WYLDE (WILDE), John (c.1591-c.1669), of the Harriots, Droitwich, Worcs. and the Inner Temple, London; later of Serjeants' Inn, Chancery Lane, London and Hampstead, Mdx.
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Family and Education
b. c.1591, 1st s. of George Wylde I* of the Harriots, and Frances, da. of Sir Edmund Huddleston of Sawston, Cambs.; bro. of George II*.1 educ. Balliol, Oxf. 1605, aged 14, BA Oxf. 1607 (incorp. Camb. 1608), MA Oxf. 1610; I. Temple 1603, called 1612.2 m. (1) by 10 Oct. 1613, 1da.3 ?d.v.p.; (2) Anne (d. 6 May 1624), da. of (Sir) Thomas Harris*, 1st bt. of Tong Castle, Salop, 1da.4 suc. fa. 1616.5 d. c.1669.6
Reader, Clement’s Inn 1619-20, I. Temple 1631;7 recorder, Droitwich 1624-c.60,8 Worcester, Worcs. 1640-3, 1646-60;9 auditor, Steward’s acct., I. Temple 1626, auditor, treas.’s acct., 1627, bencher 1628-37, steward, Reader’s dinner 1629, reader’s attendant 1630;10 sjt.-at-law, 1637; treas. Serjeants’ Inn, Chancery Lane 1639-42;11 commr. Gt. Seal, 1643-6;12 j. assize, Oxf. circ. winter 1647, 1650, 1651, 1652, summer 1650, 1651, 1659, Western circ. summer 1647, 1648, 1649, 1652, 1653, winter 1648, 1649, 1653; chief bar. of exch. 1648-55, Jan.-May 1660.13
J.p. Worcs. 1620-60 (custos rot. 1651-5), Oxon. 1647-53, Salop 1647-c.1655, 1660, Mon. 1647-53, Glos. 1647-60 (custos rot. by 1650-60), Berks. 1647-c.1655, Herefs. 1647-53, Devon, Dorset, Hants, Cornw. 1647-c.1655, Essex and Kent by 1650-53, Leics. Mdx., Norf., Northants., Som., Suff. by 1650-c.1655, Staffs., Surr., Warws. by 1650-53, Wilts. by 1650-c.1655, Caern., Flint., Merion. by 1650-53, Denb. by 1650-53, Mont. by 1650-60, Westminster by 1650-c.1655, Anglesey 1650-3;14 commr. subsidy, Worcs. 1622, 1628, 1642,15 charitable uses, 1624, 1628, 1631, 1632, 1636, 1637, 1638, 1640,16 gaol delivery, Worcester 1624-at least 1638,17 Forced Loan, Worcs. 1627,18 sewers, Glos. and Worcs. 1629;19 member, Council in the Marches of Wales, 1633;20 under-steward, Kidderminster, Worcs. 1636, commr. swearing the officers of the corp. of Kidderminster 1636,21 oyer and terminer, Oxf. circ. 1637-42, 1654-9, Hants 1648, Kent 1648,22 assessment, Worcs. 1643, 1644, 1647, 1648, 1649-53, 1657, 1660, Worcester 1647, 1648, 1660, Mdx. 1652-3, 1660, Westminster 1660,23 sequestration, Worcs. 1643,24 levying of money, Worcs. 1643,25 maintaining the Gloucester garrison, 1644,26 reducing Worcs. to the obedience of Parl., 1644,27 militia, Worcs. 1648, 1659, 1660, Worcester, 1648, Westminster, 1659, Glos. 1659, Mdx. 1659, 1660,28 scandalous ministers, Worcs. 1654.29
Member, cttee. for Irish Affairs, 1641, 1642;30 chairman, cttee. for safety of kingdom 1642,31 cttee. for sequestrations 1643-8;32 commr. assembly of Divines 1643;33 member, cttee. for supplying wood fuel to London by 1644,34 regulating the Excise, 1645;35 commr. for exclusion from the sacrament, 1646, 1648;36 conservator of peace, negotiations between Eng. and Scotland 1646;37 cllr. of state 1649-51.38
Wylde followed his father into the legal profession. As the eldest son of a Droitwich freeman he automatically became free on attaining his majority,39 and when his father died in 1616 he inherited property in and near the town.40 Wylde played a prominent part in Droitwich affairs, organizing the borough’s petition for a new charter in 1624, when he was appointed the town’s first recorder.41
Wylde first represented Droitwich in the 1621 Parliament. He made nine recorded contributions to debates and was appointed to five committees. In his first intervention, in the debate on the concealments bill (21 Mar.), he called for a saving clause for depending suits but was opposed by Sir Edward Coke.42 In the grievances debate on 26 Mar. Wylde attacked the Exchequer for encouraging informers and imposing unnecessary fees,43 and on 25 Apr. he proposed that the committee appointed to investigate Chancery should also examine the Exchequer. The House referred the business to the committee for sheriffs’ accounts, to which Wylde was then added.44 On 3 May he proposed that the bill against innovated fees should cover gaolers but that Exchequer fees authorized by a statute of 1604 should be allowed to continue.45 As well as complaining about grievances Wylde sought to maintain the dignity of his profession. On 1 May he attacked proposals to exclude from the bench all lawyers who had not been readers, for although he would not have been affected, having recently read at Clement’s Inn, he considered that it was a disgrace to be removed.46 Wylde also defended the interests of his county, arguing on 5 May that Worcestershire should not contribute to the repair of Tewkesbury bridge.47 Wylde’s remaining committee appointments, concerned the estates of Sir Edward Apsley (4 May), Sir Francis Hollyngham (8 May) and Thomas Frith (26 May), and the naturalization of Abigail and William Little (8 May).48
