Sir Edward Lewknor or Lewkenor (1542 – 19 September 1605) was an important Puritan voice in the English Parliament through the later reign of Queen Elizabeth I.
Young life and marriage
Edward was the eldest son of the courtier Edward Lewknor of Kingston Buci, Sussex, who died after three months in the Tower of London in September 1556 under deferral of execution, attended by his wife Dorothy (sister of Sir Thomas Wroth) - Sir Edward's mother - and one of his daughters. He had been formally convicted of using his situation at Court to procure a copy of King Henry VIII's will, to assist the conspiracy of Henry Dudley and Henry Peckham against Queen Mary I.
Edward was aged 14 when his father was buried within the Tower precinct. Many lands, including the manor and advowson of Hamsey, East Sussex, were restored to his mother in February 1556/57 by Mary's Letters Patent. In the first year of Elizabeth an act was passed, on the petition of Lewknor's four sons (Edward, Thomas, Stephen and William) and six daughters (Jane, Maria, Elizabeth, Anne, Dorothie and Lucrece) to restore them to their blood, lineage and degree. This restored all their ancestral hereditaments excepting those held in use, possession or reversion by their father at the time of his treason and attainder, or any which either Mary or Elizabeth should have found cause to withhold. They were therefore entitled to make their pedigrees as Lewknor's heirs as if he had never been attainted, and to make conveyances thereof, except of lordships, honours and other benefits to which their Majesties were entitled on account of the attainder.
Edward was educated at St Johns College, Cambridge, matriculating a pensioner at Easter 1559 and graduating B.A. in 1561, and was a fellow of the college from 1561 to 1563. He entered the Middle Temple in 1562 to study law. His son recorded in his father's printed epitaph that he next found some service in the royal household of Queen Elizabeth. His next brother Thomas Lewknor (presumably the same who matriculated from Trinity College, Cambridge in Lent term 1557-58 and graduated B.A. in 1562-63) was presented Rector of Hamsey by the Diocesan 'by lapsed authority' in 1563, remaining until 1568.
Around 1570 Edward married Susan, daughter of Sir Thomas Heigham of Higham Hall, Suffolk and his wife Martha Heigham, daughter of Sir Thomas Jermyn of Rushbrooke Hall. The Jermyn family was strongly Puritan in sympathy, making legacies to Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Martha, who lived until 1593 leaving very extensive estates in a will of which she made Sir Edward Lewkenor sole executor, remained as a continuing and present example to him. Lewknor made his family home at Denham Hall in West Suffolk, where he was a near neighbour of the Heighams: both through marriage and subsequently through bequest Heigham and Jermyn estates came to him or to his descendants.
Lewkenor was sponsored in a successful Parliamentary career by Puritan sympathisers such as the Earl of Leicester, with whose help in 1571 he was elected MP for Tamworth. In 1572 he was elected MP for New Shoreham, near his ancestral domains. He was then elected for Maldon in 1584 and 1586. He and his kinsmen Sir John Heigham (knighted 1579, MP for Ipswich in 1584 and for Suffolk in 1586) and Sir Robert Jermyn (MP for Suffolk in the same parliaments) represented a strongly Puritan faction in Parliament, often working together in committee, advocating the importance of a learned clergy and the reform of episcopal powers and activities, with which Jermyn in particular came into direct confrontation.
In 1584 Lewkenor was involved with a bill for the more reverent observation of the Sabbath - which, as an intervention in Church affairs, met with royal resistance. Later in that year he served on a committee to consider petitions for the liberties of godly preachers. In 1585 he offered a petition concerning abuses in the ministry on behalf of the people of Sussex, simultaneously overseeing the formulation of an official prayer of thanksgiving to God for the great benefits bestowed upon the realm by Queen Elizabeth, to be used in Parliamentary proceedings. In late 1586, in test or proof of this loyalty, he, Heigham and Jermyn were appointed with others to consider a means by which Mary, Queen of Scots might be brought to the execution of justice.
