Hewley, Sarah (DNB00)

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HEWLEY, SARAH, Lady (1627–1710), foundress of the Hewley trust, born in 1627, was the only daughter and heiress of Robert Wolrych (d. 11 Dec. 1661), bencher of Gray's Inn. Her mother, whose maiden name was Mott, had a fortune derived from her first husband, whose name was Tichborne. Sarah Wolrych married John (b. 1619), son of John Hewley of Wistow, near Selby, West Riding. Her husband was admitted of Gray's Inn, 4 Feb. 1638, and became recorder of Doncaster. He sat for Pontefract 1658–60, was knighted at Whitehall, 30 June 1663, and sat for York in 1678, 1679, and 1681. He encouraged letters, giving pecuniary aid in the production of Dugdale's ‘Monasticon’ and Poole's ‘Synopsis.’ He kept a presbyterian chaplain, who gathered a public congregation in York, for which a small chapel, cruciform in shape, was built at St. Saviourgate in 1692 (registered 8 April 1693). Sir John Hewley died at his country residence, Bell Hall, near York, on 24 Aug. 1697, and was buried in St. Saviour's Church, York.

Dame Hewley, his widow, spent large sums in works of charity. In 1700 she built and endowed an almshouse at York for ten poor women of her own religious views [see Bowles, Edward]; in 1705 she contributed 200l. to charity schools founded at York by Archbishop Sharpe.

On 13 Jan. 1704–5 Dame Hewley conveyed to trustees a landed estate, of which the income was, after her death, to be devoted to benevolent objects, including the support of ‘poor and godly preachers for the time being of Christ's holy gospel.’ The benefactions were increased by a further deed (26 April 1707) and by her will (9 July 1707, codicil 21 Aug. 1710). The will was contested without result. Though the trustees were all presbyterian, grants were made to ministers of the ‘three denominations.’ By the end of the last century all the trustees and a majority of the presbyterian recipients were unitarian; but by a judgment of the House of Lords (5 Aug. 1842) three congregationalists, three orthodox presbyterians, and one baptist were appointed trustees. The income of the trust was then 2,830l., and has since increased.

Dame Hewley died on 23 Aug. 1710, and was buried with her husband. Portraits of Sir John Hewley and his wife are preserved in the vestry of St. Saviourgate Chapel. Their two children, Wolrych and John, died in infancy.

[Manchester Socinian Controversy, by George Hadfield (1787–1879) [q. v.], 1825, pp. 195 sq.; Historical Illustrations and Proofs, Shore v. Attorney-General, by Joseph Hunter [q. v.], 1839, pp. 95 sq.; the Foundation Deeds, &c., relating to Dame S. Hewley's Charity, 1849; James's Hist. Litig. and Legis. Presb. Chapels and Charities, 1867, pp. 228 sq.; Kenrick's Memorials of the Presb. Chapel, St. Saviourgate, York, 1869, pp. 28 sq.]

A. G.