In the first sitting of the 1621 Parliament Wylde concerned himself with domestic issues, but early in the morning on 27 Nov. he turned to foreign policy, proposing to renew the previous day’s debate. As the House was then only thinly attended he was initially rebuffed, but he subsequently launched into an attack against Spain. Claiming that Spain aimed to ‘to subjugate all kingdoms’, he proposed an offensive war rather than one restricted to the Palatinate. He further suggested that Spain be declared the common enemy and that the House announce its readiness to vote money. He concluded by moving that the Commons should turn their attention to domestic security. Wylde’s views may have been too extreme for many in the Commons, as Pym states that he ‘was quickly stopped by the dislike of the House’. However, the full accounts of Wylde’s speech in other diaries suggest that Pym’s comment actually refers to Wylde’s earlier speech that morning, which was certainly cut short due to thin attendance.49 In his last intervention, two days later, Wylde returned to domestic issues, successfully moving that the sheriffs’ accounts committee meet the following afternoon.50
In February 1622 Wylde gave £50 for the recovery of the Palatinate and was active in raising contributions in Worcestershire.51 Returned again for Droitwich in 1624, this time with his brother-in-law Walter Blount, Wylde was appointed to five committees, made nine recorded contributions to debates, and was exclusively concerned with domestic issues. Twice he referred to the 1621 assembly as a ‘convention’, endorsing James I’s assertion that it was not a true Parliament.52 He quickly returned to abuses in the Exchequer, arguing on 24 Feb. that the bills prepared in 1621 should be revived and a select committee appointed. However the House thought that this matter came within the remit of the grand committee for investigating the courts of justice.53 Wylde was undaunted and at the latter committee the following day he repeated his demand for a select committee. This time the House relented, for the next day it appointed a committee, to which Wylde was named.54 He remained interested in the Exchequer, being appointed to the committee to consider a bill concerning licences of alienation (5 Mar.), and complaining in the debate on the second reading of the sheriffs’ accounts bill (8 Mar.) that the provisions relating to fees were too general.55
Wylde was active in the committee for grievances in 1624, attacking the patent for concealed tithes on 27 Feb. and 5 Mar. and the patent for defective titles on 15 March.56 His professional expertise explains his appointment to committees for the continuing of expiring statutes (13 Mar.), and the removal of suits from inferior courts on 15 March.57 He may also have acted in his professional capacity at the privileges committee’s hearing on the Cambridgeshire election dispute on 4 Mar., when he is recorded as excusing one Spalding.58 In addition he was added to the committee for Lady Bulkeley’s bill (4 May).59 Wylde seems to have been active on at least one other committee to which he had not been personally appointed, for on 12 May Wylde reported the bill concerning tithes on lead ore, recommending that it should be rejected.60 Moreover on 11 May he noted that some of the Somervile brothers had failed to attend the committee for their estate bill, to which the Worcestershire members had been added three days previously.61 Wylde was nominated to attend the conference with the Lords on 15 Apr. about the bill rescinding the power given to Henry VIII to make laws for Wales without the consent of Parliament.62 In the debate on the bill for the continuance of expiring statutes on 27 Apr., Wylde proposed that clauses should be added to prevent the import of ‘unwholesome’ hops and the selling of ‘corrupt’ salt.63
