|Sir John Baker, son of Richard Baker and Joan Baker||Printer friendly version|
© National Portrait Gallery
Sissinghurst in its fullest glory
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.
|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|
|c 1531||Birth of a son||John|
|1532 to 1535||Birth of a daughter||Catherine||Estimated date|
|1532 to 1535||Birth of a daughter||Mary||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
|July 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|
|January 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|
|January 1559||Buried||At St Dunstan's Church in the Parish of Cranbrook, Kent|
|1736||In memory||At St Dunstan's Church in the Parish of Cranbrook, Kent||Annals of Cranbrook Church|
Baker, Bakere, Bakes family records
|The ancestral pedigree of Sir John Baker|