Sir John Wildman
- This article is about the politician. For the
actor, see John Wildman
(c. 1621 - 2 June 1693) was an English soldier and
was born in the Norfolk town of Wymondham, the son of Jeffrey and Dorothy Wildman.
father was a butcher. John was educated as a sizar (a poor scholar who had to work as a servant to
pay his way) at Corpus Christi College University of Cambridge taking an MA in 1644.
Sometime later he
married Lucy Lovelace, the daughter of the Catholic Lord Lovelace
and may have had legal training as he later described himself as an
attorney or solicitor.
He became prominent, however, as a civilian adviser to the Army
agitators, speaking in favour of the Agreement of the People
. He was connected by
friendship and marriage to the Republican MP Henry Marten
and objected to all
compromise with the king. In a pamphlet, Putney Projects, he
attacked Oliver Cromwell; he may
have written parts of The Case of the Army Stated, and he
put the views of his associates before the Council of the Army at the Putney Debates that took place in Putney
church between 28 October and
11 November, 1647.
By January 1648 he and John Lilburne
were imprisoned for attempting
to build a movement to campaign for the Agreement of the People.
alleged that preparations were made "for his trial and towards his
execution." However, he was released in the following August, and
for a time he was associated with the party known as the Levellers
, but he quickly severed his connection
with them and became an officer in the army.
He was a
large buyer of the land forfeited by the royalist, and in 1654 he entered the House of
Commons as member of the First Protectorate Parliament
In the February following year he was arrested at while dictating
A Declaration of the free and well-affected People of England
now in Arms against the Tyrant Oliver Cromwell, esq
secretary . He was incarcerated in Chepstow Castle for four months.
After his release he
resumed plotting, intriguing with royalists and republicans alike
for the overthrow of the existing regime. In the late 1650s
Wildman was associated with the Commonwealth Club, a Republican
club meeting at a Covent
Garden tavern called The Nonsuch in Bow Street.
was also in 1659 a member of James
's Rota Club, a Republican debating club which
determined its by decisions by ballot. In 1659 he helped to
Castle for the Long
After the Restoration
, in November 1661 he was
again a prisoner on suspicion of participating in republican plots.
For six years he was a captive, only regaining his freedom after
the fall of Clarendon in October 1667. Primarily out of hostility
to Clarendon he became associated with the George Villiers
Duke of Buckingham, whose ministry introduced a measure of
In or before 1681 Wildman became prominent among those who were
discontented with the rule of Charles II
, being especially intimate
with Algernon Sydney
. He was
undoubtedly involved in the Rye House
, and under James II
was active in the interests of the Duke of Monmouth
, but took
no part in the Monmouth Rebellion
of 1685. He found it advisable, however, to escape to Holland, and
returned to England with the army of William of Orange
in 1688. In 1689 he
was a member of the convention parliament.
Wildman was postmaster-general
April 1689 to February 1691, when some ugly rumours about his
conduct brought about his dismissal. Nevertheless, he was knighted
by King William III
Sir John, who was the author of many political pamphlets, left an
only son, John, who died childless in 1710.