Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Shewen, William

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SHEWEN, WILLIAM (1631?–1695), quaker, was born probably in Bermondsey, London, about 1631. In 1654 the quakers were meeting in the parlour of his house, in a yard at the sign of the Two Brewers in Bermondsey Street. Here he carried on his business of pin-maker. On 24 April 1674 he carried on a disputation with Jeremiah Ives [q. v.] in the market-place at Croydon. On 4 March 1683, Horselydown meeting having been closed by the magistrates' order, the quakers assembled in the street, whereupon Shewen and some others were committed to Tooley Street counter as rioters. He removed to Enfield in 1686, and died there on 28 May 1695, being buried at Bunhill Fields. He married, in 1679, Ann Raper, a widow (d. 1706). In 1696 she gave 100l. to build a new meeting-house at Enfield, on condition of receiving interest for her life.

Shewen's publications include:

  1. ‘The Universality of the Light … asserted,’ 1674, 4to; this refers to the Croydon address of Ives.
  2. ‘William Penn and the Quaker in Unity, the Anabaptist mistaken and in Enmity,’ 1674, 4to, also in answer to Ives.
  3. ‘The True Christian's Faith and Experience briefly declared,’ 1675, 8vo; reprinted (with 4) 1679; reprinted 1767, 12mo, 1772, 1779; a new edit. London, 1806, 12mo; another edit. 1840; translated into German, with ‘A Few Words concerning Conscience,’ 1676–8, 12mo; extracts from it published by the Friends' Tract Association, London, 1850, 12mo.
  4. ‘A Few Words concerning Conscience,’ 1675, sm. 8vo.
  5. ‘A Small Treatise concerning Evil Thoughts and Imaginations,’ 1679, 8vo; reprinted (with 4) 1684, 12mo; also London, 1861, 12mo.
  6. ‘Counsel to the Christian Traveller,’ London, 1683, 8vo; reprinted 1764, 8vo; 3rd edit. 1769, 8vo; 4th edit. revised and corrected, to which is added ‘A Treatise concerning Thoughts,’ Dublin, 1771, 12mo; reprinted in America, Salem, 1793, 8vo, 6th edit. Dublin, 1827.
  7. ‘A Brief Testimony for Religion. … Presented to the consideration of all, but more especially those that may be chosen Members of Parliament, that they may see cause to concur with the King's Gracious Declaration for Liberty of Conscience,’ 1688, 4to.

[Whiting's Persecution Exposed, p. 239; Whitehead's Christian Progress, p. 594; Besse's Sufferings, i. 462, 689; Beck and Ball's London Friends' Meetings, pp. 215, 235, 301; Hildeburn's Issues of the Pennsylvania Press, i. 38; Smith's Cat. of Friends' Books, ii. 567; Richard Davies's Autobiography, 7th ed. 1844, p. 24; Registers at Devonshire House.]

C. F. S.