John Harvey served as a member of a royal commission investigating conditions in Virginia in 1624. As a reward, he received land at the east end of New Towne. There he probably built a residence and a wharf.
A temperamental sea captain, Harvey was twice charged for beating others - a servant for demanding his freedom and Richard Stephens, a councilman and frequent Harvey opponent.
When newly knighted Sir John Harvey returned as the new governor of Virginia in 1630, he acquired additional property, the former Governor Sir George Yeardley's lot across Pitch and Tar Swamp and this prime New Towne lot. Here he built a fine house that often doubled as the statehouse during the 1630s.
Although the crown replaced Harvey as governor in 1639, his house continued in use as a statehouse through the 1640s and 1650s. When Sir William Berkley arrived in 1642, it again doubled as a town residence for the governor. After Bacon's rebels sacked and burned Jamestown in 1676, the house was rebuilt for a final time.