Wilson, John (1741-1793) (DNB00)

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WILSON, Sir JOHN (1741–1793), judge, born at The How, Applethwaite, in Westmorland, on 6 Aug. 1741, was the son of John Wilson, a man of property in the parish. He was educated at Staveley, near Kendal, and entered Peterhouse, Cambridge, on 29 Jan. 1759, graduating B.A. in 1761 as senior wrangler, and M.A. in 1764, and being elected to a fellowship on 7 July 1764. While still an undergraduate he is said to have made an able reply to the attack on Edward Waring's ‘Miscellanea Analytica’ by William Samuel Powell [q. v.], master of St. John's College (Nichols, Lit. Anecd. ii. 717). He entered the Middle Temple in January 1763, and, after being called to the bar in 1766, he joined the northern circuit in 1767, and soon acquired a considerable practice. He was patronised by John Dunning (afterwards first Baron Ashburton) [q. v.], and in his turn he befriended John Scott (afterwards Lord Eldon) (Twiss, Life of Lord Eldon, 1846, i. 88). On 7 Nov. 1786 he was appointed by Thurlow to fill the vacancy in the court of common pleas occasioned by the death of Sir George Nares [q. v.], and on 15 Nov. he was knighted. On the retirement of Thurlow he was made a commissioner of the great seal on 15 June 1792, and held that office until 28 Jan. 1793, when Lord Loughborough became lord chancellor. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society on 13 March 1782. He died at Kendal on 18 Oct. 1793, and was buried in the church, where a monument was erected to his memory, with an inscription by his friend, Richard Watson (1737–1816) [q. v.], bishop of Llandaff. On 7 April 1788 he married a daughter of James Adair [q. v.], serjeant-at-law. By her he had a son and two daughters.

[Atkinson's Worthies of Westmorland, 1850, ii. 160–8; Gent. Mag. 1792 i. 39, 1793 ii. 965, 1794 ii. 1051; Townsend's Cat. of Knights, 1833; Foss's Judges of England, 1864 viii. 408–9.]

E. I. C.

WILSON, JOHN (1800–1849), Scottish vocalist, son of John Wilson, coach-driver, was born in Edinburgh on 25 Dec. 1800. At the age of ten he was apprenticed to a printing firm, and was subsequently engaged with the Ballantynes, where he helped to set up the ‘Waverley Novels.’ During the building of Abbotsford he was often chosen as one of the armed messengers who had to ride weekly to Tweedside with money to pay the workmen. He conceived an early liking for music, studied under John Mather and Benjamin Gleadhill of Edinburgh, and was a member of the choir of Duddingston parish church during the ministry of John Thomson (1778–1840) [q. v.], the painter. For some time he was precentor of Roxburgh Place relief church, where his fine tenor voice drew great crowds, and from 1825 to 1830 he held the same post at St. Mary's Church, Edinburgh. After this he devoted himself entirely to music teaching and concert giving. He studied singing in Edinburgh under Finlay Dun [q. v.], and afterwards in London under Gesualdo Lanza [q. v.] and Crivelli, taking harmony and counterpoint lessons from George Aspull [q. v.] In March 1830 he appeared in Edinburgh as Harry Bertram in ‘Guy Mannering,’ and was subsequently engaged in other operas—notably in Balfe's, in some of which he created the principal part—at Covent Garden and Drury Lane. His acting was, however, somewhat stiff, and he abandoned the stage to become an exponent of Scottish song; in that character he appeared before the queen at Taymouth Castle in 1842. His Scottish song entertainments, both in this country and in America, were an immense success, and brought him a large fortune. He died of cholera at Quebec on 8 July 1849. David Kennedy [q. v.], the Scottish vocalist, restored his tomb there, and made a bequest for its permanent preservation. Wilson published an edition of ‘The Songs of Scotland, as sung by him at his Entertainments on Scottish Music and Song,’ London, 1842, 3 vols.; and ‘A Selection of Psalm Tunes, for the use of the Congregation of St. Mary's Church, Edinburgh’ (1825), in which appears the popular tune ‘Howard,’ generally attributed to him, although it is anonymous. He composed several songs, notably ‘Love wakes and sleeps,’ and at his entertainments introduced many which, though unclaimed, are understood to be his own.

[Love's Scottish Church Music; Baptie's Musical Scotland; Dibdin's Annals of the Edinburgh Stage; Grove's Dict. of Music; Hadden's George Thomson, the Friend of Burns, p. 249; Baird's John Thomson of Duddingston; Records of Canongate Parish, Edinburgh; information from the late James Stillie, Edinburgh.]

J. C. H.

WILSON, JOHN (1785–1854), author, the ‘Christopher North’ of ‘Blackwood's,’ and professor of moral philosophy in the university of Edinburgh, was born at Paisley on 18 May 1785. His father, John Wilson (d. 1796), was a manufacturer of gauze, who had made a fortune in business; his mother, Margaret Sym (1753–1825), a lady of remarkable dignity of manners and imperious strength of character, was descended in the female line from the Marquis of Montrose. He was the fourth child but eldest