Baker Family

The Baker family connects with the Man family on the marriage of Sarah Baker to John Man on 5 June 1775. John’s father in law, William Baker, was a schoolmaster in Reading, Berkshire, who on his retirement handed the school over to John. William married Jane Cox on 31 March 1789 at St. Mary, Reading.  William’s death notice in the Reading Mercury.

William Baker Death March 02 1789
Reading Mercury 2 March 1789

William’s burial is recorded as having taken place on 27 February 1789 at St. Mary, Minster Street, Reading.

One of the most prominent members of the Baker family is Sarah (Baker) Man’s brother William who was baptized on 5 April 1742. In the book ‘The History and Antiquities of the Town and Borough of Reading’ by John Doran published in 1835 under ‘Eminent Persons of Reading’ the following can be found:

‘An eminent and learned printer, [William Baker] was born in Reading in the year 1742. The zealous, and as far as his health was concerned, injudicious industry with which he applied to his study, introduced him to the notice of a dignitary of the church, who approved of his inclination for entering holy orders. In this however he was by some means disappointed, but he indulged his passion for literature by learning the business of a printer, which he exercised in London until he died. While engaged in this occupation, he enjoyed the friendship of many of the celebrated men of his age, with some of whom he carried on an elegant correspondence in Latin. He possessed a complete and critical knowledge of the Greek, Latin, French and Italian languages, was partially acquainted with Hebrew, and a prefect master of his own. His prose compositions were written with much taste, and his talent for poetry was of a high order. He died in 1785, aged 43 years, and was buried at St. Dionsis Backchurch, London (shown below). A Latin epitaph to his memory is placed on the tomb of his family, in the churchyard at St. Mary’s, Reading (above). Also in ‘Bibliotheca Britannica’ by Robert Watt (1824). The entry for Baker is as follows:

Baker, William – a learned Printer was born in 1742; died in 1785 – he wrote ‘Peregrinations of the Mind, through the most general and interesting subjects which are usually agitated by Life, by the Rationalist; a new edition with a Life of the Author’, London 1811. This work can be read HERE in PDF (285 pages). Also, ‘Theses Graecae et Latinae Selectae’ 1780, 1783. A selection from Greek and Latin authors which can be read HERE in PDF.

A biographical summary titled ‘Original Anecdotes of William Baker‘ can be found here

He printed and published, for other authors, a large number of books with his partner William Galapin and the title pages of these books can be read —> HERE

John Baker Obite

William’s younger brother John’s short obituary appeared in 1825 in The Gentleman’s Magazine:

A similar notice appeared in ‘Nugae chirurgicae’ as follows: BAKER, JOHN. Master of the Apothecaries Company 1822. He was the second son of Mr. William Baker (a man of amiable character and manners, of great classical and mathematical learning, and more than 40 years master of an academy at Reading), and younger brother of Mr. William Baker, a learned printer of London, author of ” Peregrinations of the Mind,” &c. (of whom see Nichols’s “Literary Anecdotes,” vol. III. p. 716.) John Baker was born at Reading, 1748, and being destined to the practice of medicine, was apprenticed to an Apothecary in Salisbury Square, whom he succeeded in business in 1773, which he carried on with great respectability for 30 years. He retired from business in 1803, and is now resident at Hampstead.

The above William and John Baker being the brothers-in-law of John Man. John Baker had a daughter Eliza who in 1805 married John Bowyer Nichols

The Bury and Norwich Post Bury, Suffolk,· Wednesday, June 12, 1805

Also found the death notice in the Annual Register of 1846 of John’s daughter, Eliza: At Little Ealing, after a long illness, in her 62nd year, Eliza, wife of John Bowyer Nichols, esq., F. S. A. of Parliament-street. Eldest daughter of John Baker, esq., of Salisbury-square, and Hampstead.

