Richard Baker (chronicler)

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Sir Richard Baker (1568 – February 18, 1645) was the English author of the Chronicle of the Kings of England and other works.

Life

He was probably born at Sissinghurst in Kent, the grandson of Sir John Baker, the first Chancellor of the Exchequer. He entered Hart Hall, Oxford, as a commoner in 1584. He left the university without taking a degree, studied law in London and afterwards travelled in mainland Europe. In 1593 he was chosen member of parliament for Arundel, in 1594 his university conferred upon him the degree of M.A., and in 1597 he was elected to parliament as the representative of East Grinstead.

In 1603 he was knighted by King James I, in 1620 he acted as high sheriff at Oxfordshire where he owned some property, and soon afterwards he married Margaret, daughter of Sir George Mainwaring, of Ightfield, Shropshire. By making himself responsible for some debts of his wife's family, he was reduced to great poverty, which led to the seizure of his Oxfordshire property in 1625. Quite penniless, he took refuge in the Fleet prison in 1635, and was still in confinement when he died. He was buried in St Bride's Church, Fleet Street, London.

Works

During his imprisonment Baker spent his time mainly in writing. His chief work is the Chronicle of the Kings of England from the Time of the Romans' Government unto the Death of King James (1643, and many subsequent editions). It was translated into Dutch in 1649, and was continued down to 1658 by Edward Phillips, a nephew of John Milton, who became a strong Royalist. For many years the Chronicle was extremely popular, but owing to numerous inaccuracies its historical value is very slight.

Other writings:

  • Cato Variegatus or Catoes Morall Distichs, Translated and Paraphrased by Sir Richard Baker, Knight (London, 1636)
  • Meditations on the Lord's Prayer (1637)
  • Translation of New Epistles by Moonsieur D'Balzac (1638)
  • Apologie for Laymen's Writing in Divinity, with a Short Meditation upon the Fall of Lucifer (1641)
  • Motives for Prayer upon the seaven dayes of ye weeke (1642)
  • a translation of Virgilio Malvezzi's Discourses upon Cornelius Tacitus (1642)
  • Theatrum Redivivum, or The Theatre Vindicated, a reply to the Histrio-Mastix of William Prynne (1642).

He also wrote Meditations upon several of the psalms of David, which have been collected and edited by Alexander Grosart (London, 1882).

References

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