WILSON, Thomas (?1767-1852), of 4 Jeffery's Square, St. Mary Axe, London and Hackney, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



1818 - 1826

Family and Education

b. ?1767, s. of Robert Wilson (d. 1807) of Wood House, East Ham, Essex and his w. (d. wid. 17 May 1818).1 m. 23 Nov. 1796,2 Anne Mary Sabina Chenebie, da. of John Francis Blache of Homerton, Mdx. (formerly of Vevey, Switzerland), 4s. 3da. d. 10 Oct. 1852.

Offices Held

Member, Spectaclemakers’ Co.; dir. Phoenix Assurance Co. 1811-d., East Country Dock Co. 1817.

Cornet London and Westminster light horse 1796.


Wilson’s father died intestate at his home at East Ham, 25 Mar. 1807, ‘aged 67, in consequence of an apoplectic and paralytic attack on the 21st’. Administration of his estate, which was sworn under £3,500, was granted on 10 Apr. 1807 to Wilson, who was by then about 40 years old and established as a prominent and prosperous London merchant.3 His firm of Wilson and Blanshard (previously Wilson, Agassiz and Company) operated from 4 Jeffery’s Square. He had at one time been in Grenada, had an interest in the Atlantic trade and was a long-serving chairman of the Society of Merchants trading to the continent.4

After his return for London with three opposition Members in 1818 the duke of Wellington asked Thomas Creevey*, ‘Who is Wilson that is come in for the City, and what side is he of?’5 The answer proved to be that of the Liverpool ministry, generally speaking, though he readily took an independent line on specific issues, particularly those on which his constituents had strong feelings. When he stood again at the general election of 1820, some leading aldermen complained of his persistent refusal to join their body; but at his adoption meeting, when he was promoted as the spokesman for the City’s shipping and mercantile interests and as ‘a very sensible speaker’ listened to by ministers, he repeated his view that aldermanic and parliamentary duties were incompatible. In his address, he declared his ‘firm attachment to an unrivalled constitution’, and on the hustings stated that ‘his opinions, generally, had inclined rather to the support of the present government than to the other side, but he had acted ... honestly and independently’. After his return in second place he announced that for all the ‘bias of his own mind in favour of the administration of the country, in whose hands soever it might be’, he would never ‘suffer any measures to pass ... which he conceived to be unjust or ill-advised, without ... rising upon the ministerial benches to oppose them’.6

Wilson, who took the oaths on 28 Apr., secured a return of wool imports, 2 May 1820, when he voted against government on the civil list accounts, and next day he presented and endorsed a London wool manufacturers and merchants’ petition against the previous year’s ‘unwise and impolitic’ duty on foreign wool.7 He seconded the Whig Lord Milton’s attempt to have it repealed, 26 May, and was a teller for the minority. Yet he thought that the restrictions on trade of which London merchants complained, 8 May, ‘could not be entirely removed while the taxes remained the same’. He declined to be named to the select committee on agricultural distress, 31 May,8 but was appointed to that on foreign trade (as he was in the next four years), 5 June, when he presented and supported a London ship owners’ petition against relaxation of the duties on Baltic timber to the detriment of the Canadian trade. He defended the profits of the Bank of England, 13 June. In response to an opposition attack on the barracks grant, 16 June, he deplored their determination to attribute ‘all the evils of the country to the government’. However, he complained of the expenditure of money on new public buildings at a time of distress, 19 June.9 He criticized opposition for taking up the cause of Queen Caroline for party purposes, 3 July, and when taken to task by Grey Bennet replied that ‘his standing in that House was not such as bound him to support ministers’.10 He proved his point next day by voting for economies in revenue collection, and he opposed the plan for a new barracks in Regent’s Park as ‘exorbitant’, 12, 13, 14, 17 July 1820, when he was a teller for the minority.

