BAKER, William (1705-70), of Winchester St., London, and Bayfordbury, Herts.
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Family and Education
b. 5 Nov. 1705, 1st s. of John Baker, draper, of Basinghall St., London by his 2nd w. Maria, da. of William Cleeve of Hammersmith, Mdx. m. 19 Jan. 1742, Mary, da. of Jacob Tonson II, publisher, sis. of Richard Tonson, 6s. 1da. suc. fa. 1727; purchased Bayfordbury 1757, kntd. 3 Nov. 1760.
Alderman of London 1739; director, E.I. Co. 1741-5, 1746-50, 1751-3, dep. chairman 1749, 1751-2, chairman 1749-50, 1752-3; dep. gov. Hudson’s Bay Co. 1750-60, gov. 1760-d.
Baker was one of the foremost merchants trading with America, his interests extending over the whole length of the seaboard. In 1737 the Georgia board transacted business through him; in 1739 he was consulted by the board of Trade on the New England paper currencies; in 1746 he was quoted as ‘the chief man in the Carolina trade’; he had also extensive trade with New York.1 He made large land purchases in Georgia; at one time, together with Brice Fisher, M.P., and Nicholas Linwood, M.P., held the ‘Hobcaw Barony’ in South Carolina; and from 1746 onwards had contracts for victualling and paying troops in Nova Scotia.2 The circumstances of his dropping out of the East India directorate are not clear.
Brought into Parliament by the Administration, Baker was a steady but not a humble government supporter. Newcastle wrote to Pelham, 1 Nov. 1748: ‘Baker would certainly make the best commissioner of trade except Barnard in all England’; and Pelham to the Duke of Devonshire, 19 Aug. 1749, after Baker had rudely refused an East India recommendation: ‘My friend Baker, though a very sensible fellow, is a coxcomb; and has been flattered by some people ... till he does not know where his arse hangs’.3
He died 23 Jan. 1770.
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: Shirley Matthews
- 1. HMC Egmont Diary, ii. 420; Bd. Trade Jnl. 1735-41, p. 273; Lord Hawley to Bedford, 6 Nov. 1746, Bedford mss; Letter Bk. of John Watts (Colls. N.Y. Hist. Soc. lxi).
- 2. Bd. Trade Jnl. 29 May 1755; APC Col. 1766-83, pp. 295-6; S.C. Hist. and Gen. Mag. Apr. 1913; T27/26, 29/30-33, 52/43, 54/30, 37, 43, et al.
- 3. Add. 32767, f. 318; Devonshire mss.