WILKINSON, Jacob (c.1716-91), of Bedford Row, London

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



5 Apr. 1781 - 1784

Family and Education

b. c.1716.  m. (2) Margaret Charlton; (3) Elizabeth Challoner.

Offices Held

Director, E.I. Co. 1782-3.


Wilkinson was a native of Betwick-upon-Tweed, apparently a Presbyterian by religion, who settled in London as a merchant and banker and became a rich man. He appears in the commercial directories for the first time in 1757 as a merchant in Abchurch Lane, where he continued until his death. In 1759 he began to subscribe to Government loans. In that of 1761 he held £6,000, and his total transactions from 1759 to 1768 come to over £17,000. In 1780 he subscribed £28,000, not selling off any until 1785; and at his death he held nearly £30,000.1

Wilkinson is mentioned in connexion with Berwick-upon-Tweed in 1765, as an opponent of the Duke of Northumberland’s interest. At the general election of 1774 he was returned head of the poll with a comfortable majority. In the House Wilkinson voted regularly with the Opposition. He was described by the Public Ledger in 1779 as ‘a merchant in London, of good character, and attached to the Rockingham party’. But he is never mentioned in the correspondence of Rockingham or Burke, and in his first Parliament appears never to have spoken in the House. John Robinson wrote about Berwick in his survey for the general election of 1780: ‘It is hoped that Mr. Wilkinson will be thrown out and Sir J. H. Delaval, a good friend, be brought in.’ On 24 Jan. 1779 Delaval wrote to the Duke of Northumberland about his own successful canvass:2 ‘Mr. Wilkinson left Berwick to-day. I dare say for ever as a candidate.’ And apparently Wilkinson did not stand anywhere in 1780.

In 1781 he was returned after a contest for Honiton, an expensive and venal constituency. He voted with the Opposition in all the divisions preceding the fall of North, and against Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783. He spoke and voted for Fox’s East India bill, and was among the nine assistant commissioners named in the bill. But when a clause was inserted making the office incompatible with membership of the House, Wilkinson asked that his name be struck out.3 Because of the strong feeling in the Company against the bill, he resigned from the direction.

Wilkinson did not stand at the general election of 1784, and died 12 May 1791.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Gent. Mag. 1791, p. 494; C. H. Philips, E.I. Co. 1784-1834, p. 337; Arch. Aeliana (ser. 4), xxiv. 89; John Bindley to Duke of Portland, 21 July 1765, Portland mss; Bank of England recs.
  • 2. Delaval mss, Newcastle-on-Tyne Pub. Lib.
  • 3. Debrett, xii. 92, 320, 350.