About William Beaw
Soldier in the army of Charles I and the Tsar. Bishop of Llandaff 1679-1704.
Wrote a moving epitaph for Ben Jonson: http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=dh9qaAuHFLAC&pg=PT374&lpg=PT374&dq=%22william+bew%22+llandaff&source=bl&ots=R_VfATE3df&sig=n2VZrQ7wLOxWzl4HTOo4LOA8RE8&hl=en&sa=X&ei=UJhrUr6AFo3Vsgar6IBg&ved=0CEQQ6AEwBDgK#v=onepage&q=%22william%20bew%22%20llandaff&f=false
WILLIAM BEAW: A CAVALIER BISHOP by Bickham Sweet-Escott
THERE are three main contemporary sources known to the writer for the life of this colourful but rather controversial personality, who was by turn scholar, major in the Royalist cavalry, soldier of fortune in the Baltic, and finally a bishop in Wales. One is his entry in the Heralds' Visitation of Monmouthshire of 1683. This is printed by Sir Joseph Bradney in vol. IV, part 1 of his monumental history of that county (published in 1929), together with the result of his own researches into Beaw's descendants. The second is a letter written on 21 August 1699 by Beaw himself from his living at Adderbury in Oxford to Tenison, archbishop of Canterbury, describing his long career and his attempts to obtain preferment. The letter is expressed in exceedingly vivid language, and will be quoted here in extenso. But Beaw was eighty-four at the time the letter was written and he has, perhaps intelligibly, omitted many dates and names which would have aided further research. It is preserved in Lambeth Palace under the reference MS. 930, folio 49.
The third source needs some explanation. It consists of a manuscript note dated Gileston, 14 June 1849, headed 'Copy of manuscript of Revd William Willis: some accounts relating to Dr. William Beaw, late Bishop of Llandaff'. There follows a short note on his life, the original of which was clearly written some time after Beaw's death, and is referred to below as Willis MS. 1. The next 'account' in this series of papers is a copy of the history of Beaw's life which can be dated, from internal evidence, to 1702. It is written in the third person, but the style is almost unmistakably that of Beaw's own letters. This will be referred to below as Willis MS. 2. It is followed by a copy (Willis MS. 3) of a third 'account' dated 23 April 1702, similarly in the third person, but again almost certainly composed by Beaw himself. A footnote to this account states that 'the original manuscripts of which this is a copy are in the possession of the Rev. Samuel Willis, Rector of Elworthy'. The last few pages of the 1849 manuscript contain a few random notes on Beaw's life, and an extract from Browne Willis's survey of Llandaff cathedral in 1717.
The manuscript of 1849, which is now in the writer's possession, was found by him in 1935 in an outhouse at Hartrow Manor in Somerset, where it had lain since 1913 when his cousin, the late E. H. Sweet-Escott, bought the contents of Willet House nearby on the death of his kinswoman, Miss Margaret Blommart. The Blommarts, like the Willises (though not Browne Willis) and the writer, were direct descendants of Beaw; and Gileston Manor, in Glamorgan, was in 1849 owned by a descendant of the Willis family. There is no reason therefore to doubt the authenticity of the copies, though it is probable that Willis MSS. 2 and 3, being copies of demonstrably contemporary documents, are more valuable than Willis MS. 1. It has not been possible to trace the originals said in the above-mentioned footnote to be in the possession of the Rev. Samuel Willis. He died in 1818, however, and it therefore seems likely that the manuscript of 1849 was copied from some earlier note written before 1818. Indeed it may be that the originals had perished before 1849, and that this was the reason why it was thought desirable in 1849 to make a copy of an earlier note written before 1818.
