Henry Baker (naturalist)

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Henry Baker (8 May 1698 – 25 November 1774) was an English naturalist.

Baker was born in London. After serving an apprenticeship with a bookseller, he devised a system of instructing the deaf and dumb, by the practice of which he made a considerable fortune. This caught the attention of Daniel Defoe, whose youngest daughter Sophia he married in 1729.

A year before, under the name of Henry Stonecastle, Baker was associated with Defoe in starting the Universal Spectator and Weekly Journal. In 1740 he was elected fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and of the Royal Society. He contributed many memoirs to the Transactions of the Royal Society, and in 1744 received the Copley gold medal for microscopical observations on the crystallization of saline particles.

He had many pastimes, including golfing, in which he competed with his partner, John Braithwaite, with whom Baker had some sort of relationship which he concealed from his wife.

He was one of the founders of the Society of Arts in 1754, and for some time acted as its secretary. He died in London. Among his publications were The Microscope made Easy (1743), Employment for the Microscope (1753), and several volumes of verse, original and translated, including The Universe, a Poem intended to restrain the Pride of Man (1727). His name is perpetuated by the Bakerian Lecture of the Royal Society, for the foundation of which he left by will the sum of £100.


  • George Rousseau. The Letters and Private Papers of Sir John Hill (New York: AMS Press, 1981). ISBN 0-404-61472-8. Provides much biographical material about Baker in the Royal Society, and his Monday and Wednesday club of FRS at his London house.
  •  Chisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). "Baker, Henry". Encyclopædia Britannica (Eleventh ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

External links

Stephen Gray (1731) · Stephen Gray (1732) · John Theophilus Desaguliers (1734) · John Theophilus Desaguliers (1736) · John Belchier (1737) · James Valoue (1738) · Stephen Hales (1739) · Alexander Stuart (1740) · John Theophilus Desaguliers (1741) · Christopher Middleton (1742) · Abraham Trembley (1743) · Henry Baker (1744) · William Watson (1745) · Benjamin Robins (1746) · Gowin Knight (1747) · James Bradley (1748) · John Harrison (1749) · George Edwards (1750)

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