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John Wilkes Family & Career, British - 𝐉𝐨𝐡𝐧 𝐖𝐢𝐥𝐤𝐞𝐬 Biography
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Mary Meade
Charles Wilkes
Mary (known as Polly)
University of Leiden
Joiners' Company
Clerkenwell, London
Male
Israel Wilkes
Sarah (née Heaton)
Libra
Clerkenwell, London
72
London
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Who is John Wilkes?

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John Wilkes, who was famous as a libertine of his age, was a journalist, best remembered for introducing the first ‘bill’ in the British Parliament. During his time the British Parliament was rampant with corruption and malpractices which impacted its economy and as well its governance. As an exponent of public liberty, he involved himself in active politics and stood in opposition to the government. He launched virulent attacks on the reigning king and his government (while in the House of Commons) for which he was expelled from the Parliament and was dubbed as an ‘outlaw’. Encountering failure every time he stood for Parliament elections, he decided that press is the only way to combat the government. Acting as an anti-government campaigner he led some protests and published articles disapproving the administration, several of which were directed towards the king and the Prime Minister. As expected, he earned the spite of the government officials and was imprisoned a number of times for having committed libel against the authority. Also, there were several bans imposed on the press by the government to inhibit the media from publishing undesired news. However, Wilkes did not give in to any pressure or punishment and fought religiously for the liberty of the press. Scroll down and acquaint yourself with this indomitable personality.

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John Wilkes Childhood & Early Life

John Wilkes was born to a famous distiller Israel Wilkes and Sarah. For his elementary education he was sent to a school in Hertford and was later educated under a private tutor.

He went to the University of Leiden in the Dutch Republic for higher studies where he chanced upon Andrew Baxter, a Presbyterian priest whose religious ideologies influenced him.

John Wilkes Career

In 1749, he was elected into the Royal Society and was appointed High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire in 1754.

In 1757, he was elected in the parliamentary elections of Aylesbury and in 1961 he was re-elected. He became a member of the Hellfire Club, a gathering place for men and women from the high societies.

Wilkes was a supporter of the ‘Seven Years War’ in which Britain was involved and was incensed by the fact that the new PM of Britain, John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute, made peace talks with France. To fight against this, in 1762, he launched a weekly publication, ‘The North Briton’ which condemned the Prime Minister.

In 1963, he was accused of seditious libel as he disparaged the speech given by King George III on Paris Peace Treaty and was imprisoned on April 30. However, he was released as per the rule that as a Member of the Parliament one could not be arrested on the charges of libel.

Nevertheless, he did not retreat from his aggressive and destructive radicalism. He composed an obscene poem with Thomas Potter, a politician for which he was once again charged with seditious libel and was declared an outlaw on 19 January 1764.

After being released he participated in the parliamentary elections and was elected to the Parliament of Middlesex. Once again, due his notoriety he was imprisoned on 10 May 1768 and in 1769, he was banished from the Parliament.

He stood for re-elections time and again, but every time the Parliament ruled him out on the grounds that he was an outlaw and therefore should not be elected.

In April 1770, he was released from jail but was still prohibited to enter the House of the Commons. He was appointed as High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire and subsequently, joined a campaign for the freedom of press. In 1771, when the Parliament posed several restrictions on many London newspapers, he decided to act against it.

In 1774, he was elected as the Lord Mayor of London and while in power, he promoted religious tolerance in England and also asserted that the working class should take part in law-making.

However, towards the 1780, his popularity began to wane and in 1784 he returned to Middlesex country to take part in the elections there. Even there, he received very little support and therefore was forced withdraw his candidature.

He worked as a magistrate (officer holding both judicial and executive powers) in his homeland during his last years.

John Wilkes Major Works

When in the Parliament, he introduced the first ‘Bill’ for reforms in 1776, which was first of its kind in Great Britain.

John Wilkes Awards & Achievements

In 1749, he was elected as a fellow to the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge.

John Wilkes Personal Life & Legacy

Wilkes married Mary Meade in 1747 and who gave birth to their only child, Mary. The couple separated in 1756 and he never married again. He died at the age of 72.

There are number of roads and places named after this radical activist. There is a Wilkes University, founded in 1933, in Pennsylvania in the city of Wilkes-Barre, both of which are named after him.

