POWELL (APPOWELL), Edmund (by 1506-58/59), of New Windsor, Berks. and Sandford-on-Thames, Oxon.
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Family and Education
b. by 1506, s. of Morris ap Hywel of ‘Guernon’, Card. by Gille, da. of William Phillips. m. by 1542, Isabel, da. of (?Henry) Banester (?of Chesterton, Oxon.), 2s. 1da.1
Under steward, manor of Ewelme, Oxon. in 1537; j.p. Oxon. 1541-d., q. by 1554; commr. relief 1550; escheator, Oxon. and Berks. 1554-5.2
Edmund Powell’s pedigree shows the descent of his mother back three generations but not that of his father. Morris ap Hywel was probably of humble origin and in all likelihood may be identified with the man who sued out a pardon on Henry VIII’s accession as ‘Maurice Flood or Lloyd of London, alias Maurice Walshman late of Elsing, Norfolk, alias Maurice Appowell late of—, Oxfordshire, yeoman’. His father’s mobility and yeoman status, combined with the use of several aliases, would help to explain the obscurity of Edmund Powell’s early years, and a domicile in Oxfordshire his later acquisition of property in that county.3
The earliest reference to Powell occurs in the grant of a pension made to him on 29 June 1527 by the priory of Maiden Bradley, Wiltshire; for his ‘good and laudable counsel’, which suggests that he had a legal education, he was to receive 20s. a year for life out of the manor of Babington, Somerset. The John Phillips who leased Babington in the following year was probably related to Powell’s mother. In 1530 Powell, described as a gentleman of New Windsor, Berkshire, was granted by the priory an 88-year lease, in reversion after the death of the life-tenant, of a house in North Tidworth, Wiltshire. By 1537 he had found employment as under steward of the royal manor of Ewelme, Oxfordshire. Until his attainder in 1536 Henry Norris had been keeper of Ewelme and in 1538 Sir Francis Bryan was granted the office; Powell probably used his connexions with one or both of these prominent courtiers to further his own advancement. A lesser courtier, the wardrobe official Edward Lloyd, may have been Powell’s kinsman.4
By March 1541 Powell was already of sufficient stature in Oxfordshire to be included on the commission of the peace. In January 1542 he was granted, in exchange for his property in New Windsor and for £388, the manor of Sandford in Oxfordshire and other lands in Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Somerset, some of which he disposed of almost immediately. He may have been speculating on a small scale in the land market for in 1542 he purchased the rectory and advowson of Evenley, Northamptonshire, and sold it a month later. He made his second major purchase in 1544, paying £222 for scattered parcels of land in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire and a house in London which he immediately alienated to Robert King, perhaps a cousin. He consolidated his estate at Sandford in 1548 when he acquired the neighbouring priory of Littlemore from Sir John Gresham and Sir John Williams.5
Williams may also have been Powell’s kinsman by marriage and such a connexion would help to explain Powell’s return for Oxfordshire in 1555. He does not otherwise seem to have been of sufficient standing, although he was known to the sheriff, (Sir) Richard Brydges. He had already sat in the two previous years for Ludgershall under Brydges’s patronage and on the first occasion with Brydges as his fellow-Member: his elder son was to enter Brydges’s inn, the Middle Temple, in June 1554 and his property at North Tidworth lay about two miles from Ludgershall. Moreover, like Brydges, Powell was probably a Catholic: he opposed neither the reunion with Rome in Mary’s first Parliament nor a government bill in her fourth.
Little else is known of Powell’s career under Mary: he was associated with John Rastell of Gloucester in a lease of property in the city of Gloucester, and in 1555 he attended Cranmer’s trial at Oxford. In the first year of Elizabeth’s reign Powell and his sister-in-law, Margaret Worthington, brought a suit in the court of requests complaining of arrears owing on an annuity which Henry Banester of Chesterton, Oxfordshire, perhaps Powell’s father-in-law, had agreed to pay Margaret in 1546. Banester had since died and had committed all his goods to two Londoners, who refused to pay arrears. In 1550 another Henry Banester had accused an Oxford scholar in the chancellor’s court there of defaming his sister, Isabel Powell, and her husband. Powell was appointed to the first commission of the peace issued in Elizabeth’s reign but must have died shortly afterwards as his elder son, also Edmund, was in possession of Sandford in 1559. It was probably this son who was the Edmund Powell imprisoned in 1571 for complicity in planning the escape of Mary Queen of Scots. The family remained Catholic until in the 18th century the male line expired in two Franciscan friars.6
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: S. R. Johnson
- 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Vis. Oxon. (Harl. Soc. v), 287-8; LP Hen. VIII, xvii; C142/240/80.
- 2. LP Hen. VIII, xii, xvi, xvii, xx; CPR, 1547-8, p. 88; 1553, p. 357; 1554-5, pp. 23, 27.
- 3. LP Hen. VIII, i.
- 4. E315/240, ff. 157-8; Hoare, Wilts. Mere, 104; LP Hen. VIII, x.
- 5. LP Hen. VIII, xvii, xix; DKR, x. 255; VCH Oxon. v. 81, 270; VCH Glos. vi. 67; CPR, 1547-8, p. 302; F. G. Lee, Thame Church, 385.
- 6. E315/180, f. 95; Strype, Cranmer, 1072 Req.2/254/70; Oxf. Univ. Arch. T/S cal. chancellor’s ct. reg. GG, p. 77; C142/240/80; CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 436, 471; HMC Hatfield, i. 535, 537-9, 544-6, 549, 550, 553, 571-2; VCH Oxon. v. 274; Cath. Rec. Soc. xxii. 97 and n.