LEWKNOR, Edward (1542-1605), of Kingston Buci, Suss. Denham Hall, Suff.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Family and Education

b. 1542, 1st s. of Edward Lewknor of Kingston Buci. by Dorothy, da. of Robert Wroth of Durants in Enfield, Mdx. educ.St. John’s, Camb. 1559, BA 1561, fellow 1561-3; M. Temple 1562. m. Susan, da. of Thomas Heigham of Higham Hall, Suff., 1s. suc. fa. 1556. Kntd. May 1603.3

Offices Held

J.p. Suff. from c.1592.


The Lewknors were a well known Sussex family, active in local and central government. Lewknor’s father was in the Household of Edward VI and Mary, but died in the Tower under sentence of death for his part in the Dudley conspiracy. Lewknor himself was restored in blood in March 1559 by Elizabeth’s first Parliament, and granted some of his father’s lands, including the manor of Hamsey, Sussex. He acquired land in Suffolk and settled at Denham Hall, which he obtained through his wife. Little is known of his activities until 1571 when he embarked on his long parliamentary career. He was a puritan like his wife, and with the exception of his return for New Shoreham, near Kingston Buci, as a local man, he owed his elections to patrons sympathetic towards puritans, such as the Earl of Leicester at Tamworth, where in the event the validity of his return was questioned. Maldon was a predominantly puritan borough, and James Morice, another leading puritan with whom he shared a chamber at the Middle Temple from 1565 to 1567, was recorder or deputy recorder there between 1586 and 1596. Lewknor had another patron there, for in 1588 in a letter to an unnamed peer, possibly Lord Rich, the borough explained that it wanted one Member to be a local man, and Lewknor was returned only at a by-election in February 1589, on the illness of the local man, William Vernon. In 1597 Lewknor sat for Newport, Cornwall, possibly through the influence of the Grenvilles, whom he would have met at the Middle Temple and the House of Commons.4

In Parliament Lewknor was active in the puritan cause. It has proved difficult on occasion to differentiate between the parliamentary careers of Edward and Richard Lewknor. However, the following can be said of Edward with certainty. On 29 Feb. 1576 he was appointed to a committee concerning the reform of church discipline. At the beginning of the following session he moved that ‘considering prayer was necessary to be used in all such actions’ a prayer might be read in the House before the election of the new Speaker (18 Jan. 1581). He was appointed to the subsidy committee on 25 Jan. 1581, and also to committees concerning harsher recusancy laws (25 Jan.), the punishment of the Family of Love (27 Feb.) and the Queen’s safety (14 Mar.). During the Parliament of 1584 he was named to committees concerning church attendance (27 Nov., 10 Dec.), other religious matters (16 Dec.), and fraudulent conveyances (15 Feb. 1585). He moved on 15 Feb. 1585 for a prayer of thanksgiving for the Queen’s safety to be drawn up, and the same day offered a petition concerning abuses in the ministry on behalf of the inhabitants of east Sussex. A survey of Sussex ministers, compiled possibly by Norden, whom he had presented to the living of Hamsey St. Peter, was found among his papers. On as Feb. 1585 he referred to bishops as ‘rather deformers than reformers’. He was named to a committee to discuss the fate of Mary Stuart (4 Nov. 1586) and to a conference on the subsidy (23 Feb. 1587). He was one of the puritans who spoke in favour of Cope’s bill and book on 27 Feb. 1587, and he was committed to the Tower with Cope, Wentworth, Harleston and Bainbridge on 2 Mar. He is not mentioned in the records of the 1589 Parliament. In 1593 he was appointed to the subsidy committees (26 Feb., 1 Mar.), and to committees concerning privileges and returns (26 Feb.), rogues (12 Mar.) and recusants (4 Apr.). During his last Parliament he was appointed to committees concerning privileges and returns (5 Nov.), penal laws (8 Nov.), armour and weapons (8 Nov.), rogues and beggars (22 Nov., 12 Jan. 1598), defeasances (26 Nov.), a legal matter (6 Dec.), maltsters (7 Dec., 12 Jan. 1598), a private bill (16 Dec.), herrings (20 Jan. 1598) and repairing of highways in Surrey, Sussex and Kent (27 Jan.). He spoke on 12 Nov. 1597 on a point of procedure. So much can be attributed to Edward with certainty. In addition, he may reasonably be thought to have served on committees concerned with topics such as the relief of vicars and curates (13 Mar. 1576), the maintenance of the navy (15 Mar. 1581, 6 Apr. 1593, 18 Jan. 1598), rogues and vagabonds (26 Feb. 1585, 12 Jan. 1598), the Queen’s safety (5 Mar. 1585) and recusancy (28 Feb. 1593). A speech made in 1585 criticizing the bill for the Queen’s safety has been assumed to belong to Edward:

... if it might prolong her Majesty’s life but for one year, I protest I would be content to suffer death with the most exquisite tortures that might be devised ... but the bill is the intent and meaning ... of such as have taken the oath of association; now we know that papists have taken it.

And on 9 Feb. 1598 a move to raise money for the son of John Foxe the martyrologist has also been assumed to be the work of Edward:

Mr. Lewknor made this motion, that in consideration Mr. Foxe had made the book of martyrs and was a man of famous memory and his son was lately taken prisoner in her Majesty’s service by the Dunkirkers [pirates] that it would please the House to ... bestow somewhat towards the redeeming and ransoming of him. All then said Yea, a good motion. Some said £20, some £30, some £40, some said, let his whole ransom be paid out of it, so that it was wonderful to see the good desire they had for his deliverance. At last the Speaker stood up and put it to the question whether it should be £30 or not, whereof £20 was for his ransom and £10 when he should arrive in England. There was not any in the House against this motion but one who gave a loud No as loud as he could speak (at which all the House laughing) he presently stood up and said, Mr. Speaker, I deny it not that it is too much, but because it is too little, for in my conceit £40 were too little.

The residual Lewknor committees concerned the folding and winding of wools (22 Feb. 1581), hats and caps (23 Feb. 1581), two private bills (19 Mar. 1593, 7 Feb. 1598) and pawnbrokers (7 Feb. 1598). A speech concerning the protection of woods in Sussex, made on 21 May 1572, also remains unattributed.5

Both in Parliament and outside, he continued to take an active interest in church matters. In James I’s reign he endorsed a paper containing ‘certain necessary points to be offered to his Highness’s consideration ... touching church matters’, and he was kept fully informed about conferences held with the church authorities. His chaplain at this time was Richard Blackerby, afterwards a leading puritan divine. He died 19 Sept. 1605, shortly before his wife, and was buried with her at Denham. The funeral sermon, preached by Robert Prick, his puritan curate there and a close associate of his, was afterwards printed. It mentioned Lewknor’s love of ‘the ministry of the word and the ministers thereof’. In his public life, Prick added, he ‘bore a fervent love and zeal towards the truth’, he and his wife embracing Jesus Christ with a lively faith so that ‘they accounted all things in the world but dross in comparison of Him’. A volume of poems in English, Greek, Latin and Hebrew was published in his memory, in one of which is the remark ‘the state hath lost a senator of many Parliaments’.6

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: J.H.


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Suss. Arch. Colls. iii. 102.
  • 4. CPR, 1560-3, p. 157; W. A. Copinger, Suff. Manors, v. 221, 235, 236; Cooper, Ath. Cant. ii. 411; M.T. Recs. i. 151, 432; CJ, i. 83; Essex RO, Maldon recs.; DB3/3/205, no. 33; C219/284/20, 21.
  • 5. D’Ewes, 281, 288, 306, 333, 337, 340, 347, 349, 360, 363, 394, 410, 411, 471, 474, 477, 481, 486, 499, 503, 517, 519, 552, 553, 556, 561, 564, 574, 578, 579, 582, 584, 589, 593, 594; Townshend, Hist. Colls. 103, 109, 112, 113, 116, 119, 125; CJ, i. 109, 115, 120, 129, 130, 134; Bull IHR, xii. 23; Trinity, Dublin, Thos. Cromwell’s jnl. f. 82; Lansd. 43 anon. jnl. ff. 164, 173; Neale, Parlts. i. 375; ii. 64, 66; Add. 38492; Essex Rev. xxxi. 34.
  • 6. R. Prick, A very Godly and Learned Sermon preached at the Funeral of Sir Edward Lewkenor (London 1608); Threnodia in Obitum D. Edouardi Lewkenor (1608), p. 50.