Wilson sided with ministers on the queen’s case and signed the London merchants’ loyal declaration of 11 Jan. 1821.11 He vouched for the ‘respectability’ of the signatories of a West Ham loyal address and asserted that ‘when ministers gave good reasons for their measures, they deserved support’, 31 Jan. 1821.12 He denied an allegation that the ‘tumult’ at the London merchants’ meeting in favour of Caroline was provoked by a loyalist ‘conspiracy’, 2 Feb. He voted against the opposition censure motion, 6 Feb., and on the 13th, when one of his colleagues presented a queenite petition from the corporation of London, he defended Lord Liverpool and his colleagues and said that ‘though ... [Caroline] had peace on her tongue, there was war in her heart’. He presented a Montreal petition for continued protection of the Canadian timber trade, 9 Feb., and one from London Russia merchants against proposed changes in the mode of collecting the duties on foreign timber, 19 Feb.13 He approved the Grampound disfranchisement bill ‘because it went to remedy a practical evil’ and represented ‘the only way in which parliamentary reform could safely take place’, 12 Feb.; but on 18 Apr. he opposed Lambton’s general reform scheme, which would give electors ‘too much control over their representatives’, and he voted against Russell’s motion, 9 May. He divided against Catholic relief, 28 Feb. He voted with ministers on the state of the revenue, 6 Mar., but next day supported inquiry into agricultural distress, arguing that ‘a rise in the price of corn would enable the landlord to pay his labourer better, and keep him out of the workhouse’. He supported the bill to eradicate fraud in the compilation of the corn averages, 29 Mar., 2 Apr.14 According to Grey Bennet, Wilson was one of the ‘few’ Members whom opposition ‘gained ... from the government’ for a motion to reduce the army by 5,000 men, 14 Mar.15 He opposed Hume’s call for a revision of public salaries, 30 Mar.,16 but spoke and voted for a variety of army economies, 6, 11, 30 Apr. He supported the Blackfriars Bridge bill, 3 Apr., and presented a London corn merchants’ petition for revision of the corn laws, 9 Apr., and one from Thameside traders against the London wharves bill, 21 May.17 He disputed Ricardo’s assertion that ‘it was a matter of indifference whether the return for foreign timber was made in goods or specie’, 5 Apr., arguing that the former were infinitely preferable. On 9 Apr. he attacked the duty on foreign wool and spoke and voted, in a minority of 27, for inquiry into the currency. He defended the Bank’s directors, 13 Apr., when he saw no reason to reduce the salaries of commissioners of stamps.18 He divided for admiralty and dockyards economies, 4, 7 May, and on the 24th suggested that distress could best be relieved by reducing taxes in proportion to inflation. That day he voted against the forgery punishment mitigation bill, and he presented and endorsed a London merchants’ and bankers’ hostile petition, 4 June.19 He voted with opposition on the Barbados pension fund, 24 May, with government for the barracks grant, 28 May, but with Hume against the miscellaneous services grant later that day. On behalf of interested constituents, he opposed the clover seeds bill, 13, 22 June.20 He was in a minority of 11 against the tobacco duties bill, 21 June, and on the 25th voiced misgivings over the extent to which ministers seemed prepared to go to relax the Navigation Acts. He voted with them against Hume’s call for economy and retrenchment, 27 June. He denounced the extra post bill as ‘prejudicial and unfair’ and was a teller for the minority against it, 29 June 1821.21

Wilson voted with government against more extensive tax reductions, 11, 21 Feb. 1822, when he suggested that their planned £1,500,000 of remissions should be used to buy corn in order to raise prices. He voiced worries about the effects of the navy five per cents bill on investors, 25 Feb., 4 Mar., but pronounced in its favour, 11 Mar.22 He approved the principle of repealing the salt tax, 28 Feb., but felt that Calcraft’s motion to that effect was ‘far from wise at this moment’; he spoke, 11 June, and voted, 28 June, against repeal.23 He voted in a majority against government for admiralty reductions, 1 Mar. Defending the Bank again, 8 Mar., he observed that if the 1797 cash restrictions had not been enforced, the war could not have been won and some of the whining Whigs would not have enjoyed such high rents. He voted with ministers against abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar., but supported that of a ‘confessedly useless’ clerical job at Woolwich dockyard, 18 Mar.24 As ‘a friend to free trade’, he objected to Curwen’s plan to increase the duties on tallow and repeal that on candles, which would alienate Russia, 20 Mar. He presented a corn factors’ petition for compensation for losses sustained through the deterioration of warehoused corn, 25 Mar.25 On the presentation of the London livery’s reform petition, which he had been publicly and privately pressed to support, 2 Apr., he refused to apologize for having avoided the meeting of 28 Mar. which had promoted it:

