WILDMAN, John (c.1648-1710), of Becket House, Shrivenham, Berks.
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Family and Education
b. c.1648, o. s. of John Wildman† of Becket House and St. Giles-in-the-Fields, Mdx. by his 1st w. educ. Univ. Coll. Oxf. matric. 8 Apr. 1663, aged 17; L. Inn 1669. m. lic. 5 Sept. 1676, aged 26, Eleanor (d. 1677), da. of Edward Chute of Bethersden, Kent, s.p. suc. fa. 1693.1
Capt. 20 Ft. Nov. 1688–9, Visct. Charlemont’s Regt. Ft. 1694–6, 9 Ft. Apr. 1696–8.
Sheriff, Berks. 1705–6.
Unlike his father, the Republican, Wildman was able to retain the seat he had won in the Convention of 1689, aided no doubt by its proximity to the family seat at Shrivenham, about ten miles from Wootton Bassett. He was listed as a Whig by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) in March 1690, and a year later, not long after Wildman senior had been removed from office as postmaster-general, was classed by Robert Harley* as a supporter of the Country party. He was not an active Member, however. After the failure of a recommendation in his favour in 1693, for any civil or military office in Ireland, which recited not only his services at the Revolution but ‘his zeal since in discovering the designs’ of the regime’s ‘enemies’, he was at last provided with a captaincy in 1694, transferring in 1696 to the regiment of Colonel William Stewart. By this time he had given up his seat in the Commons, and he was soon to lose this new commission too. He quarrelled with Stewart so violently that, he alleged, two of the colonel’s nephews made an attempt on his life. Wildman consequently left the regiment in October 1697, and by the following February Stewart had secured his formal suspension, although Wildman considered this to have been done ‘upon false articles and allegations’. The charges may have been proved subsequently, for he never regained his place in the regiment. To make matters worse, Stewart was withholding a substantial sum in pay and subsistence money, as a result of which Wildman claimed that he had been reduced ‘to very poor conditions’. As late as 1705 he was still petitioning for settlement of a debt of £700 arising from the episode, but his cry of poverty is not borne out by the evidence of his will, in which there were bequests of about £5,000, besides Shrivenham and property in Berkshire, and in which the only debts to be specified were those owed to Sir Robert Clayton* as a result of business partnerships with Wildman’s father. He never stood for Parliament again, and seems to have taken little active part in politics. He still had friends enough to avoid the burdens of the shrievalty in 1701 but was not so lucky four years later.2
Wildman died in April 1710, making his heir the Presbyterian and Whig pamphleteer John Shute† (later Barrington). The story retailed by Le Neve, that the young man was ‘but of one fortnight’s acquaintance’ with the testator, was evidently a malicious invention, since Wildman had drawn up his will four years previously. Shute expressed his gratitude in the memorial he erected to his benefactor, in which the inscription portrayed Wildman as ‘a very strict observer of all public and private virtues, a great lover of the English constitution, and [one who] had an utmost abhorrence of all oppression and tyranny’, adding, ‘the sweetness of his temper and the modesty of his behaviour rendered him a most agreeable husband, master, neighbour and acquaintance’.3