Nat Gould

His life and books

John Wilson 1755-1835

John Wilson
Born: 1755 Stenson, Derbyshire
Died: 1835 Stenson, Derbyshire
John Wilson 1720-1789
Anne Cocks 1736-1764
William Wilson 1756-1821
Ann Wilson 1758-1803
Thomas Wilson 1760-1829
Stephen Wilson 1761-1814
Mary Wilson 1763-1796

John Wilson was born in 1755, the son of John Wilson 1720-1789 and his wife nee Anne Cocks 1736-1764. He was baptised on 29 December 1755 at Barrow-on-Trent in Derbyshire. He was unmarried.

John Wilson died on 2 October 1835 at Stenson aged 80 years (1), and was buried on 7 October 1835 at Barrow-on-Trent.

His Will was made on 27 February 1832, with a codicil added on 3 February 1834. It was proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury on 3 June 1836. Most of the Will concerns the setting up of a trust for his great-niece Elizabeth the daughter of his niece Mary Ann Wayte, and in default successively for nephew Ambrose Moore 1788-1873 and heirs, nephews Melvil Wilson 1799-1868 and Forrester Wilson 1812-1878 (sons of his late brother Thomas Wilson 1760-1829 of London) and heirs, nephew Fletcher Wilson (son of his brother Stephen Wilson 1761-1814) and heirs, and in default of all these to the testator's "own right heirs for ever".

A trust was also set up "for the three children of my late niece Jane Stevenson (the wife of Mr Stevenson now or late of Derby Draper)". The daughter of his deceased brother Stephen Wilson 1761-1814, Jane Wilson had married George Stevenson in 1823 but had died in 1828 (2).

Four trustees were appointed who were also the executors and received legacies: George Wayte of Twyford, William Gould 1755-1845 of Hanson Grange, Thomas Briggs of Derby, and John Henshaw of Weston-upon-Trent. Other legatees were Ambrose Moore, Ann Wilson and Susan Wilson, Stephen Garton, Thomas Hulland of Eggington, Charles Crossley of Bristol, Thomas Hickson of Derby, Francis Shaw of Derby, Mary Munrow of Duffield, and Mary Shaw (formerly Hickson) wife of Francis Shaw, and his manservant William Brown or Mansfield. A Codicil made on 3 February 1834 changed the list of trustees and executors by deleting William Gould and John Henshaw and adding Thomas Gould 1800-1878 of Hanson Grange, making three in number. £500 more was added to the £2,500 already provided for the trust fund. Additional legatees were John Henshaw and Catherine Henshaw.

His Will has two very curious features: first he went to extraordinary lengths to safeguard the inheritance of his great niece Elizabeth, the principal heir to his great fortune (3); and secondly he never once mentions her surname,identifying her only as "my great niece Elizabeth daughter of my said niece Mary Ann Wayte”.

She was born Elizabeth Hickson, and by the date of the Will had become Mrs. Elizabeth Buxton. However John Wilson had good reason for composing his Will in the strange way that he did. Elizabeth was the apple of old John’s eye. He was a bachelor and had virtually adopted her. But she had been persuaded into a runaway marriage with a village lad named Thomas Buxton, egged on by another local man Webster desperate for money, who was to receive £500 payment by the bridegroom for arranging the wedding (3). The case was a national sensation in 1829, and was copiously reported in the press (4).


(1) Derby Mercury 7 October 1835.
(2) She had died in Derby on 19 January 1828. Her three children were Mary Jane Stevenson 1824-1909, George Wilson Stevenson 1825-1889, and Joshua Stevenson 1825-1906.
(3) Eleven out of thirteen pages of the probate copy of the Will are devoted to this intention.
(4) The fullest account discovered is that published in the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser on
28 March 1829. A more concise account appeared in the Derby Daily Telegraph on 22 and 23 March 1909.