|Baldwin, Earls Baldwin of Bewdley|
After G.P. Baldwin's death, his brother Enoch took over the management of Baldwin, Son & Co. in Stourport, and also set up a new tinplate works in Wolverhampton in partnership with his two eldest nephews, Pearce (1813–1851) and William (1817–1863), who were George's sons by his first marriage. In 1854, this firm, which traded as E. P. and W. Baldwin, acquired the wrought iron and tin plate works at Wilden near Stourport (where there had been a forge since at least the mid 17th century), and this gradually became the focus of the business. As they grew to manhood, several of George's sons by his second marriage also entered this firm, and after the deaths of the three original partners between 1857 and 1863, control of the company passed to Alfred Baldwin (1841-1908) and his two surviving older brothers, George (1826–1881) and Stanley (1828–1907). However, Stanley's bad management and drinking, combined with a trade depression, brought the firm close to bankruptcy in the late 1860s. Matters improved only after 1870, when Alfred Baldwin raised sufficient capital to buy out his brothers and take sole control of the business. At the same time, he moved into Wilden House, opposite the works, with his wife and young son. Alfred Baldwin had the drive and ambition not only to make the firm successful, but also to expand the business into new markets and to establish new factories elsewhere. In 1902, his various business interests were brought together in a new holding company, Baldwins Ltd., which was a public limited company quoted on the London Stock Exchange. His success in business brought Alfred other opportunities too: he became a director of the Metropolitan Bank and the Great Western Railway, and was appointed Chairman of the latter in 1905. He was also elected as the Conservative Member of Parliament for Bewdley in 1892, and held the seat continuously until his death in 1908.
In 1866, Alfred had married Louisa Macdonald, one of the five surviving lively and talented daughters of the Rev. George Brown Macdonald, a Methodist minister in Wolverhampton, four of whom made striking marriages (two of them married the artists Edward Burne Jones and Edward Poynter and the third became the mother of Rudyard Kipling). Alfred and Louisa had only one child, Stanley Baldwin (1867-1947), after which Louisa's life was blighted by a mystery illness which left her depressed and confined to a bath chair, although she was still able to write novels, poetry and short stories. Stanley was sent to Harrow (where he came close to being expelled for writing a pornographic short story) and Trinity College, Cambridge, and then joined the family firm. He became a partner in 1890 and after his father became an MP in 1892, the running of the business was left increasingly to him. He had all his father's ability, and the firm continued to prosper and grow. It had a tradition of excellent labour relations, and the benefits of a partnership approach in this field was a lesson that Stanley took with him when he succeeded his father as MP for Bewdley in 1908 and moved into politics. For almost a decade, Stanley sat as a backbench MP, earning a reputation as an effective if infrequent speaker in Parliament, but showing no desire to climb the ministerial ladder: he continued to give priority to his business commitments.
The situation changed with the First World War. Stanley was too old to fight, but he felt more than ever driven by duty to serve in the field of politics, where he could be active. The wartime atmosphere of national unity and class co-operation reinforced his values and beliefs, and his focus moved from business to government. At the same time, the number of Conservative MPs away on war service meant that the pool of available talent for Government appointments was narrower than usual. In 1916 he became Parliamentary Private Secretary to Andrew Bonar Law, the Conservative leader who was serving as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the coalition government, and the two men developed a close working relationship which led rapidly to his promotion to the post of Financial Secretary to the Treasury, the most senior ministerial appointment outside the Cabinet. When Bonar Law retired on health grounds in 1921, a reshuffle resulted in Stanley's appointment to the Cabinet as President of the Board of Trade. In Cabinet, he found himself increasingly alienated by the expediency and tactics with which issues were tackled, and he was also personally antipathetic to Lloyd George, the Prime Minister. In 1922 he was almost alone in Cabinet in objecting to holding a snap general election to extend the coalition's mandate, but he had much of the parliamentary party behind him and his stand led to the collapse of the coalition government. He persuaded Bonar Law to come out of retirement as Prime Minister and was himself appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer, but in 1923, when Bonar Law was again obliged to retire on health grounds, King George V asked Baldwin to form a Government. His first term as Prime Minister was short, as the Conservatives lost the general election in December 1923, but he retained the leadership of the Conservative party and returned to power at the end of 1924 when the first Labour government collapsed and a general election saw the Conservatives returned with a large majority.
