Gordon Harvey

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Gordon Harvey

Alexander Gordon Cummins Harvey (31 December 1858 – 6 November 1922) was a British cotton manufacturer and merchant and Liberal politician.


Gordon Harvey (as he was usually known) was born in Manchester the son of Cummins Harvey [1] who was a partner in the cotton yarn and cloth manufacturing firm of Fothergill and Harvey.[2] Gordon Harvey himself went on to become the head of an important firm of cotton spinners, manufacturers and merchants with mills at Littleborough and with warehouses and offices in Manchester.[3]


Lancashire County Council[edit]

A Liberal in politics, and sometime Chairman of Middleton Division Liberal Association,[4] Harvey was elected to Lancashire County Council in the year after its creation and was later made an Alderman of the county. He remained chairman of the county education committee up until the time of his death. He also served as a Justice of the Peace in Lancashire.[1]


Harvey first stood for Parliament at the Khaki election of 1900 as Liberal candidate for Rochdale. The election was fought in the jingoistic atmosphere of the Second Boer War which favoured the Conservatives. Despite taking the anti-war side Harvey still managed to come within 19 votes of beating the sitting Conservative MP, Clement Royds.

General election 1900: Rochdale
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Clement Royds 5,204 46.1 0.0
Liberal Alexander Gordon Cummins Harvey 5,185 45.9 +4.0
Labour C A Clarke 901 8.0
Majority 19 0.2 -4.0
Turnout 11,290 87.1 -1.1
Conservative hold Swing

Harvey was elected as MP for Rochdale, however, at the 1906 general election beating Royds, who had held the seat since 1895, by 1,463 votes.

General election 1906: Rochdale
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Alexander Gordon Cummins Harvey 5,912 45.9 0.0
Conservative Clement Royds 4,449 34.6 -11.5
Independent Labour Samuel George Hobson 2,506 19.5
Majority 1,463 11.3
Turnout 12,867 93.0 +5.9
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing

He held the seat at the general elections of January

General election January 1910: Rochdale
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Alexander Gordon Cummins Harvey 6,809 48.8 +2.9
Conservative W B Boyd-Carpenter 5,581 38.6 +2.0
Social Democratic Federation Dan Irving 1,755 12.6
Majority 1,428 10.2 -1.1
Turnout 13,945 93.5 +0.5
Liberal hold Swing

and December 1910.

General election December 1910: Rochdale
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Alexander Gordon Cummins Harvey 5,373 44.6 -4.2
Conservative N Cockshutt 4,850 40.9 +2.3
Social Democratic Federation Dan Irving 1,901 14.5 +1.9
Majority 477 3.7 -6.5
Turnout 11,124 88.0 -5.5
Liberal hold Swing

He was on the extreme pacifist wing of the party and led the opposition to increased naval spending as World War One approached. The economist Francis Hirst wrote an approving biography of him.

Harvey was interested in the environment and in being a benevolent employer and some of his public works still survive in Littleborough.


Harvey was obliged to stand down from Parliament at the 1918 general election because of a disease of the throat, presumably cancer. He had to undergo two operations as a result [3] but died at Windermere from the illness aged 63 years.[5]

His family remained active in Liberal politics, his nephew Charles standing unsuccessfully for Rochdale in 1945 and another nephew Alexander sponsoring the young Cyril Smith to become a Liberal agent.


  1. ^ a b Who was Who, OUP 2007
  2. ^ "Major move to plastic kept firm in credit". Rochdale Observer.
  3. ^ a b The Times, 7 November 1922 p15
  4. ^ The Times House of Commons, 1910; Politico’s Publishing 2004 p48
  5. ^ The Times, 8 November 1922 p1

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Clement Royds
Member of Parliament for Rochdale
Succeeded by
Alfred Law