Registered Charity

The FOBLC is recognised by HMRC as a charity, ref. XT38745, and is a member of the National Federation of Cemetery Friends

For all enquiries please contact our Chairman geoffrey@foblc.org.uk


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Lionel de Jersey Harvard: Brockley's Ivy League link

Lionel de Jersey Harvard was the only descendant of John Harvard (who gave his name in 1638 to the prestigious Ivy League University in the USA) ever to attend Harvard University. The direct descendant of John Harvard's brother, Thomas he entered the University in 1911 having gained a place with some assistance from Harvard president Lowell when he learned that Lionel was interested in attending. (NY Times entry)

Born in Lewisham on the 3rd June 1894 he attended St Olaves Grammar School and St Saviours School(Southwark) before entering the University after spending time working as an Insurance Broker. His arrival having sailed from Liverpool was well publicised and he appeared a popular student. Addressing the assembled graduates after his own graduation he stated that 'I have had four years here full to the brim of happiness'. Known as 'Johnny' to his contempories. he had planned to become a medical missionary on graduation. Two days after graduation he returned to England to enlist and in September 1915 he was gazetted to the Granadier Guards. He had attempted to enlist in 1914 but was unsuccessful. Having married Mary Barker shortly before he went into training in Chelsea with the First Battalion of the GG and went to Flanders in February 1916. The regiment was then occupying positions in the Ypres Salient, transferring to the Somme front where he received a bullet wound in the chest at Les Boeufs. Following his promotion to First Lieutenant in June, 1917, he rejoined his battalion in France.

In July he was back at Ypres and took part in the taking of Pilkem Ridge and other important engagements. In the Cambrai advance he saw heavy fighting at Fontaine Notre Dame, and later in stemming the enemy's onrush when the British line was pierced. At home he had now, besides his wife and his parents, a new born son Peter, With the great March Offensive in 1918 he was in the front line at Arras, having been commissioned as a Captain, when on the 30th March he was killed instantaneously by a shell explosion and was buried in the civilian cemetery at Boisleux-au-mont near to Arras. A superior Officer said of him after his death that he was 'One of the most conscientious and fearless Officers that I have ever known'. His only brother Lieutenant Kenneth O'Gorman Harvard' 2nb Batt GG (a second brother died in infancy) was killed by a sniper at Pilkem Ridge on the 1st August 1917 and is buried near Langemarck.

Lionel Hall is named after him at Harvard University and the annual Lionel de Jersey Harvard Fellowship was founded in his memory in 1928 which enabled students from Harvard to spend a year studying at Emmanuel College, Cambridge University (John Harvard alumnus). His easily located family grave lies a few yards from the Dissenters Chapel at the ladywell side of the cemetery.