WILLIAMS, Sir John (167?-1743), of Stoke by Nayland, Suff.
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Family and Education
b. 167?, 2nd s. of Reginald Williams of Stoke by Nayland, by his 2nd w. Sarah, da. of Sir Thomas Dyke of Horeham, Suss., sis. of Sir Thomas Dyke, 1st Bt., M.P. m. (settlement 4 Mar., lic. 8 Mar. 1709) Mary,1 da. of Richard Onslow, 1st Baron Onslow, Speaker of the House of Commons, sis. of Thomas Onslow, 2nd Baron Onslow, 3s. Kntd. 23 June 1713.
Director, South Sea Co. 1711-15; sub-gov. R. Exchange Assurance 1720; Mercers’ Co. 1723-d., master 1723; alderman, London 1723, sheriff 1729-30, ld. mayor 1735-6.
A wealthy London merchant, ‘at the head of the Turkey trade’, Williams was said to be ‘the greatest exporter of cloth in England’.2 One of the promoters of the insurance company known in 1720 as ‘Onslow’s Bubble’, which survives today as the Royal Exchange Assurance,3 he stood unsuccessfully for Minehead in 1723 and London in 1727. A prominent Tory in the city of London, he was a member of the committee of the common council to prepare the city petitions to the Commons and to the Lords against the city elections bill. He was also on the committee which drew up a loyal address upon the accession of George II, couched in such offensive terms that the lord mayor, Sir John Eyles, refused to present it. Returned as a Tory for Aldeburgh in 1730, he was one of the members of the woollen manufacture committee of the House of Commons who supported the taking off the duties on the import of Irish yarn in 1731. He voted regularly against the Government, receiving the thanks of the common council for his ‘strenuous opposing’ of the excise bill.4 He seems to have been regarded at Aldeburgh as parsimonious, though according to his own account he offered to build a ship at the local yard and to buy all or part of the season’s herring catch.5 He did not stand again but continued active on the Tory side in the common council, who at the end of his mayoralty thanked him
for his constant attendance, his judicious and faithful discharge and great dispatch of the several duties of that high station, his vigilant care in preserving the peace and quiet of this city, for the easy access he has given to our fellow citizens upon all occasions and more especially for the frequent opportunities he hath given this court of meeting together for the dispatch of the public business.6
On 4 May 1743 Thomas Carte, the Jacobite historian, reported:
Sir John Williams has been for some time languishing of a dropsy and been tapped several times, and his death is daily expected.7
He died three days later, 7 May 1743.