This, however, did not protect him when, in 1587, a revised Book of Common Prayer and accompanying bill were put before the House by Anthony Cope, M.P. for Banbury, Oxfordshire. It was hoped thereby to reform certain problems in ecclesiastical affairs, and the proposer asked for it to be read and to be approved to replace the existing books in all churches. Lewkenor was among those who spoke, solemnly but unsuccessfully, in favour of its reading. These proceedings caused immediate royal disapproval, and when an issue of freedom of speech was raised the Member doing so was sent to the Tower of London. On the following day Cope and three others including Edward Lewkenor were also imprisoned there. Sir John Heigham and Sir Robert Jermyn were among those appointed 11 days later to consider their release: their durance lasted about a month.
The shadow cast by his father's disgrace and sufferings, albeit incurred in actions intended to favour Elizabeth's succession, no doubt lay darkly upon him in this confinement. Lewkenor did not sit for the Parliament of 1588-89: his mother Lady Dorothy died in the latter year, making him sole executor responsible for her legacies. In these she and he were bound by a recognizance of two thousand marks made with her kinsman Sir Francis Walsingham in 1570, limiting to £1000 any bequests or payments thereof made to unmarried daughters, with which she exactly complied. Lewkenor sat for Malden again in 1589 and 1593. In 1594 he sold the manor and advowson of Hamsey, the reversion of which (after his mother's death) had been granted to him in 1563. He was MP for Newport, Cornwall in 1598. He remained active but often served in parliamentary business less associated with church reform than formerly. This included a most intense consideration of proposed bills for relief of the poor and prevention of idle beggars in November 1597. He returned as MP for Maldon in 1604, having been knighted by King James I in 1603, but died of smallpox in 1605 while still in office.
Death and exequies
He and his wife died on consecutive days, Lady Susan dying first. They were buried together in St Mary's church, Denham, on 9 January 1605/6, and he was succeeded by his elder son Edward Lewknor. The funeral was a formal heraldic occasion, his sons, daughters and sons-in-law attending as mourners, the standard being borne by his sister Mary's son John Machell, and the pennon by Edward as Chief Mourner. Edward erected an elaborate canopied table monument featuring painted stone carvings of Sir Edward, his wife and their eight children at prayer, within a chapel in the church recently built for that or another purpose. He also published a Threnody for his father, in which Latin, English, Greek and Hebrew verse tributes from many University theologians were collected, including some lines of power from future bishops of Norwich and of Dromore.
The funeral was directed by the Richmond and Somerset Heralds (John Raven and Robert Treswell). The heraldry of the tomb includes as a canopy centrepiece a shield with many quarterings alluding to the ancestry of Lewkenor's great-grandfather, another Sir Edward (d. 1522), both in his paternal descent from the Bardolph, Tregoz, Noel and D'Oyly, the Dallingridge and Echingham families, and in his maternal Camoys and De Braose inheritance through Elizabeth (Isabella) Radmylde. It is an emblazoning to represent the House of Lewkenor of Kingston Buci in that branch, no additional heraldry being shown for the intervening generations. The meaning and contemporary understanding of this descent is shown in an extensive pedigree drawn up in 1612 and 1615 in the time of the younger Sir Edward Lewkenor, who in 1610 became son-in-law of Sir Henry Neville.
In an equivalent position at either end of the canopy are impalements showing the same quarterings for Lewkenor (dexter) with eight quarters for Heigham (sinister). Individual Lewkenor impalements for the marriages of Sir Edward's children are displayed on the transoms of the canopy, those at the eastern side being prepared for the two sons with the sinister pales left invitingly blank. The Latin tomb inscription (no doubt written by his son Edward) refers to his loyal and valuable services for court, parliament and commonwealth, which earned him the approbation of all good men, and his work to introduce the preaching of the Gospel in Denham. The Christian virtues of Lady Susan, her devout modesty, chastity, generosity and kindness to the poor are also commended.
He died possessed of considerable estates (including the half of Sir Thomas Heigham's estate which his wife had inherited), to which his eldest son was heir.
The children of Sir Edward Lewkenor and his wife Susan Heigham are shown as follows:
- Dorothie (1575-1603), married Robert Castell, armiger, of East Hatley, Cambridgeshire. She is said to have died without issue, though a son Robert was christened at Denham in 1598. She died before her parents, and is not among the mourners depicted on Sir Edward's tomb. Sir Robert remarried and had five children, the elder son being named Robert.
