BOWYER, Edmund (1552-1627), of Camberwell, Surr.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

b. 12 May 1552, 1st s. of John Bowyer of Camberwell by his 2nd w. Elizabeth, da. of Robert Draper. educ. L. Inn 1569, called 1577. m.1573, Katherine, da. of William Bynd of Washington, Suss., s.p. suc. fa. c.1570. Kntd. 1603.

Offices Held

J.p. Surr. from 1582; sheriff, Surr. and Suss. 1600-1; dep. lt. Surr. by 1614.2


Returned for Morpeth on an unexpected vacancy caused by Robert Carey’s choosing to sit for a Cornish borough, Bowyer’s patron was presumably Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon, the lord chamberlain, though no explicit connexion has been found between them. The 1st Baron Hunsdon died in 1596, and Bowyer’s return for Southwark in the following year would be attributable easily enough to his local standing, were it not that a former servant of the 1st Baron Hunsdon, Zachariah Lok, was returned for Southwark in 1601. This may be no more than coincidence, Lok’s father being a London merchant, but it raises the possibility that the same family whose patronage has to be invoked for Bowyer at Morpeth had some say in the return of Bowyer and Lok at Southwark.

Bowyer took no active part in the proceedings of the 1593 Parliament, but in 1597 he served on five committees, concerned with privileges (5 Nov.), armour and weapons (8 Nov.), monopolies (10 Nov.), the relief of the poor (22 Nov.) and a private bill for the manor of Paris Garden, which was delivered to him on 19 Jan. 1598.3

In 1583, Bowyer added to his Surrey property by purchasing one-fifth of the manor of Camberwell Buckingham, and from the 1590s he was active in local administration. From 1590 onwards, for instance, he was frequently called on as a commissioner for debt; in 1593 he compounded for purveyance on behalf of his county; and in August 1594 he was appointed a subsidy commissioner. He was still exercising the duties of a deputy lieutenant 18 months before his death. He was one of the three original governors of the free grammar school of Camberwell, founded under letters patent granted in September 1615, and in September 1616 he was present at the consecration of Dulwich College, to whose founder he had sold lands some years previously.4

In his will, dated 11 July 1626, he asked to be buried in the chancel of Camberwell church close to his late wife, that the ceremony be in the day time with the honours due to a knight, and that he should not be disembowelled. He also gave full instructions about the monument he wanted. Most of his real property and also his books, both at home and at Lincoln’s Inn, he left to his nephew Edmund, then a minor, son of his brother Benjamin; two other nephews, sons of his brother Gregory, inherited property at Crowhurst, Oxted and Wandsworth, Surrey. He left bequests for the repair of the highways in Camberwell, and for the poor of this and three other Surrey parishes, and appointed as executors his friend Sir Francis Gofton and his ‘ancient faithful servant’ Martin Cheke, giving them the custody of Edmund, his nephew and heir. He died 18 Feb. 1627.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: J.E.M.


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. W. H. Blanch, Camberwell (1877), 33, 175; Vis. Surr. (Harl. Soc. xliii), 31-2; Manning and Bray, Surr. iii. 408-9; PCC 34 Lyon; CSP Dom. 1591-4, p. 191; HMC 7th Rep. 670b.
  • 3. D’Ewes, 552, 553, 555, 561, 583.
  • 4. Manning and Bray, iii. 406; APC, xx. 38; HMC 7th Rep. 651a, 652b, 676a; Blanch, 251, appx. p. xliii.
  • 5. PCC 26 Skinner; Wards 7/75/17.