The first two or three years of the new Government were the period of Baldwin's most significant achievements in power. His key theme was the search for industrial peace, in which he drew on his experience in business. His calm handling of the General Strike of 1926 saw the peak of his personal popularity, but the stress and long working hours it involved took their toll, and the later years of his premiership were marked by periods of exhaustion and a sense of drift in Government which may have been reinforced by Baldwin's personal style of leadership. He was defeated at the 1929 general election, but again retained the Conservative leadership. When in 1931 the sense of national crisis led to the formation of a new coalition, the National Government, he was drawn into this as Lord President of the Council and Lord Privy Seal, and he served in these roles for four years under Ramsey Macdonald. In 1935 the two men exchanged posts, and he became Prime Minister for the third time, seizing the opportunity to accelerate Britain's rearmament in the light of the threat from Nazi Germany. During the Second World War the Beaverbrook press branded him one of the 'guilty men' whose appeasement of Hitler and failure to rearm more quickly had led to war, but Baldwin's view was that the public would not have supported the measure, and that he had moved as quickly and as far as he could in the circumstances of the time. The other crisis of his third premiership was the Abdication Crisis, where his calm firmness with King Edward VIII was very well received by the public. Approaching his seventieth birthday, he decided the time had come to retire, and he stood down on 28 May 1937: one of the few Prime Ministers of the 20th century to choose the time of his own departure. He was made a Knight of the Garter and raised to the peerage as Earl Baldwin of Bewdley a few days later.
In 1902, Stanley Baldwin took a lease of Astley Hall near Stourport, which became his home for the rest of his life. He bought the freehold in 1912, and undertook some modest alterations to the house shortly afterwards. This was where he raised his family of two sons and four daughters. He had a slightly difficult relationship with his eldest son, Oliver Ridsdale Baldwin (1899-1958), 2nd Earl Baldwin, who hated Eton and joined the army at the earliest opportunity (his cousin Rudyard Kipling steering him into the Irish guards). After the War he spent some time as an army instructor in Armenia (where he was twice imprisoned) before turning to journalism. His experiences led him to adopt socialist views, and he occasioned his father some embarrassment when he stood as a Labour candidate in 1924 and still more when he was elected as a Labour MP in 1929. Although he continued to be welcome at Astley Hall, there was a tacit understanding that politics were not a suitable subject for discussion on these occasions. He also caused his parents anxiety by being gay at a time when it was not only illegal but publicly unacceptable. He 'came out' to his parents in about 1922, when he began a lifelong relationship with Jonny Parke Boyle (1893-1969), and although his immediate family accepted the situation and later received Jonny, Oliver's homosexuality caused a breach with Rudyard Kipling. For Stanley Baldwin, his anxiety was that if his son's sexuality became public, it could have political consequences, but this never happened.
When Stanley Baldwin died in 1947, his titles passed to Oliver but Astley Hall did not. Probably because he had struggled to keep the house going during the Second World War, Stanley decided to leave the house to Birmingham City Council, for use as a school. It served this purpose for a number of years before being sold and converted into a care home. The Baldwin peerage passed on Oliver's death to his younger brother, Windham Baldwin (1904-76), who became the 3rd Earl. In the 1950s he emerged as a doughty defender of his father's reputation, writing a biography to set the record straight after the official biography - which Stanley had authorised in the 1940s - emerged as poorly researched and hostile. The title is now held by Windham's son, the 4th Earl, who after a career in teaching and educational administration became one of the ninety hereditary peers elected to remain in the House of Lords in 1999. Until his retirement in 2018, he was an active champion of alternative and complementary therapies in Parliament.
