Sir William Wythens was Sheriff of London in 1610, his country seat was Southend House. The family, originally from Cheshire, moved to London and made their fortune as vintners (wine merchants). Sir William’s father bought the “modest estate” then in Kent in 1586 and which stayed in the family for four generations until the death of Sir Francis Wythens, an Oxford-educated lawyer who served as MP for Westminster between 1679 and 1680. However his election was controversial since he was serving in the king’s interests and his votes were bolstered by the king’s servants who had been shipped up from Windsor. He was summed before Parliament and made to justify his election. Roger North wrote of him: “He was of moderate capacity in the law, but a voluptuary, and such are commonly very timid, and in great difficulties abject. Otherwise he was a very genteel person, what was called a very honest man, and no debtor to the bottle. Some cunning persons that had found out his foible and ignorance of traps first put him in a great fright, telling him he would certainly be hanged as the ringleader of all this business, and then they fetched him off with advice which was the best way for him to escape. He must by no means justify what he had done, no, that would but irritate…” He was duly expelled.
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