The Harvey Family: Shopkeepers in the Andover High Street

by William Harvey McNitt

Harvey family shops in the Andover High Street, ca. 1905The town of Andover lies in Hampshire in southern England, near the point where the counties of Hampshire, Wiltshire, and Berkshire intersect. Most of my mother's ancestors lived either in Andover or in small villages within about a fifteen mile radius of it. For those less familiar with this part of England, Andover is about sixty-five miles southwest of London, twenty-five miles north of the port of Southampton, sixteen miles northeast of the old Saxon capital at Winchester, and eighteen miles east of the world-famous Stonehenge monument.

Before marrying my father, my mother's surname was Harvey and her father, grandfather, and great grandfather were all shopkeepers in the upper part of Andover's High Street. Over the course of a century and a half beginning in the 1840s there was always at least one Harvey shop in the High Street.

Unlike most of my mother's ancestors, her paternal great grandfather, William Kernott Harvey, was not a native of the Andover area. He arrived in town as a journeyman tailor around 1840. Previously his family had lived for many generations in or near the town of Brading on the Isle of Wight (located along the southern coast of England near Southampton).

Several generations of his ancestors were farmers at Adgestone Farm, just outside Brading. We know that William Kernott Harvey was baptized at Brading on February 19, 1821 and was the son of William and Frances Harvey. Undoubtedly the child received his middle name to honor the family of his father's grandmother, as there were no male Kernotts to carry on the family name. That name continued to be passed down as a middle name through several generations of his descendants and my grandfather was known by the nickname "Kernie" to family and friends.

The identity of William Kernott Harvey's father William has not yet been proven. There were two different William Harveys in that generation of the family.They were first cousins, both being grandsons of George Harvey and Mary Kernott who married at Brading in 1739 and lived at Adgestone Farm. Whether we descend from George and Mary's son John (b. 1740) or their son William (b. 1750) is yet to be determined.

Little is known about William Kernott Harvey's early years. The baptismal records at Brading show only one sibling, John Sandys Harvey, christened on March 31, 1828. He died about six months later. Only about two months after that Frances died, leaving eight year-old William motherless.

Presumably young William grew up on the farm helping with such tasks as taking care of the animals and planting and harvesting crops. One fact which we do know about his early life is that in 1837, when he was only sixteen years old, he joined the ranks of the temperance movement. He remained a warm advocate of temperance, a member of local temperance societies, and a total abstainer from the consumption of alcohol for the rest of his life.

It is likely that by this time William already was working as an apprentice to learn the tailoring trade, as apprenticeships often began at a fairly young age. Where William spent his apprenticeship is not known, but it probably was in Brading or somewhere nearby. A few years later, when he reached the status of journeyman tailor, he joined the staff of a tailor shop in Andover. At the time, Andover was a small market town serving the surrounding farms and small villages. It was, however, on the main route for stage coaches and transportation of mail between London and the West Country and many inns grew up in town to serving these travelers. Within another ten to fifteen years the railroads reached Andover allowing for the easy transportation of agricultural products to London and the stocking of city goods in Andover shops.

The 1841 census of Andover shows William as age twenty and living in the High Street, renting rooms in a building with several other unrelated young people, including two apprentice tailors age fourteen and fifteen. There is no indication of the master tailor for whom these three worked, but two households from them in the census record is the family of tailor John Tarrant. No other tailors lived in the High Street in that year so it is very likely that William and the apprentices worked in the Tarrant shop. Like most apprentices and journeymen, William's goal was to establish his own tailoring shop and within a few years he opened a shop at what is now number 78 in the High Street and moved into the living quarters upstairs over the shop. The building that housed the shop had been constructed in the early nineteenth century and is still in commercial use today. It is possible that William took over John Tarrant's High Street shop because the 1851 census shows Tarrant as having a shop in London Street.

Around 1845, William began following a vegetarian diet. This was two years before the establishment of the first nation-wide organization promoting a vegetarian diet, the Vegetarian Society, founded in 1847. He continued as a vegetarian for the rest of his life, a choice followed by many of his descendants.

