Born in the parish of Pencraig (Old Radnor), son of Hugh Lewis and Sibyl, daughter of Roger ap Watcyn Fychan, Hergest. W. Rowlands (Llyfryddiaeth, see under 1729) connects him, in error, with Maenor Owen, Pembrokeshire, and describes him as a great-grandfather of Richard Fenton, the Pembrokeshire historian. He was admitted to Lincoln's Inn 28 February 1562-3 (Lincoln's Inn Admissions) and called to the Bar after 4 June 1570 (Black Book of Lincoln's Inn). Pen. MS. 252, which is a collection of papers which belonged to him, the greater part being in his hand, shows that Lewis was acquainted with Dr. John David Rhys and John Dee. Part of the MS. consists of portions of John Lewis's own work, The History of Great Britain … which however, did not appear until over a century after the author's death, viz. in 1729, in which year it was published (in London) under the title of The History of Great Britain, … 'till the Death of Cadwalader, Last King of the Britains; and of the Kings of Scotland to Eugene V. As also A Short Account of the Kings, Dukes, and Earls of Bretagne, 'till that Dukedom was united to the Crown of France … By John Lewis, Esq.; Barrester at Law. Now first published from his Original Manuscript To which is added, The Breviary of Britayne, written in Latin by Humfrey Lhuyd, of Denbigh … and lately Englished by Thomas Twine. … The book was no doubt written to defend the traditional history of Wales against such critics as Polydore Vergil, to correct some statements made by Camden, and to vindicate Geoffrey of Monmouth. The work was edited by Hugh Thomas, the Brecknock genealogist and historian, who made some 'Additions' to the original work; Thomas probably used B.M. Harl. MS. 4872 and not Pen. MS. 252. B.M. Harl. MS. 6870 has the quarterings of John Lewis 'of Lhuynweney,' co. Radnor. The following extract (quoted by Edward Owen in his Catalogue, named below) from the copy (in B.M. Harl. MS. 6840) of the will (dated 14 September 1720) of Hugh Thomas is relevant: ' Whereas I have receiv'd several pounds towards printing my book now in ye press and begun by Mr. John Lewis of Llanwenny … ' John Lewis died at some time between 14 February 1614-5, when he dated his will, and 12 February 1615-6, when it was proved.
In addition to Pen. MS. 252, John Lewis owned Pen. MSS. 54 (i), 55 and 60, 67 and 79. (See also B.M. Add. MS. 6921.)
Published date: 1959
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In the light of the detailed article by Ffransis G. Payne in Radnorshire Soc. Trans., xxx (1960) the entry in DWB needs to be revised. It is unlikely that he is the John Lewis who entered Lincoln's Inn. It is more probable that he is the person who entered the Inner Temple, 20 August 1568. There is no certainty when he was called to the Bar. Like other members of his family, he was a Catholic recusant, and he was excommunicated by the Bishop of St. David's (Exch. Proc., 151/34/8, Jas. 1).
Published date: 1997