POWELL (formerly HINSON), William (c.1624-80), of Pengethley, Sellack, Herefs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Constituency

Dates

Family and Education

b. c.1624, 2nd s. of Thomas Hinson of Dublin and Fulham, Mdx. by Anne, da. of Edmund Powell of Pengethley. educ. Exeter, Oxf. matric. 12 July 1639, aged 14; New Inn; M. Temple 1646, called 1648. m. (1) 22 May 1649, Katherine, (d. 6 Oct. 1651) da. of Richard Zouche, DCL, of Doctors’ Commons, 2da. d.v.p.; (2) 31 Dec. 1655, Mary, da. and h. of John Pearle of Dewsall, Herefs., wid. of Sir John Brydges, 2nd Bt., of Wilton, Herefs., 2s. d.v.p. 2da. suc. uncle Sir Edmund Powell, 1st Bt., in Pengethley estate 1653; cr. Bt. 23 Jan. 1661.1

Offices Held

Capt. of militia, Mdx. 1650-4; j.p. Mdx. 1650-4, Herefs. 1677-d.; sheriff, Herefs. 1657-8, commr. for assessment 1657, Jan. 1660-d., militia Mar. 1660, dep. lt. c. Aug. 1660-2.2

Biography

The Hinsons first appear as a yeoman family at Fordham in Cambridgeshire under Henry VII. A younger son, who sat for Barnstaple as servant of the Earl of Bath in several Parliaments between 1576 and 1610, founded a Gloucestershire county family seated at Hunt’s Court in Badgeworth. Their Devonshire property came to Lady Button by her first marriage, and subsequently to her son-in-law Edward Harley. This connexion with the West Midlands accounts for the fortunate marriage of Hinson’s father, himself the younger son of a younger brother, and Hinson gave Badgeworth as his address when he matriculated. Sir Edmund Powell, master of requests under Charles I, who was childless and long separated from his wife, adopted his younger nephew as heir to his Herefordshire estates, which had been in the Powell family since 1583. Hinson was given a legal education, his call to the bar was accelerated, and in 1649 he married the daughter of the most eminent civilian of the day. Although his connexions were Royalists, Hinson was added to the Middlesex commission of the peace in 1650. When Lady Powell, one of the coheirs of the wealthy merchant Sir Peter Vanlore, lay dying at Chiswick in 1651, Hinson assisted his uncle in getting rid of her servants and her apothecary by force and fraud, in order to coerce the old lady into joining her husband in levying a fine of her land. The rightful heirs, including Robert Croke, were minors or Royalists, and though the court of common pleas found that ‘the practice was foul’, only a private Act of Parliament would serve to undo what had been done, and that could not be obtained during the Interregnum. Hinson assumed his uncle’s name when he succeeded to the Pengethley estate in 1653 and took up residence there. He was immediately suggested as a possible sheriff, but Major-General Berry heard that he was considered ‘but an indifferent man, and is about to marry a great Cavalia’, and he was not pricked till 1657.3

With the Restoration of both King and Upper House imminent, Powell’s interests (though he was not the chief beneficiary of the fraudulent conveyance) demanded a seat in Parliament. He also had a claim on the revenues of the court of wards to protect. It is probable that he owed his election as knight of the shire to a deadlock between the moderate Royalists, who had nominated Sir John Kyrle and the extremists who were backing Thomas Prise. His lack of a Civil War record on either side recommended him to Lord Scudamore, who was doubtless ignorant of his part in the outrageous proceedings round Lady Powell’s deathbed. Presumably he was also acceptable to his colleague, whose petition against the court of the marches he signed. He wrote several reports to Scudamore on proceedings in the Convention. He took the chair in the committee for the Dunkirk establishment, where Harley was governor, but was named to only two other committees, both for private bills. On 15 Dec. 1660 he presented a proviso in his own interests to the bill for abolition of the court of wards; it obtained a reading by the margin of nine votes in a House of 271, and was withdrawn. Meanwhile the rival claimants to Lady Powell’s estate had brought their case before the House of Lords. After a thorough hearing, their bill passed the Upper House, but it had received only one reading in the Commons before the dissolution.4

It is improbable that Powell stood again. Although he was granted a baronetcy shortly before the general election, his seat was required for Lord Scudamore’s son. In his absence from Westminster the bill to nullify the disposition of Lady Powell’s property was reintroduced, ‘the House divers times sitting from morn to night on this only business’, and received the royal assent in 1662. A few years later Powell was involved in another scandal, this time arising out of his second marriage. It was alleged that his wife had fraudulently secured the custody of the idiot heir to the Pearl estate and embezzled the records. However this charge was rejected by the House of Lords. Powell remained on the commission of the peace, and died of a malignant fever (probably typhus) on 2 Dec. 1680, aged 58; his only surviving child brought Pengethley and an estate said to be worth £2,000 p.a. to her husband, the son of Sir Thomas Williams.