WYKES, William (1686-1742), of Haselbech, Northants.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
bap. 5 May 1686, 2nd surv. s. of Randolph Wykes of Haselbech by Sarah, da. and h. of William Clarke of Loddington, Northants. educ. Rugby 1694. m. Jan. 1717, Grace Kenrick of Culworth, Northants., da. and coh. of Sir William Kenrick, 2nd Bt., of Whitley, Berks., 1da. d.v.p. suc. bro. 1706.1
Wykes’s grandfather, who was possibly descended from a Devonshire family, purchased the manor of Haselbech in 1612. At the close of the 17th century the family enjoyed a neighbourly relationship with the Caves of nearby Stanford Hall: Wykes and his elder brother Randolph, who was sheriff during 1702–3, seem to have shared with Sir Thomas Cave, 3rd Bt.*, an enthusiasm for hunting. On his brother’s death in 1706 Wykes inherited the estate, and at the next opportunity took to the hustings. At Northampton during the election of 1708, he mounted a challenge but was defeated. In 1710, however, his financial superiority in the campaign enabled him to capture a winning share of the townsmen’s votes, but he made barely a mark on the proceedings of his first Parliament. During the 1710–11 session he was listed as a ‘worthy patriot’ who assisted in exposing the mismanagements of the previous ministry; and a fortnight’s leave was granted him on 7 Feb. 1711.2
Returned unopposed in 1713, Wykes was classed in the Worsley list as a Tory. On 20 Apr. 1714 when the resolutions of the committee of elections were heard on the disputed Brackley case, he told in favour of the Tory candidate John Burgh*. When the House was short of business on 5 June, he took the opportunity to move for a committee to consider means of reinvigorating the leather manufacture. This committee, of which Wykes was chairman, took very little time to deliberate, and a report was made on the 8th: its principal recommendation, an allowance of drawback on goods exported, was referred to the ways and means committee. He was a teller for the Court on the 22nd in favour of levying duties on calicoes and linens for the supply. He ‘was extremely laughed at’, however, when, on 11 Aug., he proposed to tack to the new civil list a clause for curbing the number of placemen in the Commons, and did not even find a seconder. As preparations for the 1715 election advanced, it became clear that Wykes’s fellow Member, the Whig George Montagu*, was no longer prepared to effect an accommodation with a Tory, but in the event he was unable to prevent Wykes from being returned with him. Taking Grace Kenrick as his wife early in 1717, he was said by his friend Cave to have ‘married a great fortune’. In 1719 he proposed a scheme to supply Northampton with water, which was carried out under his close supervision and completed in 1721. Even so, his effort and expense were not enough to secure his re-election in 1722, although the townspeople’s appreciation of his services was glowingly expressed towards the year’s close in the Northampton Mercury:
after the expense of some thousand pounds, and about nine months’ time, it was happily effected, by the force of an engine: and this day the pipes began to run, to the general satisfaction of the town; who thereupon immediately caused all the bells to ring, to shew their joy and thankfulness, and to sound the praise of that worthy gentleman, for his glorious and ever memorable benefaction to the town.
He died on 5 May 1742 and was buried at Haselbech, where his wife’s memorial to him in the church records that as a Member of Parliament and magistrate ‘he discharged his trust to the real interest of his country and satisfaction of honest and impartial men’. In later life his aversion to ‘persons of republican principles’ was strong enough for him to direct in his will that no one of this persuasion was to be entrusted with the upkeep of his waterworks.3
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Andrew A. Hanham
- 1. Info. from R. J. Wykes Esq.
- 2. Verney Letters 18th Cent. i. 140; Add. 31143, f. 561.
- 3. Boyer, Pol. State, viii. 151; Swift Corresp. ed. Williams, ii. 120; Northants. RO, Isham mss IC 3021, Ld. Strafford to Sir Justinian Isham, 4th Bt.*, 21 Dec. ; Verney Letters 18th Cent. 338, 346; Jnl. of Northants. Nat. Hist. Soc. and Field Club, xv. 243–4; Northampton Mercury, 10 Dec. 1722; info. from R.J. Wykes Esq.