William Beaw was born in 16151 at Hagbourn in Berkshire, near the present atomic energy research station at Harwell. According to the pedigree he entered with the College of Arms, he was the son of another William Beaw and of Elizabeth, the sister of Dr. William Twisse, D.D., the well-known Puritan divine. The Beaws were a long-lived family. The bishop lived to the age of 90; his father, William, died at the age of 93, and his grandfather, another William, also of Hagboum, at the age of 90. His great- grandfather, whose age is not recorded, was according to the same source a certain Jean Beau of London, the son of Guillaum Beau, colonel of a foot regiment at the siege of Boulogne in 1544. The status of the Beaw family settled at Hagbourn is uncertain, for whilst the entry relating to the bishop in Alumni Oxonienses describes his father as 'pleb', Willis MS. 1 describes him as 'gent', and he himself possessed a coat of arms duly described in the 1683 Visitation, though this he may not have inherited. At all events he was entered as a scholar at Winchester College in 1629, and matriculated at New College on 6 November 1635 under the name of Bew, the spelling of his name both then and later being a little uncertain. He had already been admitted as a probationary Fellow of the College on 19 September 1635, and, taking his B.A. on 13 June 1637, was elected a full Fellow on 19 September of the (Alumni Oxonienses says that he matriculated in 1635 aged 18. which would make the date of his birth 1617. Similarly the Winchester College records say that he was entered at Winchester in 1629 at the age of 11. But Willis MSS. 1 and 3 both give the date of his birth as 1615, and so does Browne Willis in his survey of the Cathedral Church of Llandaff published in 1717.
( From the Lambeth manuscript it is evident that for the next five years he continued to enjoy his fellowship and to 'act as tutor to many of his house' until the Civil War broke out. He did not at this stage take holy orders.)
At the beginning of the war in 1642, so he wrote to Archbishop Tenison in 1699, 'out of zeal to my Religion and my king (animated by his presence) I took up arms in the cause of both'. Willis MS. 3 adds that 'before the fight of Edgehih" he left his 'studies and advantages' and went into the king's service, 'carrying with him of his Pupils and other scholars and gentlemen no less than 12', whose names are then given. These accounts raise a little difficulty, in that Charles I was not in Oxford between the outbreak of war and the battle of Edgehill. The town was occupied for the king on 23 August by Lord Byron, and thereafter hurriedly evacuated by the Royalist troops. It may be that it was Lord Byron's forces that Beaw joined, and that in his old age, when his letter to Tenison was written, he forgot that the king was not actually in Oxford on that occasion.
The details of Beaw's military career are uncertain. If he joined Byron at Oxford in August 1642, it seems probable that he was present at the battle of Edgehill in the following October, and being a cavalryman it is possible that he galloped in Prince Rupert's famous charge. It also appears that he took part in some of the later marches and countermarches in Wales and the west, for in his letter to Tenison he says that 'in the late Wars' he had been 'quartered all up and down' North Wales and the vicinity of St. Asaph, where he was apparently well-known. What is certain is that his promotion was rapid, for as Willis MS. 2 says, 'from trailing a pike he became by degrees a Major of horse', and this is repeated in Willis MS. 3. It is certain, also, from the evidence of Willis manuscript and the Tenison letter, that he was wounded and taken prisoner by Sir William Waller's forces. He was then sent to London under a troop of the rebel horse, examined by a parliamentary commission and committed to prison, 'and that one of the vilest too', as the Tenison letter adds. In which of the many battles he was taken prisoner we do not know, but as he took his M.A. degree on 8 February 1643-44 he was presumably still a free man at that date.'After a long while', he wrote in his letter to Tenison, he obtained his liberty by the help of some friends.
But, as he put it, his liberty 'was a very naked one, for not long after he was stripped of all he possessed, and forced to abandon the Kingdom for the security of his life'. This is a reference to the expulsion from his fellowship, dated by Alumni Oxonienses to 1648, though this record goes on to add (unintelligibly) that he was proctor in 1649. At all events, Alumni Oxonienses says that in 1648 Beaw went 'beyond the seas', and this date fits in with his own account and the date given by Alumni Oxonienses for his expulsion.
After some time, says Willis MS. 2, he 'obtained for himself a lieutenant-colonelcy of Horse in the service of the Czar of Muscovy'. This must presumably have been Czar Alexei (1645-76), but what exactly the appointment involved is not known. The next step, according to Willis MS. 2, was that 'Charles II being then in distress for want of an agent in Denmark, he waived that honourable and profitable employment (i.e. in the service of the Czar of Muscovy) to go to Copenhagen and negotiate the King's affairs there'. To this Willis MS. 3 adds that, during his service for Charles II, Beaw 'took many journeys by sea and land, and endured many hardships and often ran the hazard of his life for the space of two years altogether, and all this out of his own purse'.