When he was called upon to support a prayer for retrenchment and economy and reform, he felt it difficult to ascertain where he ought to stop. It might be expected by some, that he ought to vote for all the reductions proposed by ... [Hume], but he did not attribute such sentiments to his constituents. They did not wish to impose ties on their representatives.

He did back Hume’s criticism of the British consul in Brazil for dereliction of duty, 22 Apr. He asserted that the City could not afford to build the new London Bridge unless government made a significant contribution, 29 Apr.26 Next day he voted against Canning’s bill to relieve Catholic peers. He supported the ministerial plan to contract for the naval and military pensions fund, 1, 3 May. He presented a London sugar refiners’ petition expressing alarm at free trade proposals, 2 May, and one from curriers and tanners against repeal of the leather tax, 16 May, when he voted against government on the cost of the embassy to Switzerland.27 On 6 May he was almost alone in his enthusiasm for their proposal to advance £1,000,000 for the purchase of corn, which the agriculturists scouted. He said that Wyvill’s scheme for large tax remissions would be ‘productive of infinite mischief’, 8 May, and he disputed Attwood’s currency theories and supported the government’s revised plan to relieve agricultural distress, 13 May. But he opposed the colonial trade bill, 17 May, and saw little merit in the navigation bill, 20 May; he presented London silk merchants’ petitions against the latter, 23, 30 May.28 He was persuaded to withdraw his motion for leave to introduce a bill to regulate the carrying of precious metals, 21 May.29 He ‘thought there was something more ... than met the eye’ in Canning’s amendment to the corn bill concerning the grinding of foreign wheat, 10 June. He accused Whig opponents of the resumption of cash payments of political opportunism, 14 June, and on the Irish butter trade, 20 June, said that Ricardo’s free trade principles were ‘not applicable to the present state of this country’. He divided with government in defence of the lord advocate’s dealings with the Scottish press, 25 June, and supported the grant for colonial agents, 5 July, but he opposed that for a national monument in Edinburgh, 15 July. He presented a London publicans’ petition against the beer retail bill, 17 July. He spoke and voted in the minority of 14 against the Canada bill, 18 July, but he was in the ministerial majorities for the aliens bill, 19 July, and the grant for Irish proclamations, 22 July, when he was a teller for the majority for an amendment to the orphans’ fund bill.30 He thought government should pay all the late queen’s debts, 24 July, called for inquiry into the state of Trinidad, 25 July, and approved the chancellor’s modification of the barilla duties bill, 29 July 1822.31

