James Harvey...

A Royal Connection

When I was a little boy my beautiful grandmother would tell me wonderful stories about her husband, Percy Harvey, who had died when my mother was only six years old.  It sounded so romantic; him riding off to war on his horsie (sic).  It was some fifty years later when I learnt the full horror of his time in Egypt and Gallipoli.

She told me how his father, my great grandfather James Harvey, arrived in Tasmania from Scotland after the death of his mother, when he was just three years old.  He became a lay preacher and would ride his horse around Westbury, stopping to quote Shakespeare or read the scriptures to the crowds which would gather around.  She also told me he was the grandson of a Scottish Earl and it was with some sadness that my research later proved this was not so.  His grandfather was a farmer; prosperous to be sure, but not a member of the nobility.

I had succeeded using conventional means in tracing James Harvey/Harvie ancestors back as far as Jonet Tennant who married John Restoun in 1672 in Lanarkshire. I suspected she might be the daughter of a John Tennant but I could find no records to support this.  And so it was with great excitement that I recently followed a DNA match to a Cody Moore from America who turned out to be my 9th cousin 3 times removed. He was not only a Tennant descendant but had a well-documented family tree leading back to Scotland.

The Reverend John Tennant of Calder (father of my Jonet Tennant) was a remarkable man who had many equally remarkable descendants who exerted a profound effect upon protestant religion across the world. His wife, Jonet Tennant nee Reid, daughter of Sir James Wright Reid and Lady Janet Cumming, descended from a great many Lords and Ladies and Knights and even Kings of Scotland.  Robert the Bruce (1274-1329) King of Scotland was my 20G great grandfather.

The trail is explained in these two charts.  The first traces to James Harvie (1790-1860) to Janet Tennant nee Reid.  The second shows some of Janet Tennant nee Reid’s ancestors on the path to Robert the Bruce.

So while my great grandfather was not the grandson of an earl he certainly was descended from nobility, if you look far enough back.  Statistically, there are probably about 4 million other descendants of Robert the Bruce but it is still a special discovery and I do wish I could share it with my grandmother.

Andrew Cocker February 2018