HEWER, William (1642-1715), of Gauden House, Clapham, Surr.
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Family and Education
b. 17 Nov. 1642, o.s. of Thomas Hewer, stationer, of London by Anne, sis. of Robert Blackburne of London, sec. of Admiralty 1652-June 1660. unm. suc. fa. 1665.1
Clerk, navy office July 1660-79; dep. judge-advocate of the navy 1677; member, R. Fishery Co. 1677; treas. of Tangier 1680-4; commr. of navy 1685-9; committee, E.I. Co. 1698-1709, dep. governor 1704-6, 1708-9, direction, 1709-13.2
Asst. Clothworkers’ Co. 1684, master 1686-7; member of shipwrights’ co., Rotherhithe 1686; j.p. Essex, Hants, Kent, Mdx., Suff., Surr., Suss. and Westminster 1687-9; commr. for assessment, Westminster 1689; dep. lt. Surr. 1702-d.3
Hewer’s father supplied stationery to the Admiralty, but a more important influence on his career was his maternal uncle, who was at the centre of naval affairs during the Interregnum. At the Restoration he was succeeded by Samuel Pepys, to whom he recommended Hewer as a clerk. Like his master he prospered in the service of the crown, and Blackburne, who had become secretary to the East India Company, obtained permission for him to indulge in one or two private trading ventures. By 1675 he was worth £16,500. He wrote to Pepys:
the kindness you are pleased to express towards me, and more particularly your regard of my mother, is such that I want words to express my thankfulness. ... Living or dying, I shall remain to the end your faithful servant.
His gratitude stood the severe test of the exclusion crisis, when Pepys wrote from the Tower that he had received from Hewer ‘all the care, kindness, and faithfulness of a son on this occasion, for which God reward him if I cannot’. Succeeding his master as treasurer of Tangier, he was able to purchase the fine house in Clapham built by the naval victualler, Sir Dennis Gawden, and by the Revolution held £3,500 in East India stock.4
On the accession of James II Hewer was made a naval commissioner, and elected at Yarmouth on the government interest. An active Member, he was appointed to 12 committees, including the committee of elections and privileges and those to recommend expunctions from the Journals and to estimate the yield of a tax on new buildings. His legislative interest covered the encouragement of ship-building, the relief of London widows and orphans, and the rebuilding of St. Paul’s Cathedral. After the recess he helped to draw up the address against the employment of Roman Catholic officers. But in a speech sometimes attributed to William Ettrick he moved for £700,000 to be raised by a tax on new buildings and a poll-tax. He must have given satisfaction to the Court, for he was retained on the navy board and was recommended to Sir Robert Holmes as court candidate for Yarmouth in 1688. His name appeared on the panel for the jury at the trial of the Seven Bishops, although he was not called on to serve.5
On James’s flight Hewer wrote to Pepys:
You may rest assured that I am wholly yours, and that you shall never want the utmost of my constant, faithful and personal service. ... As all I have proceeded from you, so all I have and am is and shall be at your service.
The note was endorsed by Pepys as ‘a letter of great tenderness at a time of difficulty’. Like Pepys, he was removed from office and arrested on suspicion of treason on 4 May 1689. He was released on bail in the following month and never brought to trial. But he was not re-employed in public office, though his former services were recognized by the grant of an allowance in 1701. By this time he was a prominent member of the East India board, and was able to afford Pepys permanent hospitality in his house. He died on 3 Dec. 1715 and was buried at Clapham, the only member of the family to enter Parliament.6
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Paula Watson
- 1. Soc. of Genealogists, Boyd’s London Units 22085; Pepys Diary, 17 July 1660; J. H. M. Burgess, Chrons. of Clapham, 17, 118.
- 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. vi. 2, 494; Add. 38871, ff. 13-17.
- 3. CSP Dom. 1686-7, p. 21.
- 4. G. E. Aylmer, State’s Servants, 266-7; Cal. Ct. Mins. E.I. Co. ed. Sainsbury, ix. 113; A. Bryant, Pepys, ii. 148, 277-9, 302-3, 328; Pepys Letters ed. Heath, 74; Burgess, 114; Add. 22185, f. 14.
- 5. Lowther diary, f. 40; CSP Dom. 1687-9, p. 276; Ellis Corresp. ii. 2.
- 6. Bryant, iii. 148, 187, 250, 281; CSP Dom. 1700-2, p. 469.