Wilden House, Worcestershire
|Wilden House: the early Victorian house demolished in 1939.|
A substantial village mill house, set on the corner of Wilden Lane and Bigbury Lane and just across the road from the Wilden Works. The only known photograph of the house suggests that it consisted of an earlier 18th century two-storey block with sash windows, and a mid 19th century three-storey block with gabled dormers and a mix of sash and casement windows. This was probably the extension recorded to have been built for Alfred Baldwin after he occupied the house in 1870. The building caused a marked constriction in Wilden Lane and was demolished for road widening in 1939.
Descent: sold 1854 to Enoch, Pearce & William Baldwin; sold 1870 to Alfred Baldwin (1841-1908)... demolished 1939.
Astley Hall, WorcestershireThe present Astley Hall (at first called The Hill House), may have replaced an earlier building, but if so it seems to be unrecorded. The present house was constructed by George & Welch of Worcester, builders before 1836, to the designs of Harvey Eginton, for Moses Harper (c.1752-1836), who was High Sheriff of Worcestershire in 1797 and a leading figure in Worcester, where he also had a house. It is unusual for an elderly man to build a mansion so close to the end of his life, especially when he has no direct heirs, and the fact that he did so might suggest that an earlier house was destroyed by fire, but I can find no evidence for this in the local press. When Harper died, his property was left to trustees, who sold his house in Worcester and let Astley Hall in 1836. The tenant who moved into Astley was Thomas Simcox Lea (1789-1868), a local carpet manufacturer, and when Harper's trustees offered the freehold for sale in 1842, he bought it. Lea has until now been erroneously identified as the man for whom the house was built.
|Astley Hall: the east-facing entrance front. Image: ViennaUK. Some rights reserved.|
The new house is a rather refined ashlar-faced neo-Tudor house, and consisted originally of the centre and lower one-bay wings, with a brick service wing extending further to the south. On the entrance front, the centre has three bays, shaped gables and two-storey canted bay windows, but on the garden side it has five bays and a porch-like central projection rising through two storeys, which lights a viewing balcony at the head of the main staircase. The wings also have shaped gables. The house is approached by a lodge to the east, in a similar style, and also of c.1835.
|Astley Hall: the west-facing garden front, showing the loggia added by the Baldwins c.1912. Image: ViennaUK. Some rights reserved.|
Descent: built for Moses Harper (c.1752-1836) and leased and later sold to Thomas Simcox Lea (1789-1868); to son, Rev. Frederick Simcox Lea (d. 1893), who leased to Thomas Jackson and then to John Everard Barton (d. 1886) and his widow; ... leased from 1902 and sold 1912 to Stanley Baldwin (1867-1947), 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley; bequeathed to City of Birmingham for use as a school; subsequently sold and converted into a care home.
Baldwin family, Earls Baldwin of Bewdley
Baldwin, Thomas (1751-1823). Second son of John Baldwin (1725-57) of Broseley (Shropshire), ironmaster, and his wife Mary (d. 1811), daughter of George Pearce of Broseley, baptised at Broseley, 29 September 1751. Forgemaster at Stourport (Worcs). He married, 1 January 1784 at St Mary, Shrewsbury (Shropshire), Mary Gough (c.1769-1820), and had issue (perhaps among others):
(1) Thomas Baldwin (1785-95), baptised at St Mary, Shrewsbury, 14 March 1785; died young and was buried at Lower Mitton (Worcs), 25 July 1795;
(2) William Baldwin (1787-1801), baptised at Wellington (Shropshire), 3 June 1787; died young and was buried at Lower Mitton, 7 February 1801;
(3) George Pearce Baldwin (1789-1840) (q.v.);
(4) John Baldwin (1791-94); died young and was buried at Lower Mitton, 26 December 1794;
(5) Enoch Baldwin (1793-1857); in partnership with his brother George as ironmaster in Stourport (Baldwin, Son & Co.); on the death of his brother in 1840 he also formed a new tinplate works partnership based in Wolverhampton with his two adult nephews (E., P. & W. Baldwin), which acquired the wrought iron and tinplate works at Wilden (Worcs) in 1854; married, 16 April 1817 at Worcester, Mary Anne Lowe (1792-1844) and had issue four sons and six daughters; died 19 February 1857.
