Select Lewis Miscellany

Here are some Lewis stories and accounts over the years:

From Rhys Goch to Lewis

The line from Rhys Goch was said to have gone: 
  • Genillin ap Rhys Goch, born around 1070 in Breconshire   
  • Idris ap Genillin  
  • Ieuan ap Idris    
  • Ieuan Fychan  
  • David Mwnton   
  • Hywel Hir ap David   
  • David ap Hywell Hir   
  • Gwilym ap David  
  • John ap Gwilym   
  • Thomas ap John 
  • and to Lewis ap Thomas, born around 1510 in Breconshire  
His son Richard Lewis was the first to adopt Lewis as a surname.  He was born sometime in the 1530ís at the family home at Llangatock near Crickhowell in Breconshire.  Richardís grandson John was a Royalist at the time of the Civil War, was banished during the Commonwealth period and, after a brief sojourn in Barbados, ended up in Virginia in 1653.

The Lewis Family of Van

This prominent Glamorgan family was characterized by its lengthy pedigree and its aptitude for the acquisition of property. 

Edward Lewis was the first that took the surname. He built the older portions of the Van estate near Caerphilly and enclosed the park. He was three times sheriff of Glamorgan in the 1550ís.   Son Thomas and grandson Sir Edward were also sheriffs of Glamorgan in their time.  Sir Edward added considerably to the family estates, the most interesting of these purchases was St. Faganís castle, acquired in 1616 and now the Folk Museum of Wales.  

Thomas Lewis who died in 1736 was the last Lewis of Van.  He was an MP for a number of constituencies in his life and died in England (in Hampshire).  Elizabeth, his only daughter and his heiress, succeeded him and married the Earl of Plymouth.

Lewis French Huguenots

The Lewis family were originally French Huguenots and left France after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. Three brothers, William, Samuel and John, fled to England. While crossing the English Channel they changed the original name of Louis to Lewis.  

Shortly afterward William removed to the north of Ireland, where he married a Miss McClelland. Samuel fixed his residence in Wales, while John continued in England. General Robert Lewis and Colonel John Lewis were sons of Samuel and came to America in 1635

John Lewis's Tombstone

John Lewis had left Ireland a fugitive, having stabbed his Irish landlord, and had taken refuge in Portugal before fleeing Europe for America in 1728.  He became a true American.  His tombstone read:

"Here lie the remains of John Lewis,
who slew the Irish Lord, settled Augusta county,
located the town of Staunton,
and furnished five sons to fight the battles
of the American Revolution."

Meriwether Lewis

Meriwether Lewis was the grandson of Robert Lewis of Belvoir and the son of William Lewis and his cousin Lucy Meriwether.  He became private secretary to Thomas Jefferson and a close neighbor to him at Monticello.  When Lewis was wanted at Monticello, Jefferson would signal him with a mirror reflected in the sun.   

While Jefferson was President he appointed Lewis in 1804 as leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition to explore the NW territory which the United States had bought from France in 1803.  

On his return from this famous journey, Lewis was appointed Governor of the territory of Louisiana in 1806, a post which he held until his death. In 1809 he was murdered and robbed of his money, watch and valuable papers as he was crossing through Tennessee on a trip to Virginia from St. Louis.  The watch that was stolen was later found in a pawn shop in New Orleans. This watch, his revolver, diary, compass and many other articles that he used on the Western expedition are now at the Jefferson Memorial in St. Louis.

The John Lewis Department Store

John Lewis was the founder of the John Lewis department store on Oxford Street in London.  He was born in 1836 in Somerset into a Jewish family but became an orphan at the age of seven.  He was brought up by an aunt. 

Having served as an apprentice to a local draper from the age of fourteen, he moved to London to become a silk buyer in the capital, working in Peter Robinsonís department store at Oxford Circus by the time he was 20.  

In 1864 John Lewis opened his own small drapery shop, John Lewis & Co, at 132 Oxford Street, on part of the same site as the present John Lewis department store.  The business flourished and expanded and was rebuilt in the 1880ís to form an all-encompassing department store.

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