E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
The profligate Duke of Orleans, Regent of France, first used this word in its modern sense. It was his ambition to collect round him companions as worthless as himself, and he used facetiously to boast that there was not one of them who did not deserve to be broken on the wheelthat being the most ordinary punishment for malefactors at the time; hence these profligates went by the name of Orleans roués or wheels. The most notörious roués were the Dukes of Richelieu, Broglie, Biron, and Brancas, together with Canillac and Nocé: in England, the Dukes of Rochester and Buckingham.