Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Wilkes, Richard

997620Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 61 — Wilkes, Richard1900Edward Irving Carlyle

WILKES, RICHARD (1691–1760), antiquary and physician, born at Willenhall in Staffordshire on 16 March 1690–1, was the eldest son of Richard Wilkes (1666–1740) of Willenhall by his wife Lucretia (d. 24 July 1717), youngest daughter of Jonas Asteley of Woodeaton, Staffordshire. He was educated at Trentham and at Sutton in Warwickshire, and entered St. John's College, Cambridge, on 13 March 1709–10, being admitted a scholar in 1710. On 6 April 1711 he commenced attending the lectures of Nicholas Saunderson [q. v.], afterwards Lucasian professor of mathematics, and formed a close friendship with him. He graduated B.A. in January 1713–14 and M.A. in 1717, and was elected a fellow of St. John's on 21 Jan. 1716–17. On 4 July 1718 he was chosen Linacre lecturer at the college. He took deacon's orders, but, finding no preferment, he began to practise physic at Wolverhampton in February 1720, resigned his fellowship in 1723, and became eminent in his profession (cf. Nichols, Illustr. of Literature, iii. 275). In 1725 he received a fortune with his first wife, and settled on his paternal estate, where he died in 1760, and was buried at Bilston on 4 March.

He was twice married: first, on 24 June 1725, to Rachel, daughter of Roland Manlove of Leigh's Hill, Abbot's Bromley, in Staffordshire. She died in May 1786, and in October he married Frances (d. 24 Dec. 1798), daughter of Sir John Wrottesley, bart., and widow of Heigham Bendish of East Ham in Essex. He had no issue, and was succeeded in his estate by his cousin, Thomas Unett.

His portrait, engraved by Granger, is in Shaw's ‘History of Staffordshire.’

Wilkes was the author of: 1. ‘A Treatise on Dropsy,’ London, 1730, 8vo; new edit. 1777. 2. ‘A Letter to the Gentlemen, Farmers, and Graziers of the County of Staffordshire on the Treatment of the Distemper now prevalent among Horned Cattle, and its Prevention and Cure,’ London, 1743, 8vo. He contemplated a new edition of Butler's ‘Hudibras,’ for which he made notes, and wrote part of a history of Staffordshire, which is preserved in manuscript in the Salt Library, together with a transcription by Captain Fernyhough, made in 1832. It was discovered by Stebbing Shaw [q. v.] in 1792, and incorporated by him in his ‘History of Staffordshire.’ Several letters, written between 1746 and 1755, from Wilkes to Charles Lyttelton [q. v.], afterwards bishop of Carlisle, are preserved in the British Museum (Stowe MS. 753, ff. 70, 242, 248, 286).

[Shaw's Hist. of Staffordshire, 1798–1801, vol. i. preface, vol. ii. pt. i. pp. 147–9, 205; Simms's Bibliotheca Stafford. 1894; Baker's Hist. of St. John's Coll. 1869, i. 303, ii. 1008; Admissions to St. John's Coll. 1893, ii. 196.]

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