WILDMAN, James Beckford (1788-1867), of Chilham Castle, Kent.
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Family and Education
b. 1788, 1st s. of James Wildman*. educ. Winchester 1800-6; Christ Church, Oxf. 12 May 1808, aged 19; L. Inn 1811. m. 9 Oct. 1820, Mary Anne, da. of Stephen Rumbold Lushington*, 2s. 5da. suc. fa. 1816.
Wildman was the godchild of William Beckford*, out of whose West Indian estates his father, Beckford’s agent, had made a fortune. Not long after inheriting it, Wildman successfully contested a by-election at Colchester, where a long purse was needed, as a friend of government. He headed the poll at the general election a few months later. Such votes of his as are known (15 Apr. 1818, 29 Mar., 18 May, 10 June 1819) were on the government side. Yet on 7 May 1819 he made a surprisingly indignant maiden speech in the debate on illicit distillation in Ireland; though not an Irishman, he resented such gross attacks upon them as had been made, and added:
He had come into the House with a strong prejudice in favour of ministers, and a disposition to support their measures, but this was from a conviction that they were right. If ever he regretted one vote which he had given in the House, it was that which he gave a few evenings ago, against a motion from the other side of the House upon this subject. That vote pained him a great deal. If he thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer yielded to threats, he never would vote with him again upon any question.
Beckford did not however go into opposition and in 1823, in his next known speech, seconded the address. In 1826, after spending £16,000 on his previous elections, he gave up Colchester and went to Jamaica. He subsequently sold Chilham and purchased Yotes Court in Mereworth, Kent where he died 24 May 1867, aged 78.
Kent and Essex Mercury, 14 Oct. 1823; Gent. Mag. (1867), ii. 119.