Thomas Povey

Last updated

Thomas Povey (1613/14 – in or before 1705) FRS, was a London merchant-politician. He was active in colonial affairs from the 1650s, but neutral enough in his politics to be named a member from 1660 of Charles II's Council for Foreign Plantations. [1] A powerful figure in the not-yet professionalised First English Empire, he was both "England's first colonial civil servant" [2] and at the same time "a typical office holder of the Restoration". [3] Both Samuel Pepys and William Berkeley, Governor of Virginia, railed at times against Povey's incompetence [4] and maladministration.

Contents

Life

The son of Justinian Povey of London, he was educated at Gray's Inn. He was a cousin of Thomas Povey, Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, and of Sir John Povey, Lord Chief Justice of Ireland.

Povey became Member of Parliament for Liskeard in 1646, Bossiney in 1659 and held under Oliver Cromwell a high post in the Office of Plantations. Following the Restoration he was appointed in July 1660 Treasurer to the king's brother James, Duke of York, but the Duke's affairs falling into confusion, Povey was relieved of his office, 27 July 1668, for a consideration of £2000. [5] He was First Treasurer to the Lords Commissioner for Tangier, a lucrative post in which he was followed by the conscientious Samuel Pepys, organiser of the English navy. Povey made an agreement with Pepys in 1665, touching the profits expected from that office by 17th-century convention. Years later, in 1691, Povey brought suit against Pepys and William Hewer at the Court of Chancery with reference to a breach of the agreement; it seems to have been settled out of court. [6]

Povey family interests in the English Caribbean were extensive: Thomas's brother Richard Povey looked after the family interests in Jamaica, where he was officially Commissioner General for Provisions, while another brother, William, attended to affairs in Barbados, where he was officially Provost-General. [7]

Povey was one of the original members of the Royal Society in May 1663 and had acted in the interests of its less formalised predecessor at Gresham College. Povey proposed Samuel Pepys for membership, 8 February 1665. [8]

John Evelyn, a fellow member of the Royal Society, found Povey "a nice contriver of all elegancies and exceedingly formal". As a Fellow, Povey offered the Royal Society a dissertation in 1693 on the manufacture of brass. [9] Povey presented a report on Louis XIV's Hôtel des Invalides, [10] which Charles II emulated in the Royal Hospital Chelsea, under a Royal Warrant of 22 December 1681.

Povey had apartments in Whitehall Palace by virtue of his Crown posts. Robert Streater painted a ceiling in Povey's London house, on the west side of Lincoln's Inn Fields; there John Evelyn visited him in July 1664:

Went to see Mr Povey's elegant house in Lincolns-Inn-Fields , where the perspective in his court, painted by Streater, is indeed excellent, with the vases painted in imitation of porphy and fountains... [11]

Pepys noted with approval Povey's neatly fitted up stables, lined with washable Delft tiles. [12] Povey also inherited from his father Hounslow Priory, situated in a suburban village west of London; it was sold in 1671, and by the end of the 18th century only the chapel remained. [13] He donated to the Royal Society the portrait that he asserted was of the historian George Buchanan and by Titian. [14] In his court appointment as Master of Requests, 1675–85, he received petitions and presented them for consideration by the Privy Council.

Povey advanced the early career of his nephew William Blathwayt, and it is surely due to his influence that his son-in-law Giles Bland was sent to Virginia as customs collector. [15] Some of the paintings from Povey's collection, which hung in his London house or at Hounslow, remain in Blathwayt's house, Dyrham Park, Gloucestershire. Povey's letter books are conserved in the British Library. [16]

Family

He married Mary, daughter of John Adderly and widow of John Agard of King's Bromley, Staffordshire. His daughter Sarah married another member of the Staffordshire gentry, Robert Leveson of Wolverhampton and had three sons, including the soldier and politician Richard Leveson. Another daughter Sarah married Giles Bland, who was executed for treason in Virginia in 1677, having played a leading part in Bacon's Rebellion the previous year.

