The Thomas Wooldridge Biography Project

‘…impudence made him and caused him to be unmade an Alderman…if he had possessed capacity equal to his effrontery, it is probable he would have made a considerable figure.’


City Biography

This project is a multimedia character study looking at the life of Thomas Wooldridge, a merchant and London Alderman 1776 – 1777, and resident of No. 11, the Crescent.

Wooldridge is notorious for being the only Alderman in London’s history to be removed from his post. After becoming bankrupt in 1777, Wooldridge serially embezzled and fraudulantly claimed money from the Corporation in order to keep afloat, resulting in what may be regarded as a 18th Century ‘expenses scandal’. Little is known about the colourful life of Wooldridge. Through new documentary research, the 100 Symposium is following his paper trail through London’s archives from East Florida, to Clerkenwell Debtors’ Prison to discover more about this interesting individual, and to retell and reimagine his life at No. 11 through both art and the written word.

The ultimate aim of this project is to use the extant primary source material to bring Wooldridge’s story to life through a series of illustrated pieces of creative writing. Ben Saunders will be carrying out the primary and secondary source research, Thomas Moore will be constructing a series of short stories using this material, whilst Dan Bateman will be producing illustrations for these stories.

The result will be a short book, bringing these three elements together as one work, supplied with a commentary which dicusses the method and transformation of history into historic fiction.


Featured Image

Hogarth, W. (c.1743). Marriage A-La-Mode: 1, The Marriage Settlement. [The National Gallery]. Available here.


All Project Articles

The Swindler Detected : Embezzlement, lies and merchant adventurers in the late 1700s

Ben Saunders

Peopling the Crescent: researching the occupiers of the Crescent 1770 – 1841

Ben Saunders