Chapter 6 — Murder; 1868 — David Baldy of Newmarket Farm

In which David Baldy is introduced, a labourer of Newmarket Farm, who was murdered on the Kingston Downs.

1868 — David Baldy of Newmarket Farm

Watercolour of Newmarket Farm by Bob Phipps
Watercolour of Newmarket Farm, painted from memory by Bob Phipps, in about 2010.

The next residents of Newmarket Farm were the Baldy family, and one or two lodgers. Their surname has been variously spelled Balday, Baldey, Baldie, Baldrey, Baldy, Bauldy, even possibly Bollday, and Gollday, which has not made searching for information about them very easy!

David (about 61) and his wife, Harriet (26), their youngest 2 sons, Walter (12) and Mark (9), their daughter Sarah (5), and a lodger, Joseph Hollands. David Baldy was originally from Falmer, and his 3rd (or possibly 4th) wife, Harriet was most probably from Brighton. The eldest of the sons who lived with them Philip (14) lodged in Kingston itself where he worked, but apparently joined his family for meals.

Three websites were of help in tracing their family history: The Baldys of Falmer website, Mandy Willard’s ancestry website, as well as the genealogical website, which helped with census and other such records.

David Baldy was the youngest son of John Baldy (1765–1843) of Falmer and Elizabeth Petit (nee Balcombe, 1764–1837, a widow), also of Falmer. He was born in Falmer on the 21st August 1808 to a long standing family of Baldys of Falmer (his ancestors had lived in the village for at least 6 generations). His occupation was recorded as that of agricultural labourer.

The records are not very clear, but his first wife was probably Mary Trigwell who married a David Bollday at Patcham in 1829. She was born on 28 October 1813 and baptised on 26 December 1813 in Patcham. The baptism register recorded that her father was a day labourer of Moulscombe, a farmstead in the Parish of Patcham, which is only a short distance from Falmer. There is a record of the death of a Mary Baldy in 1837, in Sussex, though this is probably not our Mary, for there is a later record in the 1851 Census of a Mary Baldy of the right age, and born in Patcham. She was lodging in Brighton where she was working as a servant.

However, in 1844 David Baldy had married 33 year old Hannah Harris in St. Nicholas Church, Brighton. Possibly he had separated from his first wife because she had not born him any children. Hannah had previously been married to a James Gates. What happened to James has not been discovered. Hannah gave birth to a son, David Baldy  junior, probably sometime between September 1850 and April 1851, in Brighton. In the 1851 census for Falmer, David Baldy was recorded as married, but lodging on his own, with his brother’s widow. There is no evidence for what may have happened to his wife, Hannah. It may be that she returned to her family to give birth, which was not unusual. She may have died in childbirth shortly afterwards.

In 1854 he married Harriet in Brighton, also a widow (b. 1820 in Brighton), whose first husband was one of the many Tuppens, and she had a son from that marriage, Alfred Tuppen (b. 1849). David and Harriet had four more children, Philip (b. 1854), Walter (b. 1856), Mark (b. 1859), and Sarah Ann (b. 1863).

David Baldy, at the age of 60, was considered an old man. He was known as being a very sober man, and never known to have had quarrel with anyone, except occasionally with his wife about the noise of their children. His lodger, Joseph Hollands, had been living with the family nigh on 4 years, and during his time they had 3 or 4 other lodgers. David Baldy seemed to have been on friendly terms with many of his lodgers, including one he knew as Henry Brown, though they later discovered that his real name was Martin Brown. A desire for strangers to hide their identity was not as unusual as it might seem, for another of their lodgers gave no name at all. We know a great deal about this family because David Baldy was murdered by Martin Brown on the night of the 9th of October 1868.

His murder was covered in great detail in both the local and national newspapers. This was for several reasons; firstly, and quite simply, murder sells newspapers! The drama of a murder engages all of our emotions—it tells not only of the worst in human nature, but also of the best. Secondly, it happened in a location known to many, and to a local character well known to those who hunted with the famous Brookside Harriers. Brighton was famous as a fashionable resort, and its unspoilt Downland was an important part of its attraction. In this increasingly industrial age, much of its countryside was fenced and enclosed, and these unspoilt Downs were therefore considered to be a precious gem by both sportsmen and romantics alike. The murder victim represented an idealised rural peasant;—a poor old man… who has all his life been an honest, industrious hard working man… [a] hard-working labourer on the South Down farm… [whose] cottage stands quite. isolated and lonely on the top of the hill… one of the highest of the many hills which rear their heads, as it were, above the bosom of that chain of the Southdowns…THE DIABOLICAL MURDER ON THE SOUTHDOWNS, as a headline called it, was very much about the location, and of the villain who despoiled its romance. One newspaper wrote: It is in Christian England that the blood of the poorest shepherd on the loneliest hill cries out for redress. But David Baldy was no shepherd; he was just one of the many agricultural labourers who did the work that put food on the nation’s tables. He was the lowest of the labouring classes, and thus not of sufficient worth for one single journalist to have written a single word by way of a description of either his physique, or of his past history.

Previous: Chapter 5. Hunting and Mock Battles

Table of Contents

Next: Chapter 6-2. 1846–1868 — Martin Brown

4 replies on “Chapter 6 — Murder; 1868 — David Baldy of Newmarket Farm”

Baldy is a pretty uncommon name. Possibly related to Thomas Baldy 1711- 1782 (son of John Baldy) who set up Baldy’s hanging gardens off Chapel Hill in Cliffe; a major tourist attraction at the time. The house there now is still called Baldy’s Garden.

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