BOWYER, Sir Edmund (1613-81), of Camberwell Green, Surr.

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



19 June 1660

Family and Education

bap. 28 Oct. 1613, o.s. of Benjamin Bowyer of Camberwell by Joyce, da. of one Edney of London, wid. of John Cownden of Newington. educ. Peterhouse, Camb. 1630. m. (1) by 1633, Hester (d. 19 Dec. 1665), da. of Sir Anthony Aucher of Bishopsbourne, Kent, 4s. (3 d.v.p.) 4da.; (2) lic. 7 Jan. 1671, Martha (d. 30 June 1697), da. of Robert Wilson, merchant, of London, wid. of Sir Edward Cropley of Clerkenwell, Mdx., 1s. 3da. suc. uncle Sir Edmund Bowyer 1627; kntd. 4 July 1633.1

Offices Held

Commr. of array, Surr. 1642, j.p. June 1660-d., dep. lt c. Aug. 1660-d.; commr. for oyer and terminer, Home circuit July 1660, sewers, Surr. and Kent Aug. 1660, Surr. Aug. 1660-80, Mdx. 1661-9, 1677-8, Southwark 1661-4; col. of militia ft. Southwark by 1661-d.; commr. for loyal and indigent officers, Surr. 1662, recusants 1675, rebuilding of Southwark 1677.2


Bowyer’s grandfather, of Somerset origins, came to live in Camberwell on his marriage in 1550. His uncle acquired the manor of Camberwell Freren in 1581, and sat for Southwark in 1597. Nothing is known of Bowyer before the Civil War, except that he was knighted during Charles I’s visit to Scotland in 1633. He was assessed at £500 by the committee for the advance of money in 1643, but on his return from ‘a long journey into the north’, for purposes unspecified, he had it reduced to £107. In May 1648 he took a leading part in organizing the Surrey petition for an accommodation with the King and the disbandment of the army. He was allegedly in arms for the King in the second Civil War, and he had to compound for his property in Surrey with the county committee. Evelyn paid several visits to Bowyer during the Interregnum at his ‘melancholy seat’ in Camberwell.3

Bowyer did not stand at the general election of 1660, but was returned to the Convention for Gatton after a double return had been declared void, doubtless on the interest of Roger James, who had married another sister of Sir Anthony Aucher. A moderately active Member, he was appointed to 13 committees, including those in the second session to bring in the militia bill and the bill for modified episcopacy. He also helped to prepare the excise clauses in the bill to abolish the court of wards. He was doubtless a court supporter. He was returned for the county in 1661 and listed as a friend by Lord Wharton, to be managed by Sir Richard Onslow. He was moderately active in the Cavalier Parliament, in which he was named to 87 committees, including those for the uniformity bill, the bill of pains and penalties, and the bill for the execution of those under attainder. In 1663 he helped to consider the bills to prevent unlawful meetings of dissenters, to enable the bishop of Winchester to lease out his Southwark property, and to reform the court of Marshalsea. He served on no more committees of political importance, but was appointed to all those concerned with the relief of the poor, especially of insolvent debtors, so many of whom were confined in or around the Southwark prisons. He was listed as a friend of Ormonde in 1668, and in the following year Sir Thomas Osborne included him among the Members who had usually voted for supply. In the debate of 17 Nov. 1669 he observed that during the second Dutch war many of the seamen ‘went a-begging for lack of pay’. In 1671 he was appointed to the committee for erecting Paris Garden into a separate parish, and acted as teller against the bill for bridging the Thames at Putney. ‘A very honest gentleman’, commented John Robinson I in 1672, ‘but loves not business.’ He was included in the Paston list of court supporters in 1673-4. On 18 Nov. 1675 he seconded the motion of William Garway that it was a breach of privilege to prosecute an appeal in the Lords against Members of the Commons, which he thought would give ‘great satisfaction both within doors and without’. Like his uncle before him, he expressed his concern for the poor in a practical way by presenting his parish with three houses for their use. On the working lists Osborne, now Lord Treasurer Danby, reserved Bowyer for his own management, and Shaftesbury eventually classed him as ‘vile’ in 1677, though he may have first marked him ‘worthy’. Sir Richard Wiseman, however, marked him with a query, and presumably he went over to the Opposition in 1678, for his name appears on neither list of the court party. On 24 May he was appointed to the committee to recommend reforms in the poor law, and he acted as teller against an amendment to the bill. He did not stand again, but died on 27 Jan. 1681 and was buried at Camberwell.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / Eveline Cruickshanks / John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Vis. Surr. (Harl. Soc. xliii), 32; Coll. Top. et Gen. iii. 153; PCC 30 Fenner; Manning and Bray, Surr. i. 432; iii. 426.
  • 2. Q. Sess. Recs. (Surr. Rec. Soc. xxxv), 31; C181/7/30; CJ, viii. 247.
  • 3. VCH Surr. iv. 30; Cal. Comm. Adv. Money, 172; CSP Dom. 1648-9, pp. 184, 305; Cal. Comm. Comp. 132; Evelyn Diary, iii. 196, 197, 211, 218.
  • 4. W. H. Blanch, Parish of Camerwell, 279, Grey, i. 171; iv. 44; CJ, ix. 230, 509; VCH Surr. iv. 36; Manning and Bray, iii. 427.