Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Wilde, William (1611?-1679)

WILDE, Sir WILLIAM (1611?–1679), judge, born about 1611, was the son of William Wilde, a London vintner residing in Bread Street. He was at first a member of Clifford's Inn, but was admitted to the Inner Temple on 19 Feb. 1629–30. He was called to the bar on 21 May 1637, and on 24 May 1652 he became a bencher. On 3 Nov. 1659 he was elected recorder of London. In 1660 he favoured the Restoration, and was returned to the Convention parliament for the city of London. In May 1660 he was knighted, and on 13 Sept. was created a baronet. In March 1661 he was a parliamentary candidate for the city, but met with little support, the electors returning four puritan members (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1660–1, pp. 537–40). As recorder he was placed on the commission for the trial of the regicides. On 5 Oct. 1661 he was made a serjeant-at-law, and on 10 Nov. a king's serjeant. While recorder he resided in Great St. Bartholomew Close, and afterwards at Lewisham in Kent, and at Goldstone, a manor at Ash in the same county. On 16 April 1668 he was appointed a judge of the common pleas, and on 22 Jan. 1672–3 was removed to the king's bench. In February 1678–9 he passed sentence of death on Laurence Hill, Robert Green, and Henry Berry, convicted of the murder of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey [q. v.], on the perjured testimony of William Bedloe [q. v.], and on 16 April he approved the conviction of Nathaniel Reading for tampering with the king's evidence, on the same man's evidence. Immediately afterwards, according to Burnet, he discovered Bedloe's treachery and told him roundly ‘that he was a perjured man, and ought to come no more into court, but go home and repent’ (Hist. of his Own Time, 1823, ii. 190). In consequence his patent was revoked on 29 April. He died shortly after his dismissal, on 23 Nov. 1679, and was buried in the Temple Church. He was thrice married. By his second wife, Jane, daughter of Felix Wilson of Hanwell in Middlesex, he had a son Felix, who succeeded him in the baronetcy. On 30 Oct. 1662 he married his third wife, Frances, daughter of Thomas Barcroft of the city of London. By her he had a second son, William, who inherited his estate at Ash. Neither son had male issue, and on the death of Felix the baronetcy became extinct.

In 1661 Wilde published in Norman-French the ‘Reports of divers special Cases in the Court of King's Bench,’ compiled by Sir Henry Yelverton [q. v.] A second edition appeared in 1674, and a third in English in 1735. A fourth edition was published at Dublin in 1792, and the first part of a fifth edition in London in 1829. Wilde's official address to Charles II in 1661, on his passage from the Tower to Whitehall, was printed in the same year; a copy is in the British Museum Library.

[Foss's Judges of England, 1864, vii. 193–5; Chester's London Marriage Licences, ed. Foster; Burke's Extinct Baronetcies; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, ii. 477; Townsend's Catalogue of Knights; Pepys's Diary and Corresp. ed. Braybrooke, i. 137; Evelyn's Diary, ed. Bray, ii. 93; Hasted's Hist. of Kent, 1778 i. 74, ii. 677, 1886 i. 272, 275; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1659–71; Cobbett's State Trials, vol. vii.]

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