Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hakewill, William

580172Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 24 — Hakewill, William1890William Prideaux Courtney

HAKEWILL, WILLIAM (1574–1655), legal antiquary, eldest son and heir of John Hakewill, and brother of George Hakewill [q. v.], was born in the parish of St. Mary Arches, Exeter. He sojourned at Exeter College, Oxford, for a short time in 1600, but left without a degree. He entered himself at Lincoln's Inn, where he studied the common law, and also took to politics. Several Cornish constituencies, Bossiney in 1601, Michell in 1604–11, and Tregony in 1614 and 1621–2, elected him in turn. He acquired considerable property in Buckinghamshire, dwelling at Bucksbridge House, near Wendover, which passed to his descendants. His influence there was strengthened by his appointment, in conjunction with Sir Jerome Horsey, as receiver for the duchy of Lancaster, in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, and adjoining counties. When examining the parliamentary writs in the Tower of London, he discovered that three Buckinghamshire boroughs, Amersham, Marlow, and Wendover, had formerly returned members to parliament, but that they had allowed the privilege to lapse. At his suggestion they claimed their rights, and from 1625 they were recognised. Amersham returned him as its member in 1628, but after the dissolution of parliament in 1629 he retired from parliamentary life. Hakewill was one of the two executors of his kinsman, Sir Thomas Bodley [q. v.], and one of the chief mourners at the funeral at Oxford on 29 March 1613, the day after which he was, by a special grace, created M.A. of the university. In 1614 Hakewill was one of six lawyers—‘men not overwrought with practice, and yet learned and diligent, and conversant in reports and records’—appointed to revise the existing laws. When the government required money in 1615, he proposed to raise it by a general pardon on payment by each delinquent of 5l. The proposal was definitely rejected after two months' consideration. In May 1617 he was made solicitor-general to the queen, but he had ‘for a long time taken much pains in her business, wherein she hath done well.’ In 1621, during the attacks on monopolies, he and Noy were deputed to search for precedents in the Tower, but his labours did not give general satisfaction. In January 1622 he was arrested with Pym and Sir Robert Phillips for some offence in parliament. He was elected Lent reader of his inn in 1624, and was one of its chief benchers for nearly thirty years; his coat of arms was set up in the west window of its chapel. He served in 1627 on a commission for inquiring into the offices which existed in the eleventh year of Queen Elizabeth's reign, and into the fees levied therein, and he was included in the large commission for the repair of St. Paul's Cathedral (April 1631), when he showed so much interest in its restoration that he was appointed on the smaller working committee in 1634. He was a great student of legal antiquity, and a master of precedents. In politics he sided with the parliament, and took the covenant. In April 1647 he was appointed a master of chancery, and was nominated by both houses to sit with the commissioners of the great seal to hear causes. He died, aged 81, on 31 Oct. 1655, and was buried in Wendover Church, where are inscriptions on marble to him and his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Henry Wodehouse of Wexham, Norfolk, a sister of Sir Robert Killigrew's wife, and a niece of Bacon. She was married about May 1617, and died 25 June 1652, aged 54; John Hakewill (1742–1791) [q. v.] was a great-grandson.

Hakewill was the author of ‘The Libertie of the Subject against the pretended Power of Imposition maintained by an Argument in Parliament anno 7° Jacobi regis,’ Lond. 1641. Copies are among the Exeter College MSS., No. cxxviii., British Museum Addit. MSS. 25271, Lansdowne MSS., No. 490, and Harleian MSS. No. 1578. His argument controverted the power of the king to raise money by charges, fixed by the royal prerogative on imports and exports, and Hallam asserts that ‘though long, it will repay’ perusal as ‘a very luminous and masterly statement of this great argument.’ The tract is inserted in Howell's ‘State Trials,’ ii. 407–75, and in Hargrave's edition, xi. 36, &c., with remarks by the editor. Hargrave owned the copy of the work now in the British Museum, and it contains copious notes by him. Hakewill's second work was ‘The Manner how Statutes are enacted in Parliament by passing of Bills. Collected many yeares past out of the Journalls of the House of Commons. By W. Hakewill. Together with a catalogue of the Speakers' names,’ 1641. It had been in manuscript for many years, and numerous copies had gradually got abroad. One, ‘the falsest written of all,’ was without his knowledge printed very carelessly. This was no doubt the anonymous volume entitled ‘The Manner of holding Parliaments in England … with the Order of Proceeding to Parliament of King Charles, 13 April 1640,’ 1641. Hakewill's publication was much enlarged in ‘Modus tenendi Parliamentum … together with the Privileges of Parliament and the Manner how Lawes are there enacted by passing of Bills,’ 1659, which was reprinted in 1671. He was a member about 1600 of the first Society of Antiquaries, and two papers by him, ‘The Antiquity of the Laws of this Island’ and ‘Of the Antiquity of the Christian Religion in this Island,’ are printed in Hearne's ‘Collection of Curious Discourses,’ 1720 and 1771 editions. A treatise by Hakewill on ‘A Dispute between the younger Sons of Viscounts and Barons against the claims of Baronets to Precedence’ was among the manuscripts of Sir Henry St. George (Bernard, Cat. ii. fol. 112). His argument ‘that such as sue in chancery to be relieved of the judgments given at common law are not within the danger of “præmunire,”’ is in Lansdowne MS. No. 174; his speech in parliament 1 May 1628 is in the Harleian MS. No. 161; and his correspondence with John Bainbridge [q. v.], the astronomer, remains at Trinity College, Dublin (Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. p. 594). He compiled and presented to the queen a dissertation on the nature and custom of aurum reginæ, or the queen's gold, a duty paid temp. Edward IV by most of the judges, serjeants-at-law, and great men of the realm. Copies are among the Exeter College MSS., No. cvi., Addit. MS. British Museum 25255, and at the Record Office.

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), iii. 231–2; Wood's Fasti, i. 354; Prince's Worthies, pp. 449–451; Cal. of State Papers, 1603–43; Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. p. 594; British Magazine and Review, 1782; Hallam's Constit. Hist. (7th ed.), i. 319; Lipscomb's Buckinghamshire, ii. 478, 482, 490; Courtney's Parl. Hist. of Cornwall, pp. 169, 302, 325; Spedding's Bacon, vol. v. of Life, p. 86, vi. 71, 208, vii. 187, 191, 203.]

W. P. C.