Born: William Wilson was born in 1715

Educated: He joined the East Company as a midshipman in 1729 at the age of 14.

Married: In 1755 William Wilson married Rachel Jackson, daughter of George Jackson of Richmond and sister of Ralph Jackson the diarist. 

Family: William and Rachel had 9 children, but only 5 survived. The surviving girls were Esther, Hannah and Rachel. Their two surviving sons were George, born in 1764 and William born in 1774.

Home: In the early years of their marriage, William and Rachel lived in Greenwich. In 1762, after William’s retirement, they purchased Ayton Hall from Thomas Scottowe.

Known for:  William Wilson was known for his naval exploits and the agricultural innovations that he employed on his own estate. He was captain of the East India Company’s ship “Suffolk” from 1749 to 1757 and of the “Pitt” from 1757 to 1760. When the “Suffolk” was returning from China in 1757, in convoy with two other East Indiamen, two French frigates attacked them. Under Wilson’s command, the three East Indiamen saw off the frigates. The grateful East India Company promoted Wilson to Commodore. Wilson’s return journey from China on the “Pitt” in 1760 was said to be the fastest voyage on the route up to that time. As a farmer in Great Ayton, he was visited by the famous agricultural writer Arthur Young who was impressed by the seed drill and levelling machine, both of which William Wilson had designed himself.

Died:  Commodore William Wilson died in 1795 as the result of an accident.

Further Information:  “William Wilson” Ian Lawrence in Cleveland History vol. 108 (2015)

“Commodore William Wilson of Great Ayton (1715-1795)” Cllff Thornton (website)