Local Identities

Dr Henry Frederick Harvey (1851 – 1931) Obituary

Residents of Harvey were deeply grieved to learn during the week of the death of Dr. Harvey who had been, perhaps, the most widely known and respected resident in the district for many years. Death took place at his residence in Malcolm-street, Perth, on Saturday, and the funeral was carried out on Monday. Among the pall bearers were Messrs R. O. Hayward, F. J. Becher and L. Pearson. A number of Harvey residents including Mr. Aubrey Smith, Capt. Markham and Mr. R. A. Johnson, while a number of others regretted extremely their inability to pay their last respects to one whose unselfish character and wide vision had gained him the respect of all.

Dr. Harvey had not been in the best of health since meeting with a motor cycle accident 18 months ago. Apart from his activities in Harvey which were well-known, he was an original member of the board of the Fairbridge Farm School, a position which he only relinquished recently. Harvey was 79 years of age.

An Appreciation. The respect and love felt towards Dr. Harvey in this district could not be better expressed than in the following appreciation from the pen of one who knew him intimately: “On August 30, 1931, there passed away in Perth a little very big man, a man of whom this district should be inordinately proud and to whom they should be truly thankful—Dr. Henry Frederick Harvey.

The “Little Doctor,” as he was most affectionately known, had a huge heart, optimism and courage, which no element of ill luck could daunt and a great vision and ideal, to the realisation of which he gave all his untiring energy, boundless optimism and dogged courage. Nearly 50 years ago, in company with Messrs Young and Gibbs, later with Dr. Hayward,[1] he secured the Harvey Estate from [the estate of] Governor Stirling and set about achieving his dream of making a big settlement of happy and prosperous settlers at Harvey.

Setbacks, disappointments and many failures, still could not break his faith or his big heart and he carried on valiantly to the end, when he was no longer in a position to do so. He visualised the irrigation scheme and its attendant results and he was luckily spared to see his dreams come true and the new Harvey rise, Phoenix-like, from the ashes of its previous failures. The announcement of the starting of the increased Harvey Weir, was his day of greatest joy.

The writer well remembers in 1903 the “Little Doctor” sitting with his partner, Dr. Hayward, on the site of the present weir and saying: “Hayward, old man, in a few years, we will have a weir here, we will irrigate all Harvey and make a paradise of it, and though you and I, old man, will have lost many thousands, and will reap no benefit, we have this satisfaction—we have created something that will last forever and will be a monument to our work and our fond beliefs.” Anyone who knew the doctor can quite imagine him saying it and finishing off with his great hearty laugh and the remark, “You and I, old man, will both be bankrupt.” The people of Harvey have much to thank him for his generous donations to their hall, his gifts of recreation ground, school and church sites, and gifts to every conceivable object that was promoted.

Many are the people who have experienced his open-hearted hospitality and lavish generosity and charity. No needful charity in Perth or Western Australia ever asked in vain and unlimited are the patients in Western Australia who have cause to bless the kindly heart and great forbearance of the “Little Doctor.”

(Harvey Murray Times, 4 September 1931)

A Gentleman of the Old School. THE LATE DR. H. F. HARVEY, M.R.C.S. (Lond.) (By “Ens Rationis“)

If to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive then Dr. Henry Frederick Harvey, the grand old man of this district, who died in 1931, was a happy man. In his long life he turned to many things and most of his favoured projects brought him no reward other than the reward that comes always to high endeavour however meagre the monetary result. Dr. Harvey came to Western Australia in about 1887 and though throughout his life he was a Perth medical man he interested himself from the beginning of his residence in this State in the Harvey district and took over the management of an estate previously bought from [the estate of] Governor Stirling and constituted as Harvey and Hayward.

The complicated story of his business transactions and the eventual estreatment of the estate in 1926 by the bankers is of less interest than the personal characteristics of the beloved “little doctor” who in all but title was the squire of Harvey. If Henry Harvey failed as a farmer he succeeded as a man and in the long run men are judged by what they attempt rather than by what they do. And if there is one thing Dr. Harvey is remembered for it is because he attempted so bravely. An accomplished horseman, passionately devoted to his animals, old residents of Harvey remember yet the small neat moustached figure who rode about the settlement and, even when automobiles became the commonplace of transport, waved his whip in the face of time and drove a four-in-hand at a tremendous pace through the bush.

