DYVE, Sir Lewis (1599-1669), of Bromham, Beds. and Sherborne, Dorset; later of Combehay, Som.
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Family and Education
b. 3 Nov. 1599,1 1st s. of Sir John Dyve of Bromham and his 2nd w. Beatrice, da. of Charles Walcot of Walcot, Salop; half-bro. of George, Lord Digby†.2 educ. Oxf. 1614;3 embassy, Madrid ?1622-4.4 m. 14 Aug. 1624, Howard (bur. 24 Feb. 1646), da. of Sir John Strangways* of Melbury Sampford, Dorset and wid. of Edward Rogers (d.1622) of Bryanston, Dorset, 4s. (1 d.v.p.) 3da. (2 d.v.p.).5 suc. fa. 1607;6 kntd. 19 Apr. 1620.7 d. 17 Apr. 1669.8 sig. Lewis Dyve.
Commr. inquiry into lands of Sir Walter Ralegh†, Dorset and Som. 1633;9 j.p. Beds. 1640,10 commr. oyer and terminer, Norf. circ. 1641-2,11 Berks. 1643,12 array, Beds. 1642,13 assessment (roy.), Berks. 1643, delinquents’ estates, Beds. and Berks. 1643,14 appeals against roy. assessments, Berks. 1643-4, impressment 1643.15
Dyve’s ancestors owned land in Northamptonshire from at least the early thirteenth century, one of them representing the county in the 1455 Parliament. They settled in Bedfordshire under the early Tudors, making Bromham their main seat, and becoming active in local government. In 1607 Dyve succeeded as a minor to more than 1,500 acres in the two counties, including eight manors.19 Two years later his mother married Sir John Digby*, who was shortly to become ambassador to Spain.20 Dyve conceivably visited Madrid after completing his Oxford education, and was later said to be fluent in Spanish. Knighted at Whitehall in April 1620, six months before coming of age, he certainly accompanied his stepfather, now the 1st earl of Bristol, on the latter’s third mission to Spain. Dyve was in Madrid when Prince Charles and the duke of Buckingham arrived in 1623, and must have witnessed first-hand the prince’s abortive negotiations for a Spanish bride.21 Through Bristol, he also made the acquaintance of Sir John Strangways, whose daughter he married in the following year. Although Dyve’s income of some £500 a year derived primarily from his Bedfordshire estates, he preferred to live in Dorset. In 1625 he gave his address as Sherborne Castle, his stepfather’s seat, though several of his children were born six miles away at Melbury Sampford, his father-in-law’s home.22
Dyve was elected to Parliament in 1625 for Bridport, presumably on the interest of his wife’s grandfather, Sir George Trenchard†.23 He left no known trace on the Commons’ records. However, during the Oxford sitting he was ‘every day in the Parliament house’, standing ready to forward any messages from the government to Bristol, then in disgrace over the failed Spanish Match, and banned by Charles I from attending the Lords.24
In 1626 Buckingham tried to prevent Dyve’s re-election at Bridport by requesting the nomination of both seats there. Nevertheless, strong local ties and the timely gift of a silver salt-cellar to the corporation ensured Dyve’s success.25 Once Parliament met, his colleague Sir Richard Strode, a Buckingham client, accused him of procuring his place corruptly (17 February). The matter was referred to the committee for privileges, but with the House already hostile to the duke, Dyve was able to clear his name easily four days later.26 Thereafter, he maintained a low profile for over two months, merely attracting nominations on 7 Mar. to attend a conference with the Lords on the defence of the kingdom, and to help scrutinize a bill concerning the ecclesiastical courts.27 However, on 1 May he delivered a petition, ostensibly from his juvenile half-brother, George, Lord Digby, which informed Members that Bristol had just levelled charges at Buckingham in the Lords. The next day, with the Commons’ own impeachment proceedings against the duke now imminent, Dyve confirmed that his stepfather had accused the favourite of treason. During a debate on 4 May about Buckingham’s alleged encouragement of Catholicism, he also named a witness who was prepared to testify that the duke had adored the sacraments while in Spain.28 Along with Lord Digby, Strangways and Edward Kirton*, he was detained after the dissolution for ‘stirring up of the disaffection of divers of the Members of both Houses’.29
During the 1628-9 Parliament, Dyve sat for Weymouth on his father-in-law’s interest. He made no known speeches, but secured appointment to the prestigious committee for privileges, probably through the Strangways connection. He was also nominated to scrutinize two bills which confirmed Bristol’s 1617 grant of the Sherborne Castle estate, and resolved the residual claim of Carew Ralegh† to the same property (23 May and 4 June).30
