Joseph Williamson (politician)

Joseph Williamson (politician)

:"See Joseph Williamson (philanthropist) for the Joseph Williamson famous for creating seemingly pointless tunnels in Liverpool, England)"Sir Joseph Williamson, FRS (July 25, 1633October 3, 1701), English politician, was born at Bridekirk, near Cockermouth, where his father, also called Joseph, was vicar.

He was educated at St. Bees School, at Westminster School and at Queen's College, Oxford, of which he became a fellow, and in 1660 he entered the service of the Secretary of State, Sir Edward Nicholas, retaining his position under the succeeding secretary, Sir Henry Bennet, afterwards Earl of Arlington. He was involved with the foundation of the London Gazette in 1665. He entered parliament in 1669, and in 1672 was made one of the clerks of the council and a knight.

In 1673 and 1674 he represented his country at the Congress of Cologne, and in the latter year he became Secretary of State, having practically purchased this position from Arlington for £6,000, a sum that he required from his successor when he left office in 1679. Just before his removal he had been arrested on a charge of being implicated in the popish plots, but he had been at once released by order of Charles II.

After a period of comparative inactivity Sir Joseph represented England at the Congress of Nijmegen in 1697, and in 1698 he signed the first treaty for the partition of the Spanish Monarchy. He died at Cobham, Kent, on 3 October 1701.

Williamson was the second President of the Royal Society, but his main interests, after politics, were rather in antiquarian than in scientific matters. Taking advantage of the many opportunities of making money which his official position gave him, he became very rich. He left £6,000 and his library to Queen's College, Oxford; £5,000 to found a school at Rochester, Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical School; and £2,000 to Thetford. A great number of Williamson's letters, dispatches, memoranda, etc, are among the English state papers.

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