The letter to Tenison is more specific. This account says that he was 'prevailed upon' to abandon his Russian commission because of the 'King's necessity of having an Agent in Denmark, and of the necessity of my being that one, or else, to the great prejudice of his Affairs, he must have continued without one'. Further details are given in Willis MS. 2, which says that 'having despatched the King's business in Denmark, he removed thence by order of the King to Lübeck in Germany to transact some other affairs of his King in that city', but that he was 'seized by a pestilence' and lay sick in Copenhagen for six weeks; and that on his way from Copenhagen to Lubeck he was icebound.
It is not clear whether he ever got to Lubeck, but the letter to Tenison and Willis MSS. 2 and 3 agree that, by this stage, he had spent all his own money-possibly what he had saved out of his 'profitable employment' in Russia-and that 'bills of exchange on the King's part' failed him. He was accordingly forced to enter the service of the king of Sweden, who had just declared war on Poland. Of Beaw's service with Charles X of Sweden, the Tenison letter says that he was one of the first that entered Poland under the king of Sweden's banner, and 'one of the last that thence marched out'. To this Willis MS. 1 adds that while in Poland Beaw preserved several fine libraries from being burnt by the Swedish soldiers.
As a reward the 'king of Poland's confessor offered him any preferment in the Court or Army if he would stay in Poland'. The manuscript continues by saying that Beaw refused this offer, and accepted instead the position of lieutenant-colonel in the Czar of Muscovy's Horse. This conflicts with the accounts given in the Tenison letter and Willis MSS. 2 and 3, which all place his service with the Russians as coming before his service under Charles II, and the latter before his service with the Swedes, though Willis MS. 3 says also that after his service with the king of Sweden he accepted service with the king of Poland. As Willis MS. 1 was written after Beaw's death, whereas the Tenison letter was his own composition, and the second and third Willis manuscripts also are almost certainly written by him, it seems that the sequence of his appointments given by Willis MS. I must be rejected, though the story of the preservation of the libraries in Poland could hardly have been invented by the writer of that manuscript.
No further details are given of his activities in Russia, Denmark, Germany, Sweden or Poland, and no reference is made to his name in the Rigs Arkivet in Copenhagen or the Riksarkivet or the Kungl. Krigsarkivet in Stockholm, either as a representative of the English Crown or otherwise. But a very tentative time-table for his activities can be suggested. For if he spent two years in Denmark, and then 'was one of the first who entered Poland' for the Swedes, his service with the Swedes probably began not later than 1655, for that was the year in which the Swedes invaded Poland. Moreover, as Beaw was one of the last out of Poland, he must have been there until about 1660, the year in which the Poles were liberated from the Swedes. This would give him no more than a few months in the service of the king of Poland, for later on in 1660 he was back in England.
On the other hand, if Beaw entered the service of the Swedes in 1655, his two years in Denmark must have lasted presumably from 1653 to 1655. This also creates a difficulty. For it was in April 1653,
(Beaw's portrait, now in the possession of H. Lloyd-Johnes, Esq., and dated 1698. shows
him in his bishop's robes but with the forefinger of his right hand missing. No doubt this finger was lost in the Civil War or the wars in the Baltic.
Dr. Bertil Broom, Director of the Military Record Office in Stockholm, has kindly pointed out that Charles X left Poland in 1657 to invade Denmark with the main part of his armies, and did not return to Poland; and that it may be that Beaw left the Swedish service when Charles X left Poland. according to the Calendar of the Clarendon State Papers (ed. Rev. W. Dunn Macray, 1869) vol. II, p. 192, that Thomas Lord Wentworth was despatched by Charles II from Paris on a special embassy to the king of Denmark. If in 1653 Wentworth was available to go to Copenhagen as ambassador, Beaw could hardly have been the only possible choice as agent in that country, as the Tenison letter suggests. Moreover, the Clarendon Papers contain no reference to Beaw or his missions for Charles II.
It is of course possible that Beaw's mission to Denmark preceded Wentworth's, which would account for the absence of any mention of Beaw in the Clarendon Papers, for it is only from the end of 1652 that they begin to include Charles 11's official correspondence. In this case, Beaw's two years for Charles II in Denmark would have been over by 1653, which would not have given him very long in the service of the czar, seeing that his service in Russia could not have begun before 1648. Alternatively, Beaw's service in Denmark may have begun in 1653, but his duties may have been such that no reference could be made to them in official correspondence. At all events it does not seem unlikely that Edward Hyde, later earl of Clarendon, and from 1653 Charles IPs closest adviser, felt under some slight obligation to him. At any rate, as this narrative will show, two members of Hyde's family later on went out of their way to help him.