John Gough Nichols the son of Eliza Baker whose aunt Sarah married John Man
John Gough Nichols the son of Eliza Baker whose aunt Sarah married John Man

Further detail on Eliza’s life is given in the Gentleman’s Magazine of 1846 as follows: At Little Ealing, after a long illness, in her 62d year, Eliza, wife of John Bowyer Nichols, Esq. F.S.A. of Parliament-street. She was the eldest daughter of John Baker, esq. of Salisbury-square and Hampstead, and was married to Mr. Nichols in 1805. Firm, but unobtrusive, in the exercise of every domestic duty, she had also cultivated the higher qualities required in the moral and religious culture of a large family of fourteen children, of whom three sons and five daughters survive. Reflection on her virtues, and her prepared state for entering into the rest of the people of God (and so being relieved from an immitigable burthen of bodily pain), will, it is to be hoped, afford that fund of consolation to her husband and family, which, without impairing the effect of her merits and her exam

A death noticed appeared in The Gentleman’s Magazine, Volumes 193-194, Jan – Jun, 1853, for John Baker, the Apothecary’s unmarried daughter Sarah Ann Baker, sister of Mrs Eliza Nichols:

Jan. 14. At Everton Cottage, Park Hill, Clapham, in her 67th year, Miss Sarah-Anne Baker, the younger daughter of the late John Baker, esq. of Hampstead, and formerly Master of the Apothecaries’ Company, and sister to the Rev. William Lake Baker, Rector of Hargrave, co. Northampton. The truly Christian virtues of this estimable lady shone brighter and brighter to her dying hour. She was buried on the 21st at Kensall Green, in the tomb of her late sister, Mrs. J. B. Nichols.

The Nichols family was well known in the publishing world and their entry occurs in the Dictionary of National Biography and an archive devoted to the Nichols family can be found here.


The following appears in Charles Coates’ ‘The History and Antiquities of Reading’

William Baker, a learned printer, son of Mr. William Baker; a man of amiable character and manners, of great classical and mathematical learning, and more than 40 years master of an academy in Reading, was born in the year 1742. He was from his infancy of a very grave turn; seldom joining in the usual sports of his school-fellows, but spending the hours allotted to amusement, as well as the vacations, in his father’s library. His application was such, as greatly top injure his health, and endanger his life. The progress which he had made determined his. father to educate him for holy orders, to which his own inclinations led him, especially as they were flattered by a dignitary of the church; but the friendship of this great man ended in disappointment. He was then put apprentice to Mr. Kippax; printer, in Cullum street, London; a business which, as it had a connexion with literature, seemed to meet his approbation. In his new way of life, the fame indefatigable industry was pursued in the attainment of learning; and this was -frequently his employment, while others were asleep. He used, while an apprentice, to- work over-hours, for which he was allowed certain perquisites, which he applied in the purchase of the best editions of the classics; which collection, at his death, was very choice, and was purchased by Dr. Lettfom. Before he had attained his twenty-sixth year, his great exertions had again so undermined his health, that a very eminent physician and friend gave very little hopes of his restoration. His life was most severely threatened ; but, by the aid of country air and medicine, he once more recovered. On the death of Mr. Kippax, he. took up his business, which he carried on till his death, first in Cullum street, and afterwards in Ingram-court, in partnership with Mr. Galiban, who was many years in the common council of Langbourn-ward, and is now principal bridgemaster of the city of London. Amongst his acquaintance were some of the first eminence in letters, Dr. Oliver Goldfsmith, Dr. Edmund Barker, the rev. James Merrick, Mr. Robert Robinson, the rev. Hugh Farmer, the rev. Caefar DeMiffy, James Elphinilon, esq. and many others. An elegant correspondence in Latin between him and Mr. Robinson*, and some letters of enquiry into difficulties in the Greek language, which Hill exist, are proofs of his great erudition, and the opinion entertained of him by some of the first scholars. Such was his modesty, that many among his old and most familiar acquaintance were ignorant of his learning ; and, even where it was the topic of discussion, his opinion could never be known without an absolute appeal to his judgment. There are but two little works known to be his; ‘Peregrinations of the Mind through the most general and interesting Subjects which are usually agitated in Life, by the Rationalist’ in anno 1770, in essays after the manner of the Rambler. “Thesae Grecae et Latinae selectae” 8vo. in 1780, a Selection from the Greek and Latin writers. He left behind him some manuscript remarks, intended to point out the abuse of grammatical propriety in the English language in common conversation, even among reputable writers, and among people of the first rank in education and manners. He had a good talent for poetry, and wrote several detached poems, published in Magazines; as well as a very correct taste in compositions for the pulpit; and he actually composed several excellent sermons for some of his clerical friends. Of the Greek, Latin, French, and Italian languages, he was completely and critically master; of the Hebrew he had some knowledge; and to his own he had paid much judicious attention. After great exertion in walking, about Christmas, 1784, he felt a violent pain in his side, which he did not complain of till assistance probably came, too late. After the most excruciating sufferings, for near nine months, which he bore with uncommon fortitude and patience, he finished his life on the 29th of September, 1785, in the forty-fourth year of his age. He was interred in the vault of St. Dionis’ Backchurch, the parish in which he had resided ever since his first arrival in London; and the following Latin epitaph to his memory is placed on the tomb of his family, in the churchyard of St. Mary, Reading.