In July 1632 Dyve was licensed to travel overseas with Sir Edward Stradling†, but he cannot have been gone long, since one of his sons was born in the following year.31 Summoned before Star Chamber in January 1635 for assisting Lord Digby in a duel, he also appeared there two years later with Strangways and Stradling in a government test case. Charged with breaching the statutory limits on the export of gold at the time of Bristol’s embassies, he was found guilty, but pardoned in 1639.32 Dyve stood unsuccessfully in the Bedfordshire election of December 1640, and was subsequently investigated by the Long Parliament for detaining the writ, probably in a botched bid to influence the outcome.33
Despite his earlier disagreements with the government, Dyve was a staunch royalist during the Civil War. After participating in the king’s failed attempt to seize Hull, Yorkshire in April 1642, he fought at Worcester and Edgehill in the autumn, and became governor of Abingdon towards the end of the year.34 Although he failed in 1643 to establish a garrison at Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire, he was placed in command of Dorset’s royalist troops in October 1644, staging a gallant rearguard action against superior enemy forces until captured at Sherborne Castle in the following August.35 Accused of high treason, he was imprisoned in the Tower, where he endeavoured to persuade the Leveller leader, John Lilburne, that Oliver Cromwell* was secretly negotiating a settlement with the king.36 After two years he escaped to France, whence he joined royalist forces in Scotland, only to be captured again at the battle of Preston in August 1648.37
Following a further dramatic escape in January 1649, Dyve spent time in the Isle of Man and Ireland, but in mid-1650 he returned to the Continent. For the next four years he moved between France and the Low Countries, in Paris encountering the diarist John Evelyn, who considered him ‘a valiant gent, but not a little given to romance, when he spake of himself’.38 Eventually he secured a command in the French army, through his half-brother Digby, now 2nd earl of Bristol, and in late 1654 he travelled on campaign to Italy, where he remained until the Restoration.39
Back in England, Dyve still shunned Bedfordshire society, apparently dividing his time between London and a small estate at Combehay, Somerset, which he had purchased from the Stradling family. In 1661 he was linked to a project to increase the Crown’s customs revenues, and in the following year he and the 3rd earl of Castlehaven devised a scheme to develop the wastelands in four English counties.40 Dyve’s final years passed more quietly. ‘A great gamester in his time’, he attended Whitehall gambling sessions as late as January 1668, though he apparently now lacked the funds to participate. He died in April 1669, and was buried at Combehay, the last member of his family to sit in Parliament.41
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: John. P. Ferris / Paul Hunneyball
- 1. C142/309/171.
- 2. H.G. Tibbutt, Life and Letters of Sir Lewis Dyve (Beds. Hist. Rec. Soc. xxvii), 1-2.
- 3. Al. Ox.
- 4. Tibbutt, 2-8.
- 5. Hutchins, Dorset, ii. 662-3, 730; Tibbutt, 80, 145-6, 150.
- 6. C142/309/171.
- 7. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 175.
- 8. Collinson, Hist. and Antiqs. of Som. iii. 336.
- 9. C181/4, f. 136.
- 10. C231/5, p. 417.
- 11. C181/5, ff. 190v, 218.
- 12. Docquets of Letters Patent 1642-6 ed. W.H. Black, 82.
- 13. Northants. RO, FH133.
- 14. Docquets of Letters Patent, 66-7, 69-70, 82.
- 15. Ibid. 100, 110, 146.
- 16. Army Lists of the Roundheads and Cavaliers ed. E. Peacock, 16; Clarendon, Hist. of the Rebellion ed. W.D. Macray, iii. 427; A.R. Bayley, Gt. Civil War in Dorset, 219, 287.
- 17. Tibbutt, 30, 52.
- 18. Bayley, 236, 287; Clarendon, iii. 490.
- 19. Baker, Northants. i. 82-3; OR; VCH Beds. iii. 46; List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 3; C142/309/171.
- 20. Reg. St. James Clerkenwell (Harl. Soc. Reg. xiii), 34.
- 21. Tibbutt, 2; J. Howell, Epistolae Ho-Elianae ed. J. Jacobs, i. 165; ii. 422; Shaw, ii. 175.
- 22. SP16/361/92; Tibbutt, 8, 10, 144; C219/39/90.
- 23. Vis. Dorset (Harl. Soc. xx), 94.
- 24. CSP Dom. Addenda, 1625-49, p. 41; C. Russell, PEP, 216.
- 25. CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 237; Procs. 1626, ii. 62; Hutchins, ii. 12.
- 26. Procs. 1626, ii. 60, 62, 82-3.
- 27. Ibid. ii. 216.
- 28. Ibid. iii. 116, 122, 124, 156-7.
- 29. Eg. 2978, f. 18.
- 30. CD 1628, ii. 29; iii. 558; iv. 84.
- 31. PC2/42, p. 134; Tibbutt, 10.
- 32. Strafforde Letters (1739) ed. W. Knowler, i. 261, 358-9; SP16/361/92; CSP Dom. 1638-9, p. 596.
- 33. Jnl. of Sir Simonds D’Ewes ed. W. Notestein, 480-1; M.F. Keeler, Long Parl. 33.
- 34. Clarendon, ii. 46, 323; Tibbutt, 27.
- 35. Clarendon, iii. 232, 427; iv. 10-11, 63; Bayley, 219, 236, 238, 243, 282, 285- 90.
- 36. Tibbutt, 78, 81.
- 37. CSP Clar. i. 409, 414; Bayley, 353, 356; Tibbutt, 83.
- 38. Diary of Samuel Pepys ed. R.C. Latham and W. Matthews, viii. 566; Tibbutt, 93, 97, 101-2, 105, 116; CSP Dom. 1650, p. 236; CSP Clar. ii. 78, 98; Diary of John Evelyn ed. E.S. de Beer, iii. 40.
- 39. Tibbutt, 126, 129, 140.
- 40. Ibid. 140, 145; Collinson, iii. 335-6; CSP Dom. 1661-2, pp. 254, 351.
- 41. Pepys Diary, ix. 3; Collinson, iii. 335-6.