William Wilson, solicitor (1799-1829)

London Standard, 30 Nov 1829


Saturday evening an inquest was held at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, on the body of Mr. William Wilson, aged 32, who committed suicide.  The deceased, while passing Furnival’s Inn, on Thursday afternoon, was observed to fall on his back.  He was instantly taken up, and conveyed to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, where it was discovered he had taken oxalic acid;  he died soon after.  A number of letters and other documents were found on his person, one of which was to the following effect:-

“I write this while labouring under the most severe mental distress, brought on by persecution and the numerous difficulties with which I am surrounded;   I am cut off like a flower, and my unfortunate situation must be attributed to the ill treatment of …………… [Morning Herald printed "my wife's friends"]. whose conduct towards me is without parallel.  I loved my wife, I declare as a dying man, most dearly;  and I pray to God to protect her and my innocent child.  I am worn out, my heart is broken.- Farewell, most affectionately, farewell.


This letter was addressed to “Mr. Gent, surgeon, Winslow, Bucks.”  From the other documents it appeared that he had been separated from his wife some time, and that she had sued him in the Ecclesiastical Court for restitution of conjugal rights.  It also appeared that his father, who was possessed of very large property, had lately died, and left him only “a shilling;”  but to the other branches of his family he had left considerable personal and landed property.- The jury having received evidence that he was insane, returned a verdict to that effect

Leamington Spa Courier, 5 Dec
Mr William Wilson ... was residing at one of our principal Hotels, in July last; and having left the place without paying his bill, the landlord detained his trunk, in whose possession, we believe it has been ever since.


William Wilson was baptised at Adderbury on 23 Aug 1799, second son of William and Elizabeth (nee Townsend). His father, who did not die until 1834 (intestate and with an estate of less than £300), was a yeoman and his mother's family kept an inn. Thomas Wilson (d.1804) who lived at Shipton Farm from the 1780s was a relative, probably his uncle.

John Sleath Gent (1795-1864), the recipient of the letter above, was a surgeon in Winslow between about 1816 and 1838 (read more about the family). He married William's sister Ann Wilson (1798-1838) at Adderbury in 1818.

William Wilson trained as a solicitor, and is probably the man who was articled as clerk to another William Wilson in 1813 (TNA, CP 5/163/60). He appears to have arrived in Winslow in 1819 when he bought 30 High Street. How he was able to do this is so far unexplained. He lived there until 1825, and then moved to Banbury.

A list of cases to be heard at the Oxford Court for Relief of Insolvent Debtors on 17 Oct 1826 included:
Charles Tomes the younger, heretofore of the City of Oxford, since of Buckingham, in partnership with William Wilson the younger, as attornies at law, and late of the City of Oxford, attorney at law.

In 1828 a commission of bankrupt was awarded against "William Wilson the younger of Winslow scrivener, dealer and chapman" (London Gazette, 8 Feb). A meeting of creditors was called for 13 June.

In 1822 he married Harriet, daughter of the currier George West (d.1826). George appears to be the "father" who had "lately died"; Harriet unsuccessfully contested his will which omitted her altogether, and William advertised for information about a later will.

The "innocent child" was a daughter, Louisa Harriet Wilson, b.1828 at Banbury. She was living with her uncle John West in 1841, and married Samuel Burnham Dudley in 1849. Harriet Wilson the widow married Rev. Power Turner of Hoggeston in 1833; they were living at Cherington, Warws, in 1861 and 1871. He died in 1875.

William Wilson of St Bartholomew the Less aged 30 was buried at Adderbury on 5 Dec 1829.

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