He moved from Broseley to Stourport in the early 19th century and may also have had a house in Shrewsbury.
He died 25 April and was buried at Lower Mitton, 29 April 1823. His wife died 7 February and was buried at Lower Mitton, 10 February 1820.
Baldwin, George Pearce (1789-1840). Son of Thomas Baldwin (1751-1823) of Stourport and his wife Mary Gough, born 17 May 1789. Ironmaster at Stourport in partnership with his brother Enoch as Baldwin, Son & Co., who specialised in the manufacture of kitchen equipment. He married 1st, 16 April 1812 at Kidderminster (Worcs), Anne Hill (d. 1819) and 2nd, 4 October 1822, Sarah Chalkley (c.1803-74), daughter of Rev. Jacob Stanley of Alnwick (Northbld), and had issue:
(1.1) Pearce Baldwin (1813-61), born 20 July and baptised at Stourport Wesleyan Methodist Church, 20 August 1813; operated a tinplate works at Wolverhampton and Wilden in partnership with his uncle and brother as E., P. & W. Baldwin; married, 17 September 1856, Hannah Myra (1821-82), daughter of Edward Evans of Thornloe House (Worcs), but had no issue; died 6 April 1861; will proved 7 August 1861 (effects under £14,000);
(1.2) William Hill Baldwin (1817-63), born 8 March and baptised at Stourport Wesleyan Methodist Church, 17 April 1817; operated a tinplate works at Wolverhampton and Wilden in partnership with his uncle and brother as E., P. & W. Baldwin; died unmarried, 11 May 1863; will proved 3 June 1863 (effects under £25,000);
(2.1) George Baldwin (b. & d. 1824), born 8 April 1824; died in infancy, 17 October 1824;
(2.2) George Baldwin (1826-81) of Stourport, born 16 March and baptised at Stourport Wesleyan Methodist Church, 24 May 1826; tin-plate maker with E., P. & W. Baldwin until 1870; lived latterly at Wolverhampton (Staffs); married, 7 March 1854, Mary Ellen (c.1835-73), daughter of Edmund Poole of Dudley (Worcs), and had issue five sons and two daughters; died 5 March 1881; will proved 11 May 1881 (estate under £16,000);
(2.3) Stanley Baldwin (1828-1907), born 4 February and baptised at Stourport Wesleyan Methodist Church, 22 May 1828; partner in E., P. & W. Baldwin until 1870, and later an engineer at Stourport and West Didsbury (Lancs); married, 8 March 1859 at Astley (Worcs), his cousin Mary (c.1833-1911), daughter of John Lowe of Astley, but had no issue; died 21 September and buried in Manchester Southern Cemetery, 26 September 1907;
(2.4) Sarah Anne Baldwin (1830-1919), born 19 April and baptised at Stourport Wesleyan Methodist Church, 23 August 1830; married, 1861, George Robinson (1825-71) of Leicester and had issue three sons and two daughters; died 15 December 1919;
(2.5) Edward Pearce Baldwin (1832-48), born 26 May and baptised at Stourport Wesleyan Methodist Church, 13 July 1832; died young, 26 April 1848;
(2.6) Mary Jane Baldwin (1834-1908), born 16 January and baptised at Stourport Wesleyan Methodist Church, 8 July 1834; married, 17 November 1864 at West Malvern (Worcs), as his second wife, Dr. George Gwynn Brown of Mitton Grange, Stourport, surgeon, and had issue two daughters; died of pneumonia in Florence (Italy), 18 January 1908, and was buried there;
(2.7) Lucilla Baldwin (1836-1916), born 16 March and baptised at Stourport Wesleyan Methodist Church, 20 July 1836; married, 20 April 1859 at Stourport, William Harrison Livesey (1830-1900), railway engineer and later chief accountant of Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, and had issue three sons and four daughters; died 24 November 1916; will proved 3 March 1917 (estate £1,249);
(2.8) Eliza Baldwin (1837-1914), born 2 September 1837; married, 8 June 1864, Thomas Bond Worth (1834-96) of Lower Mitton (Worcs), carpet manufacturer, and had issue five sons and four daughters; died 2 July 1914; will proved 5 August 1914 (estate £4,409);
(2.9) Alfred Baldwin (1841-1908) (q.v.).