On 12 Feb. 1823 Wilson assured Wallace, vice-president of the board of trade, that London merchants appreciated his efforts to liberalize commerce.32 He said that he would be ‘in his place at every discussion of reform, and would give his opinion to the best of his ability’, 14 Feb.; but he cast silent votes against inquiry into the franchise, 20 Feb., and Scottish reform, 2 June. Although the shipping industry was ‘labouring under considerable embarrassment’, he rejected Hume’s tax reduction proposals, 21 Feb., preferring the relief measures outlined by ministers. He accordingly supported their sinking fund adjustment and voted against the tax remissions advocated by opposition, 3 Mar. In common council, 27 Feb., he promised to give his ‘best attention’ to their petition for a revision of London tithes and approved the ‘conciliatory’ manner in which the subject had been broached.33 Though not convinced that British shipping in the West Indies had been adequately protected from piracy, he backed the admiralty in their dispute with Lloyd’s, 4 Mar. He welcomed the merchant vessels apprenticeship bill, which would ‘create ... a nursery of active and able seamen at the least possible expense’, 13 Mar. Endorsing ministers’ stance on the Franco-Spanish conflict, 18 Mar., he said that he was ‘not afraid of being charged with a dastardly spirit’ for wishing to avoid war; and on 28 Apr. he seconded at some length an amendment approving the government’s ‘adherence to the principles of honest neutrality’. On the warehousing bill, 21 Mar., he called for wool to be given the same exemption as linen and silk; and he presented a London merchants’ petition against the wool duty, 21 Apr., and endorsed one from Leeds, 4 June.34 He now voted for a reduction in the grant for colonial agents, 24 Mar. He supported a London merchants’ petition for changes in the Insolvent Debtors Act and one from Marylebone for repeal of the coastwise coal duties, 27 Mar. He presented and urged the merits of a petition from London silk manufacturers for repeal of the restrictive Spitalfields Acts, 9 May. He commended this as the best remedy for distress, 9 June, but in the meantime favoured proceeding with the silk bill. He argued that the West Indian colonies deserved preferential treatment on the sugar duties, 22 May.35 He divided with administration against inquiries into chancery arrears, 5 June, and the currency, 12 June. He had reservations about the reciprocity of duties bill, 6 June, and spoke and voted against increasing the barilla duties, 13 June, when he was in another small minority against the beer duties bill. He repeated this vote on 17 June and, not without qualms, divided for repeal of the usury laws, as he did again, 27 June. He was a teller for the minority against a clause of the London Bridge bill which curbed the corporation’s powers, 20 June, when he voted against the Scottish juries bill. He condemned the ‘oppressive conduct’ of the victualling board towards Cochrane, 24 June, and next day voted for Mackintosh’s attempt to abolish capital punishment for certain larcenies. He opposed printing the Christian ministers’ petition in favour of free discussion presented by Hume, 1 July: ‘the minds of the people had been poisoned by the blasphemous publications which had been spread abroad. The lower orders would eagerly imbibe the poison, but would not seek the antidote’. On 2 July 1823 he presented a London ship-owners’ petition complaining of the way in which the committee on the reciprocity bill had taken evidence, and he was in a minority of 15 against the measure’s third reading the following day.

Wilson presented London petitions for repeal of the duties on coal, 6 Feb., foreign wines, 19 Feb., and the ‘utterly indefensible’ impost on wool, 20 Feb. 1824.36 ‘Very much staggered’ by arguments advanced against repeal of the usury laws, 27 Feb., he now voted to preserve them, as he did again, 17 Feb. 1825, when he said that their abolition would ‘unhinge all the existing pecuniary relations of the country’. It is not clear whether he was the ‘T.C Wilson’ who voted in support of a complaint of breach of privilege against lord chancellor Eldon, 1 Mar. 1824. He divided against the abolition of flogging, 5 Mar. That day he praised ministers ‘for the manly and candid manner in which they had brought forward their measures’ to deal with distress in the silk trade, but doubted their ‘propriety or expediency’:

Until, by an alteration of the corn laws, the people of this country should be enabled to eat their bread as cheap as the people of foreign countries, the repeal of the duties on silk would fail of the end it was intended to accomplish.