Beaw's letter to Tenison suggests that he returned to England shortly before the Restoration, which of course took place at the end of May 1660. In the letter Beaw asserts that there was then 'no preferment in the Church that he could reasonably demand' which he would not have obtained if he had been in holy orders. He was accordingly ordained. Willis MS. 2 states that he was persuaded to take this step by Dr. Hyde, bishop of Salisbury, to which the Tenison letter adds that this was the result of 'long and earnest solicitations of the Bishop', who thereupon presented Beaw to a good living in his gift, but that he resigned this living 'upon being presented by his own College to a better'.
The New College records show that Beaw was restored to his fellowship 'by order of the King' on 30 August 1660, and presented to the College living at Adderbury in north Oxfordshire, on 2 February 1660-61, resigning his fellowship on 26 August 1661. It must therefore have been some time in 1660 that he was ordained, and he must have got in and out of Hyde's living before the following January. As for Hyde, he was not at the time bishop of Salisbury.
Alexander Hyde, born in 1598, was a first cousin of the great Edward Hyde, later earl of Clarendon, and was, like Beaw, a fellow of New College. He was appointed dean of Winchester on 8 August 1660, and bishop of Salisbury in 1665, dying two years later. At Adderbury Beaw seems at first to have been in relatively easy circumstances. The Tenison letter says that he was then a single man with a yearly income of £ 330 'and no inconsiderable sum of money abroad in the hands of some friends', presumably the result of his career as a soldier of fortune with the Swedes and the Poles, for by his own showing he spent all his own money and what he made in Russia when serving Charles II in Denmark. The New College records add that he gave £ 10 towards the new buildings in the garden quadrangle, built in the early '60s.
In the middle '60s, however, he married Frances, daughter of Alexander Bourchier of Southampton, for William, the first of their eight children, was born in 1666. That was also the year in which (on 6 July) Beaw took his degree of Doctor of Divinity. But his popularity in Oxford cannot have been increased by an incident which took place in that year. For, according to the New College records, Beaw had said something in the hearing of the schoolmaster of Adderbury and of his mother which 'derogated very much' from the dignity of Warden Woodward of New College, namely that Woodward was a 'weake and silly man'. The school- master told Woodward of this on 7 April 1666, and the warden was obviously upset, though the record continues that Beaw afterwards apologized to him.
Of Beaw's life in the next thirteen years nothing seems to be recorded, except that between 1666 and 1679, five of his eight children were born. But it may be inferred that a man who had led such an active life would sooner or later want something better out of life. And his letter to Tenison certainly implies that he expected to receive from Charles II a greater reward for his services than he had so far obtained. At all events, the general elections held in the early spring of 1679 were to bring a change in his fortunes, for he was elected bishop of Llandaff on 3 June 1679.
The story is told in his letter to Tenison: But so it was, that I could not for ever lie hid; I was found out by some who thought it an indignity (otherwise than I thought my self,) that my past Services should continue unrewarded; where upon I was sent to pitch upon any Preferment in the Church, (I know not whether a B'prick was intended in the message; it was not excepted,) and it should be secured unto me. The Answer I returned was, that I would pitch upon nothing, lest I should be tempted to wish the death of some Body. Then his Majestie causd it to be enterd in both the Secretaries Offices, that I should have the first Dignity that fell; but this Order I neglected. At last there comes a Letter to me from a person of honour, that a Little B'prick was fallen, and that I was thought of, but it was thought not good enough; yet he had assured them, that I should not refuse the Kings favour. Within two days after comes another letter from a person of quality yet living, to whom I am the most obliged of any in the world; the first words of which were these; A Little B'prick is fallen; but we thought not to let it pass, because it puts you in order to a Better. Upon these two Letters I went up to London, yet with a doubtfull mind; having no inclination to a B'prick, much less to a poor one; yet, upon the persuasion of all my friends, and in expectation of a sudden Remove, I was at last moved to accept of it.