He lived at Stourport.
He died 1 October 1840; his will was apparently proved in the PCC in 1841, but has not been traced. His first wife died in February 1819. His widow died in Stourport, 25 February 1874; her will was proved 20 June 1874 (effects under £800).
|Alfred Baldwin (1841-1908)|
|Louisa Baldwin (1845-1925)|
by Edward Poynter
(1) Rt. Hon. Sir Stanley Baldwin KG (1867-1947), 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley (q.v.).
He lived at Wilden House from 1870, although after becoming an MP in 1892 he spent much of his time in London, where he had a mansion flat in Kensington.
He died in London of a heart attack, 13 February 1908; his will was proved 21 March 1908 (estate £199,376). His widow died 16 May 1925; her will was proved 26 June 1925 (estate £5,399).
* A double wedding, when Louisa's sister married the artist Edward Poynter.
|Rt. Hon. Stanley Baldwin,|
1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley
(1) Lady Diana Lucy Baldwin (1895-1982), born 8 April 1895; married 1st, 24 November 1919 at St Margaret, Westminster (Middx) (div. 1934), Capt. Sir (Richard) Gordon Munro KCMG MC (1895-1967) (who m2, 22 March 1934, Lilian Muriel (b. 1904), daughter of Sir Otto John Beit, 1st bt.) and had issue one son; married 2nd, 24 February 1934 at Kensington Register Office, Capt. George Durant Kemp-Welch (1907-44), cricketer with Warwickshire CCC, who was killed when the Guards Chapel was bombed in 1944; died 21 May 1982; will proved 23 August 1982 (estate £72,354);
(2) Lady Leonora (k/a Lorna) Stanley Baldwin (1896-1989), born 10 July 1896; married, 20 June 1922 at St Margaret, Westminster, Capt. the Hon. Sir Arthur Jared Palmer Howard KBE CVO (1896-1971), son of Robert Jared Bliss Howard and his wife Margaret, Baroness Strathcona and Mount Royal, and had issue two sons and two daughters; died 23 June 1989, aged 92; her will was proved 9 March 1990 (estate under £100,000);
(3) Lady (Pamela) Margaret (k/a Margot) Baldwin (1897-1976), born 16 September 1897; married, 2 April 1919 at St Margaret, Westminster, Sir (Herbert) Maurice Huntington-Whiteley (1896-1975), 2nd bt., and had issue three sons; died 14 August 1976; will proved 1 November 1976 (estate £13,922);
(4) Oliver Ridsdale Baldwin (1899-1958), 2nd Earl Baldwin of Bewdley (q.v.);
(5) Lady Esther Louisa (k/a Betty) Baldwin (1902-81), born 16 March 1902; died unmarried, 22 June 1981; will proved 27 October 1981 (estate £6,140);
(6) (Arthur) Windham Baldwin (1904-76), 3rd Earl Baldwin of Bewdley (q.v.).
He leased Dunley Hall near Stourport from 1892-1902 and Astley Hall from 1902 until he bought the freehold in 1912.
He died in his sleep on 13-14 December 1947 and was cremated in Birmingham; his ashes were buried in Worcester Cathedral, where he and his wife are commemorated by a ledger stone; his will was proved 18 March 1948 (estate £280,971). His wife died from a heart attack, 17 June 1945 and was cremated; her ashes were later buried with those her husband; her will was proved 14 September 1945 (estate £32,846).
|Oliver Ridsdale Baldwin,|
2nd Earl Baldwin of Bewdley
He lived at Little Stoke House, North Stoke, Oxfordshire with his partner in a household which his biographer described as "gentle, amicable, animal-loving, primitive, homosexual socialism".
