William Baillie was born at Kilbride, co Carlow on 15 June 1723. He was educated at Dublin under Dr Sheridan and at the age of 18 went to London and entered Middle Temple to study law. But he was attracted to military life and entered the army as an ensign in the 13th Foot on 26 June 1744. He was present with the regiment at Culloden and was promoted to lieutenant on 2 July 1747. At the end of 1755 he transferred to the 51st Foot, and as Captain of the Grenadier Company fought at Minden in 1759. On 1 May 1760 he exchanged to the 17th Light Dragoons and retired two years later after 18 years in the army.
He was an accomplished artist and made drawings and etchings while he was serving in Holland and Germany. Two of his etchings are in the Regimental Museum in Taunton, showing a grenadier and a battalion company soldier, both in the uniform of the 13th Foot. He also drew the full length portrait of Corporal Jones that can be seen in the Uniforms section. These and the etching of Captain Baillie seen here were made in 1753 while Baillie was a captain in the 13th. The portrait was made by Nathaniel Hone a friend and contemporary of Baillie's. It is in the style of Rembrandt whose work Baillie admired and studied whilst in Holland. He collected Rembrandt etchings and became an acknowledged expert. He had received some training in topography and cartography at RMC Woolwich which would have involved etching and drawing, and he learned much from his friend, Nathaniel Hone, a painter and print-maker, also from Dublin. In 1773 he was appointed Commissioner of Stamps, an office he held until 1795. Most of the etchings he produced were after the great Dutch and Flemish masters in the course of his collecting on behalf of the 3rd Earl of Bute. William Baillie died at Paddington on 22 Dec 1810.
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