John Wilkes Trivia

This political radical and journalist of the 18th century happened to be a distant relative of the assassin, John Wilkes Booth, who killed the U.S. President, Abraham Lincoln.

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John Wilkes biography timelines

  • John Wilkes was born to a famous distiller Israel Wilkes and Sarah. For his elementary education he was sent to a school in Hertford and was later educated under a private tutor.
    17th Oct 1725
  • Wilkes married Mary Meade in 1747 and who gave birth to their only child, Mary. The couple separated in 1756 and he never married again. He died at the age of 72.
    1747 To 26th Dec 1797
  • In 1749, he was elected into the Royal Society and was appointed High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire in 1754.
    1749 To 1754
  • In 1749, he was elected as a fellow to the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge.
    1749
  • In 1757, he was elected in the parliamentary elections of Aylesbury and in 1961 he was re-elected. He became a member of the Hellfire Club, a gathering place for men and women from the high societies.
    1757 To 1961
  • Wilkes was a supporter of the ‘Seven Years War’ in which Britain was involved and was incensed by the fact that the new PM of Britain, John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute, made peace talks with France. To fight against this, in 1762, he launched a weekly publication, ‘The North Briton’ which condemned the Prime Minister.
    1762
  • Nevertheless, he did not retreat from his aggressive and destructive radicalism. He composed an obscene poem with Thomas Potter, a politician for which he was once again charged with seditious libel and was declared an outlaw on 19 January 1764.
    19th Jan 1764
  • After being released he participated in the parliamentary elections and was elected to the Parliament of Middlesex. Once again, due his notoriety he was imprisoned on 10 May 1768 and in 1769, he was banished from the Parliament.
    10th May 1768 To 1769
  • In April 1770, he was released from jail but was still prohibited to enter the House of the Commons. He was appointed as High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire and subsequently, joined a campaign for the freedom of press. In 1771, when the Parliament posed several restrictions on many London newspapers, he decided to act against it.
    Apr 1770 To 1771
  • In 1774, he was elected as the Lord Mayor of London and while in power, he promoted religious tolerance in England and also asserted that the working class should take part in law-making.
    1774
  • When in the Parliament, he introduced the first ‘Bill’ for reforms in 1776, which was first of its kind in Great Britain.
    1776
  • However, towards the 1780, his popularity began to wane and in 1784 he returned to Middlesex country to take part in the elections there. Even there, he received very little support and therefore was forced withdraw his candidature.
    1780 To 1784
  • There are number of roads and places named after this radical activist. There is a Wilkes University, founded in 1933, in Pennsylvania in the city of Wilkes-Barre, both of which are named after him.
    1933
  • In 1963, he was accused of seditious libel as he disparaged the speech given by King George III on Paris Peace Treaty and was imprisoned on April 30. However, he was released as per the rule that as a Member of the Parliament one could not be arrested on the charges of libel.
    30th Apr 1963
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Frequently asked questions about John Wilkes

  • What is John Wilkes birthday?

    John Wilkes was born at October 17, 1725

  • Where is John Wilkes's birth place?

    John Wilkes was born in Clerkenwell, London

  • What is John Wilkes nationalities?

    John Wilkes's nationalities is British

  • Who is John Wilkes spouses?

    John Wilkes's spouses is Mary Meade

  • Who is John Wilkes siblings?

    John Wilkes's siblings is Charles Wilkes

  • Who is John Wilkes childrens?

    John Wilkes's childrens is Mary (known as Polly)

  • What was John Wilkes universities?

    John Wilkes studied at University of Leiden university

  • Which company or organization was founded by John Wilkes?

    John Wilkes was the founder/co-founder of Joiners' Company

  • Who is John Wilkes's father?

    John Wilkes's father is Israel Wilkes

  • Who is John Wilkes's mother?

    John Wilkes's mother is Sarah (née Heaton)

  • What is John Wilkes's sun sign?

    John Wilkes is Libra

  • When was John Wilkes died?

    John Wilkes was died at December 26, 1797

  • Where was John Wilkes died?

    John Wilkes was died in London

  • Which age was John Wilkes died?

    John Wilkes was died at age 72