Yeamans, Robert (DNB00)

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YEAMANS or YEOMANS, ROBERT (d. 1643), royalist, came of a numerous Bristol family, and was probably nearly related to William Yeamans (1578–1632?), a graduate of Balliol College, Oxford, incumbent of St. Philip's, Bristol, where he was noted as a puritan, and from 1615 till his death prebendary of Bristol Cathedral (Foster, Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Le Neve, Fasti, i. 229; Hunt, Bristol, p. 146). Robert was a well-known merchant and councillor of Bristol, and in 1641–2 served as sheriff. He was royalist in his sympathies, and early in 1643 conceived a plan for betraying the city, which was then under the parliamentary governor Nathaniel Fiennes [q. v.], into the hands of Prince Rupert. He communicated with Charles I, who was then at Oxford, and the king sent him a commission to enlist men in his service. Rupert was to bring four thousand horse and two thousand foot to Durdham Down, and the royalists in Bristol, who were estimated at two thousand, were to seize the Frome-gate and admit Rupert's forces. The plot was to take effect on the night of 7 March 1642–3; but Fiennes heard of it, and on that day Yeamans and his principal confederates were arrested in his house in Wine Street. ‘A Brief Relation of the Plot’ was published by parliament on 13 March (London, 4to), various witnesses were examined in that and the following month, and on 8 May Yeamans was condemned to death by a court-martial as a traitor. Charles made great efforts to save him, and Lord Forth threatened to execute a similar number of parliamentary prisoners in his hands. The threat proved useless, and Yeamans was hanged opposite his house, and his remains were buried in Christ Church, Bristol. When Fiennes was himself on his trial his execution of Yeamans was one of the charges brought against him by Prynne.

He is said in the royalist accounts to have left by his wife, a kinswoman also named Yeamans, eight very young children, and a ninth was born posthumously. The eldest son is said to have been Sir John Yeamans [q. v.], and the second Sir Robert Yeamans, who, like his brother, was created a baronet on 31 Dec. 1666 and died without issue, being buried in St. Mary Redclyffe, Bristol, on 7 Feb. 1686–7. But both affiliations are fictitious; Sir John was born not later than 1611, and Sir Robert was baptised on 19 April 1617, and both were apparently sons of John Yeamans, brewer, of Redcliffe, whose will is dated 1645. Many other members of the family are mentioned as taking prominent part in local affairs at Bristol and at Barbados (Cal. State Papers, Dom. and America and West Indies, 1660 sqq. passim). The only child of the royalist whose relationship to him is established is his daughter Anne, who married Thomas Curtis, the quaker of Reading, and interceded for George Fox's release in 1660 (ib. Dom. 1660–1, p. 455; Fox, Journal, 1891, i. 479). Other members of the Yeamans family were quakers, and one of them married Isabel, daughter of Margaret Fell, and stepdaughter of Fox (ib. passim; Smith, Cat. Friends' Books, p. 968).

[The Severall Examinations and Confessions … London, 1643, 4to; The Two State Martyrs, London, 1643, 4to; Addit. MS. 24121, ff. 366, 368; Rushworth's Collection, III. ii. 152–154; Lists of Sheriffs, 1898; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1640–3, p. 462; Clarendon's Rebellion, ed. Macray, vii. 53; Gardiner's Civil War, i. 99; Hist. MSS. Comm. 5th Rep. App. p. 323; Commons' Journals, iii. 97; Duke of Portland's MSS. i. 47, 107, 114, 118; Warburton's Prince Rupert, ii. 140–1; Seyer's Memoirs of Bristol, ii. 341–400; Corry and Evans's Hist. of Bristol, i. 408; Washbourne's Bibl. Glouc. vol. ii. pp. xl, clii; Hunt's Bristol, pp. 146–9; Burke's Extinct Baronetcies; Gloucestershire Notes and Queries, ii. 94–5, v. 307–8, 431.]

A. F. P.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.286
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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308 i 19 Yeamans, Robert: for alderman read councillor