Baker, David

, an English Benedictine monk, and ecclesiastical historian and antiquary, the son of William Baker, gent, and nephew to Dr. David Lewes, judge of the admiralty, was born at Abergavenny, Dec. 9, 1575, and first educated at Christ’s hospital, London, whence he went to Oxford, in 1590, and became a commoner of Broadgate’s hall (now Pembroke college), which he left without a degree, and joined his brother Richard, a barrister of the middle temple, where he studied law, and in addition to the loose courses he followed, when at Oxford, now became a professed infidel. After the death of his brother, his father sent for him, and he was made recorder of Abergavenny, and practised with considerable success. While here, a miraculous escape from drowning recalled him to his senses as to religion, but probably having no proper advice at hand, he fell upon a course of Roman catholic writings, and was so captivated with them that he joined a small congregation of Benedictines then in London, and went with one of them to Italy, where, in 1605, he took the habit, and changed his name to Augustin Baker. A fit of sickness rendering it necessary to try his native air he returned to England, and finding his father oa his death-bed, reconciled him to the Catholic faith. From this time he appears to have resided in London and | different places in the country, professing his religion as openly as could be done with safety. Some years before his death he spent at Canjbray, as spiritual director ‘of the English Benedictine nuns there, and employed his time in making collections for an English ecclesiastical historj’, in which, when at home, we are told, he was assisted by Camden, Cotton, Spelman, Selden, and bishop Godwin, to all of whom, Wood says, “he was most familiarly known,” but not, we presume, so sufficiently as this biographer supposes. Wood, indeed, tells us, that when at the house of gentlemen, he passed for a lawyer, a character which he supported in conversation by the knowledge he had acquired in the Temple. He died in Gray’s Inn lane Aug. 9, 1641, and was buried in St. Andrew’s church. He wrote a great many religious treatises, but none were published. They amounted to nine large folios in manuscript, and were long preserved in the English nunnery at Cambray. His six volumes of ecclesiastical history were lost, but out of them were taken father Reyner’s “Apostolatus Benedictinorum in Anglia,” and a good deal of Cressy’s “Church History.” Wood has given a prolix account of this man, which was probably one of those articles in his Athenee that brought upon him the suspicion of being himself attached to popery. It is certainly written with all the abject submission of credulity. 1


Ath, Ox, vol. II, Granger, vol. II, p. 200.