CHILDE, William Lacon (1786-1880), of Wrockwardine and Kinlet, Salop.
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Family and Educationb. 3 Jan. 1786, o.s. of William Baldwyn (afterwards Childe) of Kinlet and 1st w. Annabella, da. and coh. of Sir Charlton Leighton, 3rd bt., of Loton Park. educ. Harrow 1798-1803; Christ Church, Oxf. 1803. m. 13 Aug. 1807, Harriet, da. of William Cludde of Orleton, 6s.(2 d.v.p.) 5da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. fa. to Kinlet 1824; Jonathan Pytts to Kyre, Worcs. 1832. d. 15 Dec. 1880.
Capt. S. Salop militia 1808-26
Sheriff, Salop 1828-9, Worcs. 1859-60.
Childe’s forbears, the Childes of Kinlet, the Baldwyn family of Aqualate and the Leightons of Loton, had all shared in the representation of Shrewsbury and Shropshire in the eighteenth century. His father, an agricultural innovator of repute, known as ‘the flying Childe’ because of his prowess in the chase, had assumed that name on succeeding to the Kinlet estate of his mother Catherine (née Lacon Childe) in 1801. Childe’s wife was of another long established Shropshire family, Cludde of Orleton. His father-in-law, mayor of Shrewsbury in 1795 and a militia colonel, made the Cluddes’ estate of Wrockwardine available to them, where Childe was instrumental in establishing the Wrockwardine Association for the Apprehension of Felons.1 Backed by Cludde and the ‘men of Wellington’, he was put forward for the second vacancy at Wenlock by its patron Cecil Weld Forester† of Willey Park at the general election of 1820, and came in in second place after a three-day poll.2 His ability as a public speaker and his ‘church and state’ politics were well known, and the 1st earl of Bradford’s daughter-in-law Lady Newport observed:
I think he is just the person to be in Parliament, but I think feelingly of Mrs. W. whose little family comfort will be sadly broken into by it in my opinion, her flock being too numerous either to take or leave with much comfort.3
Childe was granted a month’s leave on urgent private business, 27 June 1820, and again, 9 Apr. 1821. Rumours of an irregularity in the Wenlock poll had perturbed him,4 but when Weld Forester cited his success in returning both Wenlock Members to boost his (unsuccessful) application for that barony, his rival for the title, Sir Robert Lawley, wrote:
Childe cares [not] a penny whether he is made a tool of Mr. F.’s peerage. He became his tool for any political purpose when he accepted the seat. The name of Childe is very odious in all that neighbourhood.5
As befitted a Forester nominee, Childe seconded the Wenlock loyal address to the king and voted with the Liverpool ministry against an opposition motion censuring their treatment of Queen Caroline, 6 Feb. 1821.6 He divided against Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, 30 Apr. 1822, and with government against the additional malt duty repeal bill, 3 Apr. 1821. He voted against parliamentary reform, 9 May, but to abolish the death penalty for forgery, 23 May, 4 June 1821. He voted against an opposition motion for tax reductions to alleviate distress, 11 Feb. 1822, and sought to distance himself from the controversy generated by the refusal of the sheriff to call a county meeting in Shropshire on the issue. When he addressed that convened by the magistracy, 25 Mar., Henry Grey Bennet*, John Cressett Pelham* of Cound and others criticized his subservience to administration and failure to vote to reduce the tax on salt (28 Feb. 1822). Responding, he stressed his close connection with the land and expressed sympathy for the agriculturists’ plight, but insisted that the current crisis was one of oversupply, urged landlords to be patient over rent arrears and declined to condemn government policy.7 He knew that under the private agreement of 17 June 1822 between Lord Forester (as Weld Forester had become) and Sir Watkin Williams Wynn*, he was obliged to make way for the unsuccessful 1820 candidate, Paul Beilby Thompson*, at Wenlock at the next election; and in November 1822, having presided at a meeting of Shropshire’s ‘Oxford coterie’, 14 Oct., he declared his candidature for the vacant county seat for which, after others desisted, his opponent was ‘mad Cressett Pelham’.8 Thompson and the Tory grandees were supportive, but Childe’s financial resources were no match for Cressett Pelham’s, whose agents effectively exploited his unpopular votes on malt and salt. Perceiving the hostility shown towards him at the nomination, 14 Nov. 1822, he retired before he needed to vacate Wenlock.9 Williams Wynn later observed that the 1st earl of Powis’s heir Lord Clive’s* failure to declare openly for Childe had proved crucial.10
Chosen to move the address, 4 Feb. 1823,11 Childe, who described himself as ‘a gentleman generally attached to the principles of His Majesty’s government’, arrived in his militia uniform (a signal that war was possible), delivered a spirited defence of the ministry’s policy of non-intervention in South America, and expressed the hope that granting Greek independence would restore peace to eastern Europe. He welcomed the proposed steps to suppress the slave trade and reduce government expenditure, hinted at action on Ireland and, commenting on agricultural distress, observed:
The reduction of rents that had been so generally made would of itself have given relief to the occupier, were it not for that great load of debt, which had been contracted in another currency. Notwithstanding the difficulties of their situation, he yet hoped for better times for the agriculturists. He looked forward to an equalization of the growth of produce, and of the consumption of the country, by which every Member, as well on private as on public grounds, would wish to see them receive.
