The son of a clergyman, James Hervey was educated at the Northampton grammar school and Lincoln College Oxford, where he was a classmate of John Wesley. He was curate at Dummer in Hampshire, chaplain to Paul Orchard of Stoke Abbey in Devonshire (1738) and curate at Bideford, Devon (1740). Hervey later held his father's livings at Weston Favell and Colingtree, and took his M.A. from Clare Hall Cambridge (1752). While there was a falling-out with Wesley, Hervey's own publications proved immensely popular with evangelical readers, the Meditations reaching a 25th edition by 1791.
Meditations among the tombs. 1746.
Meditations and contemplations. 2 vols, 1748.
Remarks on Lord Bolingbroke's Letters on the study and use of history. 1752.
Theron and Aspasio: or a series of dialogues and letters. 3 vols, 1753.
A collection of the letters of James Hervey, to which is prefixed an account of his life and death. 2 vols, 1760.
Sermons and miscellaneous tracts. 1764.
Works of the late reverend James Hervey. 6 vols, 1769.
The life of James Hervey, to which is added a collection of his letters. 1770.
Letters ... illustrative of the author's character, never before published, by James Hervey. 1811.