WILDE, William (c.1611-79), of Great Bartholomew Close, London and Lewisham, Kent.
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Family and Education
b. c.1611, 1st. s. of William Wilde, Vintner, of Bread Street, London. educ. Clifford’s Inn; I. Temple 1630, called 1637. m. (1) 6 July 1630, Hannah (d. Sept. 1630), da. of Matthew Terry, vintner, of London, s.p.; (2) by 1652, Jane (d. 23 Aug. 1661), da. of Felix Wilson of Hanwell, Mdx., 1s.; (3) lic. 30 Oct. 1662, aged 51, Frances, da. of Thomas Barcroft of London, 1s. d.v.p. 3da. suc. fa. 1650; kntd. 16 May 1660; cr. Bt. 13 Sept. 1660.1
Bencher, I. Temple 1652; recorder, London 1659-68; j.p. Kent and Mdx. Mar. 1660-d.; commr. for militia, Kent Mar. 1660, sewers, N. Kent Sept. 1660, oyer and terminer, London, Mdx. and Home circuit July 1660, assessment, Kent 1661-d., London 1663-d., Mdx. 1673-d.; dep. lt. London 1662-?68.2
Serjeant-at-law Oct. 1660, King’s serjeant 1661-8; j.c.p. 16 Apr. 1668-73; j.K.b. 1673-9.
Wilde, the son of a London merchant, became a professional lawyer, and was elected recorder shortly after the military coup d’état in 1659. On 3 Dec. he was commissioned to see General Charles Fleetwood ‘to prevent any misunderstanding between the army and the City’. He was one of the London Presbyterians believed to favour a Restoration, and in February it was suggested that Charles II should write to him. At the general election of 1660, he was returned unopposed for London, and was granted an allowance for diet and boat-hire by the corporation. He was included in Lord Wharton’s list of friends to be managed by Sir Thomas Widdrington; he was sufficiently acceptable to Anglicans to be sent to ask Dr Gauden to preach before the Convention. A moderately active Member he was appointed to 17 committees, including that to consider the answer to the declaration of Breda, and made eight recorded speeches. He brought in the ordinance for the three months’ assessment on 7 May, and took the chair in the committee. He was knighted at Breda on presenting the loyal address from the City, which he had helped to draft. On his return he was appointed to the committees to consider the state of the queen mother’s jointure and the petition from the City against the naturalization bill. On 9 Aug. when it was proposed to send a committee of Members into the City to seek a loan of £100,000, he ‘said he thought the City would not lend it until the bill of indemnity was passed’. As one of those Members, he made ‘a long speech’ before the common council opposing the loan because of the delay in passing the bill of indemnity, the uncertainty of those who had purchased lands during the Interregnum, the innovations in church government, and the sudden decay of trade. On 17 Aug. on a report of a conference between the two Houses on the Lords’ amendments to the bill of indemnity, he declared he could not agree with the Lords ‘to except all the King’s judges for life’, and he took the chair of the committees to state the facts and prepare reasons for a further conference. On 22 Aug. he moved successfully that Sir Arthur Hesilrige might be spared, as George Monck had undertaken. On the adjournment he was given a baronetcy, and in the second session he was appointed to the committees to bring in a bill for modified episcopacy, and to insert the excise clause in the bill for the abolition of feudal tenures.3
Wilde was nominated for London by the court party in 1661, but there was answer made, ‘We have been too wild already’, because he had failed to oppose the excise, and he did not go to the poll. It was reported that Sir George Booth would recommend him at Chester, but he is not known to have stood, and in 1668 he became a judge. In February 1679 he sentenced three persons for the murder of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey on evidence provided by Bedloe, but next month, when he caught the witness in the act of altering his sworn evidence at these trials, he told him that ‘he was a perjured man and ought to come no more into courts but to go home and repent’. His plain speaking cost him his place, but he was given a pension of £500 p.a. ‘in consideration of his good service’ on the bench. He died on 23 Nov. aged 68, and was buried in the Temple Church.4
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Authors: M. W. Helms / Eveline Cruickshanks
- 1. St. Margaret Moses (Harl. Soc. Reg. xlii, pt. 2), 52, 81; E. A. Webb, Recs. of St. Bartholomew Smithfield, ii. 278; J. Thorpe, Registrum Roffense, 846; Essex Review, xxxiv. 217.
- 2. C181/7/46.
- 3. Cal. Cl. SP, iv. 550; EHR, lxvi. 35; Old Parl. Hist. xxii. 418, 429, 444; HMC 5th Rep. 195; Guildhall RO, common council jnl.; SP29/61/5.
- 4. CSP Dom. 1661-2, pp. 537-42; State Trials, vii. 222, 261; Burnet, ii. 194.