LEWKNOR, Lewis (d.1627), of Selsey, Suss. and London.

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

1st s. of Thomas Lewknor of Tangmere and Selsey by his 1st w. Bridget, da. of John Lewes of Selsey. educ. Lyon’s Inn; M. Temple 1579. m. (1) bef. 1596, Beatrice de Rota of Flanders, at least 1s.; (2) ?wid. of one Argall; (3) aft. 1605, Mary, da. and coh. of Richard Blount II of Dedisham, Suss., 1s. 1da. suc. fa. 1596. Kntd. 22 Apr. 1603.1

Offices Held

Gent. pens. 1599-1605; master of ceremonies from June 1603; j.p. Mdx., commr. musters 1614.2


Lewknor’s family had been granted the lease of Selsey park for three lives by Bishop Sherborne of Chichester in Henry VIII’s reign. Coupled with this, a lease of the adjacent Selsey grange from the Crown had been granted to his father, and this was renewed in June 1596 for a fine of £26 6s.8d., with a proviso excusing him from the cost of repairs if it should be ‘burned or spoiled by incursion of the enemy, or otherwise by lightning, without fault of the lessee’. Selsey became part of James I’s jointure to Anne of Denmark; in 1612, Lewknor surrendered his lease to the Queen for £100.3

After a brief career at the Middle Temple, when he was bound with his uncle, Richard, Lewknor sought employment at court. In 1590, at a time when he was in debt, he visited the Netherlands and reported to Lord Burghley on the activities of Englishmen in the pay of the King of Spain. Like others of his family he was suspected of having Catholic sympathies and one of his sons was clearly of that faith. In 1595 Lewknor published The Estate of English Fugitives, which had four printings in two years. His return to Parliament for Midhurst was probably effected through the influence of his uncle Richard, who was a friend of the Browne family, Viscounts Montagu, lords of the borough, and executor of the first Viscount’s will. Richard also secured his nephew’s return for Bridgnorth in 1604 through his office of justice of Chester. With two other Lewknors in the 1597 Parliament, Lewis’s part, if any, in the proceedings is not clear. Soon after his appointment as a gentleman pensioner he took up his duties as host to foreign ambassadors in England. His first guest was the commander of Dieppe, the French ambassador, whom he attended from Dover to the court in May 1600. Shortly after James I’s accession the office of master of ceremonies was created for Lewknor at £200 p.a.; on 7 Nov. 1605 he was granted it for life. Throughout the reign and beyond he spent his life at court or in attendance on foreign envoys. He died in March 1627; no will or inquisition post mortem has been found. The death without issue of his only surviving son (possibly this was the Jesuit son noted as dying in 1645) brought to an end this branch of the family.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: R.C.G.


  • 1. J. Comber, Suss. Genealogies, Lewes Centre, 153-4; PRO Index 6800, f. 626; CSP Dom. 1595-7, p. 345; APC, xxx. 364; Chamberlain Letters ed. McClure, i. 209.
  • 2. E407/Box 1/29; Nichols, Progresses Jas. I, i. 158; APC, 1613-14, p. 566; 1615-16, p. 434.
  • 3. PCC 55 Drake; E. Heron Allen, Selsey Bill, 154, 165, 168; HMC Hatfield, xvii. 209.
  • 4. APC, xx. 13; xxx. 259, 317; 1626 (June-Dec.), 274; CSP Dom. 1581-90, pp. 683-4; 1603-25, passim; Nichols, Progresses, i. 158, 588; Rymer, Foedera, xvi. 637; Suss. Arch. Colls. xxiv. 120-1; Chamberlain Letters, i. 218, 223; ii. 293, 430, 480; Sadler State Pprs. ii. 208-9; SJ. Recs. ed. Foley, ii. 636-7; W. Prynne, Hidden Works of Darkness, 67; Finneti Filoxenis (1656), p. 199, ex inf. Dr. A. J. Loomie.