WILKINSON, Charles (1725-82), of Boroughbridge, Yorks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1774 - Mar. 1777

Family and Education

b. 1725, 1st s. of Andrew Wilkinson.  educ. Pembroke, Camb. 1742; M. Temple 1742, called 1749.  unm.

Offices Held


Charles Wilkinson as assistant to his father played a part in the management of the two boroughs, and his opposition prevented the sale of the Wilkinson burgages at Boroughbridge to Newcastle in 1765.

On the dissolution in 1774 Charles Wilkinson wrote to Henry, 2nd Duke of Newcastle:1

We shall take care to be ready ... Your Grace may be well assured of everything being done as you can wish, I shall be extremely obliged to your Grace for the favour of your letter of recommendation to the borough of Aldborough.

By May 1775 Wilkinson had suffered a mental breakdown—on the 29th the Rev. Henry Goodricke wrote to Newcastle from Aldborough that there was no ‘account to be relied on at this place of the real state of Charles’s mind; but I fear he is still unsettled’; and next, on 8 Sept., that Wilkinson was confined under the care of Dr. Willis, who should be asked if he was sufficiently sane to resign from Parliament. The Duke thereupon asked Goodricke ‘to consult with Old Wilkinson, and to remind his son, the moment he returns, of his engagement to vacate his seat in Parliament, and that the Duke of Newcastle had obliged him in honour to elect another person’.2 This apparently was William Baker jun.

On 2 May 1776 Wllliam Mellish wrote to Newcastle:3

The gentleman seems to be more out of humour, than out of his senses; and I very much fear, if you should ever give him any power at either of your Yorkshire boroughs, he will exert it rather against your Grace’s interest than for it.

Finally Charles’s brother, the Rev. James Wilkinson, took a hand in the matter; showed Charles a letter from the Duke offering a place that would vacate his seat; and was told by Charles after some confused remarks that ‘his consent signified nothing about his seat in Parliament, but that he would never go again either into the House of Commons or to London, all he wished for was a safe retirement’. He could not be prevailed upon to give any direct answer, but James Wilkinson thought that the Duke, having the consent of Charles’s friends, was at full liberty to proceed as he intended.4 The seat was now vacated.

Wilkinson died in April 1782.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. 2 Oct., Newcastle (Clumber) mss.
  • 2. Wm. Mellish to Ld. Rockingham, 29 Sept. 1774, Rockingham mss.
  • 3. Newcastle (Clumber) mss.
  • 4. Jas. Wilkinson to Newcastle, 30 Jan. 1777, 13 Feb. 1777, ibid.