He died in Mile End Hospital, London, 10 August 1958; his will was proved 6 February 1959 (estate £40,668). His partner died 24 February 1969 and was buried at North Stoke; his will was proved 30 July 1969 (estate £12,608).
Baldwin, (Arthur) Windham (1904-76), 3rd Earl Baldwin of Bewdley. Younger son of Stanley Baldwin (1867-1947), 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, and his wife Lucy, eldest daughter of Edward Lucas J. Ridsdale of Rottingdean (Sussex), born 22 March 1904. Educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge. Director of Round Oak Steelworks, Redpath Brown and Great Western Railway before the Second World War, and of Equitable Life Assurance Society, 1938-74. He served in the Royal Air Force, 1941-45 (rising from the ranks to a commission). In the 1950s he published My Father: the true story (1955), in which he severely criticised his father's official biographer and other historians for misjudging him, and also The Macdonald Sisters (1960), one of whom was his grandmother, and his own memoir, A flying start (1967). He succeeded his brother as 3rd Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, 10 August 1958, and spoke occasionally in the House of Lords, chiefly on the subjects of transport and industry. He married, 25 August 1936, Joan Elspeth (d. 1980), youngest daughter of Charles Alexander Tomes of New York (USA), and had issue:
(1) Edward Alfred Alexander Baldwin (1938-2021), 4th Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, born 3 January 1938; educated at Eton and, after national service in the Intelligence Corps (Lt.), at Trinity College, Cambridge (BA 1961; MA 1966; PGCE); teacher 1970-77 and then held administrative posts in local government education departments, 1977-87, latterly with Oxfordshire County Council; succeeded his father as 4th Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, 1976, and sat in the House of Lords as a Crossbench peer; he was one of the ninety hereditary peers elected to remain in the House of Lords from 1999 until his retirement in 2018; joint chairman of All-Party Parliamentary Groups for Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 1992-2002 and against Flouridation, 2005-10, and of a select committee on alternative medicine, 1999-2000; chairman of the British Acupuncture Accreditation Board, 1990-98; married 1st, 1970, Sarah MacMurray (d. 2001), eldest daughter of Evan Maitland James of Upwood Park, Abingdon (Berks), and had issue three sons; married 2nd, 2015, Lydia M.M. (b. 1945), sculptor, daughter of James Edmund Segrave, widow of Dr. Ian Malcolm David Little (1918-2012) and formerly wife of Ben T. Lenthael; died 16 June 2021.
He lived latterly at Bushey House, Apperley (Glos).
He died 5 July 1976; his will was proved 24 September 1976 (estate £143,298). His widow died 24 July 1980; her will was proved 25 November 1980 (estate £235,947).
SourcesBurke's Peerage and Baronetage, 2003, pp. 230-31; A. Brooks & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Worcestershire, 2007, p. 116; ODNB entry for Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley.
Location of archives
Baldwin family of Bewdley etc.: family, business and estate correspondence and papers, diaries and journals, 1721-1974 [Worcestershire Archives & Archaeology Service 705:775]
Stanley Baldwin (1867-1947), 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley: political and personal correspondence and papers [Cambridge University Library: Baldwin papers 1-249 and MS. Add. 8770-8771, 9774]
Oliver Ridsdale Baldwin (1899-1958), 2nd Earl Baldwin of Bewdley: letters to 2nd Earl and John Boyle, 20th cent. [Cambridge University Library: MS. Add. 8795, 9569]
Coat of arms
Argent, on a saltire sable, a quatrefoil or.
Revision and acknowledgements
This post was first published 13 August 2018 and updated 12 January and 7 September 2021. I am grateful to Ross Baldwin for a correction.