Sunday, 27 May 2018

(332) Baker (now Baker-Baker) of Crook Hall, Elemore Hall and Sedbury Hall

Baker of Elemore
The founder of the fortunes of this family was Sir George Baker (1596-1667), kt., the son of a Durham merchant who died when he was twelve. His mother quickly married for a second time, taking as her spouse William Smith, a barrister, who may well have encouraged his stepson to pursue a career in the law. Sir George's legal training has not been identified, but as quite a young man he was appointed Clerk of the Chancery of Durham and by 1635 he was wealthy enough to purchase the manor of Crook Hall. Soon afterwards he was appointed Recorder of Newcastle, a post usually held by one of the leading advocates in the north of England. In this capacity he was among the Royalist citizens of the town who defended it for the King during the siege of Newcastle by the Scots army in 1644; his knighthood was probably conferred by the garrison commander, the Earl of Newcastle, at this time. After Newcastle withdrew from the town to pursue the main Scots army, Baker was one of those who led the determined resistance of the townspeople against the siege party, and after the town fell, a rearguard action defending the castle. The vigour and courage of this stand are said to have so impressed the Scots commanders that Baker and the other leaders of the defence were allowed to surrender with honour, and although they were sent as prisoners to London for trial by Parliament, they were merely deprived of office and fined. Once the Civil War was over, Sir George compounded for his Crook Hall estate, and again his fine seems surprisingly light, at a mere £36 10/-. Perhaps because of his lenient treatment, Sir George was in a position to provide financial support to King Charles II in exile, although he was soon able to do so only by borrowing money. Since, even after the Restoration, Charles II was never able to repay these gifts, the resultant debts were a burden to Sir George for the rest of his life, and probably also to his successors.

His son and heir was his eldest son, George Baker (c.1623-77), who inherited the Crook Hall estate in 1667. He had been a student at Cambridge when the Civil War broke out and it seems likely that in other circumstances he would have gone on to one of the inns of court to complete his education. But the inns were all in London, in a Parliamentary stronghold, and no place for the heir of an active Royalist to be. When the Civil War was over, he married the daughter of a Northumberland landowner and produced four sons and two daughters. The two eldest boys, George Baker (1654-99) and Thomas Baker (1656-1740) both went up to Cambridge in 1674. According to the conventions of the time, George - as the eldest son and heir - did not take a degree, but Thomas studied diligently, took holy orders, became a Fellow of St. John's College and was appointed rector of Long Newton (Co. Durham).  Unfortunately for his career, he found himself unable in conscience to accept the revolution of 1688, and in 1690 he resigned the Long Newton living rather than swear allegiance to King William III. His Jacobite sympathies were no doubt plain for all to see, and after the 1715 rebellion he was also deprived of his Cambridge fellowship, although he continued to occupy rooms in college for the rest of his life, and to write a history of St. John's College which was complete at his death, though not edited and published until 1869.

When Thomas' elder brother George died at the age of thirty-five in 1699, his heir was his young son, George Baker (c.1680-1723). His marriage to the heiress, Elizabeth Conyers (1691-1767), saw the family take a further step up the social hierarchy, marked in 1716 by the rebuilding or remodelling of Crook Hall as a seven by five bay two-storey house. Elizabeth's father was Thomas Conyers of Elemore Hall, one of the MPs for the City of Durham. In 1713 he joined his father-in-law in Parliament, sitting for the other Durham seat, which he held until 1722, shortly before his death. His son, George Baker (1723-74), was only a few months old when his father died, and during his long minority his property was vested in trustees, who proved careful custodians of his inheritance. After 1728, when Thomas Conyers died, the estate also included Elemore Hall and property at Boulby (Yorks NR) where there was a large-scale alum works. The hall at Elemore had long been in divided ownership, but the trustees busied themselves with buying out the shares in the property which George Baker did not own, and by the time he came into his inheritance in the mid-1740s it was in single ownership for the first time in nearly a century. George married in 1748 and set up home in rented accommodation at The Deanery in Chester-le-Street (Co. Durham) while Elemore Hall was radically remodelled in a fashionably Palladian style, with Rococo plasterwork by Giuseppe Cortese. Work seems to have been sufficiently complete by 1752 or 1753 for George to move into Elemore Hall, although improvements continued for some years. With the move to Elemore, Crook Hall was first leased to distant cousins and then, by the end of the 18th century, downgraded into being a farmhouse.

When George Baker died in 1774, the fourth of his family in succession not to make old bones, his extensive estates devolved on his only son, George Baker (1754-1837), who was then very nearly of age. George seems to have been something of a spendthrift, and the family has his mother (who lived until 1810 and maintained his accounts meticulously until her death) to thank for the fact that his spending was kept in some sort of check, and that measures were taken to increase income from the estates to meet increased expenditure. George was the first of three generations of the family for whom field sports and horse-racing in particular were a ruling passion. As a young man he was accounted the best gentleman jockey in England, and he spent a lot of money building up a stable of horses for hunting and breeding as well as racing.  Although he himself also spent money on landscaping works at Elemore and on contesting a hard-fought parliamentary election at Durham in 1813, he clearly felt less empathy with those whose passions were more intellectual.  It is said that he once met the Durham historian Robert Surtees and asked, “ I wonder, Mr Surtees why you should spend so much money and time over a history of Durham?”, to which Surtees replied "and I wonder, Mr. Baker, why you spend so much money and time in following a pack of hounds and a poor hare!”

