WOGAN, William (c.1638-1708), of Rickardstone, Brawdy, Pemb. and Hatton Garden, London.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Family and Education

b. c.1638, 2nd s. of Thomas Wogan of Llanstinan, Pemb. by Elizabeth, da. of John Owen of Berllan, Pemb. educ. G. Inn 1653, called 1660, ancient 1676. m. (1) lic. 30 June 1668, aged 30, Elizabeth (d. Apr. 1697) da. and coh. of Sir John Ashburnham of Bromham, Sussex, servant to the Queen of Bohemia, wid. of Sir John Jacob, 1st Bt., of Bromley, Mdx., s.p.; (2) 1703, Mary (d.1708) da. of Robert Villiers alias Danvers of Knighton, Rad., s.p. Kntd. 31 Oct. 1689.1

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Pemb. 1666-80, Mdx. 1673-80, London, Haverfordwest and Carm. 1679-80, Mdx. Pemb. and Haverfordwest 1689-90; Carm. 1689; j.p. Card., Carm. and Pemb. 1689-1701; dep. lt. Pemb. by 1701-?d.

King’s serjeant 1689-?1702; c.j. S. Wales circuit 1689-1701.


Wogan was descended from the family established at Wiston by the 14th century which first sent a Member to Parliament for Pembrokeshire in 1553. His father was probably neutral in the Civil War, though he was appointed to an assessment commission in 1652. Wogan, a lawyer, lived eight miles from Haverfordwest, and in 1677 unsuccessfully opposed (Sir) Herbert Perrott, probably as a court supporter, in a by-election for the borough. He was successful at the first election of 1679, surviving a petition from Thomas Owen, and was classed as ‘honest’ on Shaftesbury’s list. On Danby’s pardon he said:

We cannot take notice of it. Matter of fact cannot be pleaded against matter of record. We ought therefore to desire the Lords that he may be secured to answer his charge.

He was sent to ask the tolerant high churchman Sharp to preach to the House on the day of fasting and humiliation. An active Member of the first Exclusion Parliament, he was appointed to 14 committees, including those to consider the habeas corpus bill and the bill for security against Popery, and to bring in a bill to banish Papists from London and confine them within five miles of their homes. On 7 May he said:

It is below the dignity of the House for your Members to argue with Lord Danby’s counsel; but it is convenient that some Members do go down to inform themselves what the counsel will say as to the pardon.

He was among those ordered to prepare reasons for a conference on the subject. He voted against the first exclusion bill, but he was defeated at the autumn election, and his petition was never reported.2

Wogan was returned unopposed for Pembrokeshire in 1681, but left no trace on the records of the Oxford Parliament. But he was again active in James II’s Parliament as Member for Haverfordwest, with 15 committee appointments. He helped to bring in the tax on new buildings and to estimate its yield. He acted as teller against a bill for the registration of the births, marriages, deaths and issue of the nobility and gentry, and was instructed to bring in a replacement with the assistance of Roger North and Thomas Christie. In the second session he went over to the Opposition, delivering two speeches incorrectly attributed by Anchitell Grey to Edmund Waller I. In the supply debate of 12 Nov. he said:

Kings in old time used to send, not only an account of their revenues but of the charge they were going to be at, to Parliament when they demanded aids. ... I am for a bill for making the militia more useful, and would know, if we give money thus, it be not for setting up a standing army.

He was among those appointed to draw up the address against the employment of Roman Catholic officers. On 16 Nov. he said:

If we give too little now, hereafter if we see occasion for it we may give more; but if we now give too much, I do not see how we shall ever have it again.

Though Danby included him among the less notable lawyers in opposition to James II in 1687, he dissuaded Judge Holloway from printing his opinion against the King’s use of the dispensing power, ‘for it would be looked on as a libel, and he and his family would be ruined’. Determined efforts were made to preclude him from standing for the abortive Parliament in 1688 by pricking him as sheriff both for Glamorgan and Pembrokeshire; but neither nomination held.3

Wogan was elected ‘freely and unanimously’ to the Convention for Haverfordwest. He voted to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant, and desired to limit the succession to the heirs of Mary’s body; but he accepted the new regime, and was made King’s serjeant and a Welsh judge. He was among those appointed to devise new oaths of allegiance and supremacy, to consider a bill for the removal of Papists from London, to bring in a bill for their speedier conviction and disarmament, to repeal the Corporations Act, and to draw up an address thanking the King for his care of the Church. He was twice entrusted with drafting a tax on new buildings. He was appointed to a small committee instructed to inspect the entries in the Lords Journals about Titus Oates, and took the chair for a Buckinghamshire estate bill. In the debate of 20 June 1689 on the dispensing power he pointed out that to deny the prerogative of mercy would be ‘against the nature of all government’. With George Treby, John Somers and Sir John Trevor he was ordered on 9 Aug. to bring in a bill to reimburse the Dutch for the costs of their expedition to England. After the recess he was among those instructed to draft with all convenient speed a bill for the more effectual tendering of the oaths, and he was given special responsibility for a bill to abolish arrest for debts under £2. When the address on the state of the nation was debated on 21 Dec. he called it a libel, and was compelled to apologize.4

Wogan continued to represent Haverfordwest as a Tory under William III, though he signed the Association in 1696. He resigned from the bench in 1701, and died on 1 Dec. 1708, the last of the family to sit in Parliament.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: Leonard Naylor / Geoffrey Jaggar


  • 1. DWB, 1090; West Wales Hist. Recs. vii. 8-9; W. R. Williams, Gt. Sessions in Wales, 178-9.
  • 2. Grey, vii. 20-21, 201; CJ, ix. 579, 643.
  • 3. Prot. Dom. Intell. 18 Mar. 1681; CJ, ix. 751; Lowther diary, ff. 18, 40; Grey, ix. 316; HMC Downshire, i. 286.
  • 4. Grey, ix. 71, 353, 508-9; CJ, x. 113, 166, 258, 292, 321; R. Morrice, Entering Bk. 3, p. 57.
  • 5. Luttrell, v. 15.