The second son of Colonel William Jervis, of Chatkyll, Sydenham, Kent and his wife Mary Amelia, daughter of Captain Hugh Dobbie, R.N., of Saling Hall, Essex. A Colonel in the Bengal Army, William Jervis was proud of his direct descent in the male line from John Jervis and Mary Swynfen, of Darlaston, near Stone, Staffordshire, the grandparents of John Jervis, who was created Earl St.Vincent in 1797. He was therefore distantly related by marriage to Lord Harris of Kent County Cricket Club.
William Swynfen Jervis, at the age of five was sent home from India to his grandmother in London, and was educated at Kensington. In 1856 he received a commission in the service of the Honourable East India Company, and in November of that year proceeded to India. On his Arrival at Calcutta the following February a gentleman came on board and asked a group of young officers "Is there anyone among you young fellows by the name of Jervis?" When the young man identified himself, he continued, "I am your father." [Did he embrace his father, shake hands or salute?] On the 4th February 1857 he was made a Cornet in the 1st Bengal Fusiliers and on 30th April 1858 promoted to Lieutenant.
The Indian Mutiny broke out in 1857 and he was present at the defence of Cawnpore and the storming and capture of Lucknow, receiving a medal and clasp for his part in the action. In the regimental history the following description of the action at Lucknow appears : - "Three efforts were made to carry the Colours over the bullet swept courtyard. Captain E.St.George and Lieutenant Magniac were in turn wounded in their effort to carry out this duty on which the whole concerted attack of the army depended. Nothing daunted, Lieutenant Jervis, who was a noted sprinter, now took the Colour and dashed across the courtyard. He also had a narrow escape; a bullet missed his spine by half an inch. On reaching the roof he waved the Colour, and receiving an answer reported the fact and was ordered down."
The transfer of the East Indian Company army to the Crown involved the reconstituting of the Regiment at Multan on 2nd May 1861 and thenceforth Captain Jervis served in the 101st Regiment (Royal Bengal Fusiliers). Jervis was active in the regimental sports, winning at throwing the cricket ball, single-wicket cricket, quoits, throwing a stone and billiards. He played cricket for the Regiment and was captain of the cricket eleven for twenty-five years, 1857-1881.
During October and November 1863 the Regiment was involved in the forcing of the Umbeyla Pass during the North West Frontier Campaign and Captain Jervis again was awarded a medal and clasp.
He returned home on leave during 1865 and married Edith, the only child of the Rev. William Wise, M.A., of Granborough and Wappenbury, Warwickshire.
His first appearance in a first-class match was for the Gentlemen of Kent against the Gentlemen of the M.C.C. at the St.Lawrence Ground, Canterbury, on 9th and 10th August 1865. He scored 13 and 8 batting at first wicket down and took 2/57 and 6/30.
In December 1865 he was promoted to Captain. In 1868 the Regiment was ordered home to England and arrived at Portsmouth on the 3rd February 1869, entering barracks at Gosport.
On 18th July 1871 Captain Jervis was one of a party of officers of the Regiment present when the old colours of the Regiment were placed in Winchester Cathedral.
In September 1871 the Regiment moved to Bury, Lancashire; in July 1872 to Manchester; in September 1873 to Fleetwood and in July 1874 they returned to Aldershot for summer drills before embarking for Malta.
In 1873, as Captain Jervis, he played in four matches for Cheshire, scoring a total of 90 runs, at an average of 22.50 and taking 21 wickets and six catches. He was at this time playing for the Western Club, Eccles, and on 5th and 6th June 1874 played at Old Trafford for Lancashire against Derbyshire, scoring 0 and 6, but not getting to bowl.
During his stay in Lancashire he played for Manchester and Broughton clubs as well as Western.
On 23rd August 1876 he was promoted to Major and two years later he led three Companies of the Regiment to Cyprus. On the 8th Octocber 1878 the Regiment were ordered to Halifax, Nova Scotia. In July 1881 Major Jervis was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel and on 15th of October that year retired as an Honorary Colonel.
In 1882, having settled near Leamington, he accepted the command of the 1st Volunteer Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (the Birmingham Volunteers), commanding them for over eighteen years. He lived at first at Emscote and afterwards at Lansdowne House, Upper Parade, Leamington.
In March 1882 Colonel Jervis joined William Ansell and three others at a meeting in Leamington, which decided to form a Warwickshire County Cricket Club. Ansell and Jervis were appointed joint secretaries. Jervis was already secretary of the Gentlemen of Warwickshire.
He captained Warwickshire in some of their early matches and was also involved when the county club was re-formed in 1884. In 1885 he was said to have been instrumental in obtaining the Edgbaston Ground from Lord Calthorpe.
He represented the North-East Ward on the Leamington Town Council and was a member of the local Watch Committee and of the School Board.
On leaving Leamington, in 1893, he purchased 'Woodside'. Southsea, where he remained until his death. His wife died in 1914 and in 1918 he married Annie, widow of William Anthony Cook of Southsea. He took an active interest in Church affairs and was for a time one of the honorary officials of St.Jude's Church, Southsea.
He was buried with full military honours at Highland Road Cemetery following a funeral service at St.Jude's. He left three sons and six daughters.
(Article: Copyright © 2004 Don Ambrose)
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