One expense he did not have was that of a large family, for his only child was his daughter, Isabella Judith Baker (1788-1842). She married her cousin, Col. Henry Tower (1784-1862), and produced eight children, and when her father died in 1837 he left the estates to her elder son, Henry John Baker Tower (1822-71), on condition that he took the name Baker, which he did in 1844. One reason for the delay seems to have been a lengthy legal dispute about the interpretation of George Baker's will, but the change of name may also have had to wait until H.J.B. Tower came of age. Because he already had Baker as a forename, he became Henry John Baker Baker, and as his children were all given Baker as a final forename, within a generation 'Baker Baker', with or without a hyphen, had become established as the family surname. Like George Baker (d. 1837) and his father Col. Tower, Henry Baker Baker was an enthusiastic all-round sportsman, with a passion for shooting, fox-hunting, and horse-racing, and for breeding dogs and horses. He was a steward of Durham races for many years, and one of his last acts was to give a handsome silver trophy to be competed for at the races in 1871, which he did not live to see run.

Some mystery surrounds the next generation of the family. When Henry Baker Baker died in 1871 his eldest son was nearly 21. It is therefore surprising that he chose to leave his property to his widow absolutely. It was she who finally sold the Crook Hall property in the 1870s. She lived on until 1896, and when she died she left Elemore Hall to her second surviving son, Ferdinand Baker Baker (1858-1925), who plainly did not want it, as he promptly conveyed it to his two spinster sisters and emigrated to India, where he became a tea planter. It is unclear why the eldest son was excluded from the succession (see the 'Can you help?' section below for my speculations), but also why, having avoided the normal operation of primogeniture, his mother left the estate to a son who didn't want it, when a younger son who was a land agent was available who would surely have been a willing custodian. Setting speculation aside, the result was that in 1896 ownership of the Elemore estate passed to Isabel Elizabeth Baker Baker (1851-1911) and her sister Eva Conyers Baker Baker (1854-1931). Neither sister ever married, and when Eva died in 1931 the estate passed to her nephew, Henry Conyers Baker-Baker (1912-92), the son of her youngest brother, who was then a cadet at Sandhurst. His widowed mother occupied the house during the 1930s and throughout the Second World War, but in 1947 Henry, who was a serving officer in the army from 1933 and retired in 1960 as a Brigadier, sold the estate to the local colliery company and Elemore Hall to Durham County Council. With the proceeds, many men in his position might have bought a flat in the Albany or an old rectory in the Home Counties, but Brigadier Baker-Baker bought Sedbury Hall at Gilling West in the North Riding of Yorkshire. This was, coincidentally, an estate which his great-grandparents, Col. & Mrs. Tower, had rented in the 1820s while they were waiting to succeed to Elemore Hall, but the historic Sedbury Hall had been demolished in 1927 and replaced by the present curiously anachronistic house of rather Victorian-Italianate appearance. The attractions may have been the fine Georgian stables of the previous house and the situation in good hunting country. In 1963, the Brigadier married a Scottish architect, who is said to have made some changes to the interior of the house, but they had no children, and when the Brigadier died, the estate passed to his nephew, the current owner, William George Baker-Baker (b. 1955), a stockbroker and investment adviser who is now head of the Newcastle office of Brewin Dolphin.

Crook Hall, Consett, Co. Durham

Crook Hall, Consett: the seven by five bay house reputedly built in 1716 for George Baker (d. 1723).

The estate is first mentioned in the Durham manuscript known as 'Boldon Book' in 1183, and there was probably a manor house of some sort here in the medieval period. The estate changed hands several times in the 16th century before being bought in 1588 by William Shaftoe, whose descendants retained it until the 1630s. We know nothing of its appearance, however, until the house was rebuilt, reputedly in 1716, for George Baker (d. 1723). He constructed a two-storey double-pile house of stone, seven bays by five, with elaborate doorcases, quoins at the angles, and a prominent string course. There was also originally a tall panelled parapet, which was apparently removed in the 19th century, perhaps because it had become dangerous.

Crook Hall, Consett: a drawing of 1894 showing the derelict state of the house before it was dismantled.

After George Baker (d. 1774) moved to Elemore Hall, Crook Hall fell out of regular use by the family, and may have become a farmhouse. It was, however, untenanted in the 1790s, when George Baker offered it as a home for displaced tutors and students from the Roman Catholic colleges at Douai. They arrived in 1794 and occupied the house until 1808, by which time much larger and more suitable accommodation had been built for them at Ushaw College. From 1839 the landscape around the house was exploited for coal and iron mining, and the Crookhall Iron Works opened nearby. Set in the middle of an industrial landscape, it became less and less likely that the house would ever return to gentry occupation. In the mid 1870s the house was bought by the Consett Iron Company and by the 1890s it was in a completely derelict condition. It was then bought by a local historian, James William Fawcett, who dismantled the house and reused the sound materials to build himself a smaller house at Lanchester (Co. Durham) which is now known as West Hall.

Descent: Robert Hull sold 1588 to William Shaftoe... sold c. 1630-35 to Sir George Baker (d. 1667), kt.; to son, George Baker; to son, George Baker (1654-99); to son, George Baker (d. 1723), who rebuilt the house; to son, George Baker (d. 1774); to son, George Baker, who leased it to Douai refugees from 1794-1808; to daughter, Isabella Judith (1788-1842), wife of Henry Tower (1784-1862); to son, Henry John Baker Tower (later Baker) (1822-71); to widow, Isabella Baker (d. 1896), who sold it c.1875-80 to Consett Iron Co.; sold 1894 to James William Fawcett, who demolished the house.

Elemore Hall, Pittington, Co. Durham

The manor of Little Haswell was a property of Finchale Priory (Co. Durham) until the dissolution of the monastery in 1536, and the Crown granted it a few years later to Bertram Anderson of Newcastle-on-Tyne, who built a U-plan manor house here which was known as Elemore Hall by 1578. An inventory made on Bertram Anderson's death mentions a hall, two parlours, a kitchen and several service rooms, but can only describe the ground floor. The footprint of this house and the lower parts of the walls (up to at least first floor level) were retained when the house was remodelled in 1749-53 for George Baker (d. 1774), who had inherited it from the Hall family through his mother. Thanks to the survival of some of the building accounts we know that Robert Shout (1702-74) of Helmsley, who is otherwise known chiefly for his engineering works for the port of Sunderland, was the supervising architect and master mason.  The style hovers uncertainly between Baroque and Palladian, which combined with the scale - dictated of course in part by the dimensions of the Elizabethan house - gives the house a rather grim spareness. The use of a dull red brick facing with dressings of soot-blackened Penshaw sandstone does not lighten the mood; nor does the removal of most of the Georgian glazing bars from the windows. 

