My great-great-great-great-great-grandfather was a most talented man. He was born on 10 July 1723 at Cheapside in London. His father was an affluent merchant, who died before William was born. He was educated at Charterhouse and then at Pembroke College, Oxford, and was elected a Fellow of All Souls, Oxford in 1744. He was called to the Bar in 1746, but did not have a successful practice. At the age of thirty he was asked to present a series of lectures on Common English law. These were so successful that they gained him a seat in Parliament, and the headship of New Inn Hall.
His lectures were published in 1765 as “Commentaries on the Laws of England”, in four volumes. It was the first time that English common law had been made readable by laymen, and they were translated into French, Russian and German. It was basic to the US Constitution, and was a textbook for the early American lawyers.
He married Sarah Clitheroe in 1761, and they had nine children. In 1770 he was knighted, and became a judge in the Court of Pleas. He spent his last twenty years with his family at Castle Priory House in Wallingford, Oxfordshire.