Saturday, 19 July 2008

Major-General Sir Robert John HARVEY

Major-General Sir Robert John HARVEY, CB, KTS, FRS, FAS (1785-1860), of Mousehold House, Norwich

The son of John Harvey, Esq,, of Thorpe Lodge, Norfolk and Frances Kerrinson, daughter of Sir Roger Kerrinson, of Brooke House. In 1815, he married his distant cousin Charlotte Mary, dau. of Robert Harvey, Esq., of Watton.
In the expedition sent to Portugal in March 1809, under the command of Major-General Lord Hill, he served as a Captain of the 53rd Foot Regiment. In 1810, he was made a Major and appointed Assistant-Quarter-Master-General of the Portuguese Army attached to the Headquarters of the Portuguese Army’s Commander-in-Chief - Marshall William Carr Beresford. In 1811, Beresford appointed him to General-Headquarters of Marshall Lord Wellington – Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Forces, as a liaison Officer with the Portuguese troops in the field and as Chief of the Staff of the Portuguese Army, in his absence. He remained in this position till the end of the war in 1814[1].
During the first years of the War his services were particularly relevant in organizing nine Portuguese Guerrilla Corps, the Ordenanças and in intelligence services[2] owing to his superior linguist abilities and perfect domain of the French and German languages.
He was present namely, at the battles of Oporto, Buçaco, Salamanca, Vitoria, Pyrenees, Nive, Nivelle, Orthez, Toulouse and in the sieges of Ciudad Rodrigo, Burgos, Badajoz and San Sebastian. After the capture of Badajoz (April 1812) Harvey was made a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Portuguese Army. After Salamanca and Vitória, Harvey was promoted a Lieutenant-Colonel in the British Army, on the recommendation of Lord Wellington.
For his distinguished services in the Peninsular War he was made by the King of Portugal a knight of the Order of the Tower and Sword (British Royal Warrant of May 1816). The Prince Regent awarded him a knighthood, in February, 6th, 1817, [3] and in 1831 he was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath.
In an engraved portrait of 1821, by Charles Knight, he proudly bears his Portuguese decorations – the Peninsular War Campaign Cross (6 campaigns), the insignia of a Knight of the Order of the Tower and Sword and the rare Commander’s Medal of the Peninsular War (10 campaigns) -, and the Army Gold Medal (Orthez). The absence of the insignia of the order of Avis means that the award was made after that date, also for services in the Peninsular War.

The bookplate bears the arms of Harvey of Thorpe with Harvey on an escutcheon[4], with several augmentations of honour:
Arms: Erminois on a chief indented gules between two crescents argent, the Army Gold Medal awarded by the Prince Regent for his services at the Battle of Orthes, a canton ermine charged with the badge of a Knight of the Order of the Tower and Sword[5].
Crest: Over a dexter cubit arm, erect, ppr., a crescent arg. between two branches of laurel also ppr., with the augmentation of a mural crown or, out of which the arm is issuant.
Motto: Alteri si Tibi.
The bookplate also shows the badge of the Order of the Tower and Sword pending with a ribbon from the shield, which only occurs with few British recipients of the Order, founded in Brazil in 1808. It proves how highly Sir Robert John Harvey esteemed this award.
Sir Robert J. Harvey used yet another armorial bookplate in stencil, bearing also pending from the shield the cross of the Order of Avis of which he was a knight commander[6].
According to the Catalogue of the Franks Collection of Bookplates, Sir Robert Harvey’s father – John Harvey, Esq. also used an armorial spade shield bookplate with Harvey impalling Kerrinson [7].

Thanks are due to our good friend Paulo Estrela for his valuable help in clarifying Sir Robert J. Harvey’s Peninsular War decorations and in calling our attention to the fact that those decorations were sadly dispersed, sold in auctions namely, at Christie’s (24.04.92) and at Spink’s (25.09.01).
[1] For a more detailed account of his military career, namely in the Peninsular War see, the Obituary published in «The Gentleman's Magazine», London, 1860, pp. 191-193
[2] H G Hart, Hart's Annual Army List, Militia List, and Imperial Yeomanry List, J. Murray, 1845, p. 26
[3] Francis Townsend, Calendar of Knights: Containing Lists of Knights Bachelors, British Knights of Foreign Orders ..., W. Pickering, 1828, pp. 30 and 92
[4] See, Franks Collection Catalogue, # 14013, vol. 2, p. 29.
[5] John Burke & John Bernard Burke, The Knightage of Great Britain and Ireland, London, 1841, pp. 169-170 and Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry, Vol 1, London, Henry Colburn, 1847, p. 544
[6] John Blatchly, Elegant Economy: the stencilled ex-libris, in «The Bookplate Journal», Vol. 4, #1, March 2006, p.37; referring the Order of Avis, see, Hart’s, ibidem, p. 471
[7] Ibidem, # 14002

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