LEWIS, Robert (by 1486-1560/61), of Canterbury, Kent.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. by 1486, s. of John Lewis of Canterbury. m. (1) Anne Mynote (d.1521/22) at least 2s.; (2) Margery, at least 1s.; 2s. 2da.3

Offices Held

Common councilman, Canterbury by 1519, sheriff 1522-3, alderman by 1524, mayor 1529-30, 1536-7, 1540-1, 1550-1; commr. benevolence 1544/45, relief 1550.4


The son of a freeman of Canterbury, Robert Lewis was himself admitted to the freedom in 1507 as a draper, but he was to deal in a variety of goods, supplying gunpowder to the city in 1518 and 1548 and selling it a mace in 1543. He was a parishioner of St. Andrew’s, Canterbury, for more than 50 years, and from 1516 served as churchwarden, regularly attending the wardens’ annual rendering of account. His own and his wife’s membership of the congregation brought him in 1541 into the Star Chamber, where a fellow-alderman and parishioner, Robert Naylor, alleged that Lewis had been provoked by his wife into such quarrels with their neighbours that the archbishop himself had to intervene to impose a settlement ‘whereunto the said Robert Lewes by the troublous unquietness of his said wife would not obey’. Naylor also complained that he had been deprived of his aldermanship because he ‘presumed on Easter day last past to be communed at the same time and table that the said Robert Lewes and his wife sat at’, whereas Lewis and the aldermen who supported him, among them John Starkey and George Webbe, declared that Naylor would not abide by decisions reached in common, and that since his expulsion he had threatened to ‘bring the mayoralty of the said city to a bailiwick or it should cost him £100’, but hoped to do it for £20.5

Lewis’s Membership was an extension of his civic career. That he was not paid for the Parliament of 1539 at the same time as his fellow-Member John Starkey did not mean that he agreed to serve without wages, for after he had attended the first session of the Parliament of 1545 he presented the city with a demand for £11 4s., a sum roughly equivalent to the total cost of the first of these Parliaments at the rate of 1s.4d. a day paid on earlier occasions but perhaps intended to cover also the 32 days of the session of November-December 1545. This demand he agreed to reduce to £5 at the burmote held on 21 Apr. 1546, and it was then agreed that he should be paid at the next accounting day ‘upon the sight of one writ of Parliament [instead of the two legally required] to be brought by the said Robert Lewys’; a note of payment was afterwards added to the record.6

When in 1555 Lewis gave the city £3 6s.8d. towards the purchase of its fee-farm, the mayor and commonalty agreed to say a de profundis at his grave on Christmas day ‘whensoever it shall chance him to decease’. It was five years before the promise had to be redeemed, for Lewis died between 1 Oct. 1560, when, he was absent from the burmote through illness, and 8 May 1561, when his will was proved. He had made the will in 1559. He asked to be buried in St. Andrew’s and gave blacks to his children and their wives and husbands. His eldest son John, a Merchant Adventurer domiciled at Antwerp, to whom Lewis had already given money, received lands in Charlton and Bishopsbourne on condition that he did not contest the will, and the property in Canterbury and elsewhere was divided between his two sons by his first marriage and one (another John) by his second; this younger son was also to receive money and to be apprenticed to a goldsmith. The executor was Lewis’s son Philip and the overseers his son-in-law William Lovelace and his fellow-alderman John Twyne, whose daughter Anne probably married one of Lewis’s sons.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Helen Miller


  • 1. E159/319, brev. ret. Mich. r. [1-2].
  • 2. Canterbury city recs. bdle. A24.
  • 3. Date of birth estimated from admission as freeman. Freemen of Canterbury, ed. Cowper, cols. 55, 136, 150; PCC 15 Loftes; Arch. Cant. xxxiii. 52.
  • 4. Canterbury chamberlains’ accts. 1519-20 to 1551-2; LP Hen. VIII, xx; CPR, 1553, p. 361.
  • 5. Freemen of Canterbury, col. 55; Canterbury chamberlains’ accts. 1517-18, 1549-50; burmote bk. 1542-78, f. 1; Arch. Cant. xxxii. 244; xxxiii. 23, 28 et passim; xxxiv-v passim; St.Ch.2/20/3; 8, f. 100.
  • 6. Canterbury city recs. bdle. A24.
  • 7. Canterbury burmote bk. 1542-78, ff. 96v, 132v; PCC 15 Loftes; Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. lxxv), 41.