Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Wilson, Rowland

WILSON, ROWLAND (1613–1650), parliamentarian, born in 1613, and descended from a family established at Gresegarth in the parish of Kendal, Westmorland, was son of Rowland Wilson (d. 16 May 1654) of Gresegarth and London, by Mary, daughter of John Tiffin of London (Visitation of London, 1633–5; Smyth, Obituary, p. 37). The elder Wilson was a wealthy merchant, elected sheriff in 1630, but excused on payment of a fine of 500l. (Remembrancia, p. 18). The younger Wilson was lieutenant-colonel of the orange regiment of the London trained bands, and commanded it in October 1643, joining the army of the Earl of Essex after the first battle of Newbury, and taking part in the occupation of Newport Pagnell. ‘This gentleman,’ says Whitelocke, ‘was the only son of his wealthy father, heir to a large estate of 2,000l. per annum in land, and partner with his father in a great personal estate employed in merchandise; yet in conscience he held himself obliged to undertake this journey, as persuaded that the honour and service of God, and the flourishing of the gospel of Christ and the true protestant religion, might in some measure be promoted by this service, and that his example in the city might be a means the more to persuade others not to decline it. Upon these grounds he cheerfully marched forth’ (Whitelocke, Memorials, 1853, i. 223; Dillon, List of Officers of the London Trained Bands).

Wilson was colonel of the orange regiment in 1646, and in June of that year he was elected member for Calne. Being an independent, he was left out of the committee of the militia for the city of London when that body was renewed in April 1647 (Whitelocke, ii. 136). On 28 Nov. 1648 Wilson, who was a member of the Vintners' Company, was elected alderman of Bridge Within (Remembrancia, p. 18n.) A month later he was nominated one of the commissioners for the trial of Charles I, but refused to act (Whitelocke, ii. 495). Nevertheless he consented to take part in the proclamation of the act for the abolition of monarchy in London, and was elected a member of the council of state in February 1649, and again in February 1650 (Commons' Journals, vi. 141, 361; Noble, Lives of the Regicides, ii. 333). In July 1649 he was elected sheriff of London, and the House of Commons in giving him leave to serve declared that they would regard it as ‘an acceptable service to the Commonwealth if he took the office’ (Commons' Journals, vi. 259).

Wilson died on 19 Feb. 1650, and was buried on 5 March (Smyth, Obituary, p. 28). ‘He was a gentleman of excellent parts and great piety, of a solid sober temper and judgment, and very honest and just in all his actions. He was beloved both in the house, city, and army’ (Whitelocke, iii. 158).

Wilson married, in January 1634, Mary, daughter of Bigley Carleton of London, grocer (Chester, London Marriage Licences, col. 1484). In the contemporary notes appended to the ‘List of Officers of the London Trained Bands’ he is erroneously described as son-in-law to Alderman Wright. His widow became the third wife of Bulstrode Whitelocke [q. v.] (R. Whitelocke, Memoirs of Bulstrode Whitelocke, 1860, p. 284).

[Noble's Lives of the Regicides, ii. 332; Whitelocke's Memorials, 1853; other authorities mentioned in the article.]

C. H. F.