Sir John Baker was born in Sissinghurst circa 1488, the eldest child of Richard and Joan Baker and grandson of Thomas and Benet Baker of Cranbrook. The Bakers of Cranbrook were wealthy landowners in the Weald of Kent.
Sir John was educated at Cranbrook and was in chambers at the Inner Temple in London by June 1506 at the age of 18. He retained a life-long connection with the Inner Temple and was appointed Governor of the Inn twelve times between 1532 and 1557. His career developed into high office in the time of Henry VIII when he was Under-Sheriff of London in 1520, Recorder of London in 1526, Attorney-General in 1536, elected to the Privy Council in 1540 and Chancellor of the Exchequer (or as known then Chancellor of the Court of First Fruits and Tenths and Keeper of the Privy Seal of that Court) in 1540. Throughout the rest of Henry VIII's reign Sir John is active in the politics of the time and was named as one of the trustees of Edward VI in the 1547 will of Henry VIII.
When Queen Mary came to the throne in 1553, Sir John is Chancellor of the Exchequer and member of the Privy Council and he retains these roles throughout her reign. It is during this time that Sir John aquires the acronym "Bloody Baker" for his role in the persecution of reformers - in particular John Bland, Vicar of Adisham and Edmund Allin, a miller from Frittenden - who were subsequently condemned to death. There is some controversy over the extent of Sir John Baker's role but over the years the Bloody Baker name has stuck.
Circa 1520 Sir John had married Catherine Sackville the daughter of Richard Sackville of Withyham in Sussex. Her brother was married to Margaret, sister of Sir Thomas Bullen, the father of Queen Anne Boleyn. It is probable that this relationship had a bearing on Sir John's future career. Catherine died within a few years and circa 1525 Sir John married the widowed Elizabeth Barrett who was the daughter and heiress of Thomas Dyneley, lord of the manor of Wolverton in Hampshire. Sir John and Elizabeth had six children.
Within a month of the death of Queen Mary, Sir John Baker died on 23rd December 1558. He was buried at St Dunstan's Church at Cranbrook in the family vault and in 1736 a monument to him and the Baker families was erected in the church.