Elemore Hall: west (entrance) front, as remodelled in 1749-53. Image: Historic England.

The house is composed of three storeys of diminishing height set on a basement, and essentially follows the plan of the Elizabethan house. On the west-facing entrance front there is a five-bay centre between two long wings, the ends of which are treated as single wide bays, with pedimental gables in the attic and Venetian windows with heavy balustraded balconies on brackets on the ground floor. The central three bays of the centre have alternately blocked quoins at the angles and are stepped forward under a triangular pediment. This breakfront is the principal focus of decoration: the stone doorcase is approached by a broad flight of steps in two balustraded flights, has a triple keystone and a pediment and is flanked by Ionic pilasters with alternately blocked rustication; the window above is lugged and also has triple keystones. The remaining windows on the principal elevations have plain architraves, and the only enrichment is further angle-quoins like those on the centrepiece. On the south side the windows are grouped 1-3-1; the ground floor windows all have stone balconies matching those on the west front, and there is a richly modelled doorcase in the centre with a blocked surround, triple keystones and a triangular pediment. The east front is even simpler and less regular, with the eight windows being irregularly spaced and a modern external brick chimneystack standing between bays 6 and 7. There are quoins at the angles but no pediment, doorcase or other feature to provide central emphasis. On the north side the house is attached to a later service wing and stable court, but there is also some evidence of the earlier house here in the form of two blocked mullioned windows and a blocked doorway with a four-centred head.

Elemore Hall: aerial view of the east and south sides of the house, the 19th and 20th century stable court, and the modern school additions. Image: Elemore Hall School.

Elemore Hall: library. Image: Historic England.
Inside, the house has three ceilings with pretty Rococo stuccowork by Giuseppe Cortese. That in the library, dated 1752, has Cupid and Psyche in the centre and flowers, masks, and musical instruments between the brackets in the cornice. The ceiling of the staircase hall, also of 1752 has corner medallions and a central figure of Neptune reclining amid stucco clouds, which is identical to that at Lytham Hall (Lancs). The staircase itself is of stone and cantilevered, with a fine wrought-iron balustrade. The drawing room ceiling, dated 1757, while still in the Rococo style, is rather different in character to the others and being later, may not be by Cortese or his team. There were originally a series of good chimneypieces by Robert Corney and Richard Lockley in the house, but they were removed in 1947 and taken to Sedbury Hall when the family sold the house.

Elemore Hall: library ceiling, by Giuseppe Cortese, 1752. Image: Historic England.

Elemore Hall: staircase ceiling by Giuseppe Cortese, 1752.
The house was attached to a substantial park west of the house, which was landscaped in the mid 18th century. Few features survive intact, but there is still part of a walled garden of 1749, a brick pond to its north, and remains of a brick-lined canal with a breached dam. To the south and east of the house, the wooded valley of the Caldwell Burn was landscaped later in the 18th century with walks, carriage drives and a lake. In the 19th century, when the estate was developed for coal-mining, the native woodland on the estate was mostly cleared and replaced with plantations of conifers to provide quick-growing timber for pitprops and other industrial uses. In the 1940s the estate was first leased and then sold to the local colliery company, which wished to protect itself from claims for subsidence, and in 1947 the house was sold to Durham County Council for use as a school; it remains a partly residential special school in 2018. The woodland attached to the house was sold in 1994 to the Woodland Trust which has gradually removed the conifers and replanted with native species, to encourage the regeneration of the wild woodland flora.

Descent: Crown sold c.1550 to Bertram Anderson; to son, Henry Anderson; to son, Sir Henry Anderson (c.1583-1659), kt.; sold to William Hall (d. 1631) of Newcastle; to son, Sir Alexander Hall (fl. 1641); to five sisters and a cousin, Rev. Nicholas Hall who divided the hall; the major part passed to Thomas Hall; to daughter, Elizabeth, wife of Thomas Conyers MP (1666-1728); to daughter, Elizabeth (1691-1767), wife of George Baker (c.1680-1723); to son, George Baker (1723-74), whose trustees reunited the property; to son, George Baker (1754-1837); to daughter, Isabella Judith (1788-1842), wife of Henry Tower (1784-1862); to son, Henry John Baker Tower (later Baker) (1822-71); to widow, Isabella Baker (1831-96); to younger son, Ferdinand Baker (1858-1925), who gave the house to his spinster sisters, Isabel Elizabeth Baker (1851-1911) and Eva Conyers Baker (1854-1931); to nephew, Brig. Henry Conyers Baker (1912-92), who sold 1947 to Durham County Council.

Sedbury Hall, Gilling West, Yorkshire (NR)

Sedbury Hall: Samuel Buck's sketch of the medieval and early 18th century house.

A drawing of 1730 by Samuel Buck shows the house of the Darcys, which consisted of a medieval (perhaps 14th century) tower with Gothic windows, turrets and battlements, and then, at right-angles to it, an early 18th century block of brick with stone dressings that had a balustraded parapet and a tall, square, domed lantern. This had presumably been constructed by 1718, when John Warburton visited James Darcy and noted that Sedbury was 'most of his own erecting'. The most unusual feature of the early 18th century work was the two-storey end elevation, with six arched windows set in identical pedimented aedicules. It is hard to envisage how this facade was compatible with the three-storey side elevations of the block. Inside, the house had an early 18th century staircase with three turned balusters per step, walls articulated by giant pilasters, and a decorated ceiling.

