BOWYER, John (1623-66), of Knypersley, Staffs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



13 Aug. 1646

Family and Education

bap. 21 Sept. 1623, 5th but 2nd surv. s. of Sir William Bowyer (d.1641) of Knypersley by Hester, da. of Sir William Skeffington of Fisherwick. m. (1) 4 Apr. 1648, Mary (d. June 1665), da. and h. of Robert Milward of Bradlow Ash, Derbys., 4s. 2da.; (2) 11 Sept. 1665, Elizabeth, da. of Sir Ralph Egerton of Betley, Staffs., s.p. suc. bro. aft. 1641; kntd. 30 May 1660; cr. Bt. 11 Sept. 1660.3

Offices Held

Capt. of ft. (parliamentary) 1642-4, col. 1644-7; gov. Leek 1644-6.4

Commr. for assessment, Staffs. 1647-8, Aug. 1660-d., j.p. by 1647-8, Mar. 1660-d.; commr. for militia, Staffs. and Lichfield 1648, Staffs. Mar. 1660; dep. lt. Staffs. Aug. 1660-1, sheriff 1662-3.5


Bowyer’s ancestors acquired Knypersley, some eight miles north of Newcastle-under-Lyme, in the reign of Richard II, first sitting for the borough in 1411. Bowyer’s father, of Puritan leanings, was five times elected for Staffordshire, but died early in the Long Parliament. Bowyer was an active parliamentary commander in the first Civil War and was returned for the county as a recruiter, but secluded as a Presbyterian at Pride’s Purge. In 1651 he was ordered to be secured as ‘disaffected and dangerous’, and he was not allowed to take his seat in the second Protectorate Parliament.6

The junior seat at Newcastle-under-Lyme was contested in 1660, but Bowyer was not opposed in his family borough. He was an active Member of the Convention, named to 36 committees, acting as teller in four divisions, and making nine recorded speeches. As ‘Col. Bowyer’, he was one of the Members to whom the Declaration of Breda was committed on 3 May, and he helped to prepare the bill about land purchases and to draft an order for thanksgiving. He represented the Lower House on the joint committee for the proclamation of Charles II, and was appointed to the committee for the indemnity and oblivion bill. With William Prynne he was ordered to secure public documents in the hands of John Phelps, who had kept the records of the trial of Charles I, and he was also ordered to convey the thanks of the House to the Staffordshire militia for seizing the horses of the regicide Thomas Harrison. On 15 June he acted as teller for excepting another major-general, William Boteler, from the benefit of the indemnity bill. On 22 June he was among those ordered to draft a proviso to the bill about arrears of impropriate rectories. He was appointed to the committee to inquire into unauthorized Anglican publications. On 30 July he recommended imposing the oaths of allegiance and supremacy and the 39 Articles and attacked those clergymen who ‘were instrumental against the King’. On the following day he was named to the revenue committee. He spoke in favour of appointing commissioners to inquire into malversation of public moneys during the Interregnum, and acted as teller against reimbursing the commissioners sent to the Sound by the Rump in 1659. He was among those ordered to raise a loan of £10,000 in the City. He twice spoke in favour of rejecting the Lords’ amendments to the indemnity bill, and served on the committee ordered to summarize the debate on 17 Aug. When the bill on college leases disappeared from the table of the House, he was among those ordered to prepare a protestation of innocence to be administered to all Members. In further debate on the indemnity bill he suggested that an appropriate punishment for Sir Arthur Hesilrige would be to ‘walk to the gallows with the rest, and then come back again’, and spoke in favour of Colonel Thomas Croxton, added to the list of exceptions by the Lords for his part in the trial of the Earl of Derby. On 11 Dec. he carried to the Lords an estate bill, which had been promoted by the brother of Robert Milward, and in the debates on the abolition of the court of wards he acted as teller for the proviso on behalf of William Powell. Although marked as a friend by Lord Wharton, Bowyer was sufficiently acceptable to the Court to receive both a knighthood and a baronetcy in the course of this Parliament, and had clearly abandoned Presbyterianism. But he does not seem to have stood again, and was buried at Biddulph on 18 July 1666.7

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / A. M. Mimardière


  • 1. Did not sit after Pride’s Purge 6 Dec. 1648, readmitted 22 Feb. 1660.
  • 2. Excluded.
  • 3. Vis. Staffs. (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. v, pt. 2), 50-51; Staffs. Parl. Hist. (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc.), ii. 72-74; Chetwynd’s Pirehill (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. n.s. xii), 217; T. Pape, Newcastle-under-Lyme in Tudor and Early Stuart Times, 149.
  • 4. HMC 4th Rep. 264; CSP Dom. 1645-7, p. 405.
  • 5. Committee at Stafford (Staffs. Rec. Soc. ser. 4, i), pp. lxxiv, 144.
  • 6. Chetwynd’s Pirehill, 20-23; Keeler, Long Parl. 113; Committee at Stafford, 356; CSP Dom. 1651, p. 86.
  • 7. CJ, viii. 16, 27, 37, 108, 119, 209; Voyce from the Watch Tower, 126; HMC 7th Rep. 84; Bowman diary, ff. 107, 114, 134, 145; Old Parl. Hist. xxii. 444, 445; xxiii. 53, 59.