BAKER, Richard (by 1530-94), of Sissinghurst, Kent.
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Family and Education
b. by 1530, 1st s. of John Baker I by 2nd w., and bro. of John II. educ. I. Temple, adm. 29 Jan. 1553. m. (1) 12 June 1552, Catherine, da. and h. of John Tyrrell of Heron, Essex, 2s. inc. Thomas† 1da.; (2) 1569, Mary, da. of John Gifford of Weston Subedge, Glos., 2da. suc. fa. 23 Dec. 1558. Kntd. 31 Aug. 1573.1
J.p.q. Kent 1558/59-d.; sheriff 1562-3, 1582-3; bencher, I. Temple 1568.2
Richard Baker was licensed to enter upon his inheritance in June 1559, six months after his father’s death. It has sometimes been supposed that he was the younger son and that an elder brother, John, was disinherited in his favour: the notion probably arose from the fact that (Sir) John Baker, with other Kentish landowners, obtained a private Act of Parliament (31 Hen. VIII, c.3), freeing his lands from the restrictions of gavelkind tenure. He was then able to leave all his estates to Richard Baker, whom he describes as his ‘eldest’ son.3
Baker no doubt owed his return for Horsham (with his brother as fellow-Member) to his father’s friendship with the 3rd Duke of Norfolk, a friendship which presumably also explains Baker’s return for New Shoreham, then under the control of the 4th Duke, in 1558. His father, who had sat for Lancaster in 1545, had been attorney-general to the duchy of Lancaster, was still one of its legal counsel and was probably also responsible for Baker’s return for Lancaster in the autumn of 1554, although he himself could claim kinship, through his marriage to Catherine Tyrrell, with the chancellor of the duchy, Sir Robert Rochester. Several Essex gentlemen who were to sit for Lancashire boroughs during Mary’s reign had attended the wedding, which was performed at Ingatestone, the bride being Sir William Petre’s stepdaughter. Baker’s name is inserted in a different hand in the Lancaster indenture. If his family was not sufficiently influential in Kent to secure his election for New Romney in 1555, he may have enjoyed the patronage of the lord warden of the Cinque Ports, Sir Thomas Cheyne. The ‘Mr. Baker’ to whom bills were committed in November 1554 and March 1558 was almost certainly Richard Baker’s father.4
Baker did not sit again after the death of his father, although he was not out of favour and could no doubt have called on the influence of his brother-in-law, Thomas Sackville, Baron of Buckhurst. The Queen visited him at Sissinghurst in 1573. There is no evidence that he shared his father’s Catholic sympathies, although his second wife came from a Catholic family and at least one of his children, Cecily, married to Richard Blount† of Mapledurham, Oxfordshire, was to be a recusant. Baker sat on the commission of the peace and served two terms as sheriff but he apparently had no wider political ambitions. He climbed the legal ladder as far as becoming a bencher, but never became a reader, being ‘spared’ the duty for ‘divers occasions’. His lands lay mostly on the borders of Kent and Sussex, on the edge of the weald, and he was a small-scale ironmaster, with one forge in Cranbrook.5
When he came to make his will, on 28 Aug. 1591, Baker left all his lands to his elder son. He died at Sissinghurst on 27 May 1594, possessed of 19 manors in Kent and a house in London which he had bought in 1582. He had asked in his will to be buried ‘without any solemn pomp or superstitious ceremonies’, but Clarenceux, the herald responsible for funeral etiquette, insisted on an elaborate procession from Sissinghurst to Cranbrook and Baker was buried there on 18 June in a manner considered fitting for a knight.6
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: Helen Miller
- 1. Date of birth estimated from that of younger brother. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. xlii), 63-64; C. C. Brookes, Steeple Aston and Middle Aston, 191, 197, 199-200; Top. and Gen. ii. 383-4; C142/244/110; DNB (Baker, Sir Richard).
- 2. Cal. I.T. Recs. i. 249.
- 3. CPR, 1558-60, p. 65; PCC 24 Welles.
- 4. Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 110-15; F. G. Emmison, Tudor Sec. 127; C219/23/72; CJ, i. 37, 50.
- 5. Hasted, Kent, vii. 101; Trinity Camb. mss R5. 14 art. 6; Arch. Cant. xxi. 311; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 475; Wealth and Power, ed. Ives, Knecht and Scarisbrick, 208, 210, 224.
- 6. PCC 46 Dixy; C142/244/110; Top. and Gen. ii. 383-4.