Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Edwin, Humphrey
EDWIN, Sir HUMPHREY (1642–1707), lord mayor of London, descended from the ancient family of Edwin of Herefordshire, was born at Hereford in 1642. He was the only son of William Edwin, twice mayor of Hereford, by his wife, Anne, of the family of Mansfield. Of his two sisters, Mary, the younger, became the wife of Sir Edward Dering, who in 1701 wrote a curious book bewailing her death entitled 'The most excellent Maria, in a brief character of her incomparable virtues and goodness.' Edwin came to London, and in or before 1670 married Elizabeth, the daughter of Samuel Sambrooke, a wealthy London merchant of the ward of Bassishaw, and sister of Sir Jeremy Sambrooke. He began business as a merchant in Great St. Helen's, and here his four eldest children were born—Samuel, baptised 12 March 1671; Humphrey, 24 Feb. 1673; Thomas, 4 July 1676; and Charles, 7 Feb. 1677 (St. Helen's, Bishopsgate, Reg. of Baptisms). He afterwards appears to have removed to the neighbouring parish of St. Peter-le-Poor, where his son Samuel was living at the time of his marriage in September 1697 (Chester, Marriage Licenses, ed. Foster, col. 444). His marriage and success in trade (probably as a wool merchant) brought him great wealth. In 1678 he was admitted a freeman of the Barber-Surgeons' Company by redemption, becoming afterwards an assistant of the company, and master in 1688. In 1694, however, he was dismissed from the office of assistant for his continued non-attendance at the court meetings. He afterwards became a member of the company of Skinners. Edwin was a nonconformist, and very firm in his opinions. This seems to have brought him under the notice of James II, who was anxious to conciliate the dissenters, in order to obtain their help in relaxing the penal laws against the Roman catholics. On 11 Oct. 1687 he was sworn in as alderman of Tower ward, on the direct appointment of the king, in the place of Sir John Chapman, discharged by the royal mandate. On the 18th of the following month the king knighted him at Whitehall, and a few weeks later appointed him sheriff of Glamorganshire for the ensuing year (London Gazette, No. 2308). It was probably before this that he purchased the considerable estate and mansion of Llanmihangel Plas in Glamorganshire, from Sir Robert Thomas, bart., the last of a long line of manorial lords of that name (Nicholas, Hist, of Glamorganshire, 1874, p. 125).
In August 1688 Edwin was chosen sheriff of London and Middlesex, entering upon his duties on 11 Oct. following. The year was an eventful one. In December Edwin, with his colleague and the aldermen of London, attended the Prince of Orange on his entry into London, and took part in February in the proclamation of the king and queen in Cheapside and at the Royal Exchange. On 25 Oct. Edwin was elected alderman of the ward of Cheap, in succession to William Kiffen, the baptist minister [q. v.], who suffered notorious persecution from James II, but he again removed, 22 Oct. 1689, to Tower ward, which he continued to represent until his death. He and six others were appointed by the king, in April 1689, commissioners of excise, but in the following September all were dismissed excepting Edwin and Sir Henry Ashurst, and other wealthy citizens were appointed in their room. Edwin continued to hold the office, to which a salary of 1,000l. was attached, until April 1691. Edwin took a prominent part in the military affairs of the city. Besides being an officer of the Artillery Company, he became captain of the regiment of horse volunteers, a corps of four hundred citizens, established in July 1689 and maintained at their own expense, with the king as their colonel and the Earl of Monmouth as lieutenant-colonel. He was also colonel of a regiment of the trained bands; but in March 1690, on the churchmen becoming a majority in the court of lieutenancy, Edwin and five other aldermen who held nonconformist opinions, were turned out, and five others belonging to the church party chosen in their places. In the following year Edwin was the victim of a malicious prosecution conducted by Sir Bartholomew Shower, afterwards recorder of London. He was indicted for perjury, and a true bill found against him in November 1691 by the grand jury of Ossulston hundred in Middlesex; but upon his trial in the following February he was acquitted. In a contemporary pamphlet the prosecution is described as 'so unjust that the L. C. J. Holt, seeing it proceeded from the depth of malice, would not suffer Sir Humphry to swear all his witnesses, there being no need of any further proofs at his trial' (A Letter to an honest citizen cone, the election of a Recorder for the City of London, by T. S., 1692, Guildhall Library, Tracts, vol. cciii. No. 24). From two treasury minutes dated 5 July 1694 and 20 Oct. 1696, Edwin appears to have owned extensive property in Westminster, adjoining Westminster Hall and the clock house (Cal of Treas. Papers, 1557-1696, pp. 377, 554). He also had a town house at Kensington (Hatton, New View of London, i. 33), and added to his Glamorganshire property by the possession of the castle and lordship of Ogmore, the lease of which was renewed to him in 1702 (Notes and Queries, 6th ser. xi. 486). In September 1697 Samuel, the eldest son of Sir Humphrey, was married to Lady Catherine Montague, daughter of the Earl of Manchester, and on the 30th of the same month Edwin was elected lord mayor, the customary mayoralty pageant being omitted, owing doubtless to his religious principles (Fairholt, Lord Mayors' Pageants, Percy Soc. vol. x, pt. ii. pp. 283-4). Shortly after his accession to office (6 Nov. 1697) William III, who returned home after the treaty of Ryswick, made a magnificent public entry into London. The reception was the grandest spectacle witnessed in the city since the Restoration.
