DOWDESWELL, Richard I (1601-73), of Pull Court, Bushley, Worcs.
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Family and Education
bap. 24 Feb. 1601, 1st s. of Roger Dowdeswell of New Inn, London and Pull Court by Martha, da. of Richard Blomer of Eastleach Martin, Glos. educ. New Inn. m. 1628, Anne (d. 2 June 1680), da. of Sir Charles Pleydell of Midgehall, Lydiard Tregoze, Wilts., 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 5da. suc. fa. 1633.1
Freeman, Tewkesbury 1641; j.p. Worcs. July 1660-d., Glos. 1662-d.; commr. for assessment, Glos. and Worcs. Aug. 1660-d., corporations, Worcs. 1662-3, loyal and indigent officers 1662.2
Dowdeswell’s family had been living in Bushley, the next parish to Tewkesbury, since Elizabethan times, and held office in the borough. His father, a successful lawyer, bought Pull Court and other property in the village. Dowdeswell himself, an attorney, was clearly a Royalist in the Civil War, and was accused of assisting in the commission of array and of supplying the Royalists in the second War. But by a variety of shifts and subterfuges he avoided punishment until the pardon ordinance was passed in 1653. He was thus eligible for the general election of 1660. He was returned for the borough, apparently unopposed, and selected to present the borough’s address of welcome to Charles II. He was an inactive Member of the Convention, being named to only ten committees. On 4 May he was appointed to the committee for the bill concerning land purchases. On 18 June he spoke in favour of postponing debate on the indemnity bill. He opposed the motion of William Prynne to exclude his countryman Richard Salway from the bill and presented Salway’s petition. He was appointed to the committees to examine unauthorized Anglican publications, to prepare for a conference on orders issued by the Lords, to examine the public debt, and to consider the bill reducing interest to six per cent. On 9 Aug. he moved successfully to defer for a week the second reading of the Lords’ bill for compensation to the royalist Marquess of Winchester. Further postponement followed but after Dowesdwell had been given leave to go to the country on 20 Aug. the bill was committed though never reported. After the recess Dowdeswell was appointed to the committees for the attainder bill and supplying defects in the poll-tax.3
Dowdeswell was re-elected in 1661, again apparently without opposition. He was a moderately active Member of the Cavalier Parliament, being named to 124 committees, including that for the execution of those under attainder. In 1664 he was named to the committee for the conventicles bill, and his name stands first on the committees for the bill disafforesting Malvern chase and to consider grievances over the administration of justice. From the latter emanated the two bills that he carried to the Lords on 16 Feb. 1665. In the Oxford session he was ordered, with (Sir) John Maynard I and Richard Colman to bring in a tithe bill. He was named to the committees for the five mile bill and the bill to prevent the import of Irish cattle. On 12 Oct. 1666 he was, with William Prynne, ordered to bring in a bill to rectify attorneys’ abuses.
Dowdeswell was one of the Members who objected to including the dismissal of Clarendon in the address of thanks to the King in 1667, ‘intimating that it was precondemning him before any crime was laid to his charge’. Dowdeswell again spoke in defence of the fallen minister on 6 Nov., moving to have the heads of the accusations committed ‘to inquire the truth’, arguing that ‘common fame is not sufficient to bring him upon the stage’. Five days later he stated that there was ‘a violent stream against the chancellor’, words for which he was almost called to the bar. Allowed to remain in his place, Dowdeswell ‘professed no reflective intention, and humbly craved the pardon of the House’.4
Meanwhile, having been appointed to the committee to bring in the public accounts bill on 15 Oct., Dowdeswell was named to the committee to consider it. On the next day he was appointed to three committees, including that for the bill to prevent the growth of Popery, and was active in the routine business of the House for the remainder of the session. Sir Thomas Osborne included him among those to be engaged for the Court by the Duke of York, but he was named to no committees in the next short session. He resumed his activity in 1670, taking the chair for the bill to prevent arrests of judgments. In the debate on the subsidy bill of 27 Jan. 1671, he urged that the assessors should be placed upon oath, to which the House agreed. On 6 Feb., in the debate in the grand committee on the bill of registers,
Mr Dowdeswell moved that instead of entering of judgments as they now do in the courts of Westminster, which is now extremely chargeable to search for, and difficult to find, all judgments, statutes, and recognizances might be entered in the country where the lands do lie.
According to Sir Edward Dering this came ‘nearest to the sense of the House’ but the debate ended without a resolution. When the House reassembled after the long prorogation Dowdeswell is not recorded as taking part in the debates on the Declaration of Indulgence; but on 7 Mar. 1673 he was named to the committee for the bill of ease for Protestant dissenters. The last mention of him in the Journal was his appointment on 10 Mar. to the committee for the bill enfranchising Durham. He died on 25 Sept. 1673 and was buried the same day at Bushley.