Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 46.djvu/269

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respondence came through Mr. [Ralph] Montague's means, but I have since kept it by my own and very secretly.’ Powle, like Harbord and Lyttleton, finally accepted a pension from Barillon of five hundred guineas a year (Dalrymple, i. 381).

After Danby's committal to the Tower and Charles's acceptance of Sir William Temple's abortive scheme of government by a new composite privy council of thirty members, Powle was, with four other commoners, admitted to that body on 21 April 1678. Four days later James, duke of York, wrote to Colonel George Legge, ‘I am very glad to heare Mr Powel is like to be advanced, and truly I believe he will be firme to me, for I look on him as a man of honour.’ To the new parliament, which was called for October 1679, Powle was returned for Cirencester. But parliament was prorogued from time to time without assembling, and Powle, acting on Shaftesbury's advice, retired from the council on 17 April, after Charles had declared at a meeting of it his resolution to send for the Duke of York from Scotland (Christie, ii. 356). Parliament met at length in October 1680. Powle at once arraigned the conduct of the chief justice, Scroggs, who had just discharged the grand jury before they were able to consider Shaftesbury's indictment of the Duke of York. In the renewed debates on the Exclusion Bill Powle did not go all lengths. ‘The king (he urged) has held you out a handle, and I would not give him occasion to say that this house is running into a breach with him.’ Yet in the proceedings of December 1680 against Lord Stafford, he took a vehement part (Evelyn, Diary, ii. 158–9).

Although returned for East Grinstead to Charles's Oxford parliament (20 March 1680–1 and 28 March 1681), Powle thenceforth took little share in politics till the revolution. The interval he is said to have spent in the practice of law. But he had other interests to occupy him. He was a member of the Royal Society, and was probably for part of the time abroad. At the revolution he at once gained the confidence of William III. On 16 Dec. 1688 he and Sir Robert Howard held a long and private interview with the prince at Windsor (Clarendon Corresp. ii. 228). When William called together at St. James's a number of members of Charles II's parliaments and common councilmen, Powle attended at the head of 160 former members of the House of Commons. On their return to Westminster to consider the best method of calling a free parliament, he was chosen chairman. He bluntly asserted that ‘the wish of the prince is sufficient warrant for our assembling;’ and on the following morning he read addresses to William, praying that he would assume the administration and call a convention. To the Convention parliament Powle was returned, with Sir Christopher Wren, for the borough of New Windsor, and he was immediately voted to the chair over the head of his old opponent, Sir Edward Seymour (22 Jan. 1688–9).

Powle's speech on the opening of the convention exercised much influence on the subsequent debates. As speaker, he congratulated William and Mary on their coronation, 13 April 1689, and presented to William the Bill of Rights on 16 Dec. 1689. Powle was summoned, with seven other commoners, to William's first privy council, and, on the remodelling of the judicial bench, when Hall was appointed justice of the king's bench and Sir Robert Atkyns chief baron, Powle, on 13 March 1689–90, received the patent of master of the rolls (Foss, vii. 294). His patent at first ran ‘durante beneplacito,’ but on the following 14 June a new one was substituted, bearing the phrase ‘quamdiu se bene gesserit’ (Luttrell, Relation, ii. 140).

So long as the convention sat, William constantly relied on Powle's advice. When he laid down his office at the dissolution of February 1690, he was allowed, even by his rival Seymour, to have kept order excellently well. Powle was returned for Cirencester for William's first parliament, which met on 20 March 1689–90, but was unseated on petition. Powle thereupon devoted himself to his duties as master of the rolls, and successfully claimed, in accordance with precedent, a writ of summons to attend parliament as an assistant to the House of Lords (Lords' Journals, xiv. 578, 583). He spoke in the upper house in favour of the Abjuration Bill on 24 April 1690, yet wished the oath imposed sparingly and only on office-holders. He died intestate on 21 Nov. 1692 (Hist. MSS. Comm. 12th Rep. v. 139), and was buried within the communion-rails of Quenington church, Gloucestershire, where a monument was erected to his memory. He is there described as master of the rolls and one of the judges delegates of the admiralty.

Burnet said of Powle's oratory, ‘When he had time to prepare himself he was a clear and strong speaker;’ but Speaker Onslow deprecated the qualification, declaring ‘I have seen many of his occasional speeches, and they are all very good’ (Burnet, Own Time, ii. 82). Powle's historical, legal, and antiquarian knowledge was highly esteemed. With the aid of John Bagford, he formed a large library of manuscripts and records. A few of these now constitute the nucleus of