Sedbury Hall: an engraving showing clearly the relationship of the medieval tower and early Georgian house. Image: Hepworth Wakefield Museum, Gott Colln

Sedbury Hall: the unusual treatment of the end elevation of the Georgian block. Image: Historic England.

In the mid 18th century, the house and estate passed by marriage to Sir Robert Hildyard, 3rd bt., of Winestead. His son preferred Sedbury to Winestead and made his home here in his father's lifetime. In 1771 he employed John Carr to make alterations and improvements to the house, including a new dining room with a screen of columns at one end. Sir Robert Hildyard, writing to a friend, noted that "Carr has indeed shown great skill in the Alterations of the old House at Sedbury, the drawing room is 34F by 19 taken off by Columns, the Drawing Room above has a handsome Ceiling and Cornice and is elegantly furnished..." In the late 1790s John Foss of Richmond was brought in to make further alterations, raising the height of the medieval wing and altering its windows. He also constructed a new arcaded stable block, and built a series of follies and decorative buildings to populate the grounds, which are said to have been laid out by William Sawrey Gilpin. These included a Gothick orangery and fruit house (now two cottages), an ice house, a simple classical lodge, a rustic tower known as The Rock dated 1797, and a cow byre tricked out as a Gothick eyecatcher with a castellated gable. In the 19th century, a single-storey Gothic addition was made in front of the old tower. 

Sedbury Hall: the tower in the park (The Rock), engraved by George Cuitt after a drawing by John Foss. 
Image: Hepworth Wakefield Museum, Gott Colln

In 1919 the house was sold to G.E. Sisterson, who is recorded as spending lavishly on improvements to the house. One change was to extend the house by one bay, moving the end elevation outwards and altering the strange baroque windows. By 1925 he had run out of funds and the house was put up for sale for £12,000. Two years later it was still unsold and the asking price had been reduced to £4,000. In the end the house was auctioned for its fittings and the shell was sold for £1,100. A picture in the Northern Echo for 13 May 1927 showed it being demolished. That might easily have been the end of the estate, but a smaller new house was built on the same site in the following year. The architect is unknown, but it was unusual for its date in being in a faintly Italianate classical style, which explains why Pevsner, visiting in 1966, thought it might be early Victorian. It was altered by Brig. Baker-Baker when he installed fireplaces removed from Elmore Hall in 1947, and again in 1963, by his wife, the Scottish architect Elspeth Gifford, although the nature of the changes she made seems not to be recorded.

Sedbury Hall: the new house photographed in 1981. Image: Historic England.

Descent: Christopher Boynton (fl. 1468); to son, Sir Christopher Boynton; to son, Sir Henry Boynton (fl. 1497); to daughter Isobel, wife of Henry Gascoigne of Gawthorpe; to son, Henry Gascoigne; to son, Richard Gascoigne; to son, Sir John Gascoigne; to son, Sir William Gascoigne (d. c.1641), who settled it c.1607 on his daughter Isobel, wife of Sir Marmaduke Wyvill of Constable Burton; to daughter Isobel, wife of Hon. James Darcy; sold to son James Darcy (1650-1731), 1st Baron Darcy of Navan; to son, James Darcy (1707-33), 2nd Baron Darcy of Navan; to cousin, Henry Darcy; to daughter Maria Catherine, wife of Sir Robert Hildyard (1716-81), 3rd bt., of Winestead; to son, Sir Robert Darcy Hildyard (1743-1814), 4th bt.; to James Darcy Hutton, who sold 1826 to Rev. John Gilpin (c.1771-1844); to son, George Gilpin Brown (1815-89); to son, George T. Gilpin Brown (1848-1918); sold 1919 to G.E. Sisterson; sold 1927 for building materials; shell sold to Charles Webb (d. 1940) of Carlisle, who demolished it and built a new house in 1928; sold 1947 to Brig. Henry Conyers Baker-Baker (1912-93); to nephew, William George Baker-Baker (b. 1955).

Baker family of Crook Hall, Elemore Hall and Sedbury Hall

Baker, Sir George (1596-1667), kt. Second son of Oswald Baker (d. 1608) of Durham and his wife Mary Heron (who afterwards married, 3 October 1608, William Smith (d. 1648), barrister-at-law, and died in 1642), baptised at St Mary-le-Bow, Durham, 18 May 1596. Barrister at law. Clerk of the Chancery of Durham and Recorder of Newcastle-on-Tyne, c.1638-45, when he was displaced by order of Parliament. He was one of the loyal defenders of that town for King Charles I when it was beseiged by the Scots in 1644, but was eventually forced to capitulate on honourable terms. He also assisted the King financially, borrowing large sums on his own credit which he forwarded to the king, and was left financially embarrassed. He was knighted (probably by the Marquess of Newcastle on the king's behalf), 1643, and made an honorary freeman of Newcastle, 8 September 1643. He married, 5 February 1621/2 at Lamesley, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Liddell, 1st bt., of Ravensworth Castle (Co. Durham), and had issue including:
(1) George Baker (c.1623-77) (q.v.);
(2) Henry Baker (b. 1629), baptised at St Nicholas, Newcastle, 20 August 1629;
(3) William Baker (d. 1638); buried at St Nicholas Newcastle, 11 October 1638;
(4) John Baker (b. 1634), baptised at St Nicholas, Newcastle, 17 February 1634; married, 19 May 1668 at Lanchester, Elizabeth Greene.
He purchased Crook Hall in about 1635.
He died in reduced circumstances at Kingston-upon-Hull, 4 August 1667 and was buried at Holy Trinity church there, where he was commemorated by a monument erected by his grandson, Rev. Thomas Baker, in 1710. His wife was buried at St Nicholas, Newcastle, 30 April 1636.

