Peter Mews

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Peter Mews
Bishop of Winchester
Peter Mews c Dahl.jpg
Church Church of England
Diocese Winchester
Term ended1706
Predecessor George Morley
Successor Jonathan Trelawny
Consecration9 February 1673
by  Gilbert Sheldon
Personal details
Born(1619-03-25)25 March 1619
Caundle Purse, Dorset, England
Died9 November 1706(1706-11-09) (aged 87)
Farnham Castle, Surrey, England
Buried Winchester Cathedral
Nationality English
Denomination Anglican
ResidenceFarnham Castle (as Bishop of Winchester)
ParentsElisha Mews & Elizabeth Winniffe
SpouseMary Baylie
Previous post Archdeacon of Huntingdon (1649–1666)
canon of Windsor (1662–1673)
Archdeacon of Berkshire (1665–1673)
President of St John's College, Oxford (5 August 1667–1673)
Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University (1669–1673)
Dean of Rochester (1670–1673)
Bishop of Bath and Wells (19 December 1672 {elected}–November 1684)
Alma mater St John's College, Oxford
Ordination history of
Peter Mews
Diaconal ordination
Ordained by Robert Skinner (Oxford)
Date14 January 1645
PlaceChapel, Trinity College, Oxford
Priestly ordination
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecrator Gilbert Sheldon
Co-consecrators Humphrey Henchman
John Dolben
Anthony Sparrow
Isaac Barrow
Peter Gunning
Nathaniel Crew
John Pritchett
Date9 February 1673
Source(s): [1]

Peter Mews (25 March 1619 – 9 November 1706) was an English Royalist theologian and bishop.



Mews was born at Caundle Purse in Dorset, and was educated at the Merchant Taylors' School, London, and at St John's College, Oxford, of which he was scholar and fellow. [2]

When the Civil War broke out in 1642, Mews joined the Royalist army, and, having been made a captain, was taken prisoner at Naseby; but he was soon released and in 1648 sought refuge in Holland. He became friendly with King Charles I's secretary, Sir Edward Nicholas, and being skilful at disguising himself was very useful to the Royalists during the rule of Oliver Cromwell, undertaking two journeys to Scotland in 1653. In August of that year, his friend Nicholas applied to Mary, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange, to use her influence to get Mews a post as reader in philosophy at the Orange College of Breda, but had a reply from Hyde that the place called for a man "that hath not bene a truant from his bookes". [3]

Before this Mews had been ordained. Taking the degree of DCL and regaining his fellowship at Oxford after the Restoration, he became Archdeacon of Huntingdon, vicar of St Mary's, Reading, and chaplain to the King; then, having obtained two other livings, he was made canon of Windsor, canon of St David's, and Archdeacon of Berkshire (1665–1672).

In 1667, when at Breda arranging peace between England and the Dutch Republic, he was chosen President of St John's College, Oxford, in succession to his father-in-law, Richard Baylie, afterwards becoming Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford [4] and dean of Rochester. Appointed Bishop of Bath and Wells in 1672, Mews resigned his presidency in 1673, and in 1684 he was elected Bishop of Winchester, a position which this "old, honest cavalier," as Thomas Hearne calls him, filled until his death. The bishop is buried in Winchester Cathedral.

Mews lent his carriage horses to pull the cannon at a critical moment during the battle of Sedgemoor, where he was wounded whilst accompanying the royal army. He was, however, in sympathy with the Seven Bishops, and was only prevented by illness from attending their meeting; and as visitor of Magdalen College, Oxford, he supported the fellows in their resistance to James II, admitted their nominee, John Hough, to the presidency, and restored the ejected fellows in October 1688.

He took the oaths to William III and Mary II in 1689. In the absence of Henry Compton, Bishop of London, Mews took the chief part at the consecration of John Tillotson as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1691.

A superb portrait is displayed in the Great Hall of the 15th century manor house, Athelhampton Hall, known as Athelhampton House, just a few miles outside Dorchester in Dorset.

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  1. Persons: Mews, Peter (1645–1699) in "CCEd, the Clergy of the Church of England database" (Accessed online, 28 March 2015)
  2. Alumni Oxonienses 1500-1714, Mascall-Meyrick
  3. William Holden Hutton, "Mews, Peter", in Dictionary of National Biography (1885-1900), volume 37
  4. "Previous Vice-Chancellors". University of Oxford, UK. Retrieved 18 July 2011.

Further reading

  • Stephen Hyde Cassan, Lives of the Bishops of Winchester, 1827.
  • George F. Warner (ed.), Nicholas Papers, 1886–1897.


Academic offices
Preceded by
Richard Baylie
President of St John's College, Oxford
Succeeded by
William Levinz
Preceded by
John Fell
Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University
Succeeded by
Ralph Bathurst
Church of England titles
Preceded by
Nathaniel Hardy
Dean of Rochester
Succeeded by
Thomas Lamplugh
Preceded by
Robert Creighton
Bishop of Bath and Wells
Succeeded by
Thomas Ken
Preceded by
George Morley
Bishop of Winchester
Succeeded by
Jonathan Trelawny