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William Haycock 1788 - 1851

William Haycock rented his allotment garden from Lord Exeter long before most of the plots were created. One of Georgian Stamford's 'great and good', his reputation was threatened when he was prosecuted for continued involvement in the outlawed Stamford Bull Run.

Named after his father, William is born into a middle-class Stamford family and baptised at St Michael's on 20 February 1788. In 1809 he marries Sarah Breedon of Whissendine. William senior dies in 1818 after a long illness, his obituary in the Mercury describing him as 'Postmaster of Stamford, Inspector of corn returns and Surveyor of the Great North Road between Wansford and Witham Common, a man generally respected.’ (1)

In the year of his father’s death, William too is elected to the position of surveyor of the south section of the Great North Road. William and Sarah are living in High Street, Stamford with their surviving daughter, Frances. They go on to have another six children: Charles William, Benjamin, Charles Henry, Sarah Mary, Marianne and Emma.

William seems to have a wide variety of business interests, deriving most of his income from renting out land and

property. In 1822 he extends his portfolio to become Stamford agent for the Guardian

The Great North Road at Wansford (2)

Fire and Life Assurance Company of Lombard Street, London and in 1835 his surveying role is expanded to include the north section of the Great North Road, as well as the south, for which he is awarded a total annual salary of £100. 

'An Infamous Bullard'

Enraged by the outlawing of the infamous Stamford Bull Run (which had divided public opinion in the town since the late 1700s), William takes a known and considerable risk by continuing to promote the event and hosting the Bull Running dinners at the Boat Race public house. On 3 December 1841 the Lincolnshire Chronicle looks back on the so-called sport's final years. 

'In 1836, the sport was opposed by Messrs Grant, Pilkinton, and other Methodists, and at the Lent Assizes, 1837, the grand jury found true bills against Samuel Richardson, John Hewerdine, William Maltman, William 

Haycock, Stephen Boss, John Pearson, Richard Chambers, and Francis Simpson jun. An amateur play was performed, and altogether £100 was subscribed to defend them at the Midsummer Assizes, when, after a long trial before Mr Justice Parke, they were found guilty.


Bull baiting in Sedgeby by Henry Alken (1785-1851

In 1837, the sport was pursued with unabated zeal, notwithstanding the threats of Lord John Russell, the Secretary of State, and the employment of 221 special constables, and in consequence of this perseverance on the part of the bullards, Mr Haycock and the others who had been found guilty with him at Lincoln, were called up to the Queen's Bench to receive judgment, and which ended in their being bound over in their own recognizances to appear when called upon to receive sentence.


In 1838, a troop of the 14th Light Dragoons arrived, but notwithstanding the presence of the soldiers, also of the London and local police, a bull was got into the town, but after about an hour it was captured by the military. Four persons [including William Haycock] were tried at the next Borough Sessions, but were acquitted by a Stamford jury.'(1) 

The Stamford aldermen are certainly looking after their own, and in the thick of these charges the largesse bestowed on William by the Corporation and other local bodies actually increases - an indication of how much support remains for an 'entertainment' that would fill most of us with revulsion today. In 1838 William is appointed auditor for the borough and the following year church warden of St Michael's. 





Meanwhile, it's a time of change within the Haycock family. In 1837 eldest daughter, Frances, marries William Fawssett at St Michael's and two years later William Haycock is trying to find governess positions for daughters Sarah and Marianne:

TWO Young Ladies, who have completed their education in France, are anxious to obtain Situations as Governesses in a Family. They are competent to teach French, Music, Drawing, the Rudiments of Italian, with the usual branches of an English Education.—Apply (post paid) to Wm. Haycock, Esq, High-street, Stamford.(1)



In the 1840s, with legal proceedings finally behind him and by now well into his fifties, William becomes increasingly involved in civic life. In 1841 he assists in surveying Stamford's seriously inadequate drains and sewers and is listed as inspector of the town's Broad Street Corn Exchange. In 1842, as Chair of the Stamford Union, William champions gas-lighting - yet another much-needed area of improvement for the town. In this he works closely with the Borough Treasurer, Robert Sandall, father of one of our other gardeners, Thomas Sandall