Baker, George (c.1623-77). Eldest son of Sir George Baker (1596-1667), kt., and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Liddell, 1st bt., of Ravensworth Castle (Co. Durham), born about 1623. Educated at Newcastle and Peterhouse, Cambridge (admitted 1638). He married Margaret alias Mary, daughter of Thomas Forster of Adderstone (Northbld) and had issue:
(1) George Baker (1654-99) (q.v.);
(2) Rev. Thomas Baker (1656-1740), born 14 September 1656 and baptised at Lanchester; educated at St John's College, Cambridge (admitted 1674; BA 1677; MA 1681; BD by 1689; Fellow, 1679-1716, when he was ejected from his fellowship as a non-juror, although he continued to occupy rooms in college until his death); ordained deacon and priest, 1685; rector of Long Newton (Co. Durham), 1687-90; he published Reflections upon Learning (1708) and compiled a history of St John's College, published in 1869; died unmarried, 2 July 1740 and was buried in the antechapel of St. John's College, Cambridge; his collections were divided after his death and are now partly among the Harleian MSS in the British Library and partly in Cambridge University Library;
(3) Ralph Baker (d. 1666); died young and was buried at Lanchester, 21 December 1666;
(4) Francis Baker (d. 1728) of Tanfield (Yorks NR); married, 13 February 1700/1, Margaret Forster (d. 1749) of Gateshead and had issue five sons and two daughters; buried at Lanchester, 23 August 1728;
(5) Margaret Baker; married, 10 November 1687 at Boldon (Co. Durham), John Hunter of Medomsley, gent.;
(6) Elizabeth Baker (d. 1704); married 1st, 16 October 1681 at Lanchester, Rev. Charles Basire, rector of Boldon, younger son of Ven. Isaac Basire, archdeacon of Northumberland, by whom she had no issue; married 2nd, 1691 (settlement 10 December), Zachary Whittingham (d. 1711) of Holmside, gent., and had issue two sons and two daughters; buried 17 November 1704.
He inherited Crook Hall from his father in 1667.
He died 14 October, and was buried at Lanchester, 18 October 1677, where he is commemorated by a monument. His wife's date of death is unknown.

Baker, George (1654-99). Eldest son of George Baker (c.1623-77) and his wife Margaret alias Mary, daughter of Thomas Forster of Adderstone (Northbld), born 1 August and baptised at Lanchester, 31 August 1654. Educated at Durham and St John's College, Cambridge (admitted 1674). He married Elizabeth (c.1660-1714), only daughter and heir of Samuel Davison of Wingate Grange (Co. Durham), and had issue:
(1) George Baker (c.1680-1723);
(2) Elizabeth Baker (b. 1689), baptised at Lanchester, 7 February 1688/9; possibly the person of this name who married Nicholas Fenwick.
He inherited Crook Hall from his father.
He was buried at Lanchester, 11 August 1699; by his will he left £1,300 to charitable purposes, which his brother Thomas arranged to be invested in the purchase of lands in Hertfordshire and Essex, from which the 'Baker exhibitions' at St John's College, Cambridge, were endowed in 1710. His widow was buried at Lanchester, 20 May 1714.

Baker, George (c.1680-1723). Only son of George Baker (1654-99) and his wife Elizabeth, only daughter and heir of Samuel Davison of Wingate Grange (Co. Durham), born about 1680. Tory MP for City of Durham, 1713-22. He married, before 1713, Elizabeth (1691-1767), only daughter and heir of Thomas Conyers MP of Elemore Hall (Co. Durham) and Boulby (Yorks), and had issue:
(1) Elizabeth Baker (b. 1717), baptised at Lanchester, 20 March 1716/7; died in infancy;
(2) Elizabeth Baker (1718-23), baptised at Lanchester, 11 March 1717/8; died young, 15 March 1723 and was buried at Lanchester;
(3) Margaret Baker (b. 1719), baptised at Lanchester, 2 February 1718/9; married, 27 June 1738 at Pittington, Edward Shipperdson (1709-76) of Pittington Hallgarth, son of Ralph Shipperdson, and had issue one son;
(4) Conyers Baker (1721-22), baptised at Lanchester, 6 September 1721; died in infancy and was buried at Lanchester, 19 June 1722;
(5) George Baker (1723-74) (q.v.).
He inherited Crook Hall from his father in 1699.
He died in Bristol, 1 June and was buried at Lanchester, 12 June 1723; his will was proved at York, 22 July 1723. His widow was buried at Lanchester, 25 December 1767.

Baker, George (1723-74). Only surviving son of George Baker (c.1680-1723) and his wife Elizabeth, only daughter and heir of Thomas Conyers MP of Elemore Hall (Co. Durham), baptised at Lanchester, 12 January 1723. He married, 27 May 1749 at Low Dinsdale (Co. Durham), Judith (c.1724-1810), daughter and co-heir of Cuthbert Routh of Dinsdale (Co. Durham), and had issue:
(1) Elizabeth Baker (1751-1823), born 1 August and baptised at Pittington, 31 August 1751; married, 2 September 1773 at Pittington, Christopher Tower (1747-1810) of Weald Hall (Essex) and had issue seven sons and three daughters; buried at Iver (Bucks), 11 April 1823; will proved in the PCC, 29 April 1823;
(2) George Baker (1754-1837) (q.v.).
He inherited Crook Hall from his father in 1723 and Elemore Hall and the Boulby alum works on the death of his maternal grandfather in 1728, and came of age in about 1741. He and his wife lived at The Deanery in Chester-le-Street while Elemore Hall was rebuilt in 1749-53.
He died 15 May 1774 and was buried at Pittington, where he and his wife are commemorated by a monument. His widow died aged 86 on 30 April 1810 and was buried at Pittington; her will was proved at Durham, 12 May 1810.

