WHELER, Richard (d.1614), of Lincoln's Inn and Thames Ditton, Surr.
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Family and Education
1st s. of Sir Edmund Wheler, goldsmith (the business later turned into Child’s Bank), of London and Riding Court, Datchet, Bucks., by Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Richard Hanbury, goldsmith, of London. educ. Trinity Coll. Camb. matric. pens. 1562, scholar 1563, BA 1565-6, MA 1569; L. Inn, sp. adm. 1566, called 1574, bencher 1586. m. Elizabeth, da. of Sir William Pitt of Steepleton Iwerne, Dorset and Hartley Waspade, Hants, s.p.1
Keeper of Black Bk. L. Inn 1594, treasurer 1596-7, Lent reader 1597; common pleader, London 1587-90, common serjeant from 1601, dep. recorder 1608-d.2
As a young man, Wheler brought marked ability to his studies. He became a scholar of his college, and a valued member of his inn. From June 1578, when he was named one of a committee to repair the old library, until a few months before his death he was actively concerned with the inn’s rebuilding schemes, handling large sums for the purpose—in 1612 more than £3,000—and usually advancing some of it. A plea of illness excused him from being Summer and Autumn reader in 1588, and he was again discharged in 1589; not until 1597 did he fulfil this obligation by being double reader in Lent.3
In 1580 Wheler obtained the reversion of the office of common pleader for the city. He was sworn into the office in 1587 and later rose to be deputy recorder, an appointment he was holding at the time of his death. It is a tribute to his ability that the corporation both retained and advanced him in its service, since by the time he first entered it he already had an exacting private client. Wheler was one of the lawyers concerned with the Earl of Hertford’s affairs as early as 1582; he may have owed his introduction to this lavish employer of legal aid to Roger Puleston a cousin by marriage and himself one of the Earl’s counsel. It is likely that Wheler specialized in conveyancing, but his services extended to acting as clerk of the kitchen on Hertford’s embassy of 1605 to Brussels and to backing the Earl’s frequent borrowings; he repeatedly stood surety for loans, in sums ranging from £200 to £1,000.4
It was natural that the Earl should wish to utilise a man so familiar with his affairs in the assembly where those affairs threatened to become public; for in 1582 his elder boy came of age and, if acknowledged as legitimate, would stand in succession to the throne. That acknowledgment was still to seek; in 1594 Wheler was to be one of the witnesses heard by the Privy Council in its consideration of Hertford’s ‘appeals’. If the matter were to be raised in Parliament, the presence of his principal lawyers might help to direct discussion aright and protect the Earl against any hostile construction of his motives. So far as is known, Hertford’s case was not ventilated, and there is no evidence that Wheler spoke in the House. He may, however, have been on a committee concerned with cloth, 15 Mar. 1593. He did not sit in 1601 or later, perhaps because his official position made it undesirable for him to be returned outside London.5
Wheler’s legal prudence prompted him to draw up his own testament, to keep it brief, and to make it nearly 15 years before his death in March 1614. His father was to survive him, and he had only his wife to provide for, which he did by making her sole legatee and executrix. He described himself as of Lincoln’s Inn; the knowledge that he had his private residence at Thames Ditton comes from an entry in the probate act book for 1612-14. The preamble of his will shows that he shared Calvinist principles with his noble client: he thanked God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, one in Trinity, ‘for calling me from my very childhood to the knowledge and love of His holy and sacred word and for keeping me therein ever since to an assured hope of everlasting life through faith in the righteousness of Jesus Christ mine only Saviour ... redeemed by His precious death and passion ... to be reunited unto my body in the glorious day of Resurrection’.6
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
Author: S. T. Bindoff
- 1. Vis. London (Harl. Soc. xv, xvii), 341; Vis. Worcs. (Harl. Soc. xxvii), 145-6; Hilton Price, Handbook of London Bankers, 30-1; Vis. Hants (Harl. Soc. lxiv), 195.
- 2. Remembrancia, 286 and n. 1.
- 3. L. Inn Black Bks. i. 410, 423, 425, 430; ii. 41, 118, 124, 127, 140, 143, 148, 153, 158.
- 4. Remembrancia, 286 and n. 1; Vis. Worcs. 145-6; Wilts. Arch. Mag. xxxvi. 244; IPMs Wilts. Chas. I (Brit. Rec. Soc. Index Lib. xxiii), 23-6; HMC Bath, iv. 200, 202, 213, 417; Devizes Mus. shelf no. 242, envelope formerly belonging to Canon Jackson.
- 5. HMC Hatfield, xiii. 517; D’Ewes, 501.
- 6. PCC 25 Lawe.