An unnamed source quoted in Records of the County Borough of Cardiff1 says that Beaw was made bishop by 'the Endeavours of the infamous Earl of Rochester'. This is presumably a reference to the notorious libertine, John Wilmot, earl of Rochester of the first creation. As it happens, Wilmot was a neighbour of Beaw's both at Adderbury and at Woodstock, and it is true that Wilmot had some influence at Court from time to time, though whether enough to secure an appointment to the Bench is doubtful. But Wilmot died in 1680, so that he cannot have been the 'person of quality yet living' in 1699. It seems certain that the writer of the Cardiff manuscript has wilfully or otherwise confused John Wilmot with Lawrence Hyde, the son of the first earl of Clarendon, who was made earl of Rochester of the second creation in 1681. For the election of 1679 brought Lawrence Hyde into power, first as a member of the Treasury Commission, and later as First Lord of the Treasury (November 1679); and it would be pleasant to think that the reward which Clarendon would not or could not confer on Beaw for his services in Denmark was made good to him by his son Lawrence Hyde.
In the seventeenth century Llandaff was certainly one of the poorest dioceses in England and Wales. The unnamed manuscript quoted by the Cardiff records and mentioned above was evidently written by one who did not approve of Beaw, but even he had to admit that the 'ruin of this Bishoprick is to be attributed to Bishop Blethin, as well as to Bishop Kitchin. Who, to provide for his Children sold and alienated the Land to that Degree, that he is reported to have done it as much, if not more Injury, than Bishop Kitchin aforesaid'. Kitchin died in 1563 and Blethyn in 1590, so that the damage was done well before Beaw's time. And the agri- cultural depression of the seventeenth century certainly cannot have improved matters. At the end of the century Beaw gave his income from the see in his letter to Tenison as £ 420 per annum, out of which standing charges alone of £ 90 had to be met apart from repairs and maintenance, which at least to the bishop's Monmouthshire palace at Mathern and its surroundings were likely to be heavy, washed as they are by the tidal waters of the Severn.
All the same, as he said in the Lambeth manuscript When afterwards I went into my diocese, I there lived not according to my Revenue, but answerable to my Dignity. I was free in my housekeeping; I observed no days of fasting or retiring, but all Days were equally designed for others, (though I fasted my self,) for entertainment, come who so would. The meanest Vicar or Curate never went hungry away, if he came before, or at, meal time. Bread and Beer were freely distributed at my doors every day. My Gates stood open to all Commers, and they were not a few that came for provision of that kind; nor is Bread and Beer a cheap Commodity in the place of my Residence, but the dearest of any place in the Kingdom; yet this was the manner of my living, in expectation of a Remove; which I could not think but would be sudden.
As he admitted in his letter to Tenison, he had been allowed to keep the living of Adderbury in commendam, and Tanner MS. vol. 146, No. 161 in the Bodleian is the original warrant of 3 July 1679 signed by Charles II permitting him to do so and also to retain the living in his own diocese of Bedwas in Monmouthshire and the rectory of St. Andrews in Glamorgan. What these Welsh livings were worth is not certain: probably not much, for, as the Lambeth manuscript says,
I have but 3 Livings in my Gift, whereof two are so lean and illfavourd, that should they be sent to a fair, no Chapman would be found to bid for them; and I have no Deanerie to give or sell; and as for Prebends, such as usually fall in my Gift, they are such, as he that should bid five pounds for any one of them, would bid too much by three.
The Adderbury living, he said, was worth £ 330 (and elsewhere E300) per annum, but though the Tenison letter was written from Adderbury, it also states that the living had been let for £ 220 per annum, out of which he had to pay £ 80 for a curate and standing charges of £ 46. 'So that Taxes, Polls, Fire, Water have more truly preyed upon the heart of my Estate', the Lambeth manuscript says,
than the Vulture ever did upon the Liver of Tityus; for that Liver was repaird as often as consumed, but my Estate has been in a perpetual consumption; never to be repaird, unless this Wind which has so long set against me, turnes.
It is hardly surprising that he found his 'Little Bishoprick's Revenues wholly swallowed up, nothing more appearing of them than would defray the charges of the quantity of Vinigar, Pepper, Salt and Fire spent in my House'.
It is often said that it was the neglect of Beaw that allowed the cathedral to fall into disrepair, and that the palace at Mathern was so badly dilapidated that nobody was able to live in it from his death in 1705 till 1821. The unnamed Cardiff manuscript referred to above, for instance, says that 'he came rarely into his diocese; the church let go to Ruin in his Time, and Choir Service put down'. It does not seem to be true from what we know of him that he came rarely into his diocese, but it may well be that little enough was done about the cathedral's upkeep.