Baker, George (1754-1837). Only son of George Baker (1723-74) and his wife Judith, daughter and co-heir of Cuthbert Routh of Dinsdale (Co. Durham), baptised at Pittington, 5 October 1754. Educated at Eton and St John's College, Cambridge (matriculated 1772). He had a reputation as an agriculturalist, but was something of a spendthrift, and in his youth expended a great deal of money on building up a string of racehorses. Fortunately, until her death in 1810 his mother paid close attention to his finances, succeeding in paying off her own husband's debts of £6,000 and keeping her son's expenditure in check. She also encouraged measures to increase income from the estate, and may have been behind the expansion of the Boulby Alum Works in 1784, and the development of coal mining on the estate (although Elemore colliery itself did not open until 1825). Mayor of Hartlepool, 1792-93. A Whig in politics, he stood unsuccessfully for Parliament in the Durham constituency in a bitter and expensive election, 1813. High Sheriff of Co. Durham, 1815. He was also the acknowledged 'Father of the Turf' in the North of England, and as a young man was reckoned the best gentleman jockey in England. He married, 25 June 1787 at Ripon Minster, Isabella (c.1763-1833), daughter of John Dalton of Sleningford (Yorks NR), and had issue:
(1) Isabella Judith Baker (1788-1842) (q.v.).
He inherited Crook Hall and Elemore Hall from his father in 1774 and laid out the grounds at Elemore.
He died 15 May 1837 and was buried at Pittington; his will was proved 27 January 1838 (effects under £34,000), but was so poorly drafted that it required a Chancery decree to determine how it should be interpreted. His wife died 5 June 1833 and was buried at Pittington.

Baker, Isabella Judith (1788-1842). Only daughter and heiress of George Baker (1754-1837) and his wife Isabella, daughter of John Dalton of Sleningford (Yorks NR), born 20 March and baptised at Pittington, 23 March 1788. She married, 15 February 1816 at Pittington, her cousin Col. Henry Tower (1784-1862), son of Christopher Tower of Weald Hall (Essex), and had issue:
(1) Georgiana Isabella Tower (1817-67), born 11 January 1817; married, 30 August 1842, John Dalton (1813-71) of Sleningford Grange (Yorks WR) and Fillingham Castle (Lincs), and had issue one son and two daughters; died at Sleningford, 26 May 1867;
(2) Elizabeth Margaret Tower (1818-26), baptised at Whitworth, 25 October 1818 and again at Pittington, 11 January 1819; died young and was buried at Hutton Bonville, 29 April 1826;
(3) Emma Tower (1820-45), baptised at Whitworth, 6 February 1820; died unmarried, 5 December 1845;
(4) Isabella Tower (1821-1902), baptised at Gilling West, 20 March 1821; married, 30 September 1851 at Pittington, Mildmay Clerk (d. 1877) of Spratton (Northants), and had issue one son and three daughters; died in London, 18 January 1902; will proved 27 February 1902 (estate £34,167);
(5) Henry John Baker Tower (later Baker) (1822-71) (q.v.);
(6) Sarah Anne Tower (1824-84), baptised at Gilling West, 29 November 1824; died unmarried in London, 30 November 1884; will proved 22 December 1884 (effects £22,823);
(7) Lt-Gen. Conyers Tower (1826-1903), born 29 September 1826 at Hutton Bonwell (Yorks); an officer in 6th and later 3rd Dragoons, 1844-74 (Cornet, 1844, Lt., 1845; Capt., 1850; Maj., 1861; Lt-Col., 1863; Col., 1868; Maj-Gen., 1878; Lt-Gen., 1882); Hon. Col. of 3rd Dragoon Guards, 1891-1903; appointed CB, 1868; a keen huntsman in later life, though prone to serious accidents, from the last of which he never really recovered; married, Annabella Mary, daughter of Sir Patrick Bellew, 7th bt., of Barmeath Castle (Co. Westmeath), but had no issue; died at Thornfield, Rugby (Warks), 1 March 1903; will proved 22 April 1903 (effects in Ireland £350).
She and her husband lived at Sedbury Hall, Gilling West, c.1821-25 and then at Hutton Bonville (Yorks) until her father died. They had a life interest in Elemore Hall under their marriage settlement, and her husband was still living there in 1851, but subsequently moved to Middlethorpe Manor, York.
She died at Elemore Hall, 22 November 1842. Her husband died in London, 4 October 1862, and was buried at Bishopthorpe, York.

Tower (later Baker), Henry John Baker (1822-71). Elder son of Henry Tower (1784-1862) and his wife Isabella Judith, daughter of George Baker of Elemore Hall, born 29 June 1822. He received royal licence to assume the name of Baker in lieu of Tower and to quarter the arms of Tower and Baker in 1844. Educated at Harrow. An officer in the 4th Dragoon Guards, 1840-44 (Cornet, 1840; Lt., 1843) and later in Durham Militia (Capt., 1852; Maj., 1853); JP for Co. Durham; High Sheriff of Co. Durham, 1854. A Liberal in politics. He lived principally for field sports, being accounted an excellent shot, a breeder of prize-winning dogs and champion racehorses, and an enthusiast for fox-hunting. He was Steward of Durham Races in the 1850s and refounded the meeting in 1862. He married, 29 June 1849 at St James, Piccadilly, Westminster (Middx), Isabella (1831-96), younger daughter of Robert Lancelot Allgood of Nunwick Hall (Northbld), and had issue:
(1) Henry George Baker Baker (1850-1905), born July 1850; an officer in the Durham Artillery Militia (Lt., 1871; resigned, 1871); farmer at Myddle (Shropshire) and later at Marton Farm, Baschurch (Shropshire); married, 3 December 1872 (sep. before 1881), Alice (1845-1912), daughter of Joseph Woodward of Christleton (Cheshire) and had issue two sons and one daughter; died 14 March 1905; will proved 24 June 1905 (estate £1,800);
(2) Isabel Elizabeth Baker Baker (1851-1911) (q.v.);
(3) Eva Conyers Baker Baker (1854-1931) (q.v.);
(4) George Conyers Baker Baker (1857-92), born 5 June 1857; a Capt. in the Indian army; retired to  Mandalay (Burma); he was unmarried and without issue; died of sunstroke on a river steamer,  11 June 1892; will proved 16 December 1892 (effects £4,276);
(5) Ferdinand Baker Baker (1858-1925) (q.v.);
(6) John Francis Baker Baker (1860-1925), born 31 July 1860; educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated 1879; BA 1883); agent for the Rokeby Hall estate (Yorks NR); lived from c.1900 at East Hall, Middleton Tyas (Yorks NR); married, 16 September 1909 at St Paul, Knightsbridge (Middx), Georgina Margeurite (1872-1955), daughter of Albemarle Cator of Woodbastwick (Norfk) and widow of Maj. Francis Hawley (1860-1900), and had issue two daughters; died in London, 18 May 1925; will proved 15 July 1925 (estate £35,848);
(7) Adm. William Henry Baker Baker (1862-1932) (q.v.);
(8) Ada Elizabeth Hunter Baker Baker (1864-1926), born Oct-Dec 1864; married, 12 June 1890 at St Stephen, Kensington (Middx), Rev. Alfred Lyon Fellowes (1860-1945), vicar of Shotesham (Norfk), son of Robert Fellowes, but had no issue; died 31 October 1926; will proved 5 January 1927 (estate £5,695).
He inherited Crook Hall and Elemore Hall and the Stanton estate at Longhorsley (Northbld) in 1844. At his death his estates passed to his widow.
He died 28 January 1871 and was buried at Pittington; his will was proved 14 April 1871 (effects under £40,000). His widow died 2 March 1896 and was buried at Pittington; her will was proved 22 April 1896 (effects £34,781).