Soon after his election Edwin gave great offence by attending a nonconformist worship on the afternoons of Sunday, 31 Oct. and 7 Nov., in full civic state. A meeting of the court of aldermen was held on Tuesday, 9 Nov., to consider a complaint of the sword-bearer against the lord mayor for compelling his attendance on the occasion, when the lord mayor was deserted by all his officers except the sword-bearer, who was locked in a pew (Luttrell, iv. 303). According to the official minute, the court took notice that the lord mayor had 'for two Lords dayes past in the aftemoones gone to private meetmgs with the Sword.' His lordship promised to forbear the practice for the future, and it was ordered 'that the like practice shall not be used for the time to come' (City Records, Rep. 102, fol. 11). A letter written 11 Nov. states that the meeting-house attended by the lord mayor was More's. Wilson and others state that it was Pinners' Hall; a contemporary skit, 'A Dialogue between Jack and Will,' describes it as Salters' Hall. Burnet says that the bill for preventing occasional conformity had its origin in Edwin's state visit to Pinners' Hall (Hist. V. 49).
Edwin's unwise action roused all the bitterness of the high church party and caused an angry literary controversy. Dr. Nicholls led the attack in his 'Apparat. ad Def. Eccles. Angl.,' and was answered by James Peirce (Vindication of the Dissenters, pt. i. p. 276) and by Calamy(Abridgment,i.561). A young clergyman named Edward Oliver, preaching before Edwin in St. Paul's Cathedral towards the close of his mayoralty (22 Oct. 1698), had the bad taste to declaim against the nonconformist mode of worship. The sermon soon appeared in print and was answered by a pamphlet, of which two editions were published, entitled 'A Rowland for an Oliver, or a Sharp Rebuke for a Saucy Levite.... By a Lover of Unity.' Edwin had also to face the ridicule of the stage and the lampoons of the wits of the day. The two following brochures are preserved in the Guildhall Library: 'A Dialogue betwixt Jack and Will concerning the Lord Mayor's going to Meeting-houses, with the Sword carried before him,' London, 1697, 4to, and 'The Puritanical Justice, or the Beggars turn'd Thieves,' London, 1698, 4to.
Penkethman, in his comedy of 'Love without Interest,' 1699, has the following allusion: 'If you'll compound for a catch, I'll sing you one of my Lord Mayor's going to Pin-makers Hall to hear a sniveling non-conseparatist divine divide and subdivide into the two and thirty points of the compass.' Swift, in his 'Tale of a Tub,' by way of satirising the toleration of dissenters, states that Jack's tatters are coming into fashion both in court and city, and describes Edwin under the name of Jack getting upon a great horse and eating custard. A satiric print illustrating the text is given in the fifth edition of the 'Tale of a Tub' (sect. xi. p. 233); this is somewhat altered in later editions; the scene is Ludgate Hill, showing the gate, with St. Paul's in the background. De Foe wrote a pamphlet bearing the title 'An Enquiry into the Occasional Conformity of Dissenters in Cases of Preferment; with a Preface to the Lord Mayor, occasioned by his carrying the Sword to a Conventicle,' London, 1697.
The remainder of Edwin's mayoralty passed off without event and apparently with credit to himself. Many corporate offices fell vacant during the year, by which he received the large sum of 4,000l. Towards the end of May he temporarily retired through illness, with the king's leave, to his house at Kensington, Sir Robert Clayton filling his place in his absence (Luttrell, iv. 386).
Edwin died on 14 Dec. 1707 at his seat in Llanmihangel, where a monument to his memory remains in the parish church. His widow died in London on 22 Nov. 1714, and was subsequently buried beside him at Llanmihangel. He left no will, but administration was granted to his son Charles on 19 Feb. 1707-8. Towards the erection of the London workhouse, which was begun in his mayoralty, he gave 100l. and a pack of wool. Besides the children already mentioned Edwin had four daughters and a fifth son, John, from whom is descended the present Earl of Crawford and Balcarres.[Memoir of the family of Edwin, by J. Edwin-Cole, in Nichols's Herald and Genealogist, vi. 54-62; Wilson's Life of De Foe. i. 270-4; Duncumb's Herefordshire; Luttrell's Relation; Extracts from the Barber-Surgeons' Company's Records, furnished by Mr. Sydney Young; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. iv. 389; Chetham Society's publications, xxi. 248.]