Notes

  1. Povey was one of the four eminent London merchants— the others being Martin Noell, Sir Nicholas Crispe and Sir Andrew Riccard— among the courtiers on the board, whose restrictions on colonial trade were resisted from the first by Virginia planters (Joan de Lourdes Leonard, "Operation Checkmate: The Birth and Death of a Virginia Blueprint for Progress 1660–1676", The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, 24.1 (January 1967:44–74).
  2. Lillian M. Penson, The Colonial Agents of the British West Indies: A Study in Colonial Administration, Mainly in the Eighteenth Century, 1924: S.S. Webb, "William Blathwayt, Imperial Fixer: From Popish Plot to Glorious Revolution", The William and Mary Quarterly 1968.
  3. Herbert L. Osgood, The American Colonies in the Seventeenth Century, vol. III:145f.
  4. Pepys found him a "wretched accountant".
  5. "Thomas Povey", The Diary of Samuel Pepys, 1893 text
  6. Eleanore Boswell, "Footnotes to Seventeenth-Century Biographies. Samuel Pepys" The Modern Language Review26.2 (April 1931:176–178).
  7. Bernard Bailyn, "Communications and trade: the Atlantic in the seventeenth century", Journal of Economic History, 1953.
  8. Norman J.W. Thrower, "Samuel Pepys FRS (1633–1703) and the Royal Society" Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London57.1 (January 2003:3–13) p. 6.
  9. Povey, "The Method, Manner and Order of the Transmutation of Copper into Brass, etc. by Thomas Povey, Esq; Brought into the Royal Society, of Which He is a Fellow", Philosophical Transactions (1683–1775), Vol. 17, (1693:735–736).
  10. C.I. Ritchie, "The hostel of the Invalides by Thomas Povey (1682)(Lambeth Palace Library MS. 745)", Medical History, 1966.
  11. Evelyn, Journal, 1 July 1664.
  12. Pepys, "His stable, where was some most delicate horses, and the very racks painted, and mangers, with a neat leaden painted cistern and the walls done with Dutch tiles like my chimnies" (Diary); Povey admired the Duke of Newcastle's stabling on a tour of the grand houses of Derbyshire that Povey made in 1688, when he saw "that considerable Prince, the Duke of Newcastle, and his Pallace, Stables, riding Houses and Horses, which are more extraordinarie then are to bee seene in Europe, if the Curiositie and Excellencie of their Manège, Discipline and Methods are to be considered." (quoted in Lucy Worsley and Tom Addyman, "Riding Houses and Horses: William Cavendish's Architecture for the Art of Horsemanship", Architectural History45 [2002:194–229], p. 194).
  13. Daniel Lysons, 'Heston', The Environs of London: volume 3: County of Middlesex (1795:22–45): accessed 6 August 2010.
  14. William Carruthers, "On the so-called portrait of George Buchanan by Titian", The Scottish Historical Review6.24 (July 1909:337–342).
  15. Bland soon got into trouble with Governor Berkeley and in Bacon's Rebellion served as Bacon's lieutenant in the attack upon Berkeley at Accomack (Wilcomb E. Washburn, "Sir William Berkeley's 'A History of Our Miseries'" The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, 14.3 [July 1957:403–413]).
  16. B.L. Add. Mss 11411.

Related Research Articles

Samuel Pepys English naval administrator and member of parliament

Samuel Pepys was an administrator of the navy of England and Member of Parliament who is most famous for the diary he kept for a decade while still a relatively young man. Pepys had no maritime experience, but he rose to be the Chief Secretary to the Admiralty under both King Charles II and King James II through patronage, diligence, and his talent for administration. His influence and reforms at the Admiralty were important in the early professionalisation of the Royal Navy.

Nathaniel Bacon was a colonist of the Virginia Colony, famous as the instigator of Bacon's Rebellion of 1676, which collapsed when Bacon himself died from dysentery.

Bacons Rebellion 1675-1676 Virginia rebellion against the colonial government

Bacon's Rebellion was an armed rebellion held by Virginia settlers that took place in 1675 through 1676. It was led by Nathaniel Bacon against Colonial Governor William Berkeley. It was the first rebellion in the North American colonies in which discontented frontiersmen took part. The alliance between European indentured servants and Africans disturbed the colonial upper class. They responded by hardening the racial caste of slavery in an attempt to divide the two races from subsequent united uprisings with the passage of the Virginia Slave Codes of 1705. While the farmers did not succeed in their initial goal of driving the Native Americans from Virginia, the rebellion resulted in Berkeley being recalled to England.

George Carteret

Vice Admiral Sir George Carteret, 1st Baronet was a royalist statesman in Jersey and England, who served in the Clarendon Ministry as Treasurer of the Navy. He was also one of the original lords proprietor of the former British colony of Carolina and New Jersey. Carteret, New Jersey, as well as Carteret County, North Carolina, both in the United States, are named after him. He acquired the manor of Haynes, Bedfordshire, in about 1667.

John Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton

John Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton was an English royalist soldier, politician and diplomat, of the Bruton branch of the Berkeley family. From 1648 he was closely associated with James, Duke of York, and rose to prominence, fortune, and fame. He and Sir George Carteret were the founders of the Province of New Jersey, a British colony in North America that would eventually become the U.S. state of New Jersey.

House of Burgesses

The House of Burgesses was the elected representative element of the Virginia General Assembly, the legislative body of the Colony of Virginia. With the creation of the House of Burgesses in 1642, the General Assembly, which had been established in 1619, became a bicameral institution.

Samuel Hartlib or Hartlieb was a polymath of German origin, who settled, married and died in England. He was an active promoter and expert writer in many fields, interested in science, medicine, agriculture, politics and education. He was a contemporary of Robert Boyle, whom he knew well, and a neighbour of Samuel Pepys in Axe Yard, London, in the early 1660s. He studied briefly at the University of Cambridge upon arriving in England.