Baker, Ferdinand Baker (1858-1909). Third son and heir of Henry John Baker Tower (later Baker) (1822-71) and his wife Isabella, younger daughter of Robert Lancelot Allgood of Nunwick Hall (Northbld), born 18 December 1858 and baptised at Pittington, 17 March 1859. Tea planter at Rungneet, Darjeeling, Bengal (India). He was unmarried and without issue.
He inherited Elemore Hall on the death of his mother in 1896, but made it over to his unmarried sisters later that year.
He died at Elemore Hall, 28 September 1909; his will was proved 12 May 1910 (estate in England £416).

Baker, Isabel Elizabeth Baker (1851-1911). Eldest daughter of Henry John Baker Tower (later Baker) (1822-71) and his wife Isabella, younger daughter of Robert Lancelot Allgood of Nunwick Hall (Northbld), born 13 December 1851 and baptised at Simonburn (Northbld), 18 January 1852. She was unmarried and without issue.
She and her next sister were given Elemore Hall by their brother Ferdinand in 1896.
She died at East Hall, Middleton Tyas (Yorks NR), 8 October 1911; her will was proved 5 December 1911 (estate £60,238).

Baker, Eva Conyers Baker (1854-1931). Second daughter of Henry John Baker Tower (later Baker) (1822-71) and his wife Isabella, younger daughter of Robert Lancelot Allgood of Nunwick Hall (Northbld), born 2 March 1854. She was unmarried and without issue.
She and her elder sister were given Elemore Hall by their brother Ferdinand in 1896. On her death it passed to her nephew, Brig. Henry Conyers Baker.
She died 2 March 1931 and was buried at Pittington (Co. Durham); her will was proved 2 June 1931 (estate £184,033).

Baker, Adm. William Henry Baker (1862-1932). Fifth and youngest son of Henry John Baker Tower (later Baker) (1822-71) and his wife Isabella, younger daughter of Robert Lancelot Allgood of Nunwick Hall (Northbld), born 7 December 1862. Educated on HMS Britannia. An officer in the Royal Navy (Sub-Lt.; Lt. 1886; Cmdr., 1897; Capt., 1903; Rear-Adm., 1913; retired 1913; Vice-Adm., 1918; Adm., 1922). Served in First World War as Lt-Col. and County Commandant of Northumberland Volunteer Force, 1916-20. DL and JP for Northumberland. Appointed OBE, c.1920; an officer (2nd class) of the Order of the Red Eagle of Prussia. He married, 6 December 1910, Harriett Constance (1875-1971), daughter of Henry Nicholas Middleton, and had issue:
(1) Margaret Isobel Baker Baker (1911-83), born 2 October 1911; lived at Sedbury Hall; died unmarried, 18 April 1983; will proved 15 June 1983 (estate £72,643);
(2) Brig. Henry Conyers Baker Baker (1912-93) (q.v.);
(3) Oswald Frank Baker Baker (1914-97) (q.v.).
He lived at Buston House, Lesbury (Northbld.). His widow lived latterly with her son at Sedbury Hall.
He died 7 August 1932 and was buried at Pittington (Co. Durham); his will was proved 16 September 1932 (estate £20,115). His widow died aged 96, 8 December 1971; her will was proved 26 January 1972 (estate £25,950).

Baker-Baker, Brig. Henry Conyers (1912-92). Elder son of Adm. William Henry Baker Baker (1862-1932) and his wife Harriett Constance, daughter of Henry Nicholas Middleton, born 11 November 1912. Educated at Eton and Royal Military College, Sandhurst. An officer in the army (2nd Lt., 1933; Lt., 1936; Capt., 1941; Maj. 1946; Lt.-Col., 1955; Brig., 1957; retired 1960). Honorary Colonel of the Black Watch, 1964-69. Appointed MBE, 1943 and DSO, 1945. He married, 28 November 1963, Elspeth Grizel (1918-2007), architect, second daughter of P.B. Gifford and formerly wife of Roy Douglas Hugentobler (b. 1913), by whom she had issue two sons, but had no issue.
He inherited Elemore Hall from his aunt Eva Conyers Baker in 1931, but sold it to Durham County Council in 1947 and bought Sedbury Hall (Yorks) the same year.  At his death, he was succeeded by his nephew, William George Baker Baker.
He died 31 December 1992 and was buried at Gilling West (Yorks NR); his will was proved 19 March 2003 (estate £542,019). His widow died 22 October 2007; her will was proved 6 March 2008.