Re-elected for Droitwich in 1625, Wylde left no trace in the surviving records of that Parliament. Returned again in 1626 he made 17 recorded contributions to debates and was nominated to four committees. His initial interventions concerned relatively minor issues: on 16 Feb. he favoured granting privilege to Emanuel Giffard, and two days later he sought to have a bill concerning Edmund Nicholson, projector of the pretermitted customs, extended to include the projector of the impositions on Newcastle coal.64 However on 28 Feb. Wylde launched into a wide-ranging attack on the conduct of the war, arguing that the ultimate cause of their misfortunes was God, whose displeasure had been incurred by their sins. Nevertheless he advised the House to focus on more immediate causes, namely ‘the misemploying of our monies, the misguiding of our great action, the miscounsellings and ill counsellings, the refusing of the cordial counsel of parliament’. In an oblique reference to Buckingham, he argued that ‘where great things are managed by single counsel or private respects, they are to be looked into’. He complained that ‘we have lost our, money, our men, our command of the seas’, and also the services of those former members who had been pricked to serve as sheriffs.65 In the debate on 8 Mar. on the Council of War’s answers concerning the money voted in 1624, Wylde provided precedents for denying the king taxation. He showed that Parliament had once refused to vote funds when the ostensible cause of the request, a war with Castile, had been a pretence and that on another occasion it had turned down a request because the Commons had not received the accounts of a previous grant. He concluded by saying that had the 1624 Parliament known how the Council of War would answer they would not have voted the subsidies.66
On 22 Apr. Wylde used his legal expertise to buttress the case for proceeding against Buckingham by common fame by citing Bracton and a long list of precedents.67 In the debate on further supply four days latter he pointedly cited precedents for increasing the Crown’s revenue by confiscating the lands of disgraced ‘great officers’, although he did not believe that Buckingham’s fall would solve Charles I’s financial problems. He was reluctant to reform the subsidy, preferring instead to vote extra subsidies and fifteenths and to enter into a contract with the Crown to abolish wardship.68 Wylde’s support for supply, however, was conditional on the House first presenting its grievances, as he made clear after the chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Richard Weston*, called for the subsidy bill to be brought in on 5 May, and he attacked demands to hasten supply as an encroachment on their liberties.69
On 3 May Wylde was appointed to assist his Inner Temple colleague Edward Whitby*, one of the managers of the impeachment of Buckingham.70 Whitby was assigned to prepare the articles concerning the sale of honours and titles, but in the event fell ill. On 9 May Wylde suggested that Whitby’s other assistant, Christopher Sherland, who had less parliamentary experience than himself, should take over responsibility for presenting their part of the articles to the Lords.71
On 12 May, following the arrest of Eliot and Digges, Wylde was the first to break the silence in the Commons. In an impassioned speech he lamented that the House had lost both their friends and their liberty, and argued that the ‘broad charter of our great inheritance, gained with so great cost, so often confirmed’ was endangered. He proposed that a committee should be appointed to draw up a Remonstrance to the king for their release. However his speech was followed by a further long silence.72 Wylde returned to the case of Eliot and Digges on 17 May. Though he would not discuss the prerogative, as it was too ‘high’ for him, there had to be reciprocity between the prerogative and the subjects’ liberties, for the Crown had a duty to the law, just as the subject had a loyalty to the Crown. He conceded that the Crown was sometimes entitled to commit without showing cause, but only out of Parliament. Eliot and Digges’ right to free speech was fundamental, he added for without the right to free speech, which was declared rather than granted at the beginning of each Parliament, the freedom of Parliament was gone. He was concerned that a precedent should not be set, and advised that legislation be drafted declaring it illegal to imprison a Member except for treason, felony or breach of the peace. Even if this bill were not passed it would be clear to posterity what they had intended.73 By this stage Wylde may have believed that Parliament’s dissolution was imminent and therefore wanted to go down fighting.