Yet on 8 Mar. he conceded that ministers had shown ‘so much good will and such a spirit of conciliation’ that it was only fair to withdraw opposition and ‘trust to their considerate mode of conduct for some relief as to the duties already paid for stock in hand’. That day he presented an Aldgate victuallers’ petition against excise licences. On 11 Mar. he secured referral of a Norwich merchants’ petition for lower wine duties to the foreign trade committee, and he presented more petitions to the same effect, 22 Mar.37 He defended the grant for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospels, 12 Mar. On a call for amelioration of the condition of slaves in the West Indies, 16 Mar., he stated that when in Grenada he had ‘seen none of those scenes of wretchedness’ described by the abolitionists and gave his ‘cordial support’ to the government’s gradualist approach. He objected to Fowell Buxton’s motion for information on the West Indian colonies, 13 Apr., defended the West India Company bill, 10 May, and voted against Brougham’s motion condemning the prosecution of the Methodist missionary John Smith in Demerara, 11 June. He supported a London mercers’ petition for drawback to be extended to cut silk, 19 Mar. He presented petitions against the Tower suspension bridge, 23, 29 Mar., and in favour of the St. Katharine’s Docks bill, 31 Mar, 2 Apr.38 He was in the minority in favour of allowing defence by counsel in felony trials, 6 Apr. He supported the grant for building new churches because those erected in the past were ‘built for the rich and not for the poor’, 12 Apr. He spoke in favour of the enabling bill, 14 June, but was credited, presumably in error, with two votes against its passage that day.39 He supported the wheat warehousing bill, 4 May, but sought modifications to it, 17 May.40 He presented a London licensed victuallers’ petition against the beer duties bill, 7 May, and spoke and voted against the measure, 24 May. On 13 May he announced that he would take ‘his share of the odium’ now attached to the reorganization of the superannuation fund, which he had supported in good faith; and he endorsed the bill to regulate it, 12 June.41 On the London corporation reform petition, 17 May, he said that he ‘could never promise his support to any measure of parliamentary reform until brought forward in a tangible shape, by way of complaint against some stated grievance or abuse’. Later that day he opposed the marine insurance bill, which on 28 May he described as ‘invading vested rights upon theoretic speculations’; he was a teller for small minorities against it, 7, 14 June.42 He got leave to introduce a measure to prevent frauds in the Irish butter trade, 27 May, but it foundered after its second reading.43 He concurred in the prayer of the London merchants’ and ship-owners’ petition against naval impressment, 10 June, and on 15 June 1824 thanked Mackintosh for his ‘masterly’ presentation of their petition for recognition of the independence of the new South American states.

Wilson presented a petition in favour of the St. Katharine’s Docks project, 11 Feb. 1825, and on the 14th one from the East Country Dock Company, of which he was a director, for permission to amend their regulating Act. He obtained leave to introduce this measure, the Rotherhithe Dock bill, 21 Feb.; it received royal assent on 20 May.44 He presented a Cornhill ward petition for repeal of the house and window taxes, 25 Feb., when he voted for the Irish unlawful societies bill.45 He voted against Catholic relief, 1 Mar., and paired likewise, 10 May. He applauded the government’s budget proposals, 28 Feb.,46 but expressed ‘astonishment’ at their scheme for dealing with the sinking fund, 3 Mar. He defended the Metropolitan Fish Company bill, and demanded inquiry into the Irish butter trade, 15 Mar. As one of the Members involved in bringing in the Peruvian Mining Company bill, he upheld it as ‘a fair and bona fide speculation’, 16 Mar. He endorsed the grant for the Irish linen board, 18 Mar., though he was normally ‘decidedly opposed to all shackles upon trade’. He presented petitions against the Metropolitan Water and Thames Quay bills, 22 Mar.47 He ‘approved of the principle’ of the ministerial proposals for relaxation of customs duties, 25 Mar., but ‘thought it would be advisable to begin the reduction at a higher point, and come down by degrees’, in case ‘this system should leave the produce and manufactures of the country open to loss and detriment from the want of sufficient protection’.48 On 28 Mar., when he supported the grant for the improvement of the chief government office buildings, he asserted that the corn laws could no longer be left untouched. At the London merchants’ meeting to petition for their alteration, 13 Apr., when he said that he was there ‘to hear the opinions, and receive the instructions of his constituents’, he stressed the universal benefits of lower corn prices.49 Presenting the petition, 25 Apr., he argued at some length for the imposition of a fixed duty, with due regard for the ‘fair protection’ to which domestic growers were entitled. He professed ‘satisfaction’ with ministerial explanations of their intentions, but on 28 Apr., when he supported the London corporation petition for relaxation of the laws, he spoke and voted for Wolryche Whitmore’s motion to that effect.50 He presented constituency petitions against alteration of the 1824 Combination Act and the Dissenters’ marriages bill, 22 Apr.51 Supporting the West India Company bill, 16 May, he maintained that it would ‘afford relief to the distressed planters ... and contribute to the improvement of the condition of the negroes’. Later that day he said that £6,000 was too high a salary for a puisne judge. On 20 May he spoke and voted against the Leith Docks bill and supported a London ship-owners’ petition against the deduction from seamen’s wages of contributions to Greenwich Hospital. He approved the proposed grant of £6,000 for the education of Princess Victoria, but had doubts about the same provision for the duke of Cumberland’s son, 27 May. On the 30th, however, he voted for it ‘on the ground of confidence in the government’, as he explained on 6 June, when he complained of Brougham’s unwarranted attack on its backbench supporters and divided for Cumberland’s annuity bill, as he did again, 10 June. He called for reform of private bill committee proceedings and endorsed a London merchants’ petition for revision of the law of merchant and factor, 2 June; he supported the bill dealing with this, 28 June. He voted for the St. Olave tithe bill, 6 June, and against the spring guns bill, 21 June. He applauded the work of the board of trade and approved the proposal to enhance the salaries of its president and vice-president, 14 June.52 On 17 June he welcomed the government’s modification of the customs consolidation bill:

