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William BALDOCK – Labourer, smuggler, property millionaire

I have known about William BALDOCK the smuggler for quite a while now, and often wondered if and how he might fit into my research. I had also recently come across William Henry BALDOCK, High Sheriff of Kent (1800s).
I knew that the smuggler died in 1812, leaving an estate valued around £1.1m ! Was he also the same William BALDOCK who had bought much land and property in Canterbury and other areas of Kent? I had also learned that ‘his nephew’ was rather conveniently the coastal Riding Officer.
Was he related to William Henry? They certainly both appear to have been from or lived in Petham.
I had discovered that William Henry BALDOCK had married Elizabeth DELMAR on 8 Feb 1814 at St. Margaret’s, Canterbury, but could not confirm his parents.
Was William Henry BALDOCK also the same William BALDOCK mentioned as a banker of Petham House, Petham, Kent in an obituary of a New Zealand newspaper (The Grey River Argus, Tuesday October 30th 1883) concerning the death of the latter’s great-great niece and nephew, Julia Alice HARDS and Joseph Baldock HARDS! The obituary also mentioned a relationship to Richard Robinson, 1st Lord Rokeby! The same banker (and other relationships) were also mentioned in the obituary of Baldock BUTCHER in the Sydney Morning Herald of Sep 8th, 1883.

And which William is the one represented in the painting ‘William Baldock of Petham, near Canterbury’ by T. Dinsdale, held in the collections of Canterbury City Council Museums and Galleries?

William BALDOCK of Petham, near Canterbury, by T Dinsdale (painting)

William BALDOCK of Petham, near Canterbury, by T Dinsdale (painting)
(c) Canterbury City Council Museums and Galleries

Then, recently, I located a goldmine…

“The Seasalter Company – A Smuggling Fraternity (1740-1854)” was written by Walter Harvey and first printed in 1983. It mentions gang members and their ‘business’ dealings, and a considerable amount is given over to William BALDOCK and his nephew, the Riding Officer, …. Richard Hobday BALDOCK !!

.. Hold on a moment, that name HOBDAY rings a bell!

In August 2009, a year or so after I started my genealogy research proper, I visited the Society of Genealogists in London to investigate their holding of a BALDOCK (of Elham) pedigree roll. It transpired that, at the time, I did not have any record of the names mentioned, so I copied down the family tree contained on the roll and filed it.
This week I located the tree, had a look and there they were – Richard Hobday BALDOCK, William BALDOCK (d. 1812) and William Henry BALDOCK (High Sheriff 1818, and partner in the Union Bank, Canterbury), all linked to the Elham tree! It turns out that Richard Hobday and William Henry were brothers, and both nephews of William the smuggler! Their parents were Richard BALDOCK and Mary HOBDAY.

William the smuggler was know to have at least one boat, and no doubt used his regular trips round the coast to London to hide his smuggling activities. Wallace Harvey also wrote a book called “Whitstable and the French Prisoners of War” (1971), and this will be another purchase soon.
The inland smuggling route included Lenham where, along with Pluckley, Charing and Egerton, many of BALDOCK ancestors may be found. Were other relatives of his in the area also involved? I would add that I have not yet linked my ancestors from this area to William the smuggler.

Sources variously claim William’s early life was as a cowherd, or hairdresser’s boy; his father appears to have been a bricklayer. Hence, my choice of the word ‘labourer’.

During the Christmas break, I had also managed to just miss out (by £1 !!) on an ebay auction item consisting of a 1794 indenture of property sale concerning William BALDOCK the smuggler. How gutted was I?!

A recent conversation with a local professional genealogist said I’d done well to link up my research after only five years. He’s got some that’s lasted around twenty!

A brief investigation regarding any link to Lord Rokeby has turned up nothing yet, although some descendants show up in Canterbury.

I now need to check and combine information in the trees with my own research, and look forward to growing my tree further!

Watch this space!

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Published in: Genealogy | on January 20th, 2014 | 2 Comments »

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2 Comments Leave a comment.

  1. On February 3, 2016 at 3:16 pm Sarah Said:

    Hello, I came across your website by chance as I was Googling my ancestor – William Baldock of Petham. He is my great x 6 uncle on my grandmother’s side. Her maiden name was Butcher. A very interesting read- can you direct me to more info about my ancestor? Is he your ancestor too?

    Sarah 🙂

  2. On February 4, 2016 at 4:18 pm Steve Baldock Said:

    Thankyou for making contact! I’m very interested in more discussion, much can be said (and questions to be asked!). Contact me directly via the contact address on this site, and we’ll get things under way.
    William BALDOCK of Petham is a very interesting character, who followed a fascinating path, along with his extended families.

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