Sunday 8 July 2018

(337) Baker of Ranston, baronets

Baker of Ranston
The founder of this family was William Baker (1715-74), whose father was a yeoman farmer at Bromley in Worfield (Shropshire), where his ancestors can be traced back to the 15th century. William became a builder and speculative developer in London, but as far as I am aware there was no relationship to his namesake and near contemporary, the architect William Baker (1705-71), whose life took him in the opposite direction, from London to Herefordshire and later Cheshire. William the builder leased land from the Portman estate in St Marylebone and built Orchard St. and Portman St., as well as being the contractor for other Portman estate developments. He made a great deal of money from his activities and became a resident of Portman Square himself; he also acquired a suburban villa at Isleworth (Middx) called Wyke House, which was then a 17th century house, although rebuilt by later owners. Although William had three recorded sons, only one of them seems to have survived to maturity; he was Peter William Baker (1756-1815), who was educated as a gentleman at Eton, Cambridge and Lincoln's Inn. He was a man of cultivated tastes, who in 1781, the year of his marriage, used part of his inheritance to buy Ranston House at Iwerne Courtney (Dorset) from the Ryves family. Ranston had been recently and elegantly rebuilt for Thomas Ryves, and Peter turned his attention first to buying additional land to expand the park, and then to altering the landscaping. In about 1808, however, he began remodelling the house, to which he added flanking wings, and a new entrance front on the north side. 

Since Peter had no children of his own, the ultimate beneficiary of his investment in the property was his first cousin once removed, Sir Edward Baker Littlehales (1764-1825), 1st bt., who after a rapid rise through the ranks of the military became secretary to Lord Cornwallis as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1798-1801, and then Under Secretary of State for the military department in Dublin, a post which he held for a remarkable period of eighteen years. Sir Edward took the surname Baker as a condition of his inheritance in 1817, and a year or two later he retired from his post in Dublin to his estate in Dorset.

Sir Edward was succeeded in 1825 by his son, also Sir Edward Baker (1806-77), 2nd bt., who came of age in 1828 amid great local celebrations. After attending Oxford (where he did not take a degree) he gradually took up the offices expected of a leading county gentleman, but apart from an interest as a young man in horse-racing and the local yeomanry it is hard to detect much sign of his personal enthusiasms, and he remains a somewhat enigmatic figure. He never married, and in the 1860s he suddenly abandoned Dorset and relocated to London for the best part of a decade, visiting Dorset only for the occasional Friendly Society dinner. It is surprising to find that his return to Dorset in 1876 was greeted with spontaneous demonstrations of enthusiasm from his tenants and fellow-landowners, and when he died the following year the press tributes remained unusually warm.

Sir Edward was succeeded by his only surviving brother, the Rev. Sir Talbot Hastings Bendall Baker (1820-1900), 3rd bt., who was the youngest of the four sons of the first baronet, and went into the church. He was vicar of Preston (Dorset) from 1848-78, but on coming into his inheritance he gave up his benefice and moved to Ranston, although he  remained a prebendary of Salisbury Cathedral until his death. His first marriage produced only one child, a daughter who died young, and in 1875 he married again, to a woman 27 years his junior, who bore him four children: one son and three further daughters.

The only son, Lt-Col. Sir Randolf Littlehales Baker (1879-1959), 4th bt., inherited Ranston in 1900 and was MP for North Dorset before and during the First World War, when he combined his parliamentary role with a commission in the Dorset Yeomanry, in which capacity he was wounded and acquired the DSO on two occasions. After the First World War, he married a widow and had one daughter, Selina Littlehales Baker (1925-2010), who inherited Ranston on his death. After lack of maintenance in the Second World War, the house proved to be riddled with dry rot, and in post-war conditions it was far too big for the needs of Selina and her husband William Gibson Fleming and their two children. When many families would simply have flattened the house and moved to a smaller property on the estate, however, they decided on the radical solution of keeping the most important features of the house - the mid 18th century garden front and the richly decorated staircase - and incorporating them into a smaller house on the same site. The work was carried out in 1960-63 under the direction of Louis Osman, resulting in the present modest house, which is now the residence of their son, James Randolf Gibson Fleming (b. 1958) and his family.

Ranston House, Iwerne Courtney, Dorset

The Ryves family acquired Ranston in 1544, and the earliest house of which anything is known was built for John Ryves in the 1620s. It appears to have been a square triple-pile house with gabled side elevations and probably also gabled front and rear elevations, and this remained the basic fabric of the house until the mid 20th century.

