William's Top Matches
About William Woodward, Sr.
William Woodward, Sr. (April 7, 1876 – September 25, 1953) was an American banker and major owner and breeder in thoroughbred horse racing.
Born in New York City to William Woodward and Sarah Abagail Rodman, William comes from a prominent and wealthy Maryland family that dates back to colonial times. The family made their fortune in selling textiles to the Confederate government, and his father was the founder of the New York Cotton Exchange.
He studied at Groton and at Harvard, graduating in 1898, and Harvard Law School in 1901. In 1901, he was admitted to the bar.
For the next two years Woodward lived in London, UK where he served as secretary to the United States ambassador to Britain, Joseph Choate. There, he joined with other members of the political and economic elite including King Edward VII, at fashionable events including thoroughbred horse races, the favorite pastime of English royalty and nobility.
Upon his return to New York in 1903, Woodward was made vice president of Hanover National Bank in New York City by his uncle, James T. Woodward, who was then president of the bank. William Woodward Sr.'s father had helped James purchase a large portion of the bank years earlier before his death.
In 1903, William Woodward met Elsie Ogden Cryder at Saratoga, New York, and they were married at Grace Church in New York on October 24, 1904. They had a son, William Woodward, Jr., and four daughters.
Following his uncle's death, William Woodward, Sr. became president of the bank in 1910, serving in that capacity until a 1929 merger when he was appointed chairman of the new corporate entity called Central Hanover Bank & Trust. William Woodward inherited a controlling interest in Hanover National Bank plus the historic Belair Mansion and Stud in Collington, Maryland.
Belair and Thorougbred Racing
Belair is a very historic estate where Colonial Governor of Maryland, Samuel Ogle had brought the first thoroughbred horses imported to America from England in 1747. James T. Woodward acquired it in 1898 for an undisclosed sum of money. William Woodward built the Belair Stud into the dominant breeding and thoroughbred horse racing operation in the United States during the 1930s, 40s, and 50s.
Horses bred by Belair won every major Stakes race in the U.S. including two Triple Crowns as well as the Epsom Oaks, St. Leger Stakes, 1,000 Guineas, and other important races in Britain. Woodward's accomplishments in horse racing led to him making the August 7, 1939 cover of Time magazine.
Woodward was elected to the United States Jockey Club in 1917 and served as its chairman from 1930 until 1950. One of the main efforts he pursued was the repeal of the Jersey Act, a regulation of the British Thoroughbred stud book that prevented most American-bred Thoroughbreds from being registered in the United Kingdom as purebred Thoroughbreds.
In 1950, Woodward was elected an honorary member of the British Jockey Club.
He died in 1953, aged 77, leaving the estate to his son, William Woodward, Jr., whose untimely death a few years later in 1955 saw the end of Belair Stud.
Today the Belair Stable Museum in Bowie, Maryland highlights the work of William Woodward, Sr. and others connected to the Belair Stud.