Biography of Joseph Williamson Secretary of State 1633-1701
In 1660 Joseph Williamson Secretary of State 1633-1701 (26) entered the service of the Secretary of State for the Southern Department, Sir Edward Nicholas (66), retaining his position under the succeeding secretary, Sir Henry Bennet (42), afterwards Earl of Arlington.
John Evelyn's Diary 1666 December. 02 Dec 1666. Dined with me Monsieur Kiviet (39), a Dutch gentleman-pensioner of Rotterdam, who came over for protection, being of the Prince of Orange's (16) party, now not welcome in Holland. The King (36) knighted him for some merit in the Prince's (16) behalf. He should, if caught, have been beheaded with Monsieur Buat, and was brother-in-law to Van Tromp, the sea-general. With him came Mr. Gabriel Sylvius, and Mr. Williamson (33), secretary to Lord Arlington (48); M. Kiviet (39) came to examine whether the soil about the river of Thames would be proper to make clinker bricks, and to treat with me about some accommodation in order to it.
In 1669 Joseph Williamson Secretary of State 1633-1701 (35) was elected MP Thetford.
Samuel Pepy's Diary 1669 May. Monday 03 May 1669. Up, and by coach to my Lord Brouncker’s (49), where Sir G. Carteret (59) did meet Sir J. Minnes (70) and me, to discourse upon Mr. Deering’s (43) business, who was directed, in the time of the war, to provide provisions at Hamburgh, by Sir G. Carteret’s (59) direction; and now G. Carteret (59) is afeard to own it, it being done without written order. But by our meeting we do all begin to recollect enough to preserve Mr. Deering (43), I think, which, poor silly man! I shall be glad of, it being too much he should suffer for endeavouring to serve us. Thence to St. James’s, where the Duke of York (35) was playing in the Pell Mell; and so he called me to him most part of the time that he played, which was an hour, and talked alone to me; and, among other things, tells me how the King (38) will not yet be got to name anybody in the room of Pen (48), but puts it off for three or four days; from whence he do collect that they are brewing something for the Navy, but what he knows not; but I perceive is vexed that things should go so, and he hath reason; for he told me that it is likely they will do in this as in other things — resolve first, and consider it and the fitness of it afterward. Thence to White Hall, and met with Creed, and I took him to the Harp and Ball, and there drank a cup of ale, he and I alone, and discoursed of matters; and I perceive by him that he makes no doubt but that all will turn to the old religion, for these people cannot hold things in their hands, nor prevent its coming to that; and by his discourse fits himself for it, and would have my Lord Sandwich (43) do so, too, and me. After a little talk with him, and particularly about the ruinous condition of Tangier, which I have a great mind to lay before the Duke of York (35), before it be too late, but dare not, because of his great kindness to Lord Middleton (61), we parted, and I homeward; but called at Povy’s (55), and there he stopped me to dinner, there being Mr. Williamson (35), the Lieutenant of the Tower, Mr. Childe (38), and several others. And after dinner, Povy (55) and I together to talk of Tangier; and he would have me move the Duke of York (35) in it, for it concerns him particularly, more than any, as being the head of us; and I do think to do it. Thence home, and at the office busy all the afternoon, and so to supper and to bed.
John Evelyn's Diary 1672 January. 23 Jan 1672. To London, in order to Sir Richard Browne (67), my father-in-law, resigning his place as Clerk of the Council to Joseph Williamson (38), Esq, who was admitted, and was knighted. This place his Majesty (41) had promised to give me many years before; but, upon consideration of the renewal of our lease and other reasons, I chose to part with it to Sir Joseph (38), who gave us and the rest of his brother clerks a handsome supper at his house; and, after supper, a concert of music.
In 1674 Joseph Williamson Secretary of State 1633-1701 (40) was appointed Secretary of State for the Northern Department having practically purchased this position from Arlington (56) for £6,000.
John Evelyn's Diary 1674 July. 22 Jul 1674. I went to Windsor with my wife (39) and son (19) to see my daughter Mary (9), who was there with my Lady Tuke and to do my duty to his Majesty (44). Next day, to a great entertainment at Sir Robert Holmes's (52) at Cranbourne Lodge, in the Forest; there were his Majesty (44), the Queen (35), Duke (40), Duchess (15), and all the Court. I returned in the evening with Sir Joseph Williamson (40), now declared Secretary of State. He was son of a poor clergyman somewhere in Cumberland, brought up at Queen's College, Oxford, of which he came to be a fellow; then traveled with ... and returning when the King (44) was restored, was received as a clerk under Mr. Secretary Nicholas. Sir Henry Bennett (56) (now Lord Arlington) succeeding, Williamson is transferred to him, who loving his ease more than business (though sufficiently able had he applied himself to it) remitted all to his man Williamson; and, in a short time, let him so into the secret of affairs, that (as his Lordship himself told me) there was a kind of necessity to advance him; and so, by his subtlety, dexterity, and insinuation, he got now to be principal Secretary; absolutely Lord Arlington's creature, and ungrateful enough. It has been the fate of this obliging favorite to advance those who soon forgot their original. Sir Joseph was a musician, could play at Jeu de Goblets, exceedingly formal, a severe master to his servants, but so inward with my Lord O'Brien (32), that after a few months of that gentleman's death, he married his widow (34), who, being sister and heir of the Duke of Richmond, brought him a noble fortune. It was thought they lived not so kindly after marriage as they did before. She was much censured for marrying so meanly, being herself allied to the Royal family.
In 1677 Joseph Williamson Secretary of State 1633-1701 (43) was appointed President of the Royal Society.
John Evelyn's Diary 1677 November. 30 Nov 1677. Sir Joseph Williamson (44), Principal Secretary of State, was chosen President of the Royal Society, after my Lord Viscount Brouncker (57) had possessed the chair now sixteen years successively, and therefore now thought fit to CHANGE, that prescription might not prejudice.
In Dec 1678 Joseph Williamson Secretary of State 1633-1701 (45) and [his wife] Katherine Stewart 1640-1702 (38) were married three months after the death of her first husband leading to speculation they had commenced a relationship whilst she was married to her first husband.
John Evelyn's Diary 1683 January. 29 Jan 1683. Supped at Sir Joseph Williamson's (49), where was a select company of our Society, Sir William Petty (59), Dr. Gale (48) (that learned schoolmaster of St. Paul's), Dr. Whistler, Mr. Hill, etc. The conversation was philosophical and cheerful, on divers considerable questions proposed; as of the hereditary succession of the Roman Emperors; the Pica mentioned in the preface to our Common Prayer, which signifies only the Greek Kalendarium. These were mixed with lighter subjects.
In 1690 Joseph Williamson Secretary of State 1633-1701 (56) was elected MP Rochester.
On 03 Oct 1701 Joseph Williamson Secretary of State 1633-1701 (68) died in Cobham. He was buried in Westminster Abbey. He left £6,000 and his library to Queen's College, Oxford.