M. S.

Parentum, fratrumque duorum,
Quorum fenior fuit
Vir, litterarum fludiis adeo eruditus,
Grxcarum prxcipue Latinarumque,
Ut arti, quam feduIus excoluit
(Ubi, in templo Dionyfio dicato,
Offa cjus fcpulta funt,)
Typograhhicx ornamcnto ;
Ac famifaribus,
Ob benevolentiam animi,
Morum comitatem, et modeftiam,
Deliciis et defiderio fuerit.
O mentum ejus auctum ufque ad duodecim pondo
et ultra,
Literatos, auxilio eruditionis eximixae;
Sororemque, et fratres, et patrem fenem,
Dulcibus illius alloquiis;
Ipfumque, mortem oculo immoto intuentem,
Vita privavit,
Die Septembris 29, 1735,
AEt. 44.
E filiis, Johannes, hoc marmor.

*Compiler of the Greek Indexes mentioned in p. 437 Encyclopedia Londinenfis.’

The following poem is by William Baker whose sister, Sarah Baker, married John Man of Reading on 5 June 1775.


An Amiable Child,
Who died on Saturday, September 19, 1772.

Animula vagula, blandula ! ADRIANI Imp. Solil.

ONE fatal day, as Sol, profusely bright,
Pour’d through the air his richest stores of light
To deck the scene; the angelic choir above,
Guardians of virtue, meekness, truth, and love,
In synod sat, and view’d the little throng,
(Their tender charge,) who, jocund, stray’d along
The plains; when, lo! MYRTILLUS, lovely boy!
(Now source of grief, as ‘erst the source of joy,)
Was seen, amidst the prattling tribe, to sport,
By the bright seraphs of the the ethereal court;
Who nor by space, nor yet to form, confin’d,
View scenes remote, and penetrate the mind.
At length th’enraptur’d Uriel silence broke,
And in these words th’ assembled host bespoke.
“Ye see those little sportive wanderers there,
“The infant race, our own peculiar care:
“Amidst them, note yon lovely peerless child,
“Of aspect beauteous, and of temper mild;
“In whose unsullied breast fair Meekness reigns,
“Eternal guest in these our pure domains:
“Behold his blooming health, choice blessing giv’n,
“Emblem of nobler life, deriv’d from heav’n;
“Health, such as we immortals only know,
“By Fate deny’d to Frailty’s sons below.
“That spotless babe, though sprung of mortal birth,
“Was ne’er design’d th’inhabitant of earth:
” Disrob’d of flesh, from lower mansions torn,
“His innocence would this our court adorn.”
Thus Uriel spoke, acclaim’d by all the choir;
Each clapp’d his wings and tun’d his golden lyre.

Scarce had the god of day ,th’ unweary’d sun,
With steady pace, another course begun,
When Death was sent, the babe to call away.
Who, sweetly slumb’ring, in his cradle lay.
The willing monarch came, and aim’ d his dart:
His weapon flew, but miss’d the vital part.
Smiling in pain, th’awaken’d babe display’d
Such eloquence of charms, as soon dismay’d
The fiend; who fearing, part, to longer stay,
And grudging, part, to quit his lovely prey,
Distracted stood: mean-time the choir above,
Guardians of virtue, meekness, truth, and love
Impatient, sound aloud their high command,
Dauntless, to lift again his iron hand,
Nor thus, with wayward cruel pity, slow,
T’afflict the babe, and stay the mortal blow. —
O’er this last scene the muse her tears has shed,
Nor would the dying draw, nor paint the dead:
Convulsing strokes quick stopp’d the purple tide;
The cherub soar’d on high, the infant died!


Stat sua cuique dies — breve et irrepariabile tempus! Virg. Aen. X.

Someone has written next to W.B. ‘Wm. Baker the learned printer‘ then four words that I cannot make out the second of which may be of.

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