As for Mathern, this story is repeated by no less an authority than Professor David Williams. But it hardly seems to be true. For instance, the parish register of Mathern says that on 4 April 1697 Beaw's daughter, Dorothy, was married to the Rev. Thomas Willis 'in capella palatina apud Matherne'. This does not suggest that the house was exactly falling down in 1697. Again, Sir Joseph Bradney2 quotes Browne Willis as writing in 1717 that the palace was 'in great measure kept up'. It was Sir Joseph's opinion that it was one of Beaw's successors, Shute Barrington, bishop of Llandaff from 1769 to 1782, who let the place decay. But even today the exterior of the building is still almost entirely medieval in appearance. In any case it seems unfair to blame Beaw for not keeping up the cathedral or the palace seeing what his financial position was.
In view of Beaw's circumstances, he would have been hardly human if he had not desired translation to a richer see. As the Tenison letter makes clear, he was evidently given to understand that his sojourn in his 'Little Bishopric' would not be long; and according to Willis MS. 3, Charles II had said to him when he was appointed to Llandaff, 'My Lord, I do not intend that you shall die Bishop of Llandaff'. At first Beaw seems to have fixed his desires on Hereford. But, as the Tenison letter puts it:
Hereford, as the place lying nearest me, and therefore the most convenient for my remove, was by the King designed for me; the Bp whereof was old and feeble, and sick, and dropping every hour off. But, it seems, the Bp thought not good to go out of the world in King Charles his Reign, no nor in King James' Reign neither, but deferr'd his Departure till this Government; when a Brother of mine, who was upon the watch & too quick for me, made the first catch at the B'prick, and carried it.
Some sympathy may perhaps be felt for Beaw over this incident. For Bishop William Croft had been elected to the see of Hereford as far back as 1662, and it was not until 1691 that the vacancy caused by his death in that year was filled by Gilbert Ironside. However, Beaw's efforts to obtain preferment were not limited to Hereford. In 1692 there was a vacancy at Lichfield. William Lloyd, bishop of St. Asaph and Beaw's predecessor at Llandaff, had actually been one of the seven bishops tried in 1685, and presumably his claims for translation to Lichfield were greater than Beaw's. But his appointment to Lichfield created a vacancy at St. Asaph and Beaw thought his own chances of moving to St. Asaph were good. The account of what happened must be given in the vivid language of Beaw's letter to Tenison:
Understanding the Bp then of St. Asaph's intentions to remove thither, and that there was no contending with so great a courtier, I fixd my thoughts on St. Asaph, where I could have been well contented to have taken my rest (much content in this), and have laid my bones. In order to the attaining of which (tho' by a Brother deserted) Station, I wrote to the B'p of London, my good friend; that, if he had any interest at Court with the Queen (the King then absent), he would employ it on my behalf, for the securing me St. Asaph. It seems he thought rather to apply to your Predecessor, & so he did, & gave me notice of it; but advised me to write also to him my self; which I did, and received from him all the satisfaction I could desire. And his first Resolutions (how ever, he came to change them afterwards,) became so generally known, that the weekly printed Accounts gave intelligence of it; that the B'p of Llandaff was preferr'd to St. Asaph; which so affected North Wales, that I had News thereupon brought me of some particular Rejoicings that were occasiond thereby. For, in the late Wars, I had bin quartered all up and down in that Country, and
my Civil carriage towards all, and my particular obligations to
some, came into their Remembrance. But, it seems, it had been buz'd in the Queens ears, and your Predecessor had swallow'd it, that a Welsh B'p ought to be a Welsh man; which was in truth the casting a reproach upon all our late Kings and Primates, who had indifferently impos'd English men for B'ps, upon the Welsh people; and it was a groundless surmise; there being not a market town in all Wales wherein they speak not all English, and a sermon in Welsh, with the most, would not be understood. However had I been removed thither, and a Welshman chosen in my place, there had not been one Welsh B'p the less.1
