George Wakeman

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Sir George Wakeman (died 1688) was an English royal physician to Catherine of Braganza, Consort of Charles II of England. In 1678, he was perjured by Titus Oates, who had gained backing of Thomas Osborne, 1st Earl of Danby, highly placed in government. Oates accused Wakeman of conspiring to kill the King with the help of and place his brother James, Duke of York on the throne in his place. At his trial in 1679 Wakeman was acquitted.

Life[edit]

He was the son of Edward Wakeman (1592–1659) of the Inner Temple, by Mary (d. 1676), daughter of Richard Cotton of Warblington, Sussex. George Wakeman was Roman Catholic, and was educated abroad, probably in Paris, where he possibly graduated in medicine. Like his elder brother Richard (d. 1662), who raised a troop of horse for the king, he was a staunch royalist. On his return to England he became involved in a plot against Oliver Cromwell, and was imprisoned until the eve of the Restoration.[1]

On 13 February 1661, as Wakeman of Beckford, he was created a baronet by Charles II, though it seems that the patent was never sealed. In August 1668 he was attending Sir Joseph Williamson; his appointment some two years later as physician in ordinary to Queen Catherine of Braganza is attributed to his high reputation for a Roman Catholic physician in England.[1]

In their perjured narrative of the Popish Plot, Titus Oates and Israel Tonge declared that Wakeman had been offered £10,000 to poison Charles II's posset, and that he could easily effect this through the agency of the queen. The story went that Wakeman refused the task, and held out until £15,000 was offered him. Then, they said, he attended the "Jesuit consult" on 30 August 1678, received a large sum of money on account, and, the further reward of a post as physician-general in the army having been promised him, he definitely engaged to poison the king. Wakeman was indicted for high treason at the Old Bailey on 18 July 1679, the case being tried by Lord Chief Justice William Scroggs. The chief witnesses for the prosecution were William Bedloe and Oates, who swore that he had seen the paper appointing Wakeman to the post of physician-general. It was elicited from him in the course of the proceedings that he was incapable at the time alluded to of identifying either Wakeman's person or his handwriting. Scroggs commented severely upon the character of the evidence, and the jury, after asking if they might find the prisoners[2] guilty of misprision of treason, and being told they could not, found all the prisoners not guilty.[1]

The acquittal dealt a blow at credibility of the "Plot", but there was a public backlash also. Wakeman went to Windsor to see the queen and king, and left the country. In the course of evidence given at subsequent trials Oates entirely ignored the verdict, and continued to speak of the bribe offered to and accepted by the queen's physician. Wakeman was back in London by 1685, and gave evidence against Oates on 8 May 1685, in his first trial for perjury. Nothing is known of his further career.[1]

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d  "Wakeman, George". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 
  2. ^ The other defendants were William Cuthbert Wall alias William Marshall (Marshal, Marsh), William Rumley or Rumney and James Corker;  "Corker, James". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. .
Attribution

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain"Wakeman, George". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.