William Berkeley (governor) 17th-century English colonial governor of Virginia

Sir William Berkeley was a colonial governor of Virginia, and one of the Lords Proprietors of the Colony of Carolina; he was appointed to these posts by King Charles I, of whom he was a favourite.

Edward Montagu, 1st Earl of Sandwich Royal Navy admiral and nobleman

Edward Montagu, 1st Earl of Sandwich, KG, FRS was an English landowner, infantry officer, and later naval officer and politician, who sat in the House of Commons at various points between 1645 and 1660. He served Oliver Cromwell loyally in the 1650s, but went on to play a considerable part in the Restoration of King Charles II, and was subsequently rewarded with several court offices. Sandwich served as the English ambassador to Portugal from 1661 to 1662, and the ambassador to Spain from 1666 to 1668. He later became an admiral, serving in the two Anglo-Dutch Wars during the reign of Charles II; he was killed at the Battle of Solebay. A detailed primary source for Sandwich's career in the 1660s is the diary of Samuel Pepys, who was his cousin and protégé.

William Blathwayt

William Blathwayt was an English diplomat, public official and Whig politician who sat in the English and British House of Commons between 1685 and 1710. He established the War Office as a department of the British Government and played an important part in administering the English colonies of North America.

Gibbons Tennis Court

Gibbon's Tennis Court was a building off Vere Street and Clare Market, near Lincoln's Inn Fields in London, England. Originally built as a real tennis court, it was used as a playhouse from 1660 to 1663, shortly after the English Restoration. As a theatre, it has been variously called the "Theatre Royal, Vere Street", the "Vere Street Theatre", or simply "The Theatre". It was the first permanent home for Thomas Killigrew's King's Company and was the stage for some of the earliest appearances by professional actresses.

<i>London</i> (1656 English ship) HMS London (1656), 76-gun second-rate ship of the line

London was a 76-gun second-rate ship of the line in the Navy of the Commonwealth of England, originally built at Chatham Dockyard by shipwright John Taylor, and launched in June 1656. She gained fame as one of the ships that escorted Charles II from Holland back to England during the English Restoration, carrying Charles' younger brother James Duke of York, and commanded by Captain John Lawson.

Richard Levett

Sir Richard Levett, Sheriff, Alderman and Lord Mayor of London, was one of the first directors of the Bank of England, an adventurer with the London East India Company and the proprietor of the trading firm Sir Richard Levett & Company. He had homes at Kew and in London's Cripplegate, close by the Haberdashers Hall. A pioneering British merchant and politician, he counted among his friends and acquaintances Samuel Pepys, Robert Blackborne, John Houblon, physician to the Royal Family and son-in-law Sir Edward Hulse, Lord Mayor Sir William Gore, his brother-in-law Chief Justice Sir John Holt, Robert Hooke, Sir Owen Buckingham, Sir Charles Eyre and others.

Robert Streater British artist

Robert Streater (1621–1679), was an English landscape, history, still-life and portrait artist, architectural painter, and etcher. He was Serjeant Painter to King Charles II, and decorated the ceiling of Christopher Wren's Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford.

Sir Martin Noell was an eminent London merchant, engaged in an extensive colonial trade that included the slave trade. He thrived under the Commonwealth as a tax farmer, taking up farms of the excise or customs and advancing other sums, secure in the knowledge that he would get his money back. At the Restoration of Charles II (1660) Noell was one of the four eminent London merchants— the others being Thomas Povey, Sir Nicholas Crispe and Sir Andrew Riccard— who took their seats among the courtiers on the Council for Plantations, whose restrictions on colonial trade in the interests of a mercantilist policy were resisted from the first by Virginia planters. He was knighted in 1662.

William Brereton, 3rd Baron Brereton FRS was an English mathematician and politician who sat in the House of Commons in 1659 and became Baron Brereton in the Irish peerage in 1664. He was chairman of the Committee of Accounts, better known as the Brooke House Committee, in 1667–1670. In that capacity he clashed repeatedly with Samuel Pepys, whose description of Brereton in his Second Diary, or Brooke House Journal, although no doubt biased, is the best portrait we have of the man.

Roger Pepys was an English lawyer and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1661 to 1678. He is chiefly remembered as Samuel Pepys's "Cousin Roger". He and his children appear regularly in Samuel's great Diary. Relations between the two men were always good.

Sir John Povey (1621–1679) was an English-born judge who had a highly successful career in Ireland, holding office as Baron of the Court of Exchequer (Ireland) and subsequently as. Lord Chief Justice of Ireland during the years 1673–9.

Bullen Reymes was an English courtier, diplomat and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1660 to 1672. He fought in the Royalist army in the English Civil War.