Wilkes, Richard

, an English antiquary and physician, was the eldest son of Mr. Richard Wilkes, of | Willenhall, in the county of Stafford, a gentleman who lived upon his own estate, and where his ancestors had been seated since the time of Edward IV. His mother was Lucretia, youngest daughter of Jojias Asteley, of Woodeaton, in Staffordshire, an ancient and respectable family. He was born March 16, 1690-91, and had his school-education at Trentham. He was entered of St. John’s college, Cambridge, March 13, 1709- 10, and was admitted scholar in 1710. On April 6, 1711, he attended Mr. Saunderson’s mathematical lectures, aud ever after continued a particular friendship with that gentleman. In the preface to “Saunderson’s Elements of Algebra,” the reader is told, that whatever materials had been got together for publishing Saunderson’s life, had been received, among other gentlemen, from Mr. Richard Wilkes. He took the degree of B.A. January 1713-14; and was chosen fellow Jan. 21, 1716-17; and April 11, 1716, was admitted into lady Sadler’s Algetra Lecture, and took the degree of M. A. at the commencement of 1717; also July 4, 1718, he was chosen Linacre Lecturer. It does not appear that he ever took any degrees in medicine. He seems to have taken pupils and taught mathematics in the college from 1715 till tfet time thathe left it. It is not known when he took deacon’s orders, but a relation of his remembered his having preached at Wolverhampton. He also preached some time at Stow, near Chartley. The disgust he took to the ministry has been imputed to his being disappointed in the hope of preferment in the church, and he thought he could make his talents turn to better account, and accordingly began to practise physic at Wolverhampton, Feb. 1720, and became veryeminent in his profession. On the 24th June 1,725, he married Miss Rachel Manlove, of Lee’s-hill, near Abbots Bromley in Staffordshire, with whom he had a handsome fortune, and from that time he dwelt with his father at Willenhall. In the beginning of 1747 he had a severe fit of illness, during which, among other employments, he composed a whimsical epitaph on himself, which may be seen in Shaw’s History of Staffordshire. His wife dying in May 1756, he afterwards married in October the same year, Mrs. Frances Bendish (sister to the late Rev. sir Richard Wrottesley, of WYottesley, bart.) who died Dec. 24, 1798, at Froxfield, Hampshire, at a very advanced age. Dr. Wilkes died March 6, 1760, of the gout in his stomach, greatly lamented by his tenants, to whom he had been an | indulgent landlord, and by the poor to whom he had been a kind and liberal physician and friend.

He published an excellent “Treatise on the Dropsy,” and during the time that the distemper raged in Staffordshire among the horned cattle, he published a pamphlet, entitled “A Letter to the Gentlemen, Farmers, and Graziers, in the county of Stafford,” calculated to prevent, or cure that terrible plague. Among other things, he meditated a new edition of Hudibras, with notes, &c. As an antiquary he is principally known by his valuable collections for the history of Staffordshire. His chef-d’oeuvre, says Mr Shaw, is a general history from the earliest and most obscure ages to his own times, drawn up with great skill and erudition, which Mr. Shaw has made the basis of his own introduction. This, with his other manuscripts, were long supposed to have been lost, and were not indeed brought to light until 1792, when they fell into the hands of Mr. Shaw, who has incorporated them in his valuable history. 1


Shaw’s Hist, of Staffordshire, vol. II. Part I. p. 147, 148, and Pref. to vol. I.