Ranston House: the house from the north-west before reduction, showing the gabled side elevation surviving from the 17th century house. Image: Historic England AA60/373

Ranston House: engraving of 1779 by William Watts showing the new front elevation built for Thomas Ryves c.1753, and the contemporary landscaping.
In the mid 18th century, the house was altered for Thomas Ryves (d. 1788). who built a new grand Palladian west front of five bays and two storeys, with giant pilasters supporting a pediment over the central three bays. The fenestration of the new front reveals that the piano nobile was unusually tall, with a low basement below it and roughly square attic windows above. The pilasters, quoins and basement were of Portland stone, but the plain walling was coated with stucco, giving a pleasing two-tone effect to the elevation. Behind the new front were completely new interiors, including a large saloon and drawing room, and a staircase with Rococo plasterwork and a scrolled ironwork balustrading dated 1753. 

Ranston House: watercolour of the staircase hall by Rebecca D. Orpen, 1863, from collection of at Baddesley Clinton (Warks). Image: © National Trust / Claire Reeves.

According to William Watts (who gives the date of 1758 for the refronting), the new front was designed by Thomas Ryves himself, but it is thought that either John Bastard of Blandford Forum or Francis Cartwright, his successor as the leading local architect, were involved to give practical interpretation to his ideas, and they were almost certainly also responsible for the internal decoration. The plasterwork on the staircase walls and ceiling was designed to accommodate four large canvases by Andrea Casali, an Italian painter from Civitavecchia who worked in England between 1741 and 1766, which represented the arts of painting, sculpture, music and architecture. The personification of architecture was a seated figure holding a partially rolled drawing of the new front of Ranston. There were further works by Casali in the house, including a St. Cecilia on the drawing room ceiling and a copy of Titian's Cupid Blinded. The overall effect impressed visitors: Edward Gibbon noted in his journal 'Mr Reeve's small [estate]... laid out and finished with the most refined taste and elegance'. Alongside the remodelling of the house, Ryves evidently laid out the grounds with a small serpentine lake spanned by a three-arch bridge (which survives) and a summer house with a rusticated arched entrance, which had been converted into a grotto by 1813.

In 1781 Thomas Ryves sold Ranston to Peter William Baker (1756-1815) for 12,000 guineas. In 1789 he made the further purchase of land to the west from the Pitt family's Shroton estate, and this enabled him to extend the park and to lay out a carriage circuit around the western parkland. Baker's purchase also included the former Shroton manor house, which he demolished, using the stone of which it was built to construct a park wall around the north-west corner of the park so as to screen the carriage circuit from the village. He also created a new lake, about twice as far from the house as the earlier one.

Ranston House: east front as remodelled by P.W. Baker in 1808. Image: Historic England AA60/367

In 1808, Baker began enlarging the house, adding a new and unexpectedly informal east entrance front, which was six windows wide with a large two-storey canted bay occupying the left-hand half of the facade, and an off-centre entrance with a Tuscan porch on the right. This new elevation was linked by two-bay single-storey linking corridors with screens of coupled Doric columns on the east side which were probably originally open, to a pair of single-storey pavilions with hipped roofs. The pavilion on the north contained a substantial new library. At the same time, Baker removed the perron shown on the Watts view of the west front, which was no longer needed now that the house was entered on the east side.

On Baker's death the house passed to his first cousin once removed, Sir Edward Baker Littlehales (1764-1825), 1st bt., who was required to take the surname Baker as a condition of the inheritance. The property descended in his family until the death of Sir Randolf Littlehales Baker (1879-1959), 4th and last baronet, by which time it was badly affected by dry rot. Sir Randolf's daughter and heir, Selina, and her husband, Major W.H. Gibson Fleming, at first decided to demolish the house completely and to replace it with a much smaller modern house, but they had a considerable affection for the old building and were soon persuaded by their architect, Louis Osman, who had been taught in the classical tradition by Sir Albert Richardson and Hector Corfiato, that it would be more satisfactory and cheaper to reduce the old house back to its original dimensions, and to make it sound and manageable while retaining the Georgian elegance of the original. 