On July 6, 1847, Rev. J. S. Pearsall performed the wedding of William to Jane Elizabeth Dale, oldest daughter of Charles and Sarah Dale of Andover. Charles was an auctioneer who lived and worked in the High Street, not far from the Harvey tailor shop. The Dale family belonged to the East Street Independent Chapel in Andover, one of several small parishes of dissenters or nonconformists (as those who did not belong to the Church of England were known.)

We do know a few details about the Harvey tailoring business from this era.  Some newspaper articles refer to him as a draper -- a retailer of cloth for clothing -- so we know that he sold cloth in addition to doing tailoring -- cutting and sewing individual fitted clothes such as suits, pants, and jackets.  Occasionally he was labeled a mercer -- an older term for one trading in textiles.  But he soon began to diversify into other areas of business.  Newspaper advertisements list him as the Andover agent for the London firm of G. W. Lowther and Company and its Chin Faung teas ("the produce of the finest shrubs of their kind in China") and others show him as agent for the Hampshire, Sussex, and Dorset Fire Office, an insurance firm.  Years later an 1878 directory lists him as both a tailor and agent for the Alliance and Temperance Insurance Companies, probably an outgrowth of his activities in support of the temperance movement. Small family-owned businesses have to maximize the flow of customers into their shop in any way possible.

The Harveys had a daughter named Jane Elizabeth (after her mother) in 1848 and another named Mary Hannah Frances (known as Polly) in 1853. Unfortunately, their mother Jane died at the young age of twenty-four on December 17, 1853, possibly in childbirth with Polly or soon thereafter.  A newspaper report in the Salisbury and Winchester Journal for December 24 refers to her as the "beloved" wife of William and states that her death "was much regretted by a large circle of friends."

William did not immediately remarry, so we can assume that he either had assistance with his two young daughters (a new-born infant and a five-year-old) from Jane's family or was able to hire a servant to look after them while he worked.  On April 5, 1855, William Kernott Harvey returned to his hometown of Brading to marry Mary Toms Warder, daughter of Brading shoemaker William Warder and his wife Mary Toms. This was part of a double wedding, as her brother William Warder also married on the same day.  William probably knew Mary and her family from when he was growing up in Brading or had met her while visitng in the years since he had left.

After the wedding, William resumed his work in the shop while Mary took care of the growing family. Mary soon gave birth to two sons -- William Warder Harvey in 1861 (named after his maternal grandfather) and Frederick Robert Harvey in 1865 (possibly his second name came from his uncle Robert Warder, the name Robert goes back several generations in that family).

An example of his activities on behalf of the temperance movement was his role in chairing a public meeting at the town Guidlhall in December 1872 on the desirability of supporting the passage by Parliament of Sir Wilfrid Lawson's Permissive Bill, which would have allowed local communities to vote on the issue of allowing or disallowing the trade in alcoholic beverages.

William was also very active in fighting against the requirements of the Vaccination Act to vaccinate his children against smallpox and other diseases, with frequent notices in newspapers about fines assessed against him. This was consistent with his focus on exercise, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding health risks such as tobacco and alcohol -- he also would not introduce foreign matter into the bodies of his children (vaccination in those days was not as simple as today and involved cutting into an arm and then smearing in a mild form of the disease).  At one meeting on this issue held in Southampton in 1876, his friend Frederick Pearse (who ran a photography and stationers shop almost directly across from William's tailoring shop) testified that he had been summoned for non-vaccination of his child twenty-eight times in the space of four years and William reported that he had been summoned almost as many times.

As the two Harvey sons grew up, undoubtedly they helped their father in the tailor shop. Young William showed a talent for music, however, and began moving toward a career as an organist, so Fred was apprenticed to his father and destined to take over the family business. In the 1881 census of Andover, Fred was age sixteen and his occupation is listed as tailor, although it soon became evident that his interests lay elsewhere.

