan is sometimes referred to as Jersey's William McGonagall.
see also on Mrs Neve:
Glen Balfour-Paul, Bagpipes in Babylon, London, I.B. Tauris, 2005 (by Mrs Neve's great-nephew).