Author: Thomas M. Katheder

a lawyer, author, and independent scholar from Windermere, Florida

John Baylor III (1705–1772)

John Baylor III was a wealthy planter and one of the most significant importers and breeders of thoroughbred horses in pre-Revolutionary America. The son of a slave dealer described by Robert “King” Carter as “the greatest merchant in our country,” Baylor was educated in England and, upon his return to Virginia, granted land along the Mattaponi River, where he built his estate, Newmarket. He represented Caroline County in the House of Burgesses (1742–1752; 1756–1765) and on the county court before falling out of political favor in a dispute over how best to oppose the Stamp Act (1765). Baylor’s deepest passion was elite horseflesh and it nearly bankrupted him. By the mid-1750s, he had given up racing and was instead importing, at great expense, a dozen or more of the colony’s best thoroughbreds, which attracted the mares of George Washington, among others, for breeding. In 1764, he purchased the thoroughbred Fearnought for the unprecedented price of a thousand guineas, and it became Virginia’s premier breeding horse, whose genes were prized even into the twentieth century. Baylor, however, sank into debt and died at Newmarket in 1772 after a long illness.