By this time Fred had joined his parents in actively supporting the temperance and vegetarian movements. On June 29, 1881, he delivered a paper on "Incontrovertible Facts in Relation to Diet, Or, How Hard Work Can Be Best Accomplished" before the Safeguard of Andover Lodge of the International Order of Good Templars. In this address, he described himself as age 17, a lifelong vegetarian, a total abstainer from alcohol, and a non-smoker. He stated that he had written the paper in response to a Lodge member who had asserted that it was impossible to do hard work without the consumption of animal fiber. In responding, Fred cited the writings of authors such as Percy Shelley, William Wordsworth, and Walter Scott. He also gave his own testimony, reporting that he was in such good shape that he could easily walk 20-40 miles. He cited the time in 1879 when he had walked all the way from Andover to Southampton without rest and a more recent hike with his father (over age 60) and brother to Salisbury and back.

Fred soon acquired his own hand printing press. His first attempt at printing, without any previous training at all, was to reproduce his Good Templars paper advocating a vegetarian diet (a copy survives in the British Library). In spite of his inexperience in this field, the pamphlet features an advertisement for "Frederick R. Harvey, printer and bookbinder." Soon he was producing a vegetarian newspaper every quarter. In October 1881, he opened the Food Reform Depot and Scotch Oatmeal Stores at number 7 London Street. According to an advertisement, this store "Keeps a supply of articles which gives greater variety, healthfulness and cheapness to our food."

Mary Warder Harvey, like her husband and children, was active in the temperance movement. A record has survived showing that she wrote a paper on "Worldly Amusements" that her son Fred read on July 5, 1883 to the Safeguard Lodge of Good Templars. He also printed copies of this talk and distributed them for a penny each.

Later in 1883, still only eighteen years old, Fred was advertising the food specialties of his health food shop as including Lisbon and Denis Muscat grapes, Bussorah dates, Lisbon tomatoes, French pears, Swedish cranberries, Rangoon rice, jams and marmalades, etc. A few months later, Fred reported on his efforts at convincing his temperance colleagues to convert to a vegetarian diet: "We bring forward a paper on Vegetarianism every quarter in our I.O.G.T. Lodge, and, although we may not quite convert them, I think less flesh is consumed amongst our temperance friends than used to be. I am confident that in a few years there will be a great change in the dietetic habits of the people, and I shall more than ever hope and work for that glorious and peaceful time when there will be no more bloodshed. I cannot understand how it is that more temperance people do not take this matter up, when it has been proved so great an aid to the spread of total abstinence."

William Kernott Harvey died on July 3, 1884, at the age of sixty-three and was buried in the cemetery beside St. Mary's church, only a short walk from his shop and home. In addition to his business, he left a personal estate of 542.  An obituary for him in the magazine Dietetic Reformer and Vegetarian Messenger reported that "He laboured long and earnestly for many good works." His wife Mary helped in many of these endeavors. She had made the pledge to become a teetotaler at age 14 (in 1838) and had been active in the Andover Good Templar Lodge from its start in 1872.

Mary outlived her husband by many years. She eventually went to live with her son William's family in Beccles, Suffolk, which is where she died on March 3, 1908, leaving effects valued at 6,769 0s. 9d.

Fred was only nineteen years old when his father died, but soon decided not to continue the tailoring business. He moved his food store from London Street to 78 High Street and appears in later city directories and census records under such occupations as greengrocer, fruiterer, printer, stationer, or confectioner. His half-sister Polly and her husband William Walter Northeast took over the space on London Street for their bakery/confectionary business.

Frederick Harvey married Sarah Annie Gregory of Goodworth Clatford on October 21, 1885, at the Congregational Church in Andover. Annie was also a vegetarian and total abstainer. Besides Fred and Annie, other residents of 78 High Street at the time of the 1891 census were their son Frederick William Kernott Harvey (age 4), the widowed Mary Warder Harvey (age 66), and a fifteen-year old servant named Lizzie Laurence.

Fred Harvey, like his father, was a lifelong teetotaler, vegetarian, and nonsmoker, and a leader of the anti-vaccinationists. Fred and Annie were avid bicyclists from early in their marriage as a way to get exercise and fresh air and they founded an organization known as the Blue Cross Bicycle brigade. Among his many temperance activities, Fred was Honorary Secretary of the Andover and District Band of Hope and Union. Annie was Superintendent of the Victoria Jubilee Lodge of Juvenile Good Templars and a member of the Hampshire District Lodge of the order.

