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Wyndham, Sir William

Wyndham, Sir William (c.1688–1740). Politician. Wyndham owed his position as a leader of the Tories in the Walpole period to three things—his standing as a well-connected Somerset baronet, his oratorical and debating ability, and the fact that he was one of the few remaining Tories who had any experience of office. He succeeded his father at the age of 7 and entered Parliament at 21 at a by-election in Somerset in 1710, just before the great Tory victory at the general election. Pushed by Bolingbroke, he was made master of the buckhounds 1711–12, secretary at war 1712–13, and chancellor of the Exchequer in 1713. He was dismissed at once by George I in 1714 and after Bolingbroke fled to France in 1715 planned a Jacobite rising. Arrested in bed, he spent some months in the Tower, but was released through the influence of his father-in-law, the duke of Somerset. Thereafter Wyndham gradually loosened his Jacobite ties and protested himself a Hanoverian Tory. He worked closely with Bolingbroke and Pulteney in the opposition to Walpole but his early death prevented him from profiting from Walpole's fall, and left his colleagues lamenting his lost leadership.

J. A. Cannon

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