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The considerable wealth that William Baldock builds up during his lifetime involved some complex trust management at the time of his death. In total, there was over £1.1 million to account for, comparable to £59.5 million in purchasing power today.

William is concerned that his bequests are preserved and kept by the people who inherit them. The younger children have trusts wrapped around them until the age of 21. Others, unborn and unnamed, are anticipated and provided for. Where no children are born the legacy reverts to other named family members and their offspring.

William appears to be particularly concerned about the women in his life who had to accept issues concerning the doctrine of coverture.

coverture and marriageCoverture was the principle whereby a woman’s legal rights and obligations were subsumed by those of her husband when she married, in accordance with the wife’s legal status of feme covert. (An unmarried woman, a feme sole, had the right to own property and make contracts in her own name.) William attempts to negate some of this by putting together a scheme that enables the women to maintain a degree of control over their inheritance. The planning involved some clever legal thinking and demonstrates William’s talent for planning and his attention to detail. For instance, trusts are wrapped around the younger girls and managed by powerful and respected men such as Sir Edward Knatchbull, Nicholas Roundell Toke and Deane John Parker. These public figures were formidable men to deal with if a trust was ever contested.

One aspect of the protection William provides is that, in some cases, the value of a bequest would be halved if the female beneficiary married. The purpose was probably to deter opportunist suitors searching for a wealthy woman.

Rewarding loyalty.

A dominant feature of the 1812 Will is the theme of rewarding loyalty. This goes beyond immediate family to include nephews and nieces, faithful servants and in one case, a long-suffering lawyer who managed some of William’s more difficult affairs.

William had 4 brothers – Joseph, Henry, Richard and John. By 1812 only Joseph and Henry are alive. In the family history we see how William Baldock takes on the young nephews of his dead brothers ensuring their education and futures are secure.

This benevolence was not entirely selfless. One of the nephews, Richard Hobday Baldock, is appointed as a Riding Officer and Coastwaiter which almost certainly formed part of the intelligence network William builds up for the Seasalter Smuggling Company. (See: The North Kent Customs and Excise Scam and  ‘Jonas King: A most untrustworthy, despised and highly valued man’ for more information on this.)

Another nephew (and another William Baldock by name) shows similar business acumen and abilities to those of his uncle. He appears to have a talent for organising and managing business and the free trade interests of the family were after all, a business activity. We see him rise in stature to step into his uncle’s role when William snr leaves him some of the best properties and estates in the Baldock portfolio.

The nephew inherits the messuage and manor at Scocles, the messuage of Scite on the Island of Sheppey and Saint Stephens, Nackington with 25 acres of arable land. He is also left Tyler Hill Wood, 20 acres of land in the parishes of Nackington, Saint Stephens and a further 64 acres at Saint Cosmus and Damian on the Blean. William also entrusts Cowling (Cooling) Castle grounds involving 260 acres and another 160 acres of land in the parishes of Cliffe and Cowling as well as a smith’s shop and forge in the village.

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So, it seems that William Baldock snr. was concerned that some of his estates were kept in safe hands – something that he didn’t trust to his daughter Harriot and her husband Charles Delmar.

William’s two sisters, Anne and Martha are well-provided for:

A £3,000 trust gives Anne an income for life. (On her death the trust will pass to the children of Judith Anne Butcher and Mary Goodwin, cousins.)

Martha Baldock inherits a £4,000 endowment and a newly-built messuage with garden in the parish of Bridge. An intriguing detail of the will suggests that Martha may have had a special affection for William and preserving the Baldock family tradition. She is left William’s gold watch chain and seals as well as inheriting the plate, linen, and china from Petham when Elizabeth dies.

William and Elizabeth had no children of their own. However, through Elizabeth’s previous marriage to William Jackson, William Baldock has a stepdaughter, Harriot, who marries Charles Delmar. (In the will, Harriot is described as a ‘daughter-in-law’.)

Compared with other bequests, Harriot receives very little from her step-father – £500 – but there is a comment in the testament that clarifies this. It states that Harriot’s husband had been given William’s share of the Canterbury brewing business plus receiving some notable loans which are to be repaid within 6 years.

It appears that the Delmars probably received considerable support and William may have viewed them as something of a liability but he had his daughter-in-law’s interests to protect.

What William lacks in immediate offspring, his brothers and sisters more than make up for.

Harriot gives birth to William, George and Elizabeth Delmar.

Richard Baldock and Mary Hobday have five children – two sons and three daughter.

John Baldock and his wife have two children – William Baldock who inherits much of the Baldock properties (see above) and Elizabeth who benefits from a £3,000 trust.

Some special limitations on Elizabeth’s trust are designed to protect her from coverture and in the event of her death, the trust passes to her children. Where there are no children, it is transferred to ‘all and every child’ of the nieces Judith Anne Butcher and Mary Goodwin.

These measures appear to focus on keeping the estate in Baldock hands and away from any husband or speculative suitor. William also leaves a £3,000 trust to as yet unborn children of Elizabeth to be used for maintenance and education. Again, where there are no children the money reverts to Judith and Mary’s children.

Another stipulation directed towards the Delmars concerns the trust that is to set up for their unborn children. If there is no direct male descendent, this large portfolio of estates is to be transferred to John Baldock’s son for the benefit of his children ‘without impeachment and on trust’. It is a key statement which seems to indicate the confidence William places in his nephew and protégé.

The properties included in the trust were:

  • The manor (or Lordship) of Elmestone
  • The rectory at Elmestone
  • Elmestone Court Manor House
  • Messuage with stables and outbuildings, gardens and orchards and an estimated 272 acres of pasture and woodland lying in the parishes of Elmestone, Wingham, and Preston-next-Wingham
  • Mansion house and farm called ‘Grove’ in the parishes of Stourmouth and Preston-next-Wingham
  • A tenement and farm with 36 acres in the parish of Preston-next-Wingham
  • Upper Goldstone farm with an estimated 71 acres of arable, hop ground and brook land in the parish of Ash-next-Sandwich.
  • 64 acres of land at Ash level
  • Tenement with barns, stables, yards and gardens  with an estimated 43 acres arable pasture and brook land near Lands Hill in the parish of Ash-next-Sandwich
  • Lands Hill Farm with courtyard, stables, outbuildings orchards and several parcels of arable, pasture, marsh land estimated at 65 acres.

Blean forestlandThese are substantial properties with regular incomes to ensure dividends are paid for the benefit of children in the future. With that caveat that these properties revert to nephew William Baldock on trust we see how the Delmar family are restricted in their access to the estates if Charles and Harriot fail to produce a male successor.

The other precaution William Baldock takes is to appoint two powerful men as trustees: Sir Edward Knatchbull of Marsham Heath and Nicholas Roundell Toke of Godington.

Part 2 of Baldock’s smuggling legacy looks at some of the people who provided faithful professional service to him.


References:

Measuring value – historical calculations

See: Google map for the Baldock estates

William Baldock’s Last Will and Testament 1812


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