The speech was widely reported and his delivery praised publicly and privately on both sides of the House.12 He voted against parliamentary reform, 20 Feb., and in the government minority against inquiry into the prosecution of the Dublin Orange rioters, 22 Apr. 1823. By the death, 3 Feb. 1824, of his father, whom he replaced on the close corporation of Bewdley, Childe inherited the 8,895-acre Kinlet estate, which was encumbered with a £25,000 mortgage debt and obligations to provide £8,000 and annuities for his father’s widow, stepson, sister-in-law and retainers from personalty of less than £14,000.13 He left no record of his parliamentary attendance in 1824 and 1825, but before standing down at the dissolution in 1826 he voted against condemning the Jamaican slave trade, 2 Mar., and presented an anti-slavery petition from ‘some place in Suffolk’, 10 Mar.14
As sheriff, 1828-9, Childe took no part in the activities of the Shropshire Brunswick Club and, moving the address of thanks to the Catholic Sir Edward Smythe as sheriff at the 1831 election, he spoke of the wisdom of the Wellington ministry in sanctioning emancipation.15 In December 1831 he signed the Worcestershire address approving the Lords’ conduct in rejecting the reform bill.16 He remained a conscientious magistrate, kept his own hounds and persisted in ‘muddling away his money with little or no show for it’.17 He inherited the Baldwyns’ 5,000-acre Worcestershire estate of Kyre unencumbered in 1832 as heir-at-law to his kinsman Jonathan Pytts (d. 1808), and disentailed it for his son Jonathan, who, as required, took the name of Baldwyn. It reverted to Childe on Jonathan’s death in 1862, increasing his mortgage debts by £33,000 to £150,000.18 He died intestate and was buried at Kinlet in December 1880, shortly before his 95th birthday. Under family settlements of 13 Jan. 1847, 10 Aug. 1849 and 1879, Kinlet, which was mortgaged to £70,000 and charged with providing £10,000 each for his seven younger children, passed to his eldest son William Lacon Childe (d. 1881), from whom he was estranged; and Kyre, which with its timber was valued at £48,734 at probate, to his third son, the Rev. Edward George Baldwyn, who readopted the name of Childe on succeeding his brother to Kinlet. On his death in 1898, both estates passed in strict entail to the issue of Childe’s fourth son, Charles Orlando Pemberton (d. 1883), and of his fifth son, the Rev. Arthur Childe Freeman (d. 1882).19
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Margaret Escott
- 1. Shrewsbury Chron. 11 Feb. 1820.
- 2. Salop Archives, Weld-Forester mss 1224, box 337, Procs. at Wenlock election; VCH Salop, iii. 296-7; Salopian Jnl. 1, 8, 15 Mar.; Shrewsbury Chron. 3, 10 Mar. 1820.
- 3. Staffs. RO, Weston Park mss D.1287/10/4a, Lady to Lord Nugent, 27 Feb. 1820.
- 4. Weld-Forester mss box 337, Childe to C.W. Forester, 12, 15 Mar. 1820.
- 5. Hull Univ. Lib. Forbes Adams mss DDFA/39/45/24.
- 6. Salopian Jnl. 13 Dec. 1820.
- 7. Shrewsbury Chron. 15, 22 Feb., 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 Mar. 1822.
- 8. Salop Archives, Morris-Eyton mss 6003/3, Slaney jnl. 14 Oct., 5 Nov.; Salopian Jnl. 30 Oct., 6 Nov.; Bradford mss, Childe to Lord Forester and reply [Nov. 1822]; NLW, Aston Hall mss C.252, 1015, 1087; Buckingham, Mems. Geo. IV, i. 395.
- 9. Salop Archives 81/3, 4, 7; 2534/3, 4; 6001/6858, 1822 handbills; Salopian Jnl. 13, 20, 27 Nov.; Slaney jnl. 3, 14, 15 Nov.; Shrewsbury Chron. 15 Nov., 6 Dec.; The Times, 19 Nov. 1822.
- 10. NLW ms 2794 D, Sir W. to H. Williams Wynn, 4 June 1823.
- 11. Add. 38744, f. 66.
- 12. Dorset RO D/BKL, Bankes jnl. 141 (4 Feb.); The Times, 5 Feb.; Shrewsbury Chron. 7, 14 Feb.; Salopian Jnl. 12 Feb. 1823.
- 13. Gent. Mag. (1824), i. 283; PROB 11/1646/346; IR26/995/648; VCH Salop, iv. 209.
- 14. The Times, 11 Mar. 1826; Salop Archives, Blakemore mss 604, box 8, Lord Forester’s letter bk. p. 116.
- 15. Shrewsbury Chron. 6 May 1831.
- 16. Worcester Herald, 10 Dec. 1831; Aston Hall mss C.237.
- 17. VCH Salop, ii. 171; iii. 153; V.J. Walsh, ‘Diary of a Country Gentleman’, Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. lix (1969-74), 136.
- 18. VCH Salop, iv. 209, 283.
- 19. IR26/5666/640, 660; wills proved at Worcester, 28 Dec. 1881, 9 June 1898.