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Lewis, William (1592-1667) (DNB00)


LEWIS, WILLIAM (1592–1667), master of the hospital of St. Cross, Winchester, and canon of Winchester, born in 1592, was son of Richard Lewis, D.D., of Merionethshire. He matriculated at Hart Hall, Oxford, where his maternal uncle, Theodore Price, was master. He graduated B.A. from Hart Hall 20 April 1608, and was elected fellow of Oriel in the same year, proceeding M.A. 2 July 1612. He afterwards took holy orders, became chaplain to Bacon, the lord chancellor, and was a zealous member of the high church party. In February 1617–18 he was elected, by the influence of the chancellor, provost of Oriel. Wood ascribes his election to a faction of Welshmen. Lewis held the post for four years, in spite of his youth, and in spite of the scandalous rumours about his mode of life, which doubtless were aggravated, if they were not originated, by his puritan enemies. Acting on Bacon's advice, Lewis made himself an expert in the art of writing persuasive letters, and successfully begged subscriptions for the rebuilding of his college, contributing 100l. himself for the same purpose long afterwards (1637). On Bacon's fall Lewis, no longer able to withstand his enemies, abruptly resigned the provostship (21 June 1621) and went to Paris, where he was frequently employed in diplomatic business. On his return he became chaplain and secretary to George Villiers, duke of Buckingham, accompanied the duke to Rochelle in 1627, and remained in his service till the duke's assassination (1628), when he became chaplain to Charles I on Laud's recommendation (Prynne, Canterburies Doom, p. 66). Before setting out for the Rochelle expedition, on 25 May 1627, he was created D.D. at Oxford by royal letters patent, in which the king dwelt on the diligence and ability Lewis had displayed ‘in some affairs of weight wherein he had in foreign parts employed him.’ After Buckingham's expedition to Rhé, Lewis drew up ‘The General Relation of a Voyage to Rhé,’ which Wood saw in manuscript, a folio of eighteen pages. It was apparently never published. He was rewarded for his services by a canonry of Winchester, in which he was installed on 24 March 1627, and he was made master of the hospital of St. Cross 6 Feb. 1628. He was incorporated D.D. at Cambridge in 1629, and in 1631 became rector of East Woodhay, Hampshire. Lewis was ejected under the Commonwealth from all his preferments and forced to fly abroad, where his two sons became Roman catholics. He is probably the William Lewis whose estate of Llanwyby, Merionethshire, was declared forfeit for treason by act of parliament 18 Nov. 1652. He was reinstated to both his posts at the Restoration, and died at the hospital of St. Cross 7 July 1667. He was buried in the chapel there. Dr. Milner gives the Latin inscription from his gravestone, which is before the altar steps (History of St. Cross, p. 28).

[Wood's Fasti (Bliss), i. 325, 436; Wood's Hist. of Oxf. Univ. (Gutch), 1786, pp. 128, 130, 527; Oxf. Univ. Registers (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), iii. 277; Milner's Hist. of Winchester, i. 414; Walker's Sufferings of the Clergy, ii. 77; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1611–66; Le Neve's Fasti; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714, s.v. ‘Lewys.’]

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