A London Merchant: Sir William Baker

P.W. Kingsford describes how, for many years, Sir William Baker became Walpole’s chief ally in the eighteenth-century City.

Bayfordbury, near Hertford, was built by one of the wealthiest business men of the eighteenth century, and at a turning point in the history of England. Alderman William Baker laid the foundation stone of the house in 1759 and in October of that famous year of victories Pitt wrote the following note:

‘Mr Secretary Pitt has the Pleasure to send the Duke of Newcastle the joyful news that Quebec is taken, after a signal and compleat victory over the French Army. - Genl. Wolfe is killed, Brigadier Monckton wounded but in a fair way - Brigadier Townshend perfectly well - Montcalm is killed and about 1500 French

Tuesday Night, Past Eleven.’

The conjunction of these two events, one of national, the other of local importance, was not fortuitous. Baker, Governor of Hudson’s Bay Company in the following year, was the chief ally in the City of London of the Duke of Newcastle, First Lord of the Treasury, and frequently his adviser on the American colonies and on general financial and commercial problems.

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