William Crockford

Perhaps you recognise the name Crockford since the most famous gaming hall still exists, which William Crockford founded. William Crockford lived during the 18th century and played at such locations as Whites, Almacks, Cocoa Tree, and Brook’s. These four places were quite fashionable among the rich and this helped William Crockford begin his own amazing career. At the beginning he worked as a fishmonger with a side business in bookmaking. He was even known for swindles like the three card trick.

During his early life he worked to master games like piquet, whist, and cribbage. These avenues helped him fund his lifestyle making him rich, not from family money but hard earned and won funds. By 1809 Crockford was accepted at places like Tattersalls where he started backing horses. It helped him further his gambling career to be in places like Newmarket since this was where the famous and the rich hung out.

Crockford had large dreams though he started small. With a small investment in a small gambling establishment, he started dreaming large about competing with the more successful clubs. It was important for him to earn the top members of these other clubs if he wanted to open a club on a grander scope.

This eventually led to the start of Crockford’s Club. The Duke of Wellington helped make the club one of the most distinguished by playing there. Crockford also knew how to secure other distinguished guests like ambassadors and foreigner travellers of note. His early time earning a reputation in gambling certainly helped him make a success of his club. Typically those who came to play at his club enjoyed the game Hazard. Hazard is the historic name for Craps. Crockford’s had an exclusive membership in order to keep it a place where the upper crust would want to play. The club offered a full restaurant, which is still open today. He also allowed his brother to be in partnership with him and had one of his sons as the house manager.

During the time that Crockford was alive gambling establishments were illegal, but that did not stop William. Rather, he kept paying the fines and penalties provided to him. The charges were considered for show considering the clientele that continued to frequent his establishment, with some of them being important law makers. The club survives today in London.

Crockford was married in the early 1800s producing 14 children. It is unknown but thought that at least four of the children were from a mistress and not his wife. Crockford’s wealth allowed his children and wife to live in comfort for their entire lives, as well as Crockford himself. He continued to operate his casino location until his death though largely he left the big decisions to his son who ran the place. He also bought several homes such as the Mayfair location to ensure his family would be provided for during their lifetime and for his gaming establishment and restaurant.

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