John Baker

???? - 1779


Solicitor-General for the Leeward Islands, author of The diary of John Baker, dying in England in 1779. Slave-owner on St Kitts, presumably including the enslaved people on the estate called Baker's there, and apparently also on St Vincent.

  1. Will of John Baker [some time of St Christopher...late of Horsham, and now of Duke Street] proved 16/02/1780. Under his will he left his estates in the Americas including enslaved people to his children John Proculus, Thomas, Joseph and Martha the wife of Henry Swinburne.

  2. Henry Swinburne, who died in Trinidad in 1803, has an entry in the ODNB as 'traveller'. The entry identifies Martha Baker as the daughter of John Baker 'of Chichester, solicitor to the Leeward Islands', describing her as a 'wealthy heiress' and says: 'By 1783 Swinburne's wife's property in the West Indies had been ‘devastated and utterly laid waste by the French and Caribs’ (H. Swinburne, Courts of Europe, xx). Swinburne went to the French court and, through the influence of Marie-Antoinette, was granted in compensation the uncultivated crown lands on the island of St Vincent, valued at £30,000. When Pitt imposed heavy taxation upon uncultivated lands throughout the West Indies in an effort to increase cultivation, many owners, including Swinburne, were forced to part with their property and Swinburne raised a mere £6500 for his. He declined to petition the House of Commons against this injustice, but retired to Hamsterley, where he devoted himself to educating his eldest son and daughter (he had four sons and six daughters in all)....In November 1801 he accepted the post of vendue master in Trinidad, and also as commissioner, supervising the successful handover of the West Indian islands of St Croix, St John, and St Thomas to the Danes.'


Philip Chesney Yorke, The Diary of John Baker (1931).

  1. PROB 11/1061/231.

  2. J. E. Thurgood, ‘Swinburne, Henry (1743–1803)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Sept 2013 [, accessed 20 Sept 2015]

Further Information

Married but no further details
Martha, John Proculus, Thomas, Joseph

Associated Estates (1)

The dates listed below have different categories as denoted by the letters in the brackets following each date. Here is a key to explain those letter codes:

  • SD - Association Start Date
  • SY - Association Start Year
  • EA - Earliest Known Association
  • ED - Association End Date
  • EY - Association End Year
  • LA - Latest Known Association

Inferred by LBS. John Baker's estate or estates on St Kitts have not been directly identified. This estate is marked as 'Bakers of Griffin Bascom' in the 1828 William McMahon map; in the 1753 map the same are included a number of owners (William Julius; Archibald Seaton; 'Gerald') none of whom was Baker.

Relationships (6)

Father → Son
Notes →
This relationship has been inferred from the will of John Baker, which identifies a son John Proculus...
Father → Son
Testator → Trustee
Father → Daughter
Uncle → Niece
Notes →
Also daughter-in-law and father-in-law....
Uncle → Nephew

Addresses (2)

Horsham, Sussex, South-east England, England
Duke Street, St James, London, Middlesex, London, England