John Harvey – Background
The name of Harvey has long been associated with the supply of beers, wines and spirits in Sussex. The family originated from London, but records of the 1790’s recall the delivery of Old Red Port, Sherry and Claret in Lewes and its surrounding villages.
The first possible clue we have of the life of John Harvey is the discovery in 1751 of a silver wine label linked to the business of a John Harvey in London. He is known to have had three sons between 1738 and 1745. Could he have been the grandfather of our wine merchant?
The early known facts in Lewes are:
- Records of 1794 detail the supply of wine and port to customers in the Lewes area.
- By 1811, John Harvey’s wine and brandy shipping business is well established “at the foot of Cliffe Bridge” in Lewes.
- He had started brewing as a seasonal sideline activity in Bear Yard, opposite the current brewery, by about 1820.
- He shared the Bear Yard brewing plant with another brewer called Thomas Wood, but they ran separate businesses alongside each other for two decades.
- John Harvey married Eliza Button and had several children including the three sons. With his sons, John Harvey acquired the current Bridge Wharf Site in 1838 for the price of £3,100. It consisted of a coal wharf, timber yard and private dwellings. He added coal merchant to business activities and built an eight-quarter brewhouse on the site.