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

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Mar. - July 1679
1685 - 1687
1689 - 1700

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, associate 1676, bencher 1682.  m. (1) lic. 30 June 1668, aged 30, Elizabeth (d. 1698), da. and coh. of Sir John Ashburnham, Suss., servant to the Queen of Bohemia, of Bromham, sis. of John Ashburnham†, of Ashburnham, Suss., groom of the bedchamber to Charles I and Charles II, and William Ashburnham† of Ashburnham House, Westminster, and wid. of Sir John Jacob, 1st Bt.†, of Bromley, Mdx., s.p.; (2) Mary (d. 1708), da. of Robert Danvers alias Villiers† of Bassetsbury, High Wycombe, Bucks. and Knighton, Rad., s.p.  Kntd. 31 Oct. 1689.

Offices Held

King’s serjeant 1689–1702; c.j. Carmarthen circuit 1689–1701.1


Wogan’s appointments after the Revolution had secured him to the ministry. Classified by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) in March 1690 as a Tory and as a probable Court supporter, he figured on another of Carmarthen’s lists in the following December, possibly drawn up in connexion with the projected attack on the Marquess in the Commons, and was again listed with the Court party by Robert Harley* in April 1691, when it was thought that he would be ‘removed from’ the Welsh judiciary to ‘Westminster Hall’. He was included in three computations of placemen prepared during this Parliament, twice in 1692 and a third time, by Grascome, in 1693, and during the 1694–5 session was listed by Henry Guy* as a ‘friend’ in relation to the Commons’ attack on Guy for corruption. Moderately active in the House, particularly upon legal matters, Wogan was appointed on 2 Apr. 1690 to draft a bill touching the disposition of bankrupts’ estates, and three days later was charged with preparing a further measure to regulate legal processes. The following month he reported and carried to the Lords a private bill, and on 22 May was nominated to draft the Commons’ observations on the message sent by the Lords with the indemnity bill. In the first month of the following session he was appointed to five drafting committees, including those to regulate the King’s Bench and Fleet Prisons (18 Oct.) and to assist creditors in bankruptcy cases (22 Oct.). He presented the second of these measures on 3 Nov. His most notable activity in the 1691–2 session related to the East India bill: although nominated on 8 Jan. 1692 to prepare this measure he spoke against it at its second reading on the 22nd. A week later he was appointed to carry up a bill to remove benefit of clergy from certain offences. His other recorded speech in this session came at the report of the Irish forfeitures bill on 5 Feb., when he supported a committee recommendation to drop the clause ‘for forfeiting remainders on estates tail’. In the early weeks of the 1692–3 session Wogan was nominated to draft, and subsequently presented, a bill for the better disposal of bankrupts’ estates (17, 26 Nov.). The convex lights bill earned his vocal disapproval twice in November and December: on 22 Nov. he opposed its committal as a measure ‘to confirm a monopoly’ and because the patent itself was illegal, ‘being not granted to the first inventor’. An official interest is apparent in his speech of 17 Dec. against the bill for settling the salaries of judges. The last of his speeches to be recorded by Narcissus Luttrell* came on 8 Feb. 1693, when he argued in favour of a measure to protect the timber of the New Forest. On the same day he introduced a bill of his own for ‘the better regulation of servants’, and on 22 Feb. was nominated to prepare reasons for disagreeing with the Lords’ amendments to the bill to prevent malicious informations in King’s bench. In December 1692 there had been strong rumours that he would succeed Sir John Trevor* as chief commissioner of the great seal, but these came to nothing. The eventual disposal of the seals to Sir John Somers* in the following March foiled another intended promotion: Wogan had been nominated, in a batch of Tory judicial appointments, as chief justice of Chester, but after Somers had threatened resignation his advancement was sacrificed. In November and December 1693 he revived his previous concern with reform of the bankruptcy laws, preparing a bill, presented on 11 Dec., to facilitate the discovery of bankrupts’ estates. In January 1694 he was said to be in line for appointment as a baron of the Exchequer: once more the rumours came to nothing.2

In the 1695 Parliament Wogan was less active. On 5 Dec. 1695 he was appointed to a committee ordered to prepare a bill to regulate proceedings in courts of Equity. The first sign of his alienation from the Whig ministry was his inclusion in the forecast for the divisions of 31 Jan. 1696 on the proposed council of trade among those considered likely to oppose the Court. He signed the Association promptly but was absent from the division on fixing the price of guineas at 22s., having been given leave on 16 Mar. In the following session he voted on 25 Nov. 1696 against the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. Although he appeared as a placeman in two lists from 1698, he was classed with the Country party in a comparative analysis of the old and new Commons in September of that year, and the following month was listed as a likely opponent of the standing army. Nothing more of significance is known of his parliamentary career. Defeated by the Whig (Sir) Arthur Owen II* in the county election in January 1701 he resigned his Welsh judgeship the following month and seems to have gone into retirement.3

Wogan died ‘at his house in Hatton Garden’ on 4 Dec. 1708. His estates, worth some £1,200 p.a. were inherited by a nephew, William, who with Lady Wogan was granted administration in 1709. His personalty, amounting to £6,000, was also meant for William but was diverted by dubious means into the pocket of an unscrupulous kinsman, Lewis Wogan* of Wiston, whose successful parliamentary candidature for Pembroke Boroughs in 1710 it may have helped to finance.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. DWB, 1090; West Wales. Hist. Recs. vii. 8–9; W. R. Williams, Gt. Sess. Wales, 178–9; CSP Dom. 1689–90, p. 197.
  • 2. Nottingham Univ. Lib. Portland (Harley) mss Pw2 Hy 409, Robert Price* to Robert Harley, 17 Apr. 1691; Luttrell Diary, 148, 172, 248–9, 325, 340, 410; Luttrell, Brief Relation, ii. 651; iii. 61, 261; Wood, Life and Times, iii. 412, 418; Folger Shakespeare Lib. Newdigate newsletter 25 Mar. 1693; CSP Dom. 1693, p. 84; State Pprs. ed. Hardwicke, ii. 426–8; W. L. Sachse, Ld. Somers, 93.
  • 3. Luttrell, v. 14–15.
  • 4. Le Neve, Mon. Angl. 1700–15, p. 163; Newdigate newsletter 4 Dec. 1708; Le Neve’s Knights (Harl. Soc. viii), 428; W. Wales Hist. Recs. iii. 9; vi. 220–1.