William Hervey (British Army officer)

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General William Hervey 1732 1815 attrib to Johann Zoffany in 1766

General William Hervey (13 May 1732 – 15 January 1815)[1] was an English soldier, and briefly a politician.


Hervey was the son of Lord John Hervey and Mary Lepel. He was the younger brother of Augustus John Hervey (later the 3rd Earl of Bristol), and he was educated at Westminster School and at Corpus Christi, Cambridge.[2]

He joined the British Army in 1755 with the rank of lieutenant and he was posted to North America and he was there when the French were beaten at the Battle of Fort Niagara and Montreal. He served in Canada until 1763.[3] He became a general in 1798.[2]

While in America, he was elected in absentia at a by-election in 1763 as a Member of Parliament (MP) for Bury St Edmunds. He is not recorded as ever having spoken in the House of Commons, and appears to have not have enjoyed his time there. He did not stand in the 1768 election.[2] There is a painting of him that is dated to 1766 that is attributed to Johann Zoffany.[4] In September 1772 he was in Florence with his uncle the Honourable Felton Hervey and two of his children. His uncle was also being painted by Zoffany.[5]

Hervey did not stand for parliament in 1768 although he did attempt to gain a seat in 1775 and 1780 in Bury St. Edmunds. His mother reported that he was a man with few pretensions and he would be as pleased to walk and eat plainly with water as he did to travel by coach and consume fine meats and wine.[2] His diaries reveal him to be a keen traveller and a generous philanthropist. He gave his money to help the poor and debtors and to support schools. An 1803 diary entry records that he paid for locals to be inoculated using cow pox.[3]

Hervey died in 1815 and was buried at Ickworth.[3]


  1. ^ Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "B" (part 6)
  2. ^ a b c d Brooke, John (1964). L. Namier, J. Brooke, ed. "HERVEY, Hon. William (1732-1815)". The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790. Boydell and Brewer. Retrieved 1 June 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c General, The Hon. William Hervey (1732-1815), National Trust, retrieved 7 June 2014
  4. ^ General The Honourable William Hervey (1732–1815), BBC, retrieved 7 June 2014
  5. ^ The Hon Felton Hervey by John Faynam, National Trust, retrieved 7 June 2014
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Hon. Augustus Hervey
Hon. Charles FitzRoy
Member of Parliament for Bury St Edmunds
1763 – 1768
With: Hon. Charles FitzRoy
Succeeded by
Hon. Charles FitzRoy
Hon. Augustus Hervey