John Wilkes, (1727-1797) was member of Parliament 1757-1764 and from 1774. He championed parliamentary reform, religious toleration, and US independence.
Wilkes, born in Clerkenwell, London, entered Parliament as a Whig in 1757. His attacks on the Tory prime minister Bute in his paper The North Briton led to his outlawry in 1764; he fled to France, and on his return in 1768 was imprisoned.
He was four times elected MP for Middlesex, but the Commons refused to admit him and finally declared his opponent elected. This secured him strong working- and middle-class support, and in 1774 he was allowed to take his seat in Parliament.
Why is John Wilkes famous?
John Wilkes was a British Radical politician, imprisoned for his political views.