He had not, perhaps, adopted the ideas of free trade quite so rapidly as some ... but he felt confident that, by surrendering some apparent advantages, we should ultimately derive solid benefit from the course of policy which the government was pursuing.

He wanted the ‘beneficial’ Scottish partnerships bill to be extended to England, 22 June. On 29 June 1825 he deplored ‘inflammatory’ language on the combination laws and supported the ministerial legislation ‘because it tended to protect the workers from themselves’.53

At a non-party Mansion House meeting of City merchants and bankers, 14 Dec. 1825, Wilson, who attributed the current finical crisis to ‘an excess of riches’, proposed the resolution pledging the participants to mutual trust and confidence.54 On the address, 2 Feb. 1826, he urged protection for the distressed silk trade. The ministry’s proposals for dealing with the commercial crisis dissatisfied Wilson and soured his relations with them. On 13 Feb., when he presented a London petition for reduction of the tobacco duties, he attacked the planned restriction on the issue of small notes, endorsed Baring’s scheme for a bimetallic currency and voted in the minority of 39 against going into committee on the Bank Charter Acts.55 On the promissory notes bill, 20 Feb., he supported the government amendment authorizing the Bank to stamp small notes until 10 October; but he opposed their proposal to inquire into Scottish small notes issue, which was ‘tantamount to giving a dog a bad name’, 16 Mar. Reporting that distress and panic were daily increasing in the City, 14 Feb., he objected to the government’s blaming the crisis on the merchants’ speculation which they had themselves encouraged, and demanded a substantial measure of relief. When he said that ministers, whom he had ‘hitherto always felt proud and happy to support’, had been ‘excellent pilots’ in calm weather, but ‘did not know how to steer the boat ... during the raging of the storm’, Robinson, the chancellor of the exchequer, remarked that ‘he ought not to have contributed to support them in the management of the boat during the fair weather’. Wilson retorted that ‘when he spoke of his confidence being lessened in ministers, he was not speaking of his confidence in the wisdom of their general policy, but ... in their wisdom as to this particular measure’. He wanted a direct issue of exchequer bills by government, as in 1793 and 1811, and, like most mercantile men, was unhappy with their plan for the Bank to buy the bills, as he explained in the House, 15 Feb., and at a merchants’ meeting which petitioned to that effect, 23 Feb.56 When he presented the petition later that day, he ‘left his usual place behind the treasury bench, and took a neutral position’. There was widespread backbench ministerial support for his plea for an issue of exchequer bills and attack on ministerial indifference to the distress which their inflationary policy had ‘superinduced’; and the motion of which he gave notice for 28 Feb., for the appointment of a select committee of inquiry, threatened to embarrass ministers. In covert negotiations, they persuaded the Bank to lend £3,000,000 to distressed merchants on the security of their goods; and on the 28th Wilson grudgingly withdrew his motion, after eliciting a statement from Robinson. Later in the debate, however, he registered his protest ‘against the tone in which ministers had treated both the applicants for relief and Parliament in general’.57 In a discussion of anti-slavery petitions, 1 Mar., he ‘declared himself hostile to any measure which should have for its object to set the slaves free at the expense of their masters’ and demanded adequate compensation for the planters. He supported the West India merchants’ petition for compensation, 20 Apr., when he urged government to disregard ‘popular clamour’ and to ‘proceed upon a sound, temperate, and deliberate view of what the real interests of the country demanded’. He called for revision of the corn laws, 6 Mar., and voted in the minority for that, 18 Apr. He opposed the London corn exchange bill as an infraction of ‘private rights’, 17 Apr. He gave guarded approval to the government’s proposed modification of the laws, 1 May, but pressed for ‘pecuniary aid’ to create employment in the manufacturing districts; he attended a London meeting to open a relief fund, 2 May.58 He went to the House, 5 May, intent on opposing the plan to release warehoused corn, but was persuaded to swallow it by the ‘great’ alteration which ministers had made to it. He defended corn dealers, 12 May. He now took a dim view of the proposal to give the president of the board of trade a separate ministerial salary: he said that it ‘went unnecessarily to increase the patronage of the crown’, 6 Apr. He divided to postpone the decision and spoke and voted for Hume’s amendment for inquiry into the duties of the treasurer of the navy, 7 Apr., and was again in the hostile minority, 10 Apr. After the statement by Huskisson, the president, of ministerial plans for further relaxation of the Navigation Acts, 13 May, Wilson insisted that ministers rather than merchants were responsible for the recent ‘over-trading’ and expressed his fear of too much advantage being conceded to foreign competitors. On 26 May 1826 he presented a petition from Cork ship-owners against these changes; spoke and voted against Lord John Russell’s resolution condemning electoral bribery, which he said was unheard of in the City, and asserted that it had been ‘entirely wrong’ of government to interfere with the power of English country bankers to issue notes.

