John Wilkes, champion of civil liberties 1725-97

Who is John Wilkes

John Wilkes was a controversial figure in 18th-century British politics. He was born in 1725 and grew up in a wealthy family, but he was known for his rebellious and libertine nature. He became involved in politics and journalism, and he was known for his support of civil liberties and opposition to government corruption.

John Wilkes was born in Clerkenwell London on the 17th October 1725, educated in Hertford, private tutored and University in Holland.   He was known for being an English politician and journalist, elected as a member of parliament for Aylesbury in 1757.

Wilkes’ political career

Wilkes’ political career began in 1754, when he was elected as a Member of Parliament for Aylesbury. He quickly became known for his opposition to government corruption and his support for civil liberties. He also founded a radical newspaper called The North Briton, which was known for its attacks on the government and its support for freedom of speech.

John Wilkes was a Radical, which was a term given to individuals in the 18th-19th century who were champions of parliamentary reform.  Radicals splintered into several directions, some wanting electoral reform, some wanting the abolition of titles and redistribution of properties.

As well as pollution., Wilkes was a newspaper editor of the ‘The North Briton’ paper. Wilkes wrote in the paper in 1763 a criticism of King George III which led to his immediate arrest. The arrest was possible under a general warrant which enabled detection of persons suspected of libel. Wilkes spent the next few years in exile in France, to avoid prosecution, returning in 1768 where he sort to gain re-election to parliament (from prison). He used his paper to promote himself, putting himself forward as a defender of ancient English Liberties.

Wilkes won re-election Member of Parliament for Middlesex and Alderman of London

Wilkes’ controversies and legal troubles

Wilkes was a controversial figure who often found himself in trouble with the authorities. He was accused of publishing seditious and obscene material in The North Briton, and he was involved in a number of duels and other altercations. He was also imprisoned several times, including for his criticism of King George III.

Image linked from Wikipedia

John Wilkes, champion of civil liberties 1725-97 1
John Wilkes – Linked image from Wikipedia

Wilkes’ legacy

Despite his controversies and legal troubles, John Wilkes is remembered today as a champion of civil liberties and a defender of free speech. He was an important figure in the development of modern British democracy, and his legacy can be seen in the continued importance of civil liberties and freedom of speech in British politics and society.

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