Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Powell, Robert

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1196000Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 46 — Powell, Robert1896William Arthur Shaw

POWELL, ROBERT (fl. 1636–1652), legal writer, was probably related to the Powells of Pengethley, Herefordshire. To that family belonged his client in 1638, Sir Edward Powell (d. 1653), a master of requests. Powell describes himself in 1634 as ‘of Wells, one of the Society of New Inn,’ and as having enjoyed for twenty-five years a good practice as a solicitor in Gloucestershire (Life of Alfred, ded.). As late as 1652 he was bailiff and deputy-sheriff of the county (State Papers, Dom. Jac. I. cliii. 17). He is perhaps the Robert Powell of Westminster who was licensed to marry Katherine Smith of St. Margaret's, Westminster, on 13 Aug. 1618 (Marriage Licenses, Harl. Soc. xxiii. 24).

Powell wrote: 1. ‘The Life of Alfred, or Alured; the first Instituter of Subordinate Government in this Kingdome and Refounder of the University of Oxford, together with a Parallel of our Sovereign Lord, King Charles, untill this Yeare 1634,’ London, 1634; dedicated to Walter Curle, bishop of Winchester. He says ‘I was first set on to this work by reading’ the ‘Regia Majestas,’ (1613), by Sir John Skene [q. v.] 2. ‘Depopulation arraigned, convicted, and condemned by the Lawes of God and Man,’ London, 1636; dedicated to Sir John Bankes [q. v.], attorney-general. At page 1 Powell says, ‘I have in another treatise handled the great offence of forestallers and ingrossers of corn.’ Of this treatise nothing is now known. 3. ‘A Treatise of the Antiquity, Authority, Uses, and Jurisdiction of the Ancient Courts of Leet or View of Franck Pledge and of Subordination of Government derived from the institution of Moses, and the first Imitation of him in the Island of Great Britaine by King Alfred, together with additions and alterations of the Modern Lawes and Statutes inquirable at those Courts until the present Year, 1643,’ London, 1642; dedicated to the members of the parliament, the speaker, and John Selden. The work was examined by Sir Edward Coke in 1634 and was referred by Coke to Thomas Tesdall, esq., of Gray's Inn, who perused it and sanctioned it on 13 July 1636. Its publication was delayed by the decree of the Star-chamber limiting the press. Another Robert Powell of Parkhall, Shropshire, born in 1599, was son of Thomas Powell, and matriculated from Hart Hall, Oxford, in October 1616. In 1644 (14 July) he came ‘with his family to Oswestry, to raise a regiment of horse’ in behalf of the parliament, and Colonel Mitton asked for a commission for him (Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. p. 368). On 10 Nov. 1646 parliament appointed him high sheriff of Shropshire (ib. vi. 139; Lords' Journals, viii. 560).

[Authorities cited; Powell's works; Notes and Queries, 7th ser. xii. 307.]

W. A. S.