Wylde presented the ‘very submissive’ petition of his fellow Inner Templer, Richard Dyott, for readmission to the Commons on 23 May, which suggests that he was not personally hostile to Buckingham’s supporters.74 In his last speech of the Parliament on 5 June, about heads for a proposed conference with the Lords concerning the retarding of the business of Parliament, he argued that Buckingham’s recent election as chancellor of Cambridge University, should be included, saying that in future the University would be the ‘meaner academy’ in his eyes. However he argued against including (Sir) Dudley Carleton’s ‘new counsels’ speech of 12 May, which was widely interpreted to mean that the king would cease to summon Parliament unless it was more acquiescent.75
Wylde attacked Sir Dudley Digges’s proposal to select committees by lot on 2 March.76 His legislative appointments in 1626 included bills concerned with administrations (7 Mar.) and the mitigation of the sentence of greater excommunication (2 May).77 He may have chaired the latter committee, for on 8 May he moved for an addition to its membership.78 On 3 May Wylde spoke in favour of a motion to instruct the Speaker to order High Commission to make void its proceedings against Sir Robert Howard*.79 On 3 June he was added to the committee to prepare charges against the anti-Calvinist Richard Montagu. However he argued on 5 June that among God’s blessings on England was ‘having above all the sincerity of the gospel’, indicating that he did not at this stage believe that Montagu’s doctrines had permeated very far.80 In addition he reported the sheriff’s accounts bill on 2 May, and on 1 June he was appointed to a committee for a private estate bill.81 On 2 June Wylde told the committee for grievances during the debate on the composition for purveyance of beer that the charters and customs of the City of London were confirmed by statute, thereby supporting the contention of the Brewers’ Company that London was exempted from purveyance by its charters.82 In the aftermath of the Parliament Wylde was one of those whom Secretary Conway (Sir Edward Conway*) ordered to hand over copies of the Commons’ final declaration.83
In 1628 Wylde was re-elected for Droitwich with his younger brother George, but it is probable that most, if not all, the references to ‘Mr. Wylde’ relate to this Member. He made nine speeches and was named to three committees. In addition, on 20 June, privilege was granted for one of his servants.84 He is first mentioned on 4 Apr., when he complained about a letter which had been written concerning the Droitwich election.85 Three days later he attacked billeting.86 However, it was not until 26 Apr. that he made his first major speech of the session, when he took the lead in the debate on the Lords’ propositions, presented at the previous day’s conference, which sought to obtain from the king a confirmation of the fundamental liberties of the subject enshrined in Magna Carta. He did not disagree with the proposals, but suggested that their wording should be tightened. For instance, he argued that it was not sufficient for the king to acknowledge that the subject’s property rights were ‘fundamental’ unless Charles also accepted that the royal prerogative did not include the power to infringe them. Consequently he proposed the insertion of ‘some negative words, as: no power to do otherwise, etc.’ He was also worried that the proposal that the king should proceed according to the Common Law in cases within its cognisance was dangerously ambiguous. Similarly, he observed that the Lords’ proposals would not prevent arbitrary imprisonment, for although they required the king to declare the cause of a man’s imprisonment within a ‘convenient time’, Wylde pointed out that ‘a "convenient time" not named is no time’. He wanted the Crown to be obliged to declare the cause and proceed according to the law within a definite period, and for there to be a procedure to enable prisoners to regain their liberty if this was not done.87 In the debate on the bill for the liberty of the subject on 29 Apr. Wylde spoke in favour of keeping the substance but changing the wording; he requested sight of the bill against wrongful imprisonment introduced in 1621 and 1624, which he thought could provide some guidance.88 In the debate following the king’s message to the House on 1 May, in which Charles angrily demanded to know whether the Lower House ‘will rest on his royal word or no’,89 Wylde attacked those who informed the king of their debates before they had reached a conclusion. In answering the message he argued they should take advantage of Charles’s earlier offer to permit the House to proceed by bill ‘or otherwise’ so that they might enjoy their ‘ancient liberties’. Failure to reach an agreement with the king would mean that their forefathers’ liberties would come to an end, a dishonour as great as for ‘a private person to be the last of a family’.90 On 20 May, in the debate on the Lords’ amendments to the Petition of Right, Wylde spoke in favour of the Commons’ original description of the oath which had accompanied the Forced Loan commissions as ‘unlawful’, comparing it with the oath issued by Cardinal Wolsey with the Amicable Grant, which had been similarly condemned.91 Wylde’s support for the liberties of the subject and Magna Carta was, however, only provisional and in some instances he upheld royal power. In the debate on the scandalous ministers bill on 16 May, he answered Sir Henry Marten’s complaint that the bill took away the liberties of the clergy enshrined in Magna Carta, arguing that the ministry had lost their liberties because they had abused it, specifically instancing ‘that outrage by Thomas Becket’.92
At the committee for grievances on 30 Apr. Wylde argued that purveyance should not extend to beer as it was a manufactured product, and he also attacked the composition agreement imposed on the London Brewers.93 On 24 June he spoke on Bowdler’s case, arguing that the king had no right to the property of a bastard dying intestate.94 On 23 Apr. he was appointed to the committee for the bill concerning the winding of wool. He was subsequently added to the committee for the Medway navigation bill after the patentee was ordered to bring in his patent and other documents (17 May), and on 23 June he was added to the committee for the clerks of the custom house.95 During the recess Wylde was called to the Inner Temple bench.
In the 1629 session Wylde renewed his complaint concerning the letter about the Droitwich election. He also received two committee appointments. On 28 Jan. he was nominated to consider the bill against recusants evading forfeiture by placing their estates in trust.96 Though consigned to the care of Sir Thomas Hoby, the bill was reported by Wylde on 10 Feb., on which day he was appointed to the committee for the bill to confirm the Somers Island Company’s letters patent.97 On 20 Feb. Wylde intervened in the debate concerning the customs, asking that the collectors’ commission should be read.98
Wylde continued to prosper in the 1630s, becoming serjeant-at-law in 1637, when his patrons were the bishop of Worcester, the 10th earl of Shrewsbury and Lord Cottington (Sir Francis Cottington*).99 His support for the 1629 recusancy bill did not stop him from promoting the admission of the sons of his Catholic brother-in-law, Walter Blount*, to the Inner Temple in 1631 and 1636.100 Returned for Droitwich to the Short Parliament, and for Worcestershire to the Long Parliament, he was a staunch supporter of Parliament in the Civil War, playing a key role in constructing its financial machinery and in establishing an alternative Great Seal. In 1648 he was appointed chief baron of the Exchequer and subsequently supported the Commonwealth. However he fell out with Cromwell and lost all public office at the Restoration. He is said to have died at his house in Hampstead in about 1669 and to have been buried at the seat of his son-in-law Charles West, 5th Baron de la Warr, at Wherwell, Hampshire.101 No will or letters of administration have been found.
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: Glyn Redworth / Andrew Thrush / Ben Coates
- 1. Vis. Worcs. (Harl. Soc. xc), 104-5.
- 2. Al. Ox.; Al. Cant.; CITR, i. 453; ii. 69.
- 3. Regs. Church of St. Peter de Witton, Droitwich (Birmingham and Midland Soc. for Genealogy and Heraldry, 1986), p. 10.
- 4. G. Griffiths, Hist. Tonge, 79-80; T. Nash, Colls. for Hist. of Worcs. ii. ped. facing p. 331.
- 5. C142/356/104.
- 6. Foss, Judges of Eng. vi. 522.
- 7. Readers and Readings in Inns of Ct. and Chancery ed. J.H. Baker (Selden Soc. suppl. ser. xiii), 99, 197.
- 8. Nash, i. 311.
- 9. Chamber Order Bk. of Worcester ed. S. Bond (Worcs. Hist. Soc., n.s. viii), 337, 372, 414; Worcs. RO, Worcester City mss Shelf A14, chamber order bk. 1650-68, f. 38.