In March 1826 Wilson was expected to stand again for London at the approaching general election, having changed his mind since the previous autumn, but he announced his retirement at the end of April and gave his support to the Bank director William Ward*.59 His business, which became known as Wilson, Wilson and Company, continued at Jeffery’s Square.60 At the general election of 1835 he stood jointly for London with two other Conservatives as supporters of Peel’s fledgling first ministry. In his address, he stated that he wished to ‘arrest the effect of that disloyalty towards our king, enmity towards the church and opposition to the great prerogative of the crown, which have been lately made manifest’; and at the nomination he professed willingness to ‘reform every proved abuse’. Unable to gain a hearing from the hustings after the first day’s polling, he doffed his hat, proclaimed ‘the constitution and king, God bless him’, and departed. He finished bottom of the poll as the four Liberals swept the board.61 In March 1843, when he was 75, he solicited from Peel church preferment for his third son Robert Francis, ‘a poor curate at £130 per annum’, citing his parliamentary services and his unsuccessful candidacy in 1835, since when he had been ‘by purse and in person a zealous and constant supporter of Conservative principles at the City and Middlesex elections’. Peel could do nothing for him.62 Wilson died at Hackney, ‘aged 85’, in October 1852.63 By his will, dated 23 Feb. 1852, he confirmed the terms of his marriage settlement and additional provision since made for his seven children, to the tune of £13,000. He left his freehold and copyhold property at East Ham and Little Ilford to his eldest son Francis, his residuary legatee, who also received £16,000 and 30 shares in the capital stock of the Phoenix Fire Office. He made Francis and Robert Francis trustees of his marshlands in Plaistow Level and created a trust fund of £17,000 to provide for his three daughters and their children.64 The Jeffery’s Square business seems to have gone out of existence soon after Wilson’s death.

