WILSON, Sir Thomas Spencer, 6th Bt. (1727-98), of Uckfield, Suss.
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Family and Education
b. 25 Jan. 1727, 2nd s. of Sir Thomas Wilson, 4th Bt., by Elizabeth, da. of William Hutchinson of Uckfield. educ. Charterhouse 1737. m. 25 June 1767, Jane, da. and h. of John Badger Weller of Hornchurch, Essex, 1s. 3da. suc. bro. 24 June 1760.
Ensign 8 Ft. 1744, lt. 1747, capt.-lt. Feb. 1755, capt. Oct. 1755; lt.-col. army 1761; col. 1772; maj.-gen. 1777; col. 50 Ft. 1777- d.; lt.-gen. 1782; gen. 1796.
In a letter to Chatham in 1766 Wilson thus outlined his military service:1
I have now strictly attended my duty as commissioned officer near twenty-three years in the war in Flanders, the rebellion in Scotland, most part of the war in Germany (where I was aide-de-camp to Lord Waldegrave, commanding the British infantry at the battle of Minden), and in three expeditions on the coast of France, and have been four times wounded.
‘Having no parliamentary connection’, he requested promotion from Chatham, but in vain; and had to wait until 1772 when he was given the rank of colonel ‘entirely from the King’s knowledge of Sir Thomas’s merit, and from the rank he bore among the lieutenant-colonels’.2
His entry into Parliament was unsolicited and almost malgré lui. On 27 Sept. 1774 a meeting of Sussex freeholders, discontented with the conduct of Richard Harcourt, adopted Wilson as candidate in spite of his declaration, when it was clear there would be a contest, that ‘he would not be at any expense, either in carrying, supporting, or ornamenting any voter, or on any other account, except the legal expenses of the poll’. The freeholders ‘entered into voluntary subscriptions for the support of their cause’; the poll lasted twenty-four days; and Wilson’s expenses amounted to only £720. Yet some items indicate that he did not adhere strictly to his declaration, as well as the contempt he felt for the business:
To some fools, dressed in white, with blue ribbons, who ran before my horses into Findon, and some old women there: £1 18s. 6d.
To some hallowing fools at Rottindean: £1 1s. od.
For other fools at Uckfield... . £1 1s. od.