Encyclopedia Titanica

Herbert Gifford Harvey

Herbert Gifford Harvey

Herbert Gifford Harvey was born in Belfast, Ireland on 4 February 1878 1 and he grew up in a Church of Ireland household.

He was the son of James Thompson Harvey (1841-1909), a partner of Messrs. Lawther and Harvey, ship owners, in Belfast and Elizabeth Garston Gifford (1840-1915) who had married in 1868. He had seven known siblings: Norman Gifford (b. 1869), twins Margaret and Mary (b. 1870), William Coates (b. 1871), Annabel Netterville (1873-1916), Stanley St George (b. 1874), and Norman Barbazon (b. 1879)

Herbert was educated at the Belfast Royal Academy in North Belfast and later Portora Royal School, in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh. His apprenticeship was served in the locomotive works of the old Belfast and Northern Counties Railway in York Street, Belfast. At the call for volunteers during the Boer War in 1899 he was one of the first to join the 46th Company Imperial Yeomanry, with whom he was in the Lindley disaster 2 and afterwards being attached to one of the regular regiments, he was in several engagements, gaining the Queen's Medal with three clasps and King's medal with one clasp.

On his return from South Africa Herbert spent some time with the shore staff at Harland & Wolff in Belfast, and then joined Messrs. Lawther, Latta & Co., managing owners for the Nitrate Producers Steamship Co. Ltd., serving with this company for eighteen months, and leaving their vessel the Juanita North to join the White Star Line.

He was appointed assistant third engineer of the White Star Line Teutonic in 1907, later becoming assistant second engineer. On the Olympic he was assistant third engineer, later being transferred to the Titanic as junior assistant second. He held a first class certificate. Mr Harvey was a Freemason and engaged to be married but the identity of his fiancée in unknown. He would be absent from the 1911 census when his widowed mother and several siblings were listed as living at 211 Belmont Road, Victoria, a still affluent area of South-East Belfast which straddles the North Down countryside. The head of household was his brother Stanley, a civil engineer.

Herbert was on board the Titanic for her delivery trip from Belfast to Southampton. When he signed-on again, in Southampton on 6 April 1912, he gave his local address as 49 Obelisk Road, Woolston and his previous ship as the Olympic. As Junior Assistant Second Engineer he could expect to earn monthly wages of £12, 10s.

At the time of the Titanic's collision with the iceberg Herbert was on duty in the engine room and this is where he was last seen. He died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.

Herbert is remembered on the family headstone in Belfast City Cemetery, Ireland in section K, plot 329.


  1. Stephen Cameron (1998) and various other sources give his date of birth as 3 February 1878. His birth is recorded on the Irish register of Births and Baptisms as 4 February 1878.
  2. Lindley disaster. Lindley was a town in South Africa named after Daniel Lindley, (1801-1888) who was the American son of the president of Philadelphia College and who went to South Africa in 1833, being ordained in the Dutch Reformed Church in 1843. The town was the centre of Boer resistance in The Orange Free State. The Boers were driven out of the town by the British in May or June 1900. Once the town had been cleared they realised that it was not of any great importance anyway and abandoned it shortly afterwards. Later, the Boers moved back in. It all seems to have been rather a waste of time as there were heavy casualties on both sides.

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  1. Marshall Garvey

    Hey everyone, Anyone else here interested in/looking for info on engineer Herbert G. Harvey (outside of the biography here, of course)? I'm particularly looking for confirmation on his famous story with Fred Barrett and Jonathan Shepherd. Barrett said he saw Harvey skip saving himself to run back and help the injured Shepherd, but apparently it conflicts with other facts. Nonetheless, Harvey was exceptionally brave in what he did and sadly left behind a fiancee. I nearly cried reading his story...looking at his picture he seemed like a truly sweet and interesting character. God bless him and all his fellow engineers! Thanks, Marshall
  2. Tom McLeod

    I'd be interested in what became of Engineer Harvey and all of the engine staff best that can be determined. Chief Bell seems to be mentioned only occasionaly during the sinking, I've always wondered at least where he generally was. Some engineer's were picked up in recovery operations which seems to go against some of the theories that all of them were below deck during the later half of the sinking. There is Lightoller's references to seeing some of the engineering, pursers and other staff shortly before the final plunge which confuses me even more. Happy to swap updates that either of us might find as we see if any answers are our there. Tom
  3. Samuel Halpern

    Tom, Some of what we know about what happened to the engineers comes from the testimony of greaser Fred Scott. 5685. When you were looking over the starboard side was there anybody near you? - Yes, all the engineers and firemen and all that. 5686. All the engineers? - Yes. 5687. Do you mean the officers? - Yes; the engineers that were on watch. 5688. Then, if I understand it aright, all the engineers had come up too? - They were all at the top. 5689. Did they come up when you came up? - Just afterwards, but some of them went up on the boat deck with me. They came up the ladder just behind me. 5690. When you say they were standing there, where were they standing? - Just against the electric crane aft. 5691. Will you indicate to us on the model where that is? - Yes, just about here (pointing on the model.) 5692. On the boat deck? - On the boat deck. 5693. That is the last you saw of them? - That is the last I saw of them. 5706. I want you to tell me with regard to the... Read full post
  4. Tom McLeod

    Thank you Sam I've got large chunks of both inquiries in various books. I know there is a great site on-line with all the data. I should try to buy some book forms of the inquires, which would make great references. I know I've often found myself in the midst of some part of an inquiry and run across some useful information that is often pondered by others who haven't seen such. On the to do list! From what I have read it strikes me that order on the ship from Captain through the ranks for the deck officers and also through the structure of the Engineering Department; that there was a cool, calm, but highly understood pecking order. The officers under normal circumstances would go about their duties seemingly very relaxed, yet very efficient. I would imagine that until the last moments of the sinking, where the situation was very out of control because the ship was leaving them, that this type of rank and structure was still followed.I would imagine if such is/was the case then the... Read full post
  5. Samuel Halpern

    >>Does such sound right?
  6. Tom McLeod

    Thanks Sam, Just information such as that is pretty important in understanding what the crew was supposed to do. Appreciate it-Tom
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Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Mr Herbert Gifford Harvey
Age: 34 years 2 months and 11 days (Male)
Nationality: Irish
Marital Status: Single
Last Residence: at 49 Obelisk Road Woolston, Hampshire, England
Last Ship: Olympic
Embarked: Belfast on Saturday 6th April 1912
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Identified

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