Born 14 May 1780 in London, he was the son of John Lewis of Harpton Court, and came of a family of distinction in the public and parliamentary life of Radnorshire. He became M.P. for Beaumaris in 1812, and sat successively for that borough, for Ennis (County Clare, Ireland), and for Radnorshire until 1834. He was given minor offices in Tory administrations (including that of treasurer of the navy at a salary of £2,000 a year by Wellington in 1830, an appointment which brought much criticism on the government). He drafted the very remarkable report of 1817 on the poor law which first brought its abuses to the attention of the public. This led in 1834 to his appointment, by his political opponents, as chairman of the new Poor Law Commission (at a salary of £2,000 a year). He thereupon surrendered his seat in parliament. He played an outstanding part in the early years of the Commission, but resigned in 1839, being replaced by his son, George Cornewall Lewis. His wide experience led to his appointment in 1843 as chairman of the commission to enquire into the Rebecca Riots (a service for which he declined any remuneration). This commission took evidence at various places in South Wales between 25 October and 13 December, and presented a report on 6 March 1844. Lewis was created a baronet on 27 June 1846. He re-entered parliament as member for Radnor boroughs in 1847, and held the seat till his death at Harpton Court on 22 January 1855. He was an accomplished administrator, but lacked the brilliance of his distinguished son.
Published date: 1959
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