Keeping it in the Family – William Wykes

William Wykes, MP for Northampton (1710–1722)

William Wykes, MP for Northampton (1710–1722)

Northampton Museum & Art Gallery received a visit recently from the long lost relatives of William Wykes JP, member of Parliament for Northampton 1710-1722. They have been doing family tree research for some years and knew that they were related to the former MP but had not seen his portrait which we hold at the museum. The painting is thought to date from the early to mid 18th century but the English painter is unknown.

Wykes, born around 1680, was the second son of Randolph Wykes of Haselbech, Northamptonshire. He was elected as Tory MP for Northampton in 1710 and was returned unopposed in 1713 and 1715. He was defeated in 1722 after local Tory leaders compromised the election. During his governmental career he opposed every bill proposed by the government during the reign of George I. He died on 5th May 1742.

His work in Northampton included the laying of a piped water supply into the town. On his death he appointed George Compton and Sir Edmund Isham as trustees of the waterworks to ensure the works stayed in good repair and to prevent them from falling “into the hands of any person or persons of republican principles”.

Wykes ancestors were very happy to see the portrait and commented that there was even a family resemblance!!