The Weald of Kent, Surrey and Sussex
Sir John Baker, son of Richard Baker and Joan Baker Printer friendly version

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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 1488BornIn the Parish of Cranbrook, KentSir John Baker
c 1520MarriedCatherine SackvilleEstimated date
12th May 1520AppointedUnder-Sheriff of LondonSir John Baker
c 1525MarriedElizabeth BarrettEstimated date
17th Nov 1526AppointedRecorder of LondonSir John Baker
c 1530Birth of a sonRichardODNB web site
c 1531Birth of a sonJohnODNB web site
1532 to 1535Birth of a daughterCatherineEstimated date
1532 to 1535Birth of a daughterMaryEstimated date
1532 to 1557AppointedTwelve times appointed Governor of the Inner TempleSir John Baker
1535Birth of a daughterCicelyCharles J. Phillips'
History of the Sackville Family
20th Aug 1535AppointedAttorney of the Duchy of LancasterSir John Baker
10th Jul 1536AppointedAttorney-GeneralSir John Baker
c 1540Birth of a daughterElizabethCharles J. Phillips'
History of the Sackville Family
Jul 1540GrantedGrant in fee of Delmynden in the Parish of Cranbrook, ..Sir John Baker
10th Aug 1540AppointedPrivy CouncilSir John Baker
11th Nov 1540AppointedChancellor of the ExchequerSir John Baker
1543HistoryParticipates in the conspiracy against Archbishop VranmerSir John Baker
23rd Nov 1545ElectedSpeaker of the House of CommonsSir John Baker
Jan 1547HistoryTrustee of the Crown during the minority of Edward VISir John Baker
1553 to 1558HistoryChancellor of the Exchequer and member of the Privy Council during the reign of Queen MarySir John Baker
1554HistorySir John's activities earn him the name Bloody BakerSir John Baker
27th Jan 1557WillWill proven 30th January 1559Sir John Baker
1558HistoryProceedings 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 1558DiedLondonODNB web site
Jan 1559BuriedAt St Dunstan's Church in the Parish of Cranbrook, KentODNB web site
1736In memoryAt St Dunstan's Church in the Parish of Cranbrook, KentAnnals 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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