In the end, they retained the west front, but demolished the rest of the building and built what was in effect a completely new house with a steel and concrete frame behind the old facade, under a new pyramidal roof. The house has an entirely different plan to its predecessor, but as much as possible of the old internal joinery, fixtures and fittings was salvaged, fumigated, and re-used in the new building, which thus preserves something of the character of an 18th and early 19th century house.

Ranston House: the surviving west front and the new house built behind it by Louis Osman, 1960-63.

A simple new entrance front was created on the east side, with a Vanbrughian doorcase and a Venetian window above it, lighting the staircase hall, the plasterwork and joinery of which were reused from the earlier house, complete with the Casali paintings. The house also introduced a number of innovative contemporary ideas, including ramps which allowed cars to drive into and out of the basement, where passengers could alight under cover. The building is said to have been executed at about half the cost of a traditional new house of the same size. In 2006 the bridge and weir in the grounds were restored, winning the Georgian Group award for the restoration of a Georgian garden or landscape.

Descent: Thomas Ryves (d. 1788) sold 1781 to Peter William Baker (1756-1815); to first cousin, once removed, Sir Edward Baker Littlehales (later Baker) (1764-1825), 1st bt.; to son, Sir Edward Baker (1806-77), 2nd bt.; to brother, Rev. Sir Talbot Hastings Bendall Baker (1820-1900), 3rd bt.; to son, Sir Randolf Littlehales Baker (1879-1959), 4th bt.; to daughter, Selina (1925-2010), wife of William Harry Gibson Fleming (1918-81), who handed over the estate c.1981 to her son, James Randolph Gibson Fleming (b. 1958).

Baker family of Ranston House, baronets

Baker, William (1715-74). Son of John Baker (1686-1727) and his wife Sarah (d. 1764), daughter of Henry Grainger of Kingston, born at Bromley (Shropshire), 10 April and baptised at Worfield, 2 May 1715. "A great London builder, who made a large fortune", Baker was responsible for the development of the earliest parts of the Portman Estate property in Marylebone (Orchard St. and Portman St.), and also acted as a contractor for later developments; Baker Street was named in his honour. Alderman of the City of London. He married 1st, 20 or 23 September 1737 at Westminster Abbey, Sarah, daughter of [forename unknown] Arthura and widow of [forename unknown] Bilbey of London, and 2nd, 1751 at St. Paul's Cathedral, London, Martha (d. 1775), daughter of Peter Storer of Church House, Highgate, and had issue including:
(2.1) William Henry Baker (b. 1754), baptised at St. Marylebone (Middx), 21 July 1754; died young before 1774;
(2.2) Peter William Baker (1756-1815) (q.v.);
(2.3) Storer John Baker (b. 1760), born 9 April and baptised at St James, Piccadilly, Westminster (Middx), 30 April 1760; died young before 1774.
In 1759 he inherited substantial property at Ashford, Bethnal Green and Isleworth (Middx), Great Baddow (Essex) and in Bedfordshire in right of his second wife from her brother, Peter Storer junior. He lived in Portman Square, London, and at Wyke House, Sion Hill, Isleworth (Middx). 
He died in Portman Square, London, 23 February 1774 and was buried at Ashford (Middx); his will was proved, 28 February 1774. His first wife died before 1751. His widow died in 1775; her will was proved 10 April 1775.

Baker, Peter William (1756-1815). Only son of William Baker, builder, of London, Bromley (Shropshire) and Wick House, Sion Hill (Middx), and his wife Martha, daughter of Peter Storer of Highgate (Middx), born 12 September and baptised at St Marylebone (Middx), 30 September 1756. Educated at Eton, Trinity College, Cambridge (admitted 1774) and Lincoln's Inn (admitted 1773). MP for Arundel, 1781-84, Wootton Bassett, 1802-06 and Corfe Castle, 1807-15; he apparently never spoke in the House of Commons, but his voting record shows he was a staunch supporter of Henry Addington. High Sheriff of Dorset, 1787-88. He was a man of cultivated tastes, who built up a large library and laid out the grounds at Ranston. His portrait was painted by George Stubbs, 1782, and his wife was painted by Gainsborough, 1781; the latter picture is now in the Frick Collection. He married, 27 November 1781, Jane, daughter of James Clitherow of Boston Manor, Brentford (Middx), but had no issue.
He sold Wyke House, Isleworth to John Robinson in 1778 and purchased the Ranston estate from Thomas Ryves for £12,000 in 1781; he enlarged the park through the purchase of additional land in 1789, and remodelled the house c.1808. He also had a house in Spring Gardens, London, left to his widow.
He died in London, 25 August 1815 and was buried at Iwerne Courtney; his will was proved 30 August 1815. His wife died 26 December 1816 and was buried at Iwerne Courtney; her will was proved 2 January 1817.

