William Mew

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William Mew (Mewe) (1602 – 1669?) was an English clergyman, a member of the Westminster Assembly. He is known also for a drama, Pseudomagia, and for the contribution to beekeeping of the design for a transparent hive.


Mew was a graduate of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he was admitted in 1618 and was B.A. in 1622.[1][2] Mew held also a B.D. degree. Pseudomagia, a Neo-Latin drama, is thought to have been performed at Emmanuel around 1626.[3][4][5]

On 29 November 1643 he preached a fast-day sermon to Parliament, later printed as The Robbing and Spoiling of Jacob and Israel.[6] He is mentioned for constant attendance in the Westminster Assembly.[7] He was approached to answer Milton's divorce tracts, as he wrote in 1659 to Richard Baxter.[8] In this frank correspondence Baxter expressed his deepest fears and suspicions, becoming at one point (6 August 1659) "hysterical".[9]

He became vicar of Eastington, Stroud in Gloucestershire, for which the patron was Nathaniel Stephens, a local MP and one of Oliver Cromwell's colonels.[10] Previously he had been a lecturer in London. Known as a preacher, he conformed in 1662.[11] He was a commissioner for Gloucestershire in 1654.[12]

Mew's hive was made known by Samuel Hartlib.[13] Mew's design followed a suggestion in Pliny and proved influential, being adapted by John Wilkins and Christopher Wren.[14]


  1. ^ "intro". Philological.bham.ac.uk. Retrieved 2 February 2012.
  2. ^ "Mew, William (MW618W)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. ^ John C. Coldewey and Brian P. Copenhaver (editors and translators), Pseudomagia, A 17th-Century Neo-Latin Tragicomedy (1979).
  4. ^ John C. Coldewey and Brian F. Copenhaver, William Mewe, Pseudomagia, Aquila Cruso, Euribates Pseudomagus, John Chappell (?), Susenbrotus, or Fortuna, Zelotypus, Prepared with an Introduction (Renaissance Latin Drama in England series II.14, Hildesheim, 1991).
  5. ^ George Charles Moore Smith, College plays performed in the University of Cambridge (1923), p. 9. (PDF)
  6. ^ "under "Meuve, William"". Pcahistory.org. Retrieved 2 February 2012.
  7. ^ James Reid, Memoirs of the Lives and Writings of Those Eminent Divines, who Convened in the Famous Assembly at Westminster, in the Seventeenth Century (1811), p. 83.
  8. ^ Jason Peacey, Politicians and Pamphleteers: Propaganda During the English Civil Wars and Interregnum (2004), p. 179.
  9. ^ William M. Lamont, Richard Baxter and the Millennium (1979), p. 199.
  10. ^ "History of Chavenage". Chavenage.com. Retrieved 2 February 2012.
  11. ^ "Eastington – Churches | A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 10 (pp. 135–138)". British-history.ac.uk. 15 December 1953. Retrieved 2 February 2012.
  12. ^ "August 1654 – An Ordinance for ejecting Scandalous, Ignorant and insufficient Ministers and Schoolmasters. | Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642–1660 (pp. 968–990)". British-history.ac.uk. 22 June 2003. Retrieved 2 February 2012.
  13. ^ Samuel Hartlib, Reformed Commonwealth of Bees (1655), p. 43 (A copy of a letter written by Mr. William Mew, Minister at Eastlington in Gloucestershire to Mr. Nathanil Angelo, Fellow of Eaton Colledg).
  14. ^ "Hartlib Circle Catalogue Number 65". Mhs.ox.ac.uk. Retrieved 2 February 2012.

Further reading[edit]

  • B. P. Copenhaver, Magus or Pseudomagus: William Mewe's Pseudomagia and the Reputation of the Occultist Tradition in Early Seventeenth Century England. In Acta Conventus Neo-Latini Turonensis, ed. J. C. Margolin, 1187–1196. 2d ed. Paris: J. Vrin, 1980.