People of Note
Sir Thomas Hewett(1656–1726)
The Shireoaks estate was purchased by Charles, Duke of Norfolk in 1811, from the last representative of the Hewett family, who had held it since 1546, when it was purchased by Thomas Hewett, clothworker, of London.
Sir Thomas, architect and landowner was born on 9 September 1656, eldest son of William Hewett, landowner, and Anne, second daughter of Sir Richard Prince of Abbey Foregate, near Shrewsbury. Was this the William Hewet who in 1650 owned Cannon Hall Barnsley?
After schooling at Shrewsbury School and Christ Church, Oxford, he travelled extensively on the continent, visiting France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, and Germany.
He married Frances Betenson(c.1668–1756), daughter of Richard Betenson and Albinia Wray, in Geneva on 7 September 1689. He was said to have disinherited his only daughter when she ran off with a local fortune-teller.
A staunch whig, Hewett was an opponent of Roman Catholicism. His close links with the whig establishment, were perhaps aided by his Nottinghamshire neighbour the first Duke of Kingston, and are revealed by the list of his architectural clients who included the first Earl of Portland; the third Earl of Sunderland, first lord of the Treasury, for whom he built a library in Piccadilly; and the first Viscount Macclesfield, the Lord Chancellor, whom he advised on the antiquarian reconstruction of Shirburn Castle, Oxfordshire.
At Sunderland's recommendation, in 1719, he was appointed to the Office of Surveyor of Works within the Tower of London and elsewhere for which he received 2 shillings a day, and 6d. for a clerk, and 4 shillings a day for diet, boat-hire and riding charges.
He was also Surveyor of the Kings woods, on both sides of the River Trent, including Sherwood Forest for which he received £100 a year He was knighted in 1719, after he had been dismissed from his other posts by Sir Robert Walpole in 1716.
Together with two Yorkshire neighbours, the first Viscount Molesworth and his son John, and with Sir George Markham, Hewett had formed the new junta for architecture aimed at its reformation. Both Lord Molesworth and, from 1721, Hewett, were fellows of the Royal Society and their ideals were strongly influenced by Lord Molesworth's close friend, the Earl of Shaftesbury. Little came of their endeavours
Little is known of Hewett's work, as an architect - his one important surviving design was the Cube Room at Kensington Palace, London, which suggests that his approach may have been influenced by the writings of seventeenth-century French architects on ancient Roman architecture.
Sir Thomas died on 9 April 1726, aged 69, at his home, Shireoaks Hall, Nottinghamshire, and was buried in Wales Church, where there is an inscription to his memory in the church.
Dame Frances survived her husband and went to live in London; she died in January, 1756 and was interred at Wales where there is a stone with an inscription to her memory.
Sir Thomas and Dame Frances had a daughter who resided at Shireoaks. When she married, Sir Thomas is said to have disclaimed and disinherited his daughter, and in consequence to have placed as heir the Rev. John Hewett, then Rector of Harthill.
When Rev. John refused to renounce his profession, Sir Thomas gave the estate to John Thornhagh, Esq. of Osberton, his godson, for the term of his natural life, who took the name Hewett, probably the wish of Sir Thomas.
John Thornhagh Hewett outlived the above mentioned Rector of Harthill, at his death the Shireoaks estate went to the son of the Rev John, another Rev. John Hewett, who was also Rector of Harthill and Todwick.