Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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WILSON , JOHN ( 1626 - c. 1695/6 ), playwright ;

christened at S. Stephen's , Walbrook , 27 Dec. 1626 , the eldest son of Aaron and Marie Wilson .

AARON WILSON

was b. at Carmarthen in 1586 , admitted to Queen's College , Oxford , 1601 , graduated in 1611 , and was collated to S. Stephen's , Walbrook , in 1625 . A forthright Royalist , he came into collision with the people of Plymouth when appointed archdeacon of Exeter and vicar of Plymouth in 1633/4 . He was arrested by Plymouth corporation when the Civil War broke out and was sent prisoner to Portsmouth . He fell sick there, but d. at Exeter , 4 July 1643 . His son,


JOHN WILSON ,

entered Exeter College , 5 April 1644 , went to Lincoln's Inn in 1646 , and was called to the Bar , 10 Nov. 1652 . He, too, was a fervent Royalist , and was appointed recorder of Londonderry on 20 Dec. 1666 ; like his father, he could not agree with the local corporation. Wilson was more successful as writer than as office-holder and, apart from his plays, translated Erasmus 's Moriae Encomium , 1668 , and published two political essays: A Discourse of Monarchy , 1684 , and Jus Regium Coronae , 1686 (?) He was best known as the author of two comedies, The Cheats , 1662 , and The Projectors , 1665 , and two tragedies, Andronicus Comnenius , 1664 , and Belphegor , 1690 . The Cheats was very popular and held the stage to the end of the century. Act 3, scene 3, lines 145-193, contain many references to the Welsh , and the curious remark, ‘ I suckt a Welsh Nurse, and soe by a Synedoche may be calld a Welch Man .’

Sources:

  • The Registers of St. Stephen's, Walbrook, and of St. Benet Scherehog, London , Harleian Society, London, 1919-20 ;
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ;
  • John Wilson , The Cheats… from the MS. in the library of Worcester College, Oxford , Oxford, 1935 (ed. M. C. Nahm ), 1935 .

Author:

Cecil John Layton Price, Ph.D. (1915-91), Aberystwyth / Swansea

Published date: 1959