LEWIS, Robert (c.1583-1649), of Gray's Inn, London
Available from Cambridge University Press
Family and Education
b. c.1583, yr. s. of Maurice Lewis (d.1606) of Penmachno, Caern. and Margaret, da. of Robert Vychan of Plas Iolyn, Denb. educ. Barnard’s Inn 1601; G. Inn 1604, called 1617. unm.1 d. 5 Dec. 1649.2 sig. Robert Lewys.
Ancient, G. Inn 1622.5
Agent for alnage 1631-43.6
This Member needs to be distinguished from a namesake, a London merchant who was sent for by the Commons in January 1629 for allegedly saying ‘a plague take the Parliament’.7 Lewis was born at Penmachno in Caernarvonshire, where his father was sheriff in 1601-2, although it was Festiniog in Merioneth that Lewis described as the ‘ancient seat of my ancestors’.8 His father left an encumbered estate on his death in 1606, by which time Lewis had already begun training for the law. Called to the bar in 1617, he found early employment with his cousin Sir John Wynn†, an ardent litigant. Besides dealing with Wynn’s legal affairs, both personal and administrative, he kept an eye on the Wynn children at Eton and made some purchases in London for the family. It may have been thanks to Wynn that Lewis was appointed steward of Reigate manor, of which the 1st earl of Nottingham (Charles Howard†), was part owner, as in 1610 Lewis had helped to reconcile Wynn’s brother with one of Nottingham’s servants.9
It was presumably Nottingham who nominated Lewis for Reigate in 1621 and 1624. Lewis left no trace on the records of the third Jacobean Parliament. In 1624 he is difficult to distinguish from James Lewis, who sat for Cardiganshire. A ‘Mr. Lewis’ was named to consider a naturalization bill on 10 Apr., and both men appear to have attended an undated meeting of the committee for the bill to enable Robert Wolverston* to recover the manor of Prees in Lancashire, to which the Welsh members had been added on 14 May. One or other man also attended an undated meeting of the bill concerning sheriffs’ accounts.10
In 1631 Lewis became a trustee for the alnage duties, which formed the principal source of income of the dukes of Lennox and Richmond. He maintained a Surrey connection, and was in 1634 appointed a trustee for Catherine, wife of William Murray*, at Ham House, Petersham, near Richmond.11 He was part of the earl of Strafford’s (Sir Thomas Wentworth*) counsel for his impeachment trial in 1641 and the following year he subscribed to the Surrey Protestation return at Reigate. He was apparently a supporter of the parliamentary cause in the Civil War, being nominated, although not appointed, a Welsh judge in 1647.12 He made his will on 20 Nov. 1649 and died, aged 66, on 5 December. In accordance with his request, which he had apparently intimated to the churchwarden, he was buried at Richmond. Out of his ‘poor estate’, he left £5 each to the poor of Festiniog, Penmachno and Richmond, and similar sums, amounting in all to less than £100, to relatives and friends. These included £5 to a royalist kinsman, William Salesbury of Bachymbyd in Denbighshire, ‘as a token of my love, for I have had from him many five pounds’, and the same sum was also left to a friend in repayment of a loan, ‘which perhaps he hath forgotten’. Finally, he provided £10 for ‘a college cup’ to be given to Gray’s Inn, ‘where I was an unworthy member for the space of 48 years’. This self-effacement stands in contrast to the inscription on his monument in Richmond, described by Aubrey as ‘a white marble tablet, at the top of which is a busto, in a barrister’s gown and band’, which described him as an ornament and credit to his inn, who directed all his efforts to the avoidance of lawsuits.13
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: Alan Davidson / Ben Coates
- 1. J.E. Griffith, Peds. of Anglesey and Caern. Fams. 227; Cal. Wynn Pprs. 74-5; PROB 11/211, f. 316; GI Admiss.; PBG Inn, 226.
- 2. J. Aubrey, Natural Hist. and Antiqs. of County of Surr. i. 76.
- 3. W. Hooper, Reigate, 117.
- 4. C231/4, f. 156.
- 5. PBG Inn, 246.
- 6. LJ, ix. 210-12; CCAM, 132.
- 7. CD 1629, p. 110.
- 8. PROB 11/211, f. 316; List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 248.
- 9. Cal. Wynn Pprs. 73, 74, 79, 82-86.
- 10. CJ, i. 761a, 789a; C.R. Kyle, ‘Attendance Lists’, PPE 1604-48 ed. Kyle, 207, 208.
- 11. VCH Surr. iii. 525.
- 12. LJ, iv. 102; H. Carter, ‘Surr. Protestation Returns, 1641/2’, Surr. Arch. Colls. lix. 51; Cal. Wynn Pprs. 300; W.R. Williams, Gt. Sessions in Wales, 134.
- 13. Manning and Bray, Surr. i. 427; PROB 11/211, f. 316; Aubrey, i. 75-6.