LEWKNOR, Christopher (1598-1653), of the Middle Temple, London; later of the Grey Friars, Chichester, Suss.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



1640 (Apr.)
1640 (Nov.) - 2 Sept. 1642
1644 (Oxf. Parl.)

Family and Education

b. 24 Feb. 1598,1 4th s. of Richard Lewknor (d.1603) of West Dean, Suss., and Eleanor, da. of Sir Christopher Brome of Holton, Oxon.; bro. of Richard* and stepbro. of Sir John Oglander*.2 educ. M. Temple 1617, called 1625; DCL Oxf. 1642.3 m. settlement 7 May 1619, Mary (d.1642), da. of John May of Rawmere, wid. of William Smyth of Binderton, Suss. 2da.4 kntd. 18 Dec. 1644.5 d. by 5 Sept. 1653.6

Offices Held

Counsel to dean and chapter of Chichester 1630,7 corp. of the suburbs of London 1640;8 recorder, Chichester by 1631-43;9 j.p. ‘learned in the law’, Guildford, Surr. 1639-41.10

Surveyor to bp. of Chichester 1630;11 j.p. Suss. 1630-at least 1642,12 Hants 1644;13 commr. sewers, Suss. 1630-at least 1627, Hants and Suss. 1638,14 maltsters 1636;15 chamberlain, corp. of the suburbs of London suburbs 1636-40;16 commr. piracy, Suss. 1637;17 freeman, Guildford 1637.18

Commr. execution of poor laws 1632,19 timber compositions 1636.20

Capt. of horse (roy.) 1643.21


Lewknor’s father died when he was barely five years old and his mother subsequently married Sir William Oglander. A younger son, he was bequeathed an annuity of £20 from his grandfather, Sir Richard Lewknor†, the chief justice of Chester, who died in 1616.22 Lewknor was admitted to the latter’s inn of court, the Middle Temple, a year later. In 1621 he was one of the young blades at the Temple - ‘exceeding riotous and dissolute swaggerers and professed duellists and champions’ - who were accused in a Star Chamber case of trying to provoke an older man into a fight. Thomas Whatman*, the recorder of Chichester, defended him and the incident did not hinder his call to the bar in 1625.23 Like his grandfather, he was employed as counsel by the Percy family.24

In 1628 Lewknor was returned for Midhurst, presumably at the nomination of his brother Richard, the borough’s representative in the previous four parliaments but now elected for Sussex. It would probably be easy to confuse both men in the records of the third Caroline Parliament were it not for the fact that neither was prominent. Both were entitled to sit on the committee to consider the saltpetre bill, to which the knights and burgesses of Sussex were added on 9 June, and one or other reported from the committee six days later on the abuses of the saltpetremen.25 On 16 June 1628 Buckingham complained in the Lords that

one of the House of Commons hath affirmed that his grace did speak these words at his own table, viz. Tush! it makes no matter what the Commons or Parliament doth; for without my leave and authority they shall not be able to touch the hair of a dog.

On the following day he revealed that Lewknor had admitted to spreading the story, having heard of the duke’s alleged outburst from a witness who he refused to name. The Lords, fearful of a privileges clash with the Lower House, decided to respite further proceedings until the subsidy bill had been passed, and the incident seems to have been quietly forgotten. Lewknor left no further trace on the records of the Parliament.26 However, he evidently kept a record of its proceedings, for on 23 Apr. he wrote a long letter to the 9th earl of Northumberland detailing the proceedings of the Commons over the previous fortnight, and promising ‘to continue weekly to acquaint your lordship’ with further events. Unfortunately, no further correspondence is extant.27 Lewknor’s habit of keeping a record continued into the second session, for on 18 Apr. 1640 he read to the Commons the notes he had taken on the turbulent last day of sitting in 1629.28

By the early 1630s Lewknor was recorder of Chichester where, despite holding diocesan offices, he put himself forward as the champion of city jurisdiction over the Cathedral close.29 Returned to both the Short and Long Parliaments for Chichester, he was disabled as a royalist in 1642. Commissioned in the king’s army, he sat in the Oxford Parliament, and by early 1646 seems to have been holed up in the royalist fort at Salcombe in Devon. In early February one parliamentarian newsbook, reporting an offer made by local clubmen to blockade the garrison, stated that ‘Kit Lukener the great trencher man being therein, is afraid he shall be starved’. He suffered sequestration of his estate, including property purchased in Hampshire, and, failing to compound, his lands were sold.30 He was ‘sick in body’ when he made his will on 1 July 1653 (in which he described himself as being of the Middle Temple), and probably died shortly afterwards, for on 5 Sept. Sir Edward Hyde† reported him as ‘dead these many months’. He had no male heirs, but two of his grandsons were elected to the Commons, Christopher Knight for Arundel in 1698, and William Knight for Midhurst in 1713.31

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. St. Peter the Great, Chichester par. reg. (Soc. Gen. transcript).
  • 2. PROB 111/127, f. 491; Vis. Suss. (Harl. Soc. liii), 27.
  • 3. M. Temple Admiss.; Al. Ox.
  • 4. Vis. Suss. (Harl. Soc. lxxxix), 74; Suss. Gens.: Lewes Cent. comp. J. Comber, 155.
  • 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 219.
  • 6. CCSP, ii. 248.
  • 7. Acts of Dean and Chapter of Cath. Church of Chichester ed. W.D. Peckham (Suss. Rec. Soc. lviii), 241.
  • 8. CSP Dom. 1640, p. 290.
  • 9. CSP Dom. 1631-3, p. 39; CJ, iii. 100.
  • 10. Surr. Hist. Cent. BR/OC/1/2, ff. 117v, 119v.
  • 11. Acts of Dean and Chapter of Cath. Church of Chichester, 243.
  • 12. C231/5, p. 32; ASSI 35/84/8.
  • 13. Docquets of Letters Patent 1642-6 ed. W.H. Black, 243.
  • 14. C181/4, f. 47; 181/5, ff. 69v, 115v.
  • 15. PC2/46, f. 273.
  • 16. V. Pearl, London and Outbreak of Puritan Revolution, 34; CSP Dom. 1640, p. 290.
  • 17. C181/5, f. 68v.
  • 18. Surr. Hist. Cent. BR/OC/1/2, f. 114v.
  • 19. PC2/42, f. 54.
  • 20. T. Rymer, Foedera, ix. pt. 2, p. 44.
  • 21. Docquets of Letters Patent 1642-6, p. 96; List of Officers Claiming (1663), p. 85.
  • 22. PROB 11/127, f. 491.
  • 23. STAC 8/130/16.
  • 24. Household Pprs. of Henry Percy, Ninth Earl of Northumberland ed. G.R. Batho (Cam. Soc. ser. 3. xciii), 34, 99.
  • 25. CD 1628, iv. 236, 345.
  • 26. Lords Procs. 1628, v. pp. 646, 653; Historical Collections ed. J. Rushworth, i. 627.
  • 27. Procs. 1628, vi. 177-81.
  • 28. Procs. of Short Parliament of 1640 ed. E.S. Cope and W.H. Coates (Cam. Soc. ser. 4. xix), 160-1.
  • 29. A. Fletcher, County Community in Peace and War, 236.
  • 30. M.F. Keeler, Long Parl. 252; Perfect Occurences, 30 Jan.-6 Feb. 1646, unpag.; CCC, 216, 2573-4.
  • 31. PROB 11/302, f. 220; CCSP, ii. 248; HP Commons, 1690-175, iv. 574, 579.