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Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Sir Simonds D'Ewes

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D'EWES, SIR SIMONDS (1602-1650), antiquarian, chronicler, and collector of historical records, was born at Coxden, in the parish of Chardstock, in Dorsetshire, on the 18th December 1602. His father, one of the six clerks of Chancery, possessed a large official income, and gave him a liberal education at the grammar-school of Bury St Edmxmds, and at St John s College, Cambridge. Called to the bar in 1623, he did not enter upon practice, being possessed of independent means, and having already resolved to devote himself to historical research. His in tention seems to have been to compile a history of Britain from original documents, and in endeavouring to carry it out he spent much of his time in examining historical records, which he describes as " the most ravishing and satisfying part of human knowledge," in the Tower of London and elsewhere. The chief results of this labour were his valuable collection of records originals and tran scripts which now form part of the Harleian collection in the British Museum, and his Journals of all the Parliaments in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, which, though completed in 1629, was first published by liis nephew, Paul Bowes, in 1682. His means had been considerably increased by his marriage with an heiress in 1626, soon after which he pro cured the honour of knighthood. One of his many foibles was a desire to establish for himself an aristocratic lineage, and his efforts to do this, in spite of the fact he is forced to admit, that he does not know who his great-grandfather was, are very amusing. In 1639 he became high sheriff of Suffolk, and in 1641 he was made a baronet. In the inter vening year he entered the Long Parliament as member for Sudbury. Here he obtained a peculiar place for him self by his whimsicality, and his parade of his knowledge of records, which he quoted at first in nearly every debate, sometimes relevantly, but oftener not. He was treated for a time with a sort of amused tolerance, but ultimately his innumerable interferences with the conduct of business had to be checked. He was not a very warm adherent of the cause of the Parliament against the king. Belonging to the Presbyterian section of the Puritan party, he was excluded from the House of Commons by " Pride s Purge " in 1648. He died on the 18th April 1650. The Autobio graphy and Correspondence of Sir Simonds D JZives, edited by J. O. Halliwell, was published in 1845, and possesses considerable historical value. Much more important, how ever, are his manuscript notes of the Long Parliament, describing its sittings between 1640 and 1645 with great graphic power and minuteness of detail. They form five volumes of the Harleian manuscripts in the British Museum, and have been largely drawn upon by John Forster and other writers on the period of the Long Parliament.