PROWDE, Lewis (c.1560-1617), of Lincoln's Inn, London and St. Giles-in-the-Fields, Mdx.

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



Family and Education

b. c.1560, 1st s. of George Prowde, draper of Milk Street, Shrewsbury and Eleanor, da. of Lewis ap Evan Coytmore of Shrewsbury, Salop.1 educ. Shrewsbury g.s. 1567, 1572; St. John’s, Camb. 1576; Furnival’s Inn; L. Inn. 1578, called 1586.2 m. 31 Dec. 1590, Ursula, da. of Francis Trappes, Goldsmith of London, 2s. 1da.3 suc. fa. 1591/2.4 bur. 16 Jan. 1617.5 sig. Lewis Prowde.

Offices Held

Fee’d counsel, Westminster Abbey c.1587-1592, steward (jt.) 1592-d., under-steward (jt.), liberty of St. Martin-le-Grand, London ?1610-d.;6 bencher, L. Inn 1602-d.;7 j.k.b. [I] 1604-5;8 marshal, L. Inn 1604-5, reader 1606, kpr. black bk. 1608-9;9 justice, N. Wales circ. 1610-d.;10 treas. L. Inn 1613-14.11

Commr. inquiry, London suburbs 1603, piracy, London and lower Thames 1606-d., sewers, London 1606-11, Westminster and Chelsea, Mdx. 1611, subsidy, Westminster 1608;12 j.p. Anglesey, Caern. and Merion. 1610-d.;13 commr. annoyances, Mdx. 1613;14 gov., Charterhouse hosp. Mdx. 1615-?d.15


Prowde’s family were involved in the Shrewsbury cloth trade. His grandfather was a mercer, and his father a draper who served as one of the town’s bailiffs in 1569-70, while two of his mother’s brothers and at least one of his own brothers also became drapers.16 He was presumably admitted to Lincoln’s Inn at the suggestion of the eminent Shropshire lawyer Thomas Owen*, who doubtless exerted influence as counsel to Westminster Abbey to secure Prowde’s appointment as attorney to the dean and chapter in about 1587. Prowde’s efforts apparently earned him a lease of the Abbey’s manor of Yeoveney, near Staines, Middlesex, and he settled permanently in London, passing the family’s Shrewsbury home to one of his sisters upon her marriage in 1597.17

Prowde’s own marriage, in 1590, brought him promising patronage connections, particularly through his mother-in-law, who in 1602 married Sir John Egerton*, a relative of the then lord keeper. Shortly before the wedding, Prowde was made a bencher of Lincoln’s Inn, despite having served only 16 years as a barrister (between 23 and 26 years was normal).18 This accelerated promotion may have been the result of a private agreement struck between Prowde and his future stepfather-in-law who, a few weeks later, was granted honorary admission to the Inn.19 Prowde was nominated justice of the Irish king’s bench in 1604, although, possibly because of ill-health, he never took up the position: his patent was not enrolled, and a replacement was installed in the following spring. At the same time, being ‘very weak and infirm’, he also postponed his reading at Lincoln’s Inn.20 In 1610 he was appointed puisne justice of the North Wales circuit, a position which conferred the prestige of a judgeship but allowed him to continue in private practice. He represented the dean and chapter of Westminster in a controversial case against the bishop of London in 1613, and began building a clientele among the Welsh gentry, advising Sir John Wynn† over the settlement of his daughter-in-law’s jointure estate.21

In 1613, as a Welsh justice, Prowde was co-opted by the Privy Council to report on an attempt by the London-based French Company to overthrow the Shrewsbury Drapers’ monopoly of the Welsh cloth trade. He naturally supported the interests of his home town, a favour which the corporation reciprocated by returning him to Parliament in the following year. His candidacy was probably endorsed by Richard Barker*, chief justice of North Wales and Shrewsbury’s MP in the previous Parliament, and the two men were entertained by the town’s all-important Drapers’ Company shortly before the election.22 Prowde had a negligible impact on his only Parliament, his sole citation in the known records being a nomination to the committee for the bill to discourage subdivision of tenements in London (1 June).23

Prowde served as treasurer of Lincoln’s Inn in 1613-14, and would doubtless have acquired a serjeanty and, perhaps, a judgeship, but for his untimely death. He was buried, appropriately, in Westminster Abbey on 16 Jan. 1617, and his eldest son Thomas secured administration of his estate three weeks later. None of his descendants are known to have sat in Parliament.24

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Simon Healy


  • 1. Ex inf. James Lawson, archivist of Shrewsbury Sch.; also Vis. Salop, (Harl. Soc. xxix), 327; Salop RO, 567/2F/1.
  • 2. Al. Cant.; LI Admiss.; LI Black Bks. ii. 2.
  • 3. St. Michael Bassishaw (Harl. Soc. reg. lxxii), 87-8, 91, 118; Vis. Yorks. (Harl. Soc. xcvi), 391; PROB 11/126, f. 230v. Vis. Glos. (Harl. Soc. xxi) mistakenly describes Ursula as the da. of Sir William Blount, who was actually her stepfa.
  • 4. Salop RO, ms transcript of St. Julian’s, Shrewsbury reg.
  • 5. Reg. Westminster Abbey ed. J.L. Chester, 113; Liber Famelicus of Sir J. Whitelocke ed. J. Bruce (Cam. Soc. lxx), 53.
  • 6. Westminster Dean and Chapter Acts ed. C.S. Knighton, ii. 123-4, 151, 198-9; Liber Famelicus, 19, 53, 60.
  • 7. LI Black Bks. ii. 73.
  • 8. F.E. Ball, Judges in Ire. i. 314.
  • 9. LI Black Bks. ii. 84, 94-5, 97, 114.
  • 10. C66/1884/5.
  • 11. LI Black Bks. ii. 158.
  • 12. C181/1, f. 50v; 181/2, ff. 12v, 20, 140v, 154, 214v, 221; SP14/31/1.
  • 13. JPs in Wales and Monm. ed. Phillips, 6-7, 24-5, 42-3.
  • 14. C181/2, f. 199v.
  • 15. G.S. Davies, Charterhouse in London, 352.
  • 16. Ex inf. James Lawson. His draper uncles were Richard and Andrew Lewis, his brother Richard Prowde the younger.
  • 17. Westminster Dean and Chapter Acts, ii. 113, 123-4, 143; VCH Mdx. iii. 19; Salop RO, 567/2F/1.
  • 18. LI Black Bks. ii. 73; W.R. Prest, Rise of the Barristers, 136-7.
  • 19. LI Admiss.; SIR JOHN EGERTON.
  • 20. Ball, i. 314; CPR Ire. Jas. I, 6, 67; LI Black Bks. ii. 87.
  • 21. Liber Famelicus, 33; C3/280/41; NLW, 9055E/699.
  • 22. APC, 1613-14, pp. 9-10, 34-40, 310-11, 351-5; T.C. Mendenhall, Shrewsbury Drapers and Welsh Wool Trade, 147-50; Salop RO, 1831/2/1, f. 27v; SHREWSBURY.
  • 23. CJ, i. 504a.
  • 24. Reg. Westminster Abbey, 113; PROB 6/9, f. 105v.