Baker, Sir Richard

, grandson of the preceding, and son of John, the youngest son of sir John Baker by Catherine daughter of sir Reynold Scot of Scot’s hall in Kent, was born at Sissingherst in Kent, about the year 1568. In 1584, he was entered a commoner at Hart-hall in Oxford, where he remained three years, which he spent chiefly in the study of logic and philosophy. From thence he removed to one of the inns of court in London, and afterwards travelled abroad, in order to complete his education. In 1594, he was created master of arts at Oxford and in May 1603, received the honour of knighthood from James I. at Theobalds. In 1620, he was high-sheriff of Oxfordshire, having the manor of Middle-Aston and other estates in that county, and was also in the commission of the peace. He married Margaret, daughter of sir George Manwaring, of Ightfield in Shropshire, knight and having become surety for some of that family’s debts, was thereby reduced to poverty, and thrown into the Fleet prison, where he died Feb. 18, 1645, and was buried in St. Bride’s church, Fleet-street. He was a person tall and comely (says Mr. Wood), of a good disposition and admirable discourse, religious, and well-read in various faculties, especially in divinity and history, as appears from the books he composed.

His principal work was, his “Chronicle of the kings of England, from the time of the Romans’ government unto the death of king James,” Lond. 1641, fol. again in 1653, and 1658, to which last was added, the reign of Charles I. with a continuation to 1658, by Edward Phillips, nephew to the illustrious Milton. The fourth edition of 1665 has a continuation to the coronation of Charles II. The account of the restoration was principally written by sir Thomas Clarges, although adopted by Phillips. It was most severely criticised by Thomas Blount, in his “Animadversions upon sir Richard Baker’s Chronicle and its continuation,” and many errors are unquestionably | pointed out, but it became a popular book, and a common piece of furniture in every ’squire’s hall in the country, for which it was not ill calculated by its easy style and variety of matter, and continued to be reprinted until 1733, when another edition appeared with a continuation to the end of the reign of George I. but still with many errors, although perhaps not of much importance to the “plain folks” who delight in the book. This is called by the booksellers the best edition, and has lately been advancing in price, but they are not aware that many curious papers, printed in the former editions, are omitted in this. The late worthy and learned Daines Barrington gives the most favourable opinion of the Chronicle. “Baker is by no means so contemptible a writer as he is generally supposed to be it is believed that the ridicule on this Chronicle arises from its being part of the furniture of sir Roger de Coverley’s hall” in one of the Spectators. Sir Richard’s own opinion probably recommended it to many readers he says that “it is collected with so great care and diligence, that if all other of our chronicles were lost, this only would be sufficient to inform posterity of all passages memorable, or worthy to be known.” He wrote also several other works 1. “Cato Variegatus, or Cato’s Moral Distichs varied; in verse,” Loud. 1636. 2. “Meditations and Disquisitions on the Lord’s Prayer,” Lond. 1637, 4to. The fourth edition of it was published in 1640, 4to. It was highly praised by sir Henry Wotton, who had studied with him in Hart-hall. 3. “Meditations and disquisitions on the three last Psalms of David,” Lond. 1639. 4. “Meditations and disquisitions on the fiftieth Psalm,” Lond. 1639. 5. “Meditations and disquisitions on the seven penitential Psalms, which are, 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143,” Lond. 1639, 4to. 6. “Meditations and disquisitions on the first Psalm,” Lond. 1640, 4to. 7. “Meditations and disquisitions on the ‘seven consolatory Psalms of David, namely, 23, 27, 30, 34, 84, 103, and 116,” Lond. 1640, 4to. 8. “Meditations and prayers upon the seven clays of the week,” Lond. 1640, 16 mo, which is supposed to be the same with his Motive of Prayer on the seven days of the week. 9. “Apology for Laymen’s writing in Divinity,” Lond. 1641, 12mo. 10. “Short meditations on the fall of Lucifer,” printed with the Apology. 11. “A soliloquy of the Soul, or a pillar of thoughts, &c.” Lond. 1641, 12mo. i2. “Theatrum lledivivun), or the Theatre vindicated, in | answer to Mr. Pryone’s Histrio-mastrix, &c.*’ Lond. 1662, 8vo. 13.” Theatrum triumphans, or a discourse of Plays,“Lond. 1760, 8vo. 14. He translated from Italian into English, the marquis Virgilio Malvezzi’s Discourses on Tacitus, being 53 in number, Lond. 1642, fol. And from French into English, the three first parts of the” Letters of Monsieur Balzac," printed at London, 1638, 8vo, and again in 1654, 4to, with additions, and also in 8vo. The fourth and last part seem to have been done by another hand the preface to it being subscribed F. B. Sir Richard wrote also his own life, and left it in manuscript but it was destroyed by one Smith, who married one of his daughters. 1

1 Biog. Brit. —Ath. Ox. vol. II. Granger, vol. II. 321.Harrington’s Observations on the Statutes, 3d edit. p. 97.