Reynardson, Abraham (DNB00)

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REYNARDSON, Sir ABRAHAM (1590–1661), lord mayor of London, son of Thomas Reynardson, Turkey merchant, of Plymouth, by Julia Brace, was born at Plymouth in 1590. Abraham served his apprenticeship in London to Edmund James, of the Merchant Taylors' Company, and became a freeman of the city on 5 Oct. 1618. He was also a prominent member of the governing bodies of the Turkey and East India Companies. In July 1640 he was chosen master of the Merchant Taylors' Company, and entered on the office of sheriff in the following September. As master of the Merchant Taylors he helped to respond to Charles's demand for a loan from the city companies in 1640. His sympathies were with the royalist cause. Neither he nor his colleagues on the court of the company assisted the corporation, except under compulsion, in raising loans for the parliament in 1642 and 1643. His term of office as lord mayor extended over the eventful year 1648–9. Reynardson was the first Devonshire man who attained the dignity. His election sermon was preached by Obadiah Sedgwick, an eloquent divine, whom Cromwell had stigmatised as ‘a rascally priest.’ Reynardson soon found himself in conflict with the Rump parliament, which had declared all oaths of allegiance to the king illegal. The mayor refused to admit to the common council members who had not made the customary loyal subscription, but parliament retaliated by ordering him to assemble the council and suspend the taking of oaths (5 Jan. 1648–9). In anticipation of resistance, they further directed that the mayor should remove the chains which had been placed across the streets as a protection from cavalry charges. The act constituting the court for the trial of King Charles naturally received no countenance from Reynardson, and it was read in his absence at the Exchange and in Cheapside by the sergeant-at-arms, with the commons' mace upon his shoulder. A petition which had been circulated in the city, affirming ‘that the commons of England, in parliament assembled, have the supreme power of this nation,’ was read before the common council on 9 Jan., when Reynardson presided, with a view to its being presented by the council to the House of Commons. A committee recommended its adoption, but when this recommendation was brought up at the meeting of the council on 13 Jan., Reynardson refused to put the question. The debate on the subject lasted from eleven in the morning till eight in the evening, when the lord mayor left, and the resolution for presenting the petition was carried. The House of Commons took no proceedings against the mayor, but passed an ordinance that, if the mayor failed to call a meeting of the council on the requisition of six members, any forty of the members could convene the council without the lord-mayor's presence. After the execution of Charles on 30 Jan., Reynardson had official possession of the ‘personal treaty,’ which was an engagement subscribed by most of the common council in favour of the proposed treaty between Charles and the parliament. This contained the names of leading citizens who had by their signatures approved its loyal sentiments, and Reynardson burnt the incriminating document ‘to ashes privately in his chamber,’ says Smallwood in his ‘Memoir,’ ‘that nothing might remain to the prejudice of any.’ Notwithstanding the anxieties that beset him, Reynardson accepted the presidentship of St. Bartholomew's Hospital in February 1648–9. On 23 March a copy of the act proclaiming the abolition of the kingly office was brought to Reynardson's house, but he refused to make it public. He was thereupon summoned to the bar of the House of Commons. He pleaded his conscientious scruples; the house ordered him to pay a fine of 2,000l., to be imprisoned in the Tower for two months, and to be deposed from the mayoralty (cf. Triall and Examination of the Lord Mayor, 1649). The court of aldermen at once took possession of the insignia, and proceeded to the election of a new mayor.

The author and publisher of ‘A Vindication of the late Lord Mayor’ were arrested by order of the council of state (26 April). Reynardson's tenure of office had brought with it a heavy pecuniary burden. He lost, according to his own statement, as much as 20,000l. while mayor. He refused, however, to pay the fine imposed by parliament, and ‘his goods, household stuff, and wearing apparel were ordered to be sold by the candle.’ A balance still remained unpaid, and on 7 May 1651, an order was issued that the whole of his estate was to be seized until the fine was liquidated. He had in September 1649 resigned, on account of ill-health, the presidency of St. Bartholomew's.

Immediately after the Restoration, Reynardson and thirteen other members of the common council presented to the king a resolution from that body commending Reynardson's action in January 1648–9. Charles II knighted the members of the deputation (May 1660), but Reynardson appears to have been separately knighted by Charles on his visit to the Guildhall on 5 July. Reynardson was formally restored to the aldermanic office on 4 Sept., but declined, on account of ‘his sickly condition,’ the offer of the mayoralty for 1660–1. He died at Tottenham on 4 Oct. 1661. His body, after lying in state at Merchant Taylors' Hall till the 17th, was conveyed to the church of St. Martin Outwich. His widow was buried in the chancel of the same church on 14 July 1674, but no monument was raised to either, and their remains, with many others, were removed to the city of London cemetery at Ilford in 1874, when the church was demolished. His will, dated 10 May and proved 22 Oct. 1661, provided 300l. as a pension for six poor women of his company, and 140 ounces of silver to be made into a basin and ewer for use at the feasts. To the Merchant Taylors' Company he had lent large sums of money, and regularly attended the meetings of the court. During his lifetime he had presented two silver flagons and two gilt cups with covers to the communion table of the church of St. Martin Outwich. His extensive property included lands in Essex and Sussex, in addition to his manor-house at Tottenham, purchased in 1639. In 1640 he took an assignment of Sir W. Acton's house in Bishopsgate Street.

Reynardson was twice married. His first wife, Abigail, third daughter of Alderman Nicholas Crisp of Bread Street, died in July 1632. By her he had two sons born in the parish of St. Andrew Undershaft; only the second, Nicholas, survived the parents. His second wife was Eleanor, daughter of Richard Wynne of Shrewsbury. Of this marriage there were three sons and three daughters, all of whom survived their father.

Two portraits of Reynardson are preserved, one at Merchant Taylors' Hall, and another at Holywell Hall at Tottenham. These represent him in the robes of office, with the mace and sword lying beside him. A portrait of his second wife, Eleanor, was painted by Cornelius Janssen [q. v.] in 1648.

[Smallwood's Funeral Sermon, preached on 17 Oct. 1661; Burke's Landed Gentry; Clode's London during the Rebellion, 1894, passim, and references there given.]

C. W-h.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.233
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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36 ii 8-9 Reynardson, Sir Abraham: for Sir Nicholas Crisp [q. v.] read Alderman Nicholas Crisp