Regency Man Monday – John Wilkes

John Wilkes (17 October 1725 – 26 December 1797) was an English radical, journalist, and politician.

I know he’s not a Regency Man, but someone had mistakenly listed him as such and on doing some research I found he’s quite interesting and has some strong ties to America and felt like it should have some recognition here.

The first thing I noticed was his name. Seems really similar to a certain assassin of President Lincoln. Turns out John Wilkes was a relative of John Wilkes Booth’s great grandmother Elizabeth Booth nee Wilkes. Booth’s parents were married during the Regency era in London before coming to America in 1821.

This portrait isn’t done in mock of the man, he was considered by many to have been the ugliest man in England. Despite his looks, he is said to have had enough charm for people to overlook his looks. Doing some reading on John Wilkes I found that he was a great supporter of American Independence. British subjects in the American colonies closely followed Wilkes’s career. His struggles convinced many colonists that the British constitution was being subverted by a corrupt ministry, an idea that contributed to the coming of the American Revolution. In reaction, after the Revolution, representatives included provisions in the new American constitution to prevent Congress from rejecting any legally elected member and to proscribe general warrants for arrest.

Click here for more on John Wilkes.

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