Art and Worthy Causes

In September 1844 Mr Dennis, the head waiter of Standwell's Hotel (later the Stamford Hotel), disposes by lottery of a painting of Adam and Eve by Lodovico Caracci and William chairs the committee overseeing the proceedings 'In the large Room at Standwell's Hotel, commencing at 9 o'clock in the Morning precisely.— Accommodation will be afforded to the Subscribers for witnessing the Drawing. N.B. The Subscription-book will be closed on Saturday the 28th inst; and it is particularly requested that all Subscriptions unpaid be forwarded to the Stamford Joint Stock Bank, or the Honorary Secretary, before that day.'(1) The winner is a Samuel Walker of Horbling near Sleaford, brother of Mr Walker the Stamford draper. The Mercury draws attention to the fact the Bishop of Lincoln drew a losing ticket. A week later the Marquess of Exeter purchases the painting from Mr Walker and it still hangs at Burghley today.

In 1845 William resigns as Commissioner for the Stamford Improvement Society, seemingly owing to frustration at lack of progress. Two years later he takes on the role of trustee for the Stamford and Rutland Bank for Savings, in which he continues until his death.


In June 1847 William's daughter, Sarah, marries chemist and druggist, Richard Gamble, at St Michael's and moves to Grantham. It is this same year we find the record of William's Waterfurlong garden, when thieves break into his summerhouse, steal an odd mix of items and burn a hole through his hat!

Death and Taxes


After the joy of a wedding, the following year brings double tragedy to the Haycock family; in the January newly-married daughter Sarah dies, possibly in childbirth, and in the autumn William's wife, Sarah, also dies. 

William sells the family home in High Street to a Mr Collins and moves to 
Barn Hill in 1849, presumably to a smaller property. The April 1851 census shows William living there with youngest daughter, Emma, aged 21, and one servant. Daughter Marianne had married earlier that year on Valentine's Day - the first family wedding at their new parish church of All Saints. Like her older sister Sarah before her, Marianne married a chemist and druggist, Edward Preston Hornby of Cheltenham. It seems likely the two bridegrooms knew one-another. 

That December William himself dies at the age of 63. His executors move swiftly to sell the contents of his home:




For someone of William's standing it is strange there seems to be no obituary in either the Mercury or the Lincolnshire Post. William's father's obituary had been brief and not overly effusive but his death had at least been acknowledged. 

We don't know where Emma goes to live when the house is sold, but in 1856 she marries linen draper, William Grasby, from Colsterworth, and they move first to Sale in Cheshire and then to Liverpool, where they have a son 

Barn Hill © Gary Curtis

Charles and a daughter Alice.

Meanwhile, the Corporation acts promptly to replace William as Councillor for All Saints Ward and On 17 December High Street draper, Charles Odlin, is elected without opposition.

'BARN-HILL. STAMFORD. Valuable HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE, rich Cut GLASS, CHINA, BREWING UTENSILS, and EFFECTS, To be SOLD AT AUCTION, By Messrs Richardson, On Monday and Tuesday the 12th and 13th days of January, 1852, upon the premises of William Haycock, Esq, deceased; COMPRISING handsome mahogany four-post, and tent bedsteads with damask and moreen hangings, excellent feather beds and bedding, mahogany wardrobe, circular and straight-front chests of drawers, wash stands and dressing tables, Wellington swing glasses, chairs, carpets, and the usual bed-room furniture; sets of mahogany chairs, set of mahogany dining tables, mahogany sideboard, rosewood sofa table, mahogany couch, handsome Brussels and Kidderminster carpets, chimney and pier glasses in gilt frames, eight-day time-piece, very handsome dinner and dessert services,  huge quantity of excellent kitchen requisites, gas cooking apparatus, hogsheads of ale, brewing utensils, sweet ale casks, and numerous other effects, which will appear in catalogues, to be had of the Auctioneers three days preceding the sale.—The Furniture may be viewed on Saturday the 10th, between the hours of Ten and Four. The Sale will commence each day punctually Eleven o'clock. Stamford, January 1, 1852.'


(1) The British Newspaper Archive © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. All Rights Reserved.

(2) Kind courtesy of the Northamptonshire Museums Service.

Copyright © Karen Meadows 2018

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