LEWIS, Thomas II (by 1507-59 or later), of Wells, Som.
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Family and Education
b. by 1507, s. of Thomas Lewis (d. by July 1535) of Wells. m. by Sept. 1528, Agnes, wid. of William Butler of Wells, at least 2s. 1da.2
Keeper, church goods, Wells 1533-4, guild of the Holy Trinity 1536-7, 1540-1, altar of B.V.M. 1544-5, rent collector 1535-6, member of the Twenty-Four, Sept. 1536-?d., constable 1538-9, 1542-3, auditor 1541-?d., master 1551-3, 1558-9.3
Thomas Lewis’s father appears to have flourished in his calling of tucker. When Lewis was admitted to the freedom of Wells in 1528 he paid no fine since he was the son of one freeman and had married the widow of another. In 1537 he took up a tenement from the commonalty in the name of himself, his wife and his sons William and Giles. Between 1538 and 1551 he acquired rights to other land in the High Street and rented a house; by 1553 he also held land at Clopton, ten miles from Wells.4
Lewis’s election to four consecutive Parliaments was a natural extension of his civic career. During his second term as master of the guild of merchants, he was elected to represent Wells in the Parliament of March 1553, but before it opened he resigned his place which was then given to John Aylworth: no indication has been found that his withdrawal was due to any outside influence. By the time of Mary’s first Parliament Lewis’s term as master was over and he and John Godwin I were chosen from among the four candidates who stood for election. The reason why the other two, William Godwin and John Mawdley II, were passed over on that occasion is not evident, but Mawdley became Lewis’s fellow-Member in the next Parliament and in October 1554, in response to the sheriff’s precept calling for the election of discreet and Catholic men, Godwin was returned with Lewis. The result could not have given the Queen satisfaction, for both men were to be informed against in the King’s bench in the Easter term of 1555 for having quitted the recent Parliament without permission. Lewis’s reappearance in its successor, in the autumn of 1555, when he was described on the return as ‘gentleman’, implies that he remained in favour at Wells, partly no doubt because he appears to have served without payment; while the fact that, after his appearance in Hilary term 1556 to answer the indictment, he was first allowed a term’s delay and then not proceeded against further, may indicate that his offence was not regarded as a grave one. It may be that his omission from the list of Members who opposed a government bill in 1555 reflects a disposition not to antagonize authority further. Whatever his intentions he was not elected to Mary’s last Parliament, although shortly afterwards he was made master at Wells for a third time. After his final term of office he was once more reappointed auditor and presumably died within a year or two as no other trace of him has been found.5
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: M. K. Dale
- 1. Wells act bk. 3, f. 17.
- 2. Date of birth estimated from admission as freeman. Wells act bk. 2, pp. 343, 398; 3, ff. 17v, 28v; PCC 31 Tirwhite.
- 3. Wells act bk. 2, pp. 374, 383-539 passim; 3, f. 29.
- 4. Ibid. 2, pp. 343, 388, 398, 405-519 passim; 3, ff. 17v, 28v; PCC 31 Tirwhite; CPR, 1553, p. 156.
- 5. Wells act bk. 2, p. 551; 3, ff. 6v, 16, 20, 22v, 29, 35; KB27/1176-7.