Family and Early Life
Wilmot was the second son of Robert Wilmot (1669–1738), of Osmaston Hall, near Derby, and his wife Ursula, who was the daughter of Sir Samuel Marow, Bt, of Berkswell, Warwickshire. His paternal grandfather was Sir Nicholas Wilmot (1611–1682), a serjeant-at-law knighted in 1674. His elder brother Robert (c.1708–1772) was another lawyer who went into the service of the crown, was knighted in 1739 and created a baronet (Wilmot of Osmaston) in 1772.
John Eardley Wilmot was educated at Derby School, then with Dr John Hunter at Lichfield, where his contemporaries included Samuel Johnson and David Garrick. He then went to Westminster School and Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he matriculated in 1727, before studying law in London at the Inner Temple, as his father and older brother had done before him, and was called to the bar in 1732.
On 3 April 1743, Wilmot married Sarah Rivett (1721–1772), a daughter of Thomas Rivett of Derby, with whom he had three sons and two daughters. His eldest son, another Robert, died in Bengal, while his younger son, John Eardley Wilmot, became a barrister and wrote his father's memoirs. One of his daughters, Maria, married the Jewish City of London banker Sampson Gideon, who changed his surname to Eardley and in 1789 became Sampson Eardley, 1st Baron Eardley.
John Eardley Wilmot's grandson Sir John Eardley Eardley-Wilmot, 1st Baronet, (1783–1847), served as a member of parliament and as Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen's Land (or Tasmania), was created a baronet in 1821 and published An Abridgment of Blackstone's Commentaries (1822). (This example of a judge having an eminent grandson "where the son is not eminent" was quoted by Francis Galton in his study of the hereditary genius in 1869, and he proposed that the odds on such an occurrence were thirty to one against.)
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