Baker, Elizabeth (1709-60). Daughter of John Baker (1686-1728) and his wife Sarah, daughter of Henry Grainger of Kingston, born 7 September and baptised at Worfield, 15 September 1709. She married, in her sixteenth year, 8 August 1725 at Quatford (Shrops), Joseph Littlehales (1703-92) of Westminster, second son of Ralph Littlehales (1680-1730) of Dawley (Shrops), and had issue:
(1) Sarah Littlehales (1726-1801), baptised at St George the Martyr, Westminster (Middx), 13 November 1726; married, 4 May 1753 in Chapel Royal, St. James' Palace, London, Rev. William Sellon (c.1730-90) and had issue three sons and four daughters; died at Pinner Woods Farm (Middx), 21 July 1801;
(2) Baker John Littlehales (1732-82) (q.v.); 
(3) Anna Maria Littlehales; married, 2 December 1753 at St John, Smith Square, Westminster (Middx), Loring John Friswell of Boston, Massachusetts (USA), later captain of a company of rangers in America, who subsequently returned to London and was imprisoned for debt, 1778; she was living in 1774;
(4) Rev. Joseph Laurentius Littlehales (1750-1804), born 10 August and baptised at St John, Smith Square, Westminster (Middx), 5 September 1750; educated at Lincoln's Inn (admitted 1766) and as a 'ten year man' at Trinity College, Cambridge (admitted 1775; LLD); ordained deacon, 1774 and priest, 1776; curate of St James, Clerkenwell (Middx), 1774-79; rector of Grendon Underwood (Bucks), 1779-1804 and vicar of Brill with Boarstall (Bucks), 1790-1804; JP for Buckinghamshire; married, 6 December 1770 at St Andrew, Holborn (Middx), Margaret Vernon (1738-1819), daughter of Sir Crisp Gascoigne, kt., of Bifrons (Essex), and had issue one son and three daughters; died 16 February 1804; will proved 29 February 1804.
She died 9 August 1760. Her husband died at The Hague (Netherlands), 11 December 1792.

