GEWEN (GOWEN, GUEANE), Thomas (c.1585-1660), of Bradridge Barton, Boyton, Cornw.

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



17 Mar. 1626
4 Jan. 1647
5 May - Nov. 1660

Family and Education

b. c.1585, o.s. of Christopher Gewen of Werrington, Devon. educ. Queen’s, Oxf. matric. 4 Mar. 1603, aged 18, BA (Exeter) 1604; I. Temple 1605. m. (1) by 1617, ?da. of Edward Cosworth of Cosworth, Cornw., 1s,; (2) 23 July 1622, Mary, da. of Matthew Springham of Richmond, Surr., wid. of Arthur Puckell, Leather Seller, of London and Beverley, Yorks., 1s. 2da. suc. fa. by 1606.3

Offices Held

Jt. auditor, duchy of Cornw. 1627-33, havener, escheator and feodary 1633-48, May 1660-d.; stannator, Foymore 1636; j.p. Cornw. by 1640-8, by 1654-July 1660, Aug. 1660-d.; commr. for sequestrations, Cornw. and Devon 1643, levying of money, Cornw. 1643, execution of ordinances 1644, assessment 1644-8, 1657, Jan. 1660; recorder, Launceston 1646-51, 1653-d.; commr. for militia, Cornw. 1648, Mar. 1660.4

Commr. for obstructions 1648.


Gewen’s ancestors had leased duchy of Cornwall estates in and around Launceston for generations, and his great-grandfather had been mayor of the borough in 1545. Gewen himself was carefully educated at Oxford and the Inns of Court in accordance with his grandfather’s will; but his career was principally determined by his successive marriages. His first wife’s family had long been prominent in the administration of the duchy, in which he himself held office on a life patent; but his second wife was the sister-in-law of Benjamin Valentine, a violent opponent of Charles I, and it was this connexion which decided Gewen’s political and religious stance during the Civil War. A strong Presbyterian, he became a leading member of the county committee until he was imprisoned at Pride’s Purge. Though mentioned as a Presbyterian Royalist as early as 1650, he was essentially a pragmatic monarchist with no respect for dynasty. He bought Bradridge at the sale of crown lands, and in the second Protectorate Parliament renewed the offer of the crown to the Protector on 3 Feb. 1658.5

At the general election of 1660 Gewen was involved in a double return at Launceston, five miles from his home. To his natural interest in the borough he had added a strong corporation interest as a recorder, and he was allowed to take his seat on the merits of the return. Lord Wharton marked him as a friend, but as official and tenant of the restored duchy of Cornwall he was in no position to oppose the Court. An inactive Member of the Convention, he was added to the committee of elections and privileges, and appointed to six others, including those to draft the assessment and thanksgiving ordinances, and to confer with the Lords about the King’s reception. In grand committee on 9 July he spoke for the bill for the maintenance of the true reformed Protestant religion and the suppression of disorders and innovations in worship. He naturally supported the bill to confirm land sales, ‘saying it was much for the King’s interest’. On 30 July he urged that a book written by a preacher to justify the execution of Charles I should be referred to the committee for settling ministers, to which he was appointed. He petitioned the committee on the land sales bill about his purchase of Bradridge, and on the report of Timothy Littleton the House agreed to recommend him to the King ‘as a fit object of his Majesty’s grace and favour’. After the recess he was named to the committee on the bill for endowing vicarages (7 Nov.); but he died later in the same month. His widow and son obtained a new lease of Bradridge on an entry fine of £300, but no other member of the family entered Parliament.6

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / Patricia Hyde


  • 1. Secluded at Pride’s Purge, 6 Dec. 1648.
  • 2. Excluded.
  • 3. PCC 83 Stafford, 76 Weldon, 5 May; Bramston Autobiog. (Cam. Soc. xxxii), 13; Al. Ox. 559; Richmond Par. Reg. (Surr. Par. Reg. Soc. i), 144.
  • 4. Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 244; pt. 3, p. 164; pt. 4, p. 60; Add. 6713, f. 167; CSP Dom. 1660-1, p. 365; Western Antiquary, vii. 138; A. F. Robbins, Launceston Past and Present, 193; R. and O. B. Peter, Launceston, 406.
  • 5. Western Antiquary, ix. 166-7; CJ, viii. 152; PCC 83 Stafford; Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 104; M. Coate, Cornw. in the Gt. Civil War, 29, 225; HMC Portland, i. 584; D. Underdown, Pride’s Purge, 152, 195; Burton Diary, ii. 424.
  • 6. Bowman diary, ff. 64v, 72v, 105v; CJ, viii. 13, 152; CSP Dom. 1660-1, p. 365; Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 47, 214, 301.