Baker-Baker, Oswald Frank (1914-97). Second son of Adm. William Henry Baker Baker (1862-1932) and his wife Harriett Constance, daughter of Henry Nicholas Middleton, born 21 September 1914. Educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge; mechanical engineer. Served in the Second World War with Royal Engineers (2nd Lt., 1939; Lt., 1941; Capt., 1942; Maj. 1945). He married, 24 June 1949, Anne (b. 1914), only daughter of Adm. Edward Francis Bruen CB of The Croft, Great Bealings (Suffk) and had issue:
(1) Katharine Anne Baker-Baker (b. 1950), born 11 April 1950; married, Apr-Jun 1975, Iain Forest McLaren Ellvers (b. 1947) of Eskhill, Forfar (Angus), son of Maj. Forest Victor Ellvers;
(2) Juliet Constance Baker-Baker (b. 1951), born 7 December 1951; married, 13 September 1975, (Christopher) Frank Spencer-Nairn (b. 1949) of Culligran, Beauly (Inverness.), chartered accountant, son of Sir Douglas Leslie Spencer Spencer-Nairn, 2nd bt., and had issue one son and two daughters;
(3) William George Baker-Baker (b. 1955) (q.v.).
He lived at Baslow (Derbys) and later at Atch Lench (Worcs).
He died 14 March 1997; his will was proved 23 April 1997. His wife's date of death is unknown.

Baker-Baker, William George (b. 1955). Only son of Oswald Frank Baker Baker (b. 1914) and his wife Anne, only daughter of Adm. Edward Francis Bruen CB of The Croft, Great Bealings (Suffk), born 5 January 1955. Educated at Eton. An officer in the 13th/18th Royal Hussars, 1976-87 (Lt., 1976; Capt.). Stockbroker; Divisional Director and later Head of Newcastle office of Brewin Dolphin, investment managers. A director of the Georgian Theatre (Richmond) Trust, 2000-16. He married 1st, Jul-Sep 1983 (div.), Sarah M.B. Lloyd, and 2nd, Claire Marie [surname unknown], and had issue:
(1) Harriett Baker-Baker; educated at Queen Margarets School, Escrick (Yorks) and Oxford Media and Business School; 
(2) George Henry Baker-Baker (b. 1988), born Oct-Dec 1988; educated at Ampleforth, St. Andrews University (MA 2012), Warwick University (PGCE 2013) and BPP Law School; trainee solicitor with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP;
(3) twin, Angus William Baker-Baker (b. 1990), born Jul-Sep 1990; educated at Stowe School, Milton Abbey School and Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester; estate agent with John D. Wood & Co.;
(4) twin, Rory Francis Baker-Baker (b. 1990), born Jul-Sep 1990; educated at Stowe School and Oxford Tutorial College; insurance broker.
He inherited Sedbury Hall from his uncle, Brig. Henry Conyers Baker-Baker, in 1992.
Now living.


Burke's Landed Gentry, 1965, p. 34; Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Yorkshire - the North Riding, 1966, p. 170; J. Gosden, 'Elemore Hall transformed 1749-1753', Transactions of the Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland, n.s. vol. 6, 1982, pp. 31-35; Sir N. Pevsner & E. Williamson, The buildings of England: County Durham, 2nd edn., 1983, pp. 264-65; J. Hatcher, Richmondshire Architecture, 1990, pp. 102-04; E. Waterson & P. Meadows, Lost houses of York and the North Riding, 1990, pp. 42-43; P. Meadows & E. Waterson, Lost houses of County Durham, 1993, p.13; Hetton-le-Hole Herald, January 2010;

Location of archives

Baker of Crook Hall and Elemore Hall: deeds, estate and family papers, 1492-1973 [Durham University Library, BAK]

Coat of arms

Baker of Crook & Elemore: Argent, on a saltire azure, five escalopes of the first, on a chief azure, a lion passant argent.
Baker-Baker of Elemore and Sedbury: Quarterly, 1st and 4th, ermine, on a saltire engrailed azure, a maunch between four escallops or; on a chief sable, a lion passant or (for Baker); 2nd and 3rd, sable, a tower or, charged with a pheon of the field, within a bordure of the second, charged with ten cross-crosslets, also of the field (for Tower)

Can you help?

Here are a few notes about information and images which would help to improve the account above. If you can help with any of these or with other additions or corrections, please use the contact form in the sidebar to get in touch.
  • Does anyone know who occupied Crook Hall after the Bakers inherited Elemore in 1728 and until its sale in the 1870s?
  • Is anyone able to identify the architect of the 1928 rebuilding of Sedbury Hall? The building contractor came from Leeds and the client from Carlisle, so the architect is perhaps most likely to have come from one of those two cities.
  • Can anyone supply portraits or photographs of members of the family whose names appear in bold above?
  • Why was Henry George Baker Baker (1850-1905) disinherited by both his parents?There is a suggestion in the family papers that the reason may have been financial, but to disinherit the eldest son suggests either a complete estrangement, or reservations about his ability to manage the estate. In 1872, H.G. Baker Baker married the daughter of a Cheshire farmer, but after a few years and three children they separated. In 1881 and 1891 Baker Baker was lodging at a farmhouse in Shropshire, and although by the time of his death in 1905 he was apparently a farmer in his own right, he remained of very slender means, and his executor was a member of the farming family he had lodged with. Does anyone know the full story?

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 27 May 2018 and updated 30 May 2018.

1 comment:

  1. Dr M M Gilchrist10 January 2021 at 04:16

    The first Sir George has a wall plaque in Hull Minster (Holy Trinity), erected by his nephew in 1710.


Please leave a comment if you have any additional information or corrections to offer, or if you are able to help with additional images of the people or buildings in this post.