1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/D'Ewes, Sir Simonds

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7926571911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 8 — D'Ewes, Sir Simonds

D’EWES, SIR SIMONDS, Bart. (1602–1650), English antiquarian, eldest son of Paul D’Ewes of Milden, Suffolk, and of Cecilia, daughter and heir of Richard Simonds, of Coaxdon or Coxden, Dorsetshire, was born on the 18th of December 1602, and educated at the grammar school of Bury St Edmunds, and at St John’s College, Cambridge. He had been admitted to the Middle Temple in 1611, and was called to the bar in 1623, when he immediately began his collections of material and his studies in history and antiquities. In 1626 he married Anne, daughter and heir of Sir William Clopton, of Luton’s Hall in Suffolk, through whom he obtained a large addition to his already considerable fortune. On the 6th of December he was knighted. He took an active part as a strong Puritan and member of the moderate party in the opposition to the king’s arbitrary government in the Long Parliament of 1640, in which he sat as member for Sudbury. On the 15th of July he was created a baronet by the king, but nevertheless adhered to the parliamentary party when war broke out, and in 1643 took the Covenant. He was one of the members expelled by Pride’s Purge in 1648, and died on the 18th of April 1650. He had married secondly Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Henry Willoughby, Bart., of Risley in Derbyshire, by whom he had a son, who succeeded to his estates and title, the latter becoming extinct on the failure of male issue in 1731. D’Ewes appears to have projected a work of very ambitious scope, no less than the whole history of England based on original documents. But though excelling as a collector of materials, and as a laborious, conscientious and accurate transcriber, he had little power of generalization or construction, and died without publishing anything except an uninteresting tract, The Primitive Practice for Preserving Truth (1645), and some speeches. His Journals of all the Parliaments during the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, however, a valuable work, was published in 1682. His large collections, including transcripts from ancient records, many of the originals of which are now dispersed or destroyed, are in the Harleian collection in the British Museum. His unprinted Diaries from 1621–1624 and from 1643–1647, the latter valuable for the notes of proceedings in parliament, are often the only authority for incidents and speeches during that period, and are amusing from the glimpses the diarist affords of his own character, his good estimation of himself and his little jealousies; some are in a cipher and some in Latin.

Extracts from his Autobiography and Correspondence from the MSS. in the British Museum were published by J. O. Halliwell-Phillips in 1845, by Hearne in the appendix to his Historia vitae et regni Ricardi II. (1729), and in the Bibliotheca topographica Britannica, No. xv. vol. vi. (1783); and from a Diary of later date, College Life in the Time of James I. (1851). His Diaries have been extensively drawn upon by Forster, Gardiner, and by Sanford in his Studies of the Great Rebellion. Some of his speeches have been reprinted in the Harleian Miscellany and in the Somers Tracts.