LEWIS, Richard (c.1627-1706), of Edington Priory, Wilts. and The Van, Glam.
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Family and Education
b. c.1627, 3rd s. of Sir Edward Lewis of Edington Priory and The Van by Lady Anne Sackville, da. of Robert Sackville†, 2nd Earl of Dorset, wid. of Edward, Lord Beauchamp; bro. of William Lewis. m. Mary, da. and h. of Giles James of Sherston, Wilts., 3s. (2 d.v.p.) 2da. suc. nephew Edward Lewis in Glam. estate 1674.1
Commr. for assessment, Wilts. Jan. 1660-80, Mon. and Glam. 1677-80, Mon., Wilts. and Glam. 1689-90, militia, Wilts. Mar. 1660; j.p. Wilts. July 1660-June 1688, Oct. 1688-96, Glam. ?1674-82, 1685-96, Glam. and Wilts. 1700-d., lt.-col. of militia ft. Wilts. 1661, col. 1681, commr. for corporations 1662-3, dep. lt. 1668-June 1688, Oct. 1688-96, by 1701-?d., sheriff 1681-2, freeman, Devizes ?1684-7; commr. for rebels’ estates, Wilts. 1686.2
Lewis represented Westbury, four miles from Edington, in every Parliament except one from the Restoration till the death of William III. In the Convention he served on a committee for a private bill, and perhaps three others. His mother lived with him until her death in 1664, and Lord Wharton marked him as a stronger Anglican than his brother, presumably having regard to the influence of her Seymour kinsfolk. He was again inactive in the Cavalier Parliament, serving on 50 committees at the most. He was appointed to the committee for the London to Bristol canal in 1662, and took part in the consideration of defects in the Corporations Act in 1663. On 24 Nov. 1666 he acted as teller for the unsuccessful motion to name the mayor of Cambridge in the plague bill before the vice-chancellor of the University. After succeeding to the family estate, he was reckoned to enjoy an income of £1,400 p.a. He was appointed to two important committees in November 1675, those for the recall of British subjects in French service and hindering the growth of Popery. He was considered a court supporter by Sir Richard Wiseman and marked ‘doubly vile’ by Shaftesbury. In 1677 he was named to the committee for the education of children of the royal family as Protestants. His name does not appear on either list of the court party in 1678, but Shaftesbury considered him ‘vile’ at the general election. He probably sat on no committees in the first Exclusion Parliament, but voted against the bill. With Thomas Lambert and Robert Hyde he was commended at the assizes in 1680, on the King’s instructions, for his zeal in seeking out Papists; but he was unseated on petition in the second Exclusion Parliament and probably did not stand in 1681.3
Lewis was asked to use his utmost endeavours in 1685 to secure the return of loyal Members. He himself regained his seat, but was totally inactive in James II’s Parliament. He was listed among the Opposition and displaced as freeman of Devizes by order-in-council in 1687. To the lord lieutenant’s questions he replied that he was ‘for liberty of conscience as far as it may consist with the peace of the nation, and will not declare what he will further do as to the repealing the Tests till the House of Commons meets. He will not concern himself one way or the other in any election.’ The lord lieutenant considered him to have one of the two chief interests in Westbury, though ‘a very near man’ who would ‘spend little or nothing’. This remarkable tribute to Lewis’s personal popularity in a notoriously corrupt borough was silently confirmed by the King’s electoral agents, who could only hope against hope that he might be ‘inclined to be right’. He was duly returned in 1689, and, according to Anthony Rowe, voted to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant; but the committee references to ‘Mr Lewis’ are probably to Thomas Lewes. He retained his seat at Westbury even after his lease of Edington fell in and he moved to Corsham. In 1696 he was removed from the lieutenancy for refusing the Association. He died on 1 Oct. 1706, ‘in his eighty-third year’, and was buried at Corsham. His son Thomas sat for various Hampshire and Wiltshire constituencies, first as a Tory, but from 1726 as ‘an humble servant’ of Walpole.4