WHEELER, Sir William (c.1601-66), of Leigh Manor, Westbury, Wilts. and Rogers House, Cannon Row, Westminster.
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Family and Education
b. c.1601, 1st s. of John Wheeler, Grocer, of London and Middelburg, Zeeland by 1st w. Anne, da. of Henry Hervey of Chessington, Surr., wid. of James Engler of Lingfield, Surr. m. bef. 1636, Elizabeth (d.1670), da. and h. of Michael Cole of Kensington, Mdx., 1da. d.v.p. suc. fa. 1617; kntd. bef. 30 Jan. 1649; cr. Bt. 11 Aug. 1660.3
Remembrancer of the first-fruits and tenths by 1630-52; member, Society of Mineral and Battery Works 1635, dep. gov. 1657-d.; commr. for Westminster Assembly 1643-8, scandalous offences 1646, exclusion from sacrament 1648, removing obstructions 1648-9, trade 1655-7; treasurer for poll-tax Sept. 1660-1; commr. for maimed soldiers Dec. 1660-1; member, Society of Mines Royal 1663-d.4
J.p. Westminster by 1641-8, Hants 1648, Mdx. and Westminster 1656-61, 1664-d.; commr. for sequestrations, Westminster and Wilts. 1643, levying of money, Mdx. 1643, defence, London and Wilts. 1644, assessment, Mdx. 1644-8, Wilts. 1644, Hants and Wilts. 1647-8, Westminster 1657, Aug. 1660-1, 1664-d., Kent and Mdx. Aug. 1660-1, new model ordinance, Mdx. 1645, chapter, Westminster abbey 1645, appeals, Oxf. Univ. 1647, militia, Mdx., Hants, Wilts. and Westminster 1648, Mdx., Tower Hamlets, Westminster and Wilts. Mar. 1660; freeman, Portsmouth 1653; commr. for sewers, Westminster Aug. 1660.5
Wheeler came from a prominent London merchant family, but he was born and bred in Holland, where his father chiefly resided as secretary to the Merchant Adventurers. He had obtained a post in the Exchequer by 1630, but he did not take out letters of denization till 1639, when he bought a manor in Westbury, which he represented in the Long Parliament. A strong Presbyterian, he supported Parliament in the first Civil War; but his wife took an active part in the attempt to free Charles I at Carisbrooke, and he was himself knighted ‘by the late King of blessed memory’, as he described him in his will. He was imprisoned at Pride’s Purge, but accepted a second ‘knighthood’ from the Protector in 1657.6
Wheeler’s return for Queenborough in 1660 was doubtless assisted by the Admiralty interest of his friend Edward Montagu I. He was also listed by Lord Wharton as a friend, and became an active Member of the Convention, being named to 42 committees, including the committees of elections and privileges. On 30 May he was teller in favour of a Lords’ amendment to the bill for continuation of judicial proceedings. He introduced the poll-tax bill on 12 June and acted as chairman of the committee to nominate commissioners and treasurers. He also took the chair for the committee to consider the Lords’ nominations to the sewers commissions. He returned the bill on 24 July, and in accordance with his instructions asked them to wait for two money bills to be sent up. On 30 July, in his only recorded speech, he urged that the bill for settling ministers should be committed, leaving the details of its enforcement to the discretion of the justices of the peace, and was appointed to the committee. No doubt his record was generally satisfactory to the Government, for he was created a baronet before the end of the session. He was appointed to the committee for disbanding the army, and on 6 Sept. acted as teller against an amendment to the bill for confirming marriages. After the autumn recess he was appointed to the committee for the attainder bill, and on 10 Nov. reported the bill for the better observation of the Lord’s day.7
Wheeler stood unsuccessfully for Westbury in 1661. His removal from the commission of the peace later in the year may have been due to the interception of a suspicious letter to William West from his clerk. He was restored in 1664, and presumably conformed. He was among the Westminster justices ordered to remain at their posts during the plague, but he fled to Derby, where he died on 6 Aug. 1666, aged 65, ‘having not changed his fate with his habitation’. He was buried at All Saints, Derby. His baronetcy was inherited by Sir Charles Wheler under a special remainder; but most of his estate, valued at over £1,000 p.a., was settled on Sir George Wheler, the traveller, though neither appears to have been a blood relative. His heir concluded from his books that he must have been ‘a man of study and learning, curious and inquisitive’.8
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Authors: M. W. Helms / Basil Duke Henning
- 1. Secluded at Pride’s Purge, 6 Dec. 1648, readmitted 21 Feb. 1660.