The Twickenham Museum
People : Landowners and Gentry

Matthew Harvey

1639 - 1694

Matthew Harvey was baptised at St Laurence Pountney, London, in 1639, a nephew of the eminent physician Dr William Harvey (1578-1657). His father, Eliab (1589-1661), the fifth “of a week of sons”, became a prosperous city merchant in London, marrying Mary West (1607-73) probably the daughter of Colonel Francis West, later Lieutenant of the Tower.

Matthew came to live in Twickenham in 1686, possibly in Heatham House on the north bank pf the River Crane beside the stone bridge leading out of Twickenham towards Brentford. On 6 September 1686 the Vestry “ordered that Mr Harvey have a Pew made for his servants at the South side of the Church beyond the stares there leading up to the South Gallery the said Pew to be seven feete in length and five in depth at the charge of Mr Harvey and that Mr Holman or the Inhabitant or tenant that shall be in Mr Holman's house shall have the priviledge and right for a servant for him or them to sett in the said Pewe”.

He died here on 14 Jan 1693/4. He had married Lady Frances Whitmore (1640-90), widow of Sir Thomas Whitmore, KB of Bridgnorth. She died and was buried in St Mary's Church, Twickenham on 15 May 1690. In 1693 the church obtained a faculty for the erection of a pedestal memorial to the Lady Frances in the Harvey pew on the north side of the church (Churchwardens' Accounts, 1693: 'for the securing Mr Harveys Monument in the Church'). In consideration, Harvey left £100 to the poor of the parish on condition that the church maintained the memorial in good condition and remained in that position. It seems that it had already been erected in the pew, inscribed with a poem composed by John Dryden and dedicated to the Lady Frances though without actually mentioning her name. So, for the remaining few months of his life Matthew shared the pew with the monument to his wife.

There was complicated inter-marriage between the Harveys and Whitmores. Sir Thomas Whitmore (1612-53), the 1st Baronet fathered, inter-alia, Dorothy (1638-1725), William (1637-99), 2nd Baronet and Thomas (c1650-82), KB. Dorothy married Sir Eliab Harvey in 1658, William married Sir Eliab's sister, Mary Harvey (1637-1710), and Matthew married Frances, widow of Sir Thomas, KB.

When the church was rebuilt in 1714 the pedestal was reinstalled near where the present reading lectern stands, on a base slab since moved to the centre aisle of the nave. This large black slab, 8' 4" x 4' 4", has a shallow recess which matches the base of the pedestal. It may be that this slab fitted the dimensions of the pew in which the memorial was first placed, in 1693, on the north side of the church. If so, just how it was installed invites speculation: it must weigh in the region of a ton.

In 1859 the pedestal was moved to the top landing of the north gallery staircase and later to the position it now occupies in the south east corner of the church. The arms on the pedestal were designed by John Bushnell.

further reading:

Richard Morris, Merchants, Medicine and Trafalgar - the History of the Harvey Family, The Alderton Press, 2007

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