I must confess that, finding myself at last thus deluded, I was not a little displeased with your Predecessor, nor was I unwilling to let him know so much, by my not waiting so much as once upon him, during the whole Session of the Parliament, & my avoiding all opportunity of speaking with him in the House of Lords, though he often came and sit sometimes just above me, sometimes just below me, as if to invite me into some speech and discourse with him. Yet, upon the Prorogation of the Parliament, before I left Westminster, I began thus to reason with my self; why should I not so much as once wait on the Archb'p; why not once speak to him? possibly he he may not have dealt so unkindly with me as I suppos'd; possibly he may have been under some Restraint. Having thus reason'd myself into some cooler temper, I pass'd over to Lambeth, where his Grace received me with such extraordinary respect & kindness as surprised me. I was passing through the Hall up the stairs, thinking to have found him, in the wonted place of Reception, in the old Lodgings; but he no sooner heard of me than he came out himself to direct me, and introduce me into his New ones. When he told me, almost at the first word, that the B'p of Hereford would die; No, my Lord, said I, for he is newly married; oh, said he, the sooner for that. And, without staying to hear me begin a Discourse, fearing, I suppose, I should preface it with a Complaint, is there any thing, said he, that may be laid to your B'prick? I heard, said I, that it was in his Majesties intentions to increase the Revenues of all poor B'pricks; and I was, in particular, for that end, sent unto by a person of Quality, to inquire into the worth of the Deanerie of Hereford, so conveniently lying to be added to my B'prick; Puh, said he, that (repeating the word That, with disdain), that is not worthy to be laid to your B'prick, you shall have something far better than that. Well, said he, the B'p of London is your good friend; go to him and you two think what may be added to your B'prick, and it shall be done; nay, I will not trouble you to do that; I will go to him my self, and we will find out some thing that will be worthy of your acceptance. And these words he spake & (In the event, it was a certain Edward Jones who was appointed to St. Asaph in 1692)
many, the like, more, with that seeming Resentment of my present ill,
and undeserv'd, condition, and zeal and earnestness for the bettering of it, that if he was not real in his expressions, he must have been as great a Dissembler as ever lived. But he is dead, and all my expectations from him lie extinct with him.
Nor was the unsuccessful attempt on St. Asaph in 1692 the end of the story. The object of Beaw's letter to Tenison in 1699 was thus explained
This present Writing is but the issue of a fresh and sudden thought, occasioned by a Gentlemans coming to me out of North Wales; who, having made me a sad relation of the qualities of his B'p, and taking it for granted that he must be deprived, has been very earnest with me, even to importunity, that I would use my endeavour to succeed him; as what would be very acceptable to his countrymen. What, said I, an Englishman an acceptable B'p to Welshmen? Yes, said he, an Englishman, for we Welshmen care not much for a B'p of our own Country. With that he fell into high Commendations of B'p Barrow and B'p Glenham, two of their late Bps, and both Englishmen, and then fell to his beseeching me and importuning me again. I told him, he needed not to importune me to endeavour to obtain that, which could it be by my endeavour obtaind, would be most pleasing and acceptable to myself. That I would write to your Grace thereabout; and accordingly now have I done.
But it was of no avail. For in 1699 John Haigh was elected to the see. Finally, the memoranda of 1702, of which Willis MSS. 2 and 3 appear to have been drafts, evidently represented another attempt, if not to get preferment (for by this time Beaw was 87), at least to obtain some recognition from the new order which followed the accession of Queen Anne. One at least of these documents was dated 23 April 1702, the date of Anne's coronation, and it may be that Beaw intended to present the original to her on that very day. At least we know that Beaw attended her coronation, for a footnote to Willis MS. 3 says so, adding that he 'walked all the way both forward and backward'. But obviously it was too late for anything to be done for the old man.
It is highly probable that it was politics that accounted for Beaw's persistent failure to obtain preferment. For it is certain that he was a supporter of the seven bishops. We know from the Tanner manuscripts that on 18 May 1688 when Archbishop Sancroft presented his petition to James II against the Declaration of Indulgence, Beaw was at Mathern.
Vol. 28, No. 44 is the original of Beaw's letter to Sancroft dated 27 May and referring to the petition made 'on behalf of your Grace, themselves (i.e. the other 6 Bishops), and others their Absent Brethren: My Lord' (the letter continues) 'I was one of those Absents. But I was Absent in Body onley, my soul went along with them. I wholy concurred with them with my Heart. I now send my Hand to bear testimony thereto'.1 He adds that he had sent instructions to his chancellor at Llandaff 'to detain what Declarations shall be sent'. On the other hand, after 1688 Beaw's association with Rochester must have gained him the reputation of being a High Tory, and as such he would hardly have been popular with the new regime. In the vote in the House of Lords on 29 January 1688-89, Beaw was among the minority which voted for a regency.
