John Wilkes Esq; before the Court of King's Bench.
Engraving, 145 x 195mm. 5¾ x 7¾". Three vertical folds as normal.
John Wilkes (1725 - 1797), radical, journalist and politician. During the American War of Independence he supported the American patriots. This engraving shows him before the Kings Bench shortly before his imprisonment in 1768. Wilkes married for money and led a life of pleasure until boredom overcame him. In 1757 he entered politics, and 1762 he published the North Briton which commented on public life. After one article that appeared on 23rd April 1763, George III and his ministers decided to prosecute Wilkes for seditious libel. He was arrested but at a court hearing the Lord Chief Justice ruled that as an MP, Wilkes was protected by privilege from arrest on a charge of libel. His discharge was greeted with great popular acclaim and Wilkes left the court as a champion of liberty. He was finally permitted to take his seat in 1774 and was elected Lord Mayor of London the same year. Wilkes was also a passionate opponent of the harsh criminal code. As Wilkes grew older he became more conservative. Radicals grew dissatisfied with him and in the 1790 general election he was defeated at Middlesex. Wilkes now retired from politics and took no part in the growth of radicalism in the 1790s. Fold-out plate to the Gentleman's Magazine.
[Ref: 11613] £65.00