William Wilson: unexecuted designs for an unknown house, c1775 (5)
It is generally held that these unexecuted designs for an unusual and attractive new house were commissioned by William Wilson MP of Leicestershire, but King has made the tentative suggestion that an alternative patron is possibly Mr Wilson, the companion of the Earl of Findlater. Earlier suggestions were made by Bolton of Sir Thomas Wilson, who subscribed to Adam's The ruins of the palace of the Emperor Diocletian at Spalatro in Dalmatia in 1764, or John Wilson of Pielwall, who owned farmland in County Berwick. There is no evidence for this.
William Wilson (c1720-96), was the third son of Reverend William Wilson of Stiffkley, Norfolk. He never married, but served as MP for Ilchester in 1761-68, and Camelford in 1768-74. In The history and antiquities of the County of Leicester (1795-1815), the antiquarian John Nichols wrote of Wilson that he 'passed the principal part of his life at the German Spa and other parts of the continent, and died, immensely rich, at Pisa in Tuscany'. That Adam's designs for the house were not built is most probably a result of Wilson being largely abroad. He owned land in Keythorpe, Leicestershire, and it may have been here that he intended to build, although this is not known.
Literature: A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, pp. 58, 91; D. King, The architecture of Robert & James Adam and unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume II, pp. 102, 136; A. Rowan, 'Bob the Roman', Heroic antiquity & the architecture of Robert Adam, 2003, pp. 45-46; History of Parliament online: 'Wilson, William (c1720-96), of Keythorpe, Leics.'