Sir William Paxton

Sir William Paxton was born in Berwickshire 1744 and at 12 years old joins the navy. In 1764 he joins the east India Company as a Free Mariner and becomes assigned to Calcutta and becomes Assay Master to the Bengal presidency under Warren Hastings, becoming master of the Mint in 1788. Paxton starts an Agency business illegally trading with the Dutch but disaster strikes with the Anglo Dutch war of 1780 and by 1785 his position in India was becoming untenable and he leaves before he is publicly disgraced by the company (Warren Hastings himself was later put on trial).

He travels home to Britain with a fortune of £300,000 accompanied by his friend David Williams of Henllys, Cilycwm promising to visit him in Wales. It is probably through him that he buys Middleton Hall in 1789. He marries Ann Dawney in 1786 and they have 10 children and Paxton also brought back a daughter from India called Eliza.

In 1793-5 a new mansion at Middleton Hall is built for Paxton by the architect Samuel Pepys Cockerell and thus begins Paxton’s development and adaptation of the estate into his major water park. During his development of the estate Paxton was busy in politics in Carmarthenshire; in the 1802 election Paxton stood against local Tory crachach candidate James Hamlyn Williams of Edwinsford and lost, his bills for wining and dining the electorate totalled £15,690. In 1803 Paxton took up the resigned seat for Carmarthenshire and he was also knighted and in the early 1800s he invested a lot of money in Tenby which launched it as a popular seaside resort.

Following the completion of work on the Middleton Estate in 1815 Thomas Hornor is commissioned to create a series of watercolour views of Middleton Hall park. Paxton dies in 1824 and his will left everything equally between his legitimate children, his wife and first daughter were provided for separately. Further family members and charitable institutions were also left bequests.