85 High Street after rioters had smashed the front windows, 1914Over time, Fred's business interests increased in scope. If you examine the 1908 High Street photograph at the top of this page, you can see a second Harvey shop at number 76. The 1898 edition of Kelly's Directory of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight does not show this second shop, but it is very likely that Fred took it over before 1901.

Besides the printing shop (which also featured stationery and bookbinding), the family eventually operated a bicycle sales and repair shop (featuring Swift and Humber bicycles), a confectionery, a fruiterer, and even sold gramophone equipment at one time. Fred also served as a sub-postmaster for a quarter of a century and had a branch post office in one of his shops. According to his obituary in the Andover Advertiser, the family had three shops adjacent to number 78 on the same side of the High Street (numbers 74, 76, and 80) and two across the street (numbers 85 and 87). I have not yet found confirmation for Harvey shops at numbers 74 and 87, so they may have rented them out to other businesses.

Fred and Annie lost two children in childhood, but five survived to adulthood -- four sons and a daughter. The oldest son, Frederick William Kernott Harvey (known to family and friends as "Kernie"), grew up around the shops and spent his entire career there. When he married and started a family, they moved into the living quarters over 85 High Street, across the street from his parents (my mother, Lilian Ethel Harvey, was one of the children in this family).  The picture here shows the shop at number 85 in 1914 just after some rioters had smashed in the front windows.**

Most of the other Harvey children were involved in the family businesses at some point in their lives. For instance, Ronald ran the Acre Gardens where flowers, vegetables, and fruit were grown for the shops. When Fred decided to expand into the wholesale trade, Victor took on the job of driving a van around the countryside, supplying shops in various villages around Andover with newspapers, candy, and cigarettes (but he later apprenticed in a boot and shoe shop and eventually bought the Warder shoe shops on the Isle of Wight from a distant cousin and spent the rest of his career there).

Sarah Annie Harvey died on December 30, 1943, but Fred remained an active businessman until he retired in 1950, at the age of 84. During these later years, however, the family gradually relinquished some of the shops.  The shop at 85 High Street closed around the end of World War II, was then rented out to a radio engineer named McGill, and later became a used book shp.  Kernie Harvey continued to occupy the living quarters upstairs and behind the shop (my mother and I stayed there during an extended visit to England in 1950).  As his children married, they initially occupied living quarters over one of the family-owned shops or in one of the family-owned houses in Fouthrops/Fouthorpes Yard (located behind 85 and 87 High Street).

Fred lived another two years after retiring, dying on December 12, 1952. The two shops at 85 and 87 High Street were very old buildings (according to the January 2021 Andover History and Archeology Society newsletter, number 85 was rebuilt in 1795 but retained some architectural elements from a building constucted on that site in 1550).  The buildings were not in good shape, so they and some of the houses in Fouthrops Yard were demolished around 1953 and replaced by Willis and Sons, a newly built grocer's shop.  That new building only survived until the late 1960s when most of that side of the High Street was cleared to build a new downtown shopping center.

 At the time of Frederick Harvey's death, the fixtures from the tailoring trade remained in the back of the shop at 78 High Street as a link to its past.  His son Ronald and daughter-in-law Olive, who had several shops around town, took over number 78 and kept it going.  In 1958, they gave the entire stock, fittings, and goodwill of the shop as a wedding present to their daughter Cristabel who continued it as a newsagent/confectionery/tobacconist shop until 1997, with the exception of a short absence in the early 1970s when it was let to John Smith who dealt in fabrics.  Cristabel sold the business to Darrell and Shirley Smith in 1997. The shop continued to operate under the Harvey name, but finally closed on February 17, 2007. Today the building houses a unisex hair salon.

Sarah and Rebecca McNitt standing in front of the Harvey shop at 78 High Street, 2001Sarah, Rebecca, Bill, and Marilyn McNitt inside the Harvey shop at 78 High Street, 2001
Sarah, Rebecca, Bill, and Marilyn McNitt visiting the Harvey shop in 2001

** for more information on this incident see "The Andover Riots of 1914" by David Borrett in Lookback at Andover: The Journal of the Andover History and Genealogical Society, Vol. I, No. 10, September 1999, pp. 262-271

Revised, January 2021

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