Baldock, William (biog)

Entrepreneur, property developer (about 1750-1812)

Details of the life of William Baldock have yet to be fully documented.  When he died in Canterbury in 1812 aged ‘little more than 60’ he was reported as leaving £1,100,000.  Given his childhood origins, looking after cows in Petham, and working as a hod carrier for a local bricklayer, with a demeanour ‘remarkable for dirtiness and slovenliness’, this was an astounding feat.  It apparently came about through speculative purchase and development of property that came to be used as the Canterbury Northgate barracks.  William then leased these to the War Office at a rate of ‘6d per week for each soldier’ and benefited as the number of soldiers rose to 2500 and beyond.  He operated at first with his business partner Thomas de Lasaux, but later was able to buy him out of the firm.

Two Garrison buildings still standing in Military Road are the Garrison theatre (now Northgate Community Centre) (Image 1) and the Garrison church (Image 2).

Here is a Canterbury life which is waiting to be properly researched and recorded?

Footnote (August 2013):  We are grateful to Ron Pepper, a CHAS Committee member, for further information on how this cow herder became so amazingly rich.  In her book Smuggling in Kent and Sussex 1700-1840, Mary Waugh draws attention to the commercial activities of William Baldock:  brewing at St Dunstan’s Brewery (Image 3);  managing a Whitstable inn;  owning a sailing vessel;  and, after he had taken a lease on Seasalter Parsonage Farm in 1792, engaging in a lucrative smuggling business that made good use of the new Canterbury turnpike road and distribution of contraband goods through the St Dunstan’s Brewery.

Sources:  Bateman (1884);  Flint (1874) for illustration of St Dunstan’s Brewery; Waugh (1985);  Cheltenham Chronicle 31 December 1812