Richard Baker (chronicler)

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Richard Baker
Born c.1568
Sissinghurst, Kent
Died 18 February 1645 (aged 76–77)
Fleet Prison, London
Nationality English
Occupation politician, historian, religious writer
Notable work Chronicle of the Kings of England

Sir Richard Baker (c.1568 – 18 February 1645) was a politician, historian and religious writer. He was the English author of the Chronicle of the Kings of England and other works.


Richard Baker, born about 1568 at Sissinghurst, Kent, was the elder son of John Baker and Katherine Scott, the daughter of Sir Reginald Scott (d. 16 December 1554) of Scot's Hall near Ashford, Kent, and Emeline Kempe, the daughter of Sir William Kempe of Olantigh, by Eleanor, daughter of Sir Robert Browne.[1] Richard Baker's father, John Baker, was the second son of Sir John Baker, the first Chancellor of the Exchequer.[2]

Richard Baker had a younger brother named Thomas,[3][4][5] who is doubtless the ancestor of William Baker of Lismacue House in County Tipperary, Ireland.[6]


Baker entered Hart Hall, Oxford, as a commoner in 1584. He left the university without graduating, but was granted the degree of Master of Arts by decree in 1594, studied law in London, and afterwards travelled in mainland Europe. In 1593 he was chosen Member of Parliament for Arundel, and in 1597 was elected to Parliament as the representative of East Grinstead as a nominee of Lord Buckhurst, his uncle.

In 1603 Baker was knighted by King James I at Theobalds Palace. At the time he was living in Highgate. He held the office of Justice of the Peace for Middlesex. In 1620 he was High Sheriff of Oxfordshire, where he inherited the manor of Middle Aston.

By making himself responsible for some debts of his wife's family he was reduced to great poverty, which led to the seizure of his Oxfordshire property in 1625. Penniless, he took refuge in the Fleet prison in 1635, and was still in confinement when he died 18 February 1645. He was buried in St Bride's Church, Fleet Street, London.

Marriage and issue

About 1600 Baker married Margaret Mainwaring (d.1654),[7] daughter of Sir George Mainwaring of Ightfield, Shropshire, by whom he had three sons and four daughters:

  • Sir Thomas Baker, born in 1602, who married on 9 April at St Mary in the parish of Lambeth, Frances Wilford, daughter of Sir Thomas Wilford of Ileden, Kent and Elizabeth Sandys. They had eight children[8]
  • Mainwaring, born in 1603.
  • Arthur (died in 1644), barrister at law.
  • Anne, born in 1607.
  • Margaret.
  • Cecily.
  • Frances, married on 18 October 1645 at St Anne and St Agnes, London, Robert Smith, citizen and tailor of London. Smith is said to have burned a manuscript of Baker's life.


During his imprisonment Baker spent his time mainly in writing. His chief work is the Chronicle of the Kings of England from the Time of the Romans' Government unto the Death of King James (1643, and many subsequent editions). It was translated into Dutch in 1649, and was continued down to 1658 by Edward Phillips, a nephew of John Milton, who became a strong Royalist. For many years the Chronicle was extremely popular, but owing to numerous inaccuracies so its historical value is very slight.

Other writings:

  • Cato Variegatus or Catoes Morall Distichs, Translated and Paraphrased by Sir Richard Baker, Knight (London, 1636)
  • Meditations on the Lord's Prayer (1637)
  • Translation of New Epistles by Moonsieur D'Balzac (1638)
  • Apologie for Laymen's Writing in Divinity, with a Short Meditation upon the Fall of Lucifer (1641)
  • Motives for Prayer upon the seaven dayes of ye weeke (1642)
  • a translation of Virgilio Malvezzi's Discourses upon Cornelius Tacitus (1642)
  • Theatrum Redivivum, or The Theatre Vindicated, a reply to the Histrio-Mastix of William Prynne (1642).

Baker also wrote Meditations upon several of the psalms of David, which have been collected and edited by Alexander Grosart (London, 1882).


  1. Richardson IV 2011, p. 2.
  2. Martin 2004.
  3. christened on 3 April 1577 at St Stephen Coleman Street, City of London
  4. Will of John Baker of Saint Stephen Coleman Street, City of London, 14 April 1606
  5. Will of Sir Henry Baker of Cranbrook, Kent, 6 May 1624
  6. "A genealogical and Heraldic History of The Landed Gentry", by Sir Bernard Burke, revised by A.C Fox-Davies, published by Harrisons and Sons 1912, p.23, It stated incorrectly that William's ancestor Thomas was a follower of Lord Deputy Sussex instead of Lord Lieutenant Essex.
  7. Will of Dame Margaret Baker, widow, City of London, 9 February 1654
  8. "The Oxinden Letters 1607–1642", Edited with Notes and an Introduction by Dorothy Gardiner, published by London Constable and Co ltd 1933, p.223-24.

External links

  • Portraits of Sir Richard Baker at the National Portrait Gallery, London
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