Henry Harvey was in fact a typical English squire, a class which, for all its limitations, has produced many men of worth and integrity. Small in stature, quick of wit and temper, he drove through the township which bears his name with a wave of his whip or a word of greeting for all he chanced to meet.[2] He owed his wit to the Irish extraction of his mother though he himself was born in 1851 at a Gloucestershire vicarage, one of a family of three girls and four boys. One brother commanded the Cathay for the P. and O. Company and another became a clergyman. His love of horses can be traced to his native county where when a child he watched the huntsmen gallop by. As soon as he could sit a horse he was off with the chase and as long as he lived his horseflesh was always the best he could buy. Many people in Harvey can remember his buggy pairs, Brandy and Soda and Chastity and Modesty, and his riding hacks Gaiety and Red Leap. Books and music were his indoor recreations.

All who knew him speak of his generous nature. Poor patients received baskets of food and paid no fees. Harvey was nick-named “Doctor Harvey’s Sanatorium” from the number of convalescing patients he sent here at his expense. His interest in music led him on several occasions to send young persons of musical talent to England for training. With Dr. Hayward he gave the ground for the Harvey Recreation Ground and ground for the Church of England and Wesleyan churches. He never pressed settlers for payments due but always helped in every possible manner.

Dr. Harvey was educated at Winchcombe Grammar School and St. Bartholomew’s Medical College. Graduating successfully as a doctor, he entered Islington Fever Hospital and it was there he met the wealthy solicitor’s daughter he eventually married. The young couple came to South Australia where the doctor began practice and spent several happy years until 1887, when many banks failed and Dr. Harvey lost practically all he possessed. He decided to settle in Western Australia and came to Perth where he started practice in Adelaide-terrace and made his home in Malcolm-street.

He was soon attracted by the possibilities of Harvey, where the Korijekup Estate of 12,800 acres, originally a Crown Grant to Captain afterwards Governor Stirling existed. The Harvey River flowing through this estate had been named after Major Harvey, a military officer whose duty brought him to the district in the early days.[3] In 1885 Messrs. Young and G. and H. Gibbs had bought the Korijekup Estate and these gentlemen sold it to Drs. Harvey and Hayward. In 1889 a manager was appointed to manage the estate and the original idea was to rear stud stock. Sometime later Mr. Bede Christie, a surveyor and engineer from Mildura, interested Dr. Harvey in orange growing. Eventually 2,700 acres in the centre of the estate were sub-divided and the blocks sold rapidly. The citrus project did not succeed. Unsuitable trees were planted, and absentee ownership was a contributing cause. Dr. Harvey himself had an 80 acre orchard with which he hoped to demonstrate the advantages of orange growing but losses on export to Europe resulted in the failure of the experiment. The doctor had great faith in the richness of the Harvey soil and visioned the hills all planted with olive trees but this idea never bore fruit. He planted a vineyard but it was attacked by Phylloxera and did not thrive. Unfortunately there was a dispute between the doctors and Mr. Christie which resulted in a law suit. The doctors won but it cost them over a thousand pounds. Just prior to the war the Government re-purchased the balance of the estate and Dr. Harvey turned all his attention to his own farm, which he had retained. His interest centred chiefly on potato growing and pig breeding but eventually the bank estreated his property though the doctor retained his interest in this district until his death in 1931.

And so we have a man whose life was filled with disappointments; whose vision of a flourishing citrus industry came to nothing; who thought widely and planned largely yet who could say that it cost him £7,000 to learn that he was not a farmer. Yet that man, despite his failures, despite that at the end he could look about at his projects and see that they had yielded him nothing but worry and financial loss, that man could hold up his head among his fellows and feel that his life had not been useless and wasted but fruitful and his personality an inspiration to all who knew him. Those who knew him loved him for the kindly English gentleman that he was. He had faith in the land he had chosen for his own. Who shall say that his dreams were vain or that the dust of his crumpled hopes and wishes did not nourish the roots of the flourishing agricultural district which exists at Harvey today?

(Harvey Murray Times, 6 April 1934)

Mrs Georgiana Florence Harvey

At the age of 77, Mrs. Harvey, widow of the late Dr. H. F. Harvey passed away yesterday at her residence, 16 Bellevue-terrace, Perth. Mrs. Harvey and her husband were for many years keenly active in political circles when the Liberal League was in existence during Mr. Frank Wilson’s parliamentary career. The funeral will take place tomorrow (Monday) at 4.16 p.m

(Sunday Times, 8 January 1933)

[1] Dr William Thornborough Hayward

[2] Harvey is thought to be named after the commanding officer of the West Indian Station of the Royal Navy under whom Stirling served while in charge of the HMS Brazen in 1817. That commanding officer became Admiral Sir John Harvey, for whom Stirling had great respect. From AC Staples, They Made Their Destiny- History of Settlement of the Shire of Harvey 1829-1929, Shire of Harvey, Harvey, 1979, p. 23.

[3] As for Footnote 1