The Douglas Archives

A collection of historical and genalogical records

William Crockford married Sarah Frances Douglas on 20th May 1812 by licence in the parish of St George, Hanover Square, London. He is registered as a bachelor and she as a spinster.

However, she was his second wife and he was previously married to Mary Lockwood, and by her had William (1799-); George (1802-69), Edward (1804-75); Mary Ann (1806-74) & Priscilla Eliza (1809-53).

Sarah Frances Douglas (1790-1865), 'a lady of refined manners and amiable disposition' gave him a further 10 children - Rev William John (1813-50), Fanny (1815-1905), Julia (1816-86), Henry (1817-1901), Lieut Col Charles (1819-72), Elizabeth (1820-98), Frederick (1821-98), Rose Maria (1823-1908), Harriet (1824-1918) and Felix (1826-96). All Sarah Frances' children were born at Newmarket apart from William, John and Felix, who were born in London.

William Crockford (1776–1844) was an English Regency entrepreneur; horse racing enthusiast and proprietor of the infamous gambling club Crockford's who became one of the richest men in England.

Crockford was born 13 January 1776 in Temple Bar, London, the son of a fishmonger, and for some time himself carried on that business. After winning a large sum of money (according to one story, £100,000) either at cards or by running a gambling establishment*, he built a luxurious gambling house designed by Benjamin and Philip Wyatt at 50-53 St James's Street in 1827. In order to ensure exclusiveness, he organized the house as a members' club under the name "The St James's Club" though popularly known as "Crockford's Club" and it quickly became the rage – every English social celebrity and every distinguished foreigner visiting London hastened to become a member. Even the Duke of Wellington joined, though it is alleged this was in order merely to blackball his son, Lord Douro, should he seek election. Hazard was the favourite game, and very large sums changed hands.

Crockford retired in 1840, when, in the expressive language of Captain Rees Howell Gronow, he had "won the whole of the ready money of the then existing generation." He took approximately £1,200,000 out of the club, but subsequently invested some of it unwisely, particularly with two of his sons and one daughter (Henry, Charles and Fanny Crockford) in mining and zinc manufacturing in Greenfield, Flintshire, Wales. Crockford died at his home 11 Carlton House Terrace (later Prime Minister Gladstone's home) on 24 May 1844. and lies buried in a family vault underneath Kensal Green Cemetery Chapel London.

But who was Sarah Frances Douglas?

The Douglas brothers, Thomas and William were active in Flintshire, in the cotton industry, and it is possible the two families came in contact there. The brother's father was John Douglas, (1707-1762) of St. George's Square, Middlesex (where she married Crockford). "Recorded in Burke's commoners as having lived in the parish of St. George's Hanover Square, and John Warburton, Somerset Herald recognised him in 1754 as a "gentleman". He was ' an innkeeper in Hyde Park Road, London.' However, she is not listed among his children, and, in any case, is of the wrong generation.

* His wealth may have come from his extravagant accumulations from banking at Watier's, a gaming club, where he may have been employed as the 'banker'.

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