Another obstacle to his preferment perhaps was that in the summer of 1683 he had a serious accident to his leg at Llandaff, described in Tanner MSS. vol. 34, No. 88, a letter from a certain John Vovert to Dr. Henry Maurice. This disability was severe enough to prevent him from obeying Archbishop Sancroft's command to him to attend the coronation of James II in 1685, as is seen from his letter to Sancroft of 1 April of that year preserved in Tanner MSS. vol. 31, No. 23. Even in 1699 he was complaining in his letter to Tenison that his expenses were increased by the need to keep a coach, coachman, and horses 'because by the unskilfulness and carelessness of a Welsh Surgion I am disenabled to ride; and to go on foot, unless on very even and smooth ground'. Finally, there was his age, for when William III came to the throne, Beaw was 73, though the vigour of his mind was certainly unimpaired for at least the 11 years which elapsed before the Tenison letter was written.
There is also no reason to think that in the '80s Beaw was well known to the fashionable life of London, which is easy to understand as his diocese was many days' journey away. John Evelyn relates in his diary for Friday 18 March 1683 that he attended a 'penitential sermon' on Psalm 51 verse 3 preached by a 'stranger at court', and it is only from the researches of Evelyn's latest editor, Mr. E. S. de Beer, that we know the preacher to have been Beaw. If in 1683 Beaw could still be described as a stranger at court, his chances of preferment could not then have been very great. On the other hand it will have been noted that he described himself as a 'good friend' of
Henry Compton, bishop of London, in 1692, but by this
time Beaw's Tory principles may have stood in his way.
There are no more than two references to his activities in Luttrell's Brief Historical Relation of State Affairs-that on 31 March 1689 he participated in the consecration of Gilbert Burnet as bishop of Salisbury, and that on 20 January 1692 he appeared before the Court of the Arches in the prosecution of a certain Dr. Jones, the chancellor of the diocese of Llandaff, for misdemeanours and uncanonical practices. The Acts of the Bishops of Llandaff (ed. J. A. Bradney, Cardiff, 1909) shed little light on Beaw's episcopate, for they do not contain much more than a list of his presentations. Of the closing years of Beaw's life, little is known. As Dr. Norman Sykes pointed out, Beaw voted on 14 December 1703 in the House of Lords in favour of the Occasional Conformity Bill, whereas all but three of the bishops appointed to the bench by William III voted against it. So even at this stage, his politics alone would presumably have stood in the way of further preferment. As the indefatigable diarist Narcissus Luttrell has recorded, Beaw died on 10 February 1704-05. He was buried at Adderbury, and a fine tombstone still marks the place where his body lies.
BICKHAM SWEET-ESCOTT. 1 Church and State in England in the Eighteenth Century (Cambridge, 1934).
1 The editor of the correspondence of Henry, earl of Clarendon. S. W. Singer, evidently assumed this to be Beaw's formal subscription to the bishops' petition. Vol. II, Appendix x, 480 (Oxford. 1828). Diary of Henry, earl of Clarendon (as above), p. 256.
1 From the Archives of New College, Oxford, by kind permission of the Warden and Fellows. Not Merton as stated by Miss C. V. Wedgewood, The King's War (London, 1958). p. 156.
1 Quoted by kind permission of the Warden and Fellows. This is the name recorded by Beaw in his entry of 1683 for the Heralds' Visitation of Monmouthshire. But Collins' Peerage (ed. 1811 by Sir Egerton Brydges) and Burke's Landed Gentry for 1871, both state that the bishop married Cecilia, daughter of the fifth Earl Delawarr. Possibly Cecilia was a second wife, but if so the marriage must have taken place after 1683.
A Will exists, and can be viewed at the National Archives at Kew, but it has not yet been digitized.
Dr. William Beaw, Bishop of Llandaff's Timeline
Hagbourne, Berkshire, England
May 15, 1662
Saint Gluvias, Cornwall, England
Llandaff, Glamorgan, Wales
February 10, 1706