Background and education
Born Harry Calvert, he was the oldest son of Sir Harry Calvert, 1st Baronet and his wife Caroline Hammersley, second daughter of Thomas Hammersley. He was first educated at Harrow School, and then, aged fifteen, went to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst as one of its first cadets. In 1826, he succeeded his father as baronet and in the following year, he changed his surname by Royal Licence to Verney to inherit the Verney family estates of his cousin Mary Verney, 1st Baroness Fermanagh. From 1829, he studied at Downing College, Cambridge as a fellow-commoner, befriending Adam Sedgwick and William Whewell.