Simonds d'Ewes

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Sir Simonds d'Ewes, 1st Baronet (18 December 1602, Milden, Suffolk, England – 18 April 1650) was an antiquary and politician. He was bred for the bar, was a member of the Long Parliament and left notes on its transactions. d'Ewes took the Puritan side in the Civil War. His Journal of all the Parliaments of Elizabeth is of value; he left an Autobiography and Correspondence.

Early life[edit]

Simonds d'Ewes was born the eldest son of Paul d'Ewes, of Milden, Suffolk, and Cecelia, the heiress of Sir Richard Simonds. He inherited a fortune from his maternal grandfather while still young; his other grandfather was the printer Gerard D'Ewes. After some early private teaching, including time at the school of Henry Reynolds (father of Bathsua Makin, who impressed D'Ewes much more), he was sent to the grammar school at Bury St. Edmunds. He then went to St John's College, Cambridge, and studied under Richard Holdsworth. At St John's he was exposed to and influenced by a strong college tradition of Puritanism.[1][2]

He was admitted to the Middle Temple in 1611, and in 1623 was called to the Bar. He did not pursue a legal career, preferring instead to follow up antiquarian interests, which took him to the records in the Tower of London. He met Sir Robert Cotton, who introduced him to John Selden, the outstanding lawyer-scholar of the time; but D'Ewes found him conceited.[2]

His marriage, in 1626, to Anne Clopton, heiress to Sir William Clopton, of Luton's Hall (also known as Kentwell) near Long Melford in Suffolk, brought him a considerable addition to his wealth. He was knighted by Charles I on 6 December.

Political career[edit]

In 1639, d'Ewes was High Sheriff of Suffolk, and 1640, he was elected as member for Sudbury, sitting in the Long Parliament.[3] Although he opposed of the King's arbitrary rule, his views were moderate; he was given a baronetcy by the king in 1641, possibly as an attempt to buy allegiance, in July.[2] Since his beloved younger brother was an officer in the King's army, this is plausible. But it cannot be confirmed because the King's desperate need for money had led to a resumption of the sale of honors such as baronetcies at this time.

On the outbreak of the First English Civil War in 1642, d'Ewes joined the Parliamentarians. He remained in Parliament until 1648, when he was expelled in Pride's purge. After 1648, d'Ewes took no further part in politics, and devoted himself to literary studies.[3] He died on 18 April 1650, having married again, to Elizabeth Willoughby, daughter of Sir Henry Willoughby, Bt.

Antiquarian[edit]

Simonds d'Ewes is perhaps best known for his work as an antiquarian, and particularly for his transcriptions of important historical documents, originals of which do not survive today, and the Journals of all the Parliaments during the Reign of Queen Elizabeth. Although d'Ewes was ambitious in this field, he lacked the ability to generalise or construct effectively, and died without publishing any major work, except The Primitive Practice for Preserving Truth (1645) and a few speeches. The Journals was published posthumously in 1682 by his nephew, the lawyer and antiquary Paul Bowes.

Legacy[edit]

Simonds d'Ewes, although known for the events in parliament during the 1640s, is best known for his contribution to the antiquarian world. His chief scholarly legacy is the collection of his transcriptions of primary documents that are now lost. He also kept a diary, which gives an insight into the events in Parliament; glimpses of his own, possibly self-loving, character are also present.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "D'Ewes, Symonds (EWS618S)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  2. ^ a b c s:D'Ewes, Sir Simonds (DNB00)
  3. ^ a b Orchard, James (ed.), The Autobiography and Correspondence of Sir Simonds D'Ewes, Bart., page 7 of Preface online at books.google.co.uk, accessed 14 April 2008

External links[edit]

Baronetage of England
New creation Baronet
(of Stowlangtoft Hall)
1641–1650
Succeeded by
Willoughby d'Ewes