Sir Richard BAKER ca.1568-1645

Biographical Note

Born at Sissinghurst, Kent, the elder son of John Baker (c.1531-c.1604), MP and lawyer, and Catherine, daughter of Reginald Scott, of Scots Hall, Ashford, Kent. Matriculated at Hart Hall, Oxford, 1584 but didn’t graduate; awarded MA by decree in 1594. MP for Arundel in 1593 and for East Grinstead in 1597, knighted by James I in 1603. JP for Middlesex, and high sheriff of Oxfordshire 1620–21. Baker married Margaret (b. c.1600), daughter of Sir George Mainwaring of Ightfield, Shropshire, with whom he had at least five children: two sons and three daughters. Having given security for his father-in-law’s debts, Baker was reduced to poverty and life in the Fleet prison as a debtor. From the Fleet he had access to books and to printers and reportedly ‘turned [...] to the consolations of scholarship’. He authored various works, the most notable being the Chronicle of the Kings of England from the Time of the Romans' Government unto the Death of King James which was published in 1643 and reprinted multiple times until 1733. Baker died in the Fleet in 1645.


Baker's library was bought for £500 in the 1620s by John Williams, and given to Westminster Abbey, where many of the books remain today .

Characteristic Markings

Baker's books are not generally marked by him, and his provenance is not readily apparent in surviving volumes.