The Weald of Kent, Surrey and Sussex
Sir John Baker, son of Richard Baker and Joan Baker
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© National Portrait Gallery

Sissinghurst in its fullest glory

Baker's Jail

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.


See also:
Notes on the life of Sir John Baker of Sissinghurst
Hasted's History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent
A Glimpse at Cranbrook
Highways and Byways in Kent

Date
Type
Information
Source
 
c 1488
Born
In the Parish of Cranbrook, Kent
Sir John Baker
 
c 1520
Married
Catherine Sackville
Estimated date
 
12th May 1520
Appointed
Under-Sheriff of London
Sir John Baker
 
c 1525
Married
Elizabeth Barrett
Estimated date
 
17th Nov 1526
Appointed
Recorder of London
Sir John Baker
 
c 1530
Birth of a son
Richard
ODNB web site
 
c 1531
Birth of a son
John
ODNB web site
 
1532 to 1535
Birth of a daughter
Mary
Estimated date
 
1532 to 1535
Birth of a daughter
Catherine
Estimated date
 
1532 to 1557
Appointed
Twelve times appointed Governor of the Inner Temple
Sir John Baker
 
1535
Birth of a daughter
Cicely
Charles J. Phillips'
History of the Sackville Family
 
20th Aug 1535
Appointed
Attorney of the Duchy of Lancaster
Sir John Baker
 
10th Jul 1536
Appointed
Attorney-General
Sir John Baker
 
c 1540
Birth of a daughter
Elizabeth
Charles J. Phillips'
History of the Sackville Family
 
Jul 1540
Granted
Grant in fee of Delmynden in the Parish of Cranbrook, ..
Sir John Baker
 
10th Aug 1540
Appointed
Privy Council
Sir John Baker
 
11th Nov 1540
Appointed
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Sir John Baker
 
1543
History
Participates in the conspiracy against Archbishop Vranmer
Sir John Baker
 
23rd Nov 1545
Elected
Speaker of the House of Commons
Sir John Baker
 
Jan 1547
History
Trustee of the Crown during the minority of Edward VI
Sir John Baker
 
1553 to 1558
History
Chancellor of the Exchequer and member of the Privy Council during the reign of Queen Mary
Sir John Baker
 
1554
History
Sir John's activities earn him the name Bloody Baker
Sir John Baker
 
27th Jan 1557
Will
Will proven 30th January 1559
Sir John Baker
 
1558
History
Proceedings in the County of Kent, 1642-1646
 
In the reign of Queen Mary he [Alexander Weller] was prosecuted for his religion by her Attorney-General Sir John Baker of Sisinhurst (his seat) near Cranbrook, and being very much pressed by Sir John to renounce those errors (as the times then called them) of being a Protestant, he had but a short time given him to consider of it; and because he would not comply with Sir John he was obliged to abscond, and was entertained by the Lord Bergaveny at his seat at Birling near Town Malling, in Kent, and under his protection, as a private gentleman; but, during the time of his absconding, lie being one day at Gravesend, heard there the news by some persons that came to that place from London by the tide, that Queen Mary was certainly dead, and that her sister the Princess Elizabeth was proclaimed Queen: which news he received with great joy, and immediately took his horse and rode home to Cranbrook, whence he sent his servant directly to Sir John Baker to acquaint him that he was come home, and had sent him a present of a capon and caponet of which he might take his choice, which the servant carried in a two-lidded basket; the servant was ordered to set the basket down and come away directly: upon delivering his message, Sir John said, "What, is Weller come home, then? What, is his stomach come down?" but the servant being gone as he was directed, he ordered his own servant to open the basket, and take out the present of the capon and caponet, which proved to be a great halter and a little halter; upon seeing which Sir John was in great passion, and immediately ordered his horses to be got ready to go to the town, useing threatening language against the rogue Weller, as he called him, with a resolution to use the utmost revenge against him; but as soon as he got to the town he heard the bells ringing, and upon inquiring the reason, was told that Queen Mary was dead, and that her sister was proclaimed Queen, which was the occasion of the bells ringing, and so happily his revenge and wicked designs were prevented, by the determination of his commission, which ceased by the death of Queen Mary.
 
23rd Dec 1558
Died
London
ODNB web site
 
Jan 1559
Buried
At St Dunstan's Church in the Parish of Cranbrook, Kent
ODNB web site
 
1736
In memory
At St Dunstan's Church in the Parish of Cranbrook, Kent
Annals of Cranbrook Church

Ancestor's report
Descendent's report
Baker, Bakere, Bakes family records
The ancestral pedigree of Sir John Baker
  
 Thomas Bakerm: c 1460Benet 
 b: c 1440  b: c 1440
d: 1509
  
   
 Richard Joan 
 b: c 1465
d: 9th Aug 1504
 b: c 1470 
      
Grandfather record
   
   
   
 Richard Bakerm: c 1485Joan 
 b: c 1465
d: 9th Aug 1504
  b: c 1465
  
      
 John Thomas James Jone Daughter 
 b: c 1488 Cranbrook, Kent
d: 23rd Dec 1558 London
bur: January 1559 St Dunstan's Church, Cranbrook, Kent
 b: 1489 to 1504 b: 1489 to 1504 b: 1489 to 1504 b: 1489 to 1504 
             
Parental record
   
   
    
1st marriage Sir John Baker
of Sissinghurst
m: c 1520Catherine Sackville 
 b: c 1488 Cranbrook, Kent
d: 23rd Dec 1558 London
bur: January 1559 St Dunstan's Church, Cranbrook, Kent
 b: c 1494
d: Jan to Mar 1524
Family record
    
2nd marriage Sir John Baker
of Sissinghurst
m: c 1525Elizabeth Barrett 2nd marriage
 b: c 1488 Cranbrook, Kent
d: 23rd Dec 1558 London
bur: January 1559 St Dunstan's Church, Cranbrook, Kent
  b: c 1490
  
       
 Richard John Catherine Mary Cicely Elizabeth 
 b: c 1530
d: June 1594
bur: 18th Jun 1594 St Dunstan's Church, Cranbrook, Kent
 b: c 1531
d: c 1605
 b: 1532 to 1535 b: 1532 to 1535 b: 1535
d: 1st Oct 1615
bur: after 1st Oct 1615 St. Michael's Church, Withyham, Sussex
 b: c 1540 
                   

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