- (Sir) Edward (1586-1618), of Denham Hall, married (?1607 or 1610) Mary, daughter of Sir Henry Neville and Ann Killegrew of Billingbear House, Berkshire, by whom he had six children. He was knighted in 1606, was M.P. for West Looe in the Parliament of 1614 and served as High Sheriff of Suffolk in 1617, while holding which office he died. He was buried at Denham.
- (Sir) Robert (1588-1636), knighted in 1607, married Mary (daughter and coheir of Alexander Hamon of Acrise, Kent), by whom he had five children. Sir Robert was to inherit the manor of Kingston Buci, but also inherited the manor of Acrise from his father-in-law, and was High Sheriff of Kent in 1630.
- Hester (d. 1612), married (1601) Robert Quarles of Romford, Essex, eldest son of James Quarles of Ufford near Peterborough, Clerk of the Green Cloth. Robert, knighted in 1608, was brother of the poet Francis Quarles. Robert made two further marriages.
- Anne (d. 1608), married (c. 1598) Godfrey Rodes, armiger, of Great Houghton, Yorkshire, eldest son of the second marriage of the judge Sir Francis Rodes of Barlborough Hall. They had five children.
- (Martha, died in childhood).
- Martha (d. before 1639), married Thomas Gurney, armiger, eldest son of Henry Gurney of Ellingham, Norfolk. They had eight children. She survived her husband and was buried at Barsham, Norfolk.
- Sarah, married Thomas Stuard, armiger, son of Thomas Stuard of Barton Mills, Suffolk (and probably grandson of Simeon Stuard of Lakenheath). Six of their children were christened at Denham between 1608 and 1619.
- Elizabeth (b. 1591), married (before 1618) Thomas Catelyn (possibly second son of Richard Catelyn or Catlin, Serjeant-at-arms, of Wingfield Castle). Three of their children were christened at Denham between 1619 and 1622.
- Susan (d. 1609), without issue.
- W.D. Cooper, 'Pedigree of the Lewknor Family', Sussex Archaeological Collections III (1850), pp. 89-102, at p. 102. Howard, The Visitation of Suffolke II (1871), p. 270. Hervey, Denham Parish Registers, pp 216-18. Additional citations are specified below.
- J.W. Clay (ed.), The Visitation of Cambridge made in Anno  (etc.), Harleian Society Vol. XLI (London 1897), pp. 42-43.
- A. Thrush, Lewknor, Sir Edward II (1587-1618), of Denham, nr. Bury St. Edmunds, Suff., in A. Thrush and J.P. Ferris (eds), The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629 (Cambridge University Press, 2010). Read here
- R. Hovenden (ed.), The Visitation of Kent taken in the years 1619-1621 by John Philipot, Harleian Society Vol. XLII (London 1898), pp. 68-69, and fn. 2 p. 69.
- E. Hasted, 'Parishes: Acrise', The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent, Vol. 8 (Canterbury, 1799), pp. 111-117. (British History Online, accessed 21 May 2016).
- A. Thrush, 'Quarles, Sir Robert (1581-1639), of Stewards, Romford, Essex', in A. Thrush and J.P. Ferris (eds), The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629 (Cambridge University Press 2010). Read here
- W.C. Metcalfe (ed.), The Visitations of Essex in 1552, 1558, 1570, 1612 and 1634, Part I, Harleian Society Vol. XIII (London 1878), pp. 271-73. See K.J. Höltgen, 'Quarles, Francis (1592–1644), poet', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
- Prenuptial settlement of 20 September 1598, T.N.A. Discovery Catalogue, piece description CM/378 (Sheffield City Archives).
- J.H. Baker, 'Rodes, Francis (1524/5–1589), judge', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Will of Fraunces Rodes (P.C.C. 1589). E. Foss, The Judges of England Vol. V, 1485-1603, pp. 536-37.
- D. Gurney, The Record of the House of Gournay, Part II (J.B. Nichols and J.G. Nichols (privately), London 1848), pp. 462-480.
- W. Rye, The Visitation of Norfolk Anno 1563 and 1613, Harleian Society Vol. XXXII (London 1891), p. 60. Consult also A. Barclay, Electing Cromwell: the making of a politician (Routledge 2015), pp. 44-45.