History - George Jarvis

George Jarvis
Excerpt from Portraits of Historic American Philhellenes by Frederiki Pappas

George Jarvis, born in Altona, Denmark, was the son of Benjamin Jarvis, an American diplomat on assignment in Europe. Jarvis exemplifies a true philhellene who endangered his life to come to the aid of Greece and her people. He was an ardent lover and supporter of the ideals of freedom. Upon his arrival in Greece in 1822, he shed his fashionable, European clothes and put the uniform of the Greek fighter. He taught himself to read and write Greek and changed his name to Captain “George Zervis, the American.” Under his new name, he fought alongside the other Greek soldiers and shared in their struggle against the Ottoman Empire.

Jarvis departed for Greece with Hastings, a Royal Navy officer, arriving on the island of Hydra in the Saronic Gulf on April 3, 1822. He lives on the island from 1822 to 1824, serving as an officer in the Greek Navy with Manolis Tobazis, a most distinguished officer.

When Jarvis heard about Lord Byron’s arrival in Greece, he left Hydra for the town of Missolonghi, in western Greece, and served as Lord Byron’s adjutant until his death in April 18, 1824. He also helped fortify the Italian Cochini in both Missolonghi and Anatolico.

In August 1824 under Prince Mavrocordato’s leadership, he took part in the expedition to the northern Turkish strongholds of Kravassaras and Makrinoros, in the province of Epirus. In November of that same year, he returned to Missolonghi, only to meet up with Jonathan Peckham Miller.

In 1825, he found himself marching along with the soldiery to the towns of Nafplion and Tripolis in the Peloponnese. During the invasion of Egyptian Pasha Ibrahim, he assumed the expenses for the 45 soldiers sent to Methoni, a town situated in the Messinia, a prefecture of the southern Peloponnese.

From 1827 until his death on August 11, 1828, Jarvis along with Samuel Gridley Howe and Jonathan Peckam Miller, continue to contribute as members of the Philhellene committee of America by distributing much needed medication, clothing and food to Greeks who had suffered during this time. He was buried in the city of Argos, in the Peloponnese with the rank of Lieutenant General.

Timios Prodromos
(Previous St. Paraskevi)

Picture of Catholic Church of Nafplion, GreecePresent days church was rebuilt in 1822 and completion works were possible through financial assistance by Governor J. Kapodistria. That’s where took place the congregation of first National Assembly (1821) under the presidency of J. Ipsilandis, Argos’s metropolis until 1865. Within its premises have been buried several eminent Hellens & Philhellens as Anthimos (bishop of Elous), Danish Jedassen, Bratimbergian Karolos fon Linsivk, German Bolteman, American J. Jarvis, General J. Jokris, Bavarian Spitter and many others.

(Left: Catholic Church of Nafplion, Greece)

To read and learn more about George Jarvis please contact us.