- 10. CITR, ii. 153, 164, 170, 174, 179.
- 11. Order of Sjts.-at-Law ed. J.H. Baker (Selden Soc. suppl. ser. v), 544.
- 12. A. and O. i. 342, 840, 885.
- 13. Sainty, Judges, 96.
- 14. C231/4, f.101; 231/6, pp. 79, 81, 96, 220, 319; C193/13/4; 193/13/5; 193/13/6; Names of JPs (1650).
- 15. C212/22/21; E179/283/27; SR, v. 157.
- 16. C181/3, f. 114; C93/11/16; 93/13/18; 93/14/1; 93/17/6; 93/18/14; C192/1, unfol.
- 17. C181/3, ff. 128v; 181/5, f. 62.
- 18. C193/12/2, f. 63.
- 19. C181/4, f. 18.
- 20. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 4, p. 8.
- 21. J.R. Burton, Hist. Kidderminster, 74.
- 22. C181/5, ff. 62, 218v; 181/6, pp. 10, 374; CJ, v. 425b, 534a.
- 23. A. and O. i. 95, 542, 977, 1095; ii. 44, 668, 677, 1082, 1373-4, 1380.
- 24. Ibid. i. 117.
- 25. Ibid. i. 151.
- 26. Ibid. i. 428.
- 27. Ibid. i. 507.
- 28. Ibid. i. 1244-5; ii. 1290, 1324, 1327, 1334, 1435, 1444.
- 29. Ibid. ii. 976
- 30. CJ, ii. 302a, 750b.
- 31. Ibid. ii. 368b.
- 32. Ibid. ii. 953b; vi. 99a.
- 33. A. and O. i. 181
- 34. Add. 40630, f. 130.
- 35. A. and O. i. 691.
- 36. Ibid. i. 853, 1208.
- 37. CJ, iv. 590a.
- 38. A. and O. ii. 2, 335.
- 39. P.F.W. Large, ‘Economic and Social Change in N. Worcs. during the Seventeenth Cent.’ (Oxf. Univ. D.Phil. thesis, 1980), p. 194.
- 40. C142/356/104.
- 41. Large, 198.
- 42. CJ, i. 567b.
- 43. CD 1621, ii. 267.
- 44. CJ, i. 591a.
- 45. CD 1621, iv. 294, vi. 131.
- 46. Ibid. iii. 113.
- 47. CJ, i. 609a; CD 1621, iv. 307.
- 48. CJ, i. 606b, 614b, 615a, 627b.
- 49. CJ, i. 647a; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 217; CD 1621, ii. 452; iii. 459; iv. 441; v. 214; 405; vi. 200, 321.
- 50. CD 1621, ii. 469; CJ, i. 650b.
- 51. SP14/156/14; 14/130/40.
- 52. ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 5v; ‘Jervoise 1624’, f. 60; C.R. Kyle, ‘"It being not fitt without A Lawe": Expiring Laws Continuance Acts, 1604-41’, PH, xix. 200-2.
- 53. ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 5v; ‘Spring 1624’, p. 16.
- 54. CJ, i. 674a; ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 23.
- 55. CJ, i. 679a, 729.
- 56. ‘Spring 1624’, p. 40; ‘Pym 1624’, i. f. 20; ‘Jervoise 1624’, f. 60.
- 57. CJ, i. 736b, 737a.
- 58. ‘Holland 1624’, i. f. 29v. Alternatively the ‘Wilde’ here referred to could be his bro. George Wylde II*, or a Cambridgeshire witness.
- 59. Ibid. 698a.
- 60. Ibid. 769a, 787b.
- 61. Ibid. 690b, 700b, 702a.
- 62. Ibid. 767a.
- 63. ‘Pym 1624’, iii. f. 80v.
- 64. Procs. 1626, ii. 56, 70.
- 65. Ibid. ii. 149, 152, 154-5.
- 66. Ibid. ii. 230, 232.
- 67. Ibid. iii. 46, 49.
- 68. Ibid. iii. 74, 77.
- 69. Ibid. iii. 170, 173.
- 70. Ibid. iii. 140.
- 71. Ibid. iii. 200.