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. Gent. Mag. (1818), i. 639.
  • 2. Par. reg. St. John’s, Hackney. Gent. Mag. (1796), ii. 965 incorrectly gives 21st.
  • 3. Gent. Mag. (1807), i. 385; PROB 6/183.
  • 4. The Times, 18 Feb.1820; Add. 40507, f. 175; 40571, f. 166.
  • 5. Creevey Pprs. i. 278.
  • 6. The Times, 7, 12, 18 Feb., 4, 8, 16, 17 Mar. 1820.
  • 7. Ibid. 29 Apr., 3 May 1820.
  • 8. Ibid. 1 June 1820.
  • 9. Ibid. 20 June 1820.
  • 10. Ibid. 4 July 1820.
  • 11. Ibid. 12 Jan. 1821.
  • 12. Ibid. 1 Feb. 1821.
  • 13. Ibid. 20 Feb. 1821.
  • 14. Ibid. 30 Mar., 3 Apr. 1821.
  • 15. HLRO Hist. Coll. 379, Grey Bennet diary, 37.
  • 16. The Times, 31 Mar. 1821.
  • 17. Ibid. 4, 10 Apr., 22 May 1821.
  • 18. Ibid. 14 Apr. 1821.
  • 19. Ibid. 5 June 1821.
  • 20. Ibid. 14, 23 June 1821.
  • 21. Ibid. 30 June 1821.
  • 22. Ibid. 5, 12 Mar. 1822.
  • 23. Ibid. 12 June 1822.
  • 24. Ibid. 19 Mar. 1822.
  • 25. Ibid. 26 Mar. 1822.
  • 26. Ibid. 30 Apr. 1822.
  • 27. Ibid. 3, 17 May 1822.
  • 28. Ibid. 24, 31 May 1822.
  • 29. Ibid. 22 May 1822.
  • 30. Ibid. 6, 16, 18, 19 July 1822.
  • 31. Ibid. 25, 26, 30 July 1822.
  • 32. Ibid. 13 Feb. 1823.
  • 33. Ibid. 28 Feb. 1823.
  • 34. Ibid. 22 Apr., 5 June 1823.
  • 35. Ibid. 23 May 1823.
  • 36. Ibid. 7 Feb. 1824.
  • 37. Ibid. 9, 12, 23 Mar. 1824.
  • 38. Ibid. 24, 30 Mar., 1 Apr. 1824.
  • 39. Ibid. 15 June 1824.
  • 40. Ibid. 5 May 1824.
  • 41. Ibid. 14 June 1824.
  • 42. Ibid. 29 May 1824.
  • 43. Ibid. 28 May 1824; CJ, lxxix. 423, 429, 447, 484.
  • 44. The Times, 12, 15 Feb., 8 Mar. 1825; CJ, lxxx. 101, 122, 167, 353, 441.
  • 45. The Times, 26 Feb. 1825.
  • 46. Ibid. 1 Mar. 1825.
  • 47. Ibid. 23 Mar. 1825.
  • 48. Ibid. 26 Mar. 1825.
  • 49. Ibid. 14 Apr. 1825.
  • 50. Ibid. 29 Apr. 1825.
  • 51. Ibid. 23 Apr. 1825.
  • 52. Ibid. 15 June 1825.
  • 53. Ibid. 30 June 1825.
  • 54. Ibid. 15 Dec. 1825; B. Hilton, Corn, Cash, Commerce, 216-17.
  • 55. The Times, 14 Feb. 1826.
  • 56. Ibid. 24 Feb. 1826.
  • 57. Add. 51584, Tierney to Holland, 23 [Feb.]; Nottingham Univ. Lib. Denison diary, 23 [Feb. 1826]; Croker Pprs. i. 314-17; Wellington Despatches, iii. 116-17; Hilton, 225-6.
  • 58. The Times, 3 May 1826.
  • 59. Ibid. 10 Mar., 13 May 1826.
  • 60. It did not, as erroneously stated in HP Commons, 1790-1820, v. 607, move in about 1834 to 6 Warnford Court, Throgmorton Street: the Thomas Wilson who had been running that concern since about 1814 was another man.
  • 61. The Times, 3, 5-9 Jan. 1835.
  • 62. Add. 40536, ff. 427-31.
  • 63. Gent. Mag. (1852), ii. 637.
  • 64. PROB 11/2162/; IR26/1952/639.