JACOB, William (c.1623-92), of Canterbury, Kent.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Mar. 1679

Family and Education

b. c.1623, s. of John Jacob, physician, of Canterbury. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. matric. 27 Mar. 1640, aged 17, MD 1660; Leyden 1645. unm.

Offices Held

Freeman, Canterbury May 1660; commr. for assessment, Kent and Canterbury 1679-80, 1689-91.


Jacob’s few known connexions lay entirely among the local professional classes, and he is said to have been unrelated to the philologist Henry Jacob (1608-52), who came of Kentish yeoman stock. Nevertheless when the latter was expelled from Oxford by the parliamentary visitors, he sheltered him in his house in Canterbury until his death, and was rewarded by becoming the protagonist in one of the most popular ghost stories of the period. He was allowed to practise as a doctor among the Dutch prisoners of war in 1653. His brother Israel, an apothecary, became a common councilman in 1655, but he himself held no municipal office, and was given the freedom of the city at the Restoration. He may have assisted in the election of Heneage Finch, who doubtless obtained for him the royal mandate to the university for the grant of an MD, and two years later he was licensed to practise medicine in the city. In 1670 the corporation entertained him at a collation ‘for his love and favour in repairing Wincheap Gate’. After his election to the first Exclusion Parliament, he prudently made his will before setting out for Westminster. Shaftesbury marked him ‘honest’, and he became a moderately active Member. He was appointed to seven committees, including those for the security bill and the habeas corpus amendment bill. He was given leave for a week on 21 May, but is said to have voted for exclusion on the next day. He was replaced by a court supporter, (Sir) Thomas Hardres, in August, and probably never stood again. In 1682 he was described as a well-known exclusionist, who favoured fanatics and factions in the city. His name disappeared from the assessment commission after 1691, and his will was proved by his brother on 30 Mar. 1692.

DNB; Roll of Freemen ed. Cowper, 319; Wood, Athenae Oxon. iii. 330-3; CSP Dom. 1653-4, p. 537; 1682, p. 250; information from Miss A. M. Oakley; Hasted, Kent, xii. 650; Kent AO, RC56/135.

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Basil Duke Henning