BECKFORD, WILLIAM, second son of Peter Beckford, West Indian planter, Speaker of the Jamaica Assembly, and Bathsheba, dau. of Col. Julines Hering, Paul Island, Jamaica; bapt. 19 Dec 1709; adm. (aged 9) Jan 1718/9; Balliol Coll. Oxford, matr. 17 Dec 1725; BA 1729; MA 1732; Leiden Univ. 1731; a medical student in Leiden and Paris to 1735; succeeded brother in Jamaican estates 1737; settled in England 1744; purchased Fonthill Abbey estate, Wiltshire, 1745; a West India merchant in London; Alderman, City of London (Bishopsgate Ward) from 25 Jun 1752, Sheriff of London 1755-6, Lord Mayor 1762-3, 1769-70; Master, Ironmongers’ Co., 1753; MP Shaftesbury 8 Dec 1747-54, City of London from 1754; a Tory on his entry to politics, but from 1756 onwards a staunch supporter of William Pitt; gave his backing to John Wilkes; his famous impromptu speech to King George III on the misdeeds of his ministers, 23 May 1770, was subsequently inscribed on the monument erected to his memory in Guildhall; laid the foundation stone of the new Newgate Prison 31 May 1770; m. 8 Jun 1756 Maria, widow of Francis Marsh, Jamaica, and sister of John Hamilton (qv); d. while Lord Mayor 21 Jun 1770. DNB.