Littlehales, Baker John (1732-82). Son of Joseph Littlehales (1703-92) and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of John Baker, born 6 May 1732. Educated at Westminster School, Trinity College, Cambridge (admitted 1750) and Lincoln's Inn (admitted 1746). Barrister-at-law. He stood unsuccessfully as a candidate for Peterborough in the General Election of 1768. He married, 25 October 1759 at Hornsey Rise (Middx), Maria (d. 1796), illegitimate daughter of Bendall Martyn of Hornsey, esq., and Lydia Clare otherwise Hill, and had issue:
(1) Elizabeth Laura Littlehales (1760-1825), born 10 December 1760 and baptised at St. Andrew, Holborn (Middx), 7 January 1761; married, 14 April 1788 at St Giles, Reading (Berks), Thomas Willats (1762-1852?), of Kidmore End House, Caversham (Oxon) and had issue; her husband was imprisoned for debt in the King's Bench prison from 1817-34 as a result of a Chancery suit which prevented him receiving the rents of his estate; she died 'after a long and painful illness', 5 May, and was buried at St. George the Martyr, Southwark (London), 12 May 1825;
(2) Lyonel Martyn Littlehales (b. 1762), baptised at St Andrew, Holborn, 25 May 1762; said to be in Canada when his mother's will was made in 1794, and he perhaps died there;
(3) Sir Edward Baker Littlehales (later Baker) (1764-1825), 1st bt. (q.v.);
(4) Vice-Adm. Bendall Robert Littlehales (1765-1847), baptised at St Anne, Soho, Westminster (Middx), 25 May 1765; an officer in the Royal Navy (midshipman, 1778; Lt., 1790; Cdr., c.1795; Capt., 1800; Rear-Adm., 1830; Vice-Adm. 1840); married, 29 August 1803 at Batheaston (Somerset), Mary Anna, daughter of Thomas Cleather of Plymouth, and had issue; buried at Compton Bishop (Somerset), 12 August 1847; his will was proved 7 September 1847;
(5) Proby John Littlehales (b. 1766), born 11 June and baptised at St Anne, Soho, Westminster (Middx), 30 June 1766; probably died young;
(6) Rev. Verney Peter Littlehales (1769-1835), born 12 January and baptised at St Anne Soho, Westminster (Middx), 9 February 1769; educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge (admitted 1787; scholar 1790; BA 1791; MA 1794); vicar of Croft (Lincs), 1793-97 and rector of Burton-by-Lincoln (Lincs), 1797-1813; prebendary of Southwell, 1812-13; resigned all his preferments in 1813 and took the name the Rev. Philip Lloyd; lived subsequently in London and Bologna (Italy); died unmarried, 1835; will proved 17 July 1835;
(7) Randall William Littlehales (1770-89), born 26 July and baptised at St Anne, Soho, Westminster (Middx), 24 August 1770; an officer in the East India Co's service; died unmarried at Madras (India), 8 July 1789;
(8) James Littlehales (b. 1771), born 19 November and baptised at St Anne, Soho, 16 December 1771; died before 1794;
(9) Maria Littlehales (b. 1773), born 16 October and baptised at St Anne, Soho, 13 November 1773; married, 30 April 1798 at Caversham (Oxon), Rev. Thomas Herbert Noyes (1758-1812) of East Mascalls (Sussex), vicar of Batheaston (Somerset), and had issue two sons; living in 1812;
(10) Rev. Storer Henry Charles Littlehales (1775-1811), born 17 May and baptised at East Molesey (Surrey), 13 June 1775; educated at Reading and Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated 1793; scholar, 1796; BA 1797; MA 1804); ordained priest, 1799; rector of Clonmethan (Co. Dublin) and prebendary of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, 1803-11; also rector of Kill (Co. Kildare); died unmarried of typhus fever, contracted during his parochial duties, 12 May 1811.
He lived in Garrard St., Westminster, and at West Hatch, Chigwell (Essex) before moving to Moulsey Park (Surrey), where he rented the manor of West Molesey for some years from 1775. After his death his widow lived at Reading (Berks).
He died 30 October 1782; his will was proved 7 November 1782. His widow died 10 November 1796; her will was proved 19 November 1796.

Littlehales (later Baker), Sir Edward Baker (1764-1825), 1st bt. Second, but eldest surviving, son of Baker John Littlehales (1732-82) and his wife Maria Hill, daughter of Bendall Martyn, baptised at St Andrew, Holborn (Middx), 26 March 1764. Educated at Westminster School. An officer in the army (Ensign, 1780; Lt., 1783; Capt., 1790; Maj., 1796; Lt-Col., 1798; retired, 1802); private secretary to Lord Cornwallis as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, 1798-1801; Under-Secretary of State (military dept.) for Ireland, 1801-19. He was created a baronet, 20 September 1802, and assumed the name of Baker in lieu of Littlehales, 6 January 1817, in accordance with the will of his cousin, Peter William Baker (1756-1814) (q.v.). He married, 22 July 1805, Lady Elizabeth Mary (1780-1857), daughter of William Robert Fitzgerald, 2nd Duke of Leinster, and had issue:
(1) Sir Edward Littlehales Baker (1806-77), 2nd bt. (q.v.);
(2) Charlotte Elizabeth Baker (1808-48), baptised at St Werburgh, Dublin, May 1808; died unmarried at Torquay (Devon), 27 November, and was buried at Iwerne Courtney, 4 December 1848; will proved in the PCC, 10 January 1849;
(3) Emilia Maria Baker (1810-89), baptised at Chapelizod (Dublin), 1810; married, 22 July 1828 at St George, Hanover Square, London, Thomas Mills Goodlake (c.1808-77) of Wadley House (Berks), and had issue (one of whom, Lt-Gen. Gerald Goodlake, won the VC); died 31 July 1889;
(4) Geraldine Laura Baker (1811-69), baptised at St Werburgh, Dublin, 7 October 1811; married, 10 June 1847 at Littleworth (Berks), Hubert Hutchings (c.1812-98) (who m2., 1876, Catherine (1836-1914), daughter of James Farquharson of Invercauld) of Sandford Orcas Manor House (then Somerset, now Dorset); died 13 October and was buried at Sandford Orcas, 19 October 1869;
(5) William Leinster York Baker (1813-47), born 14 May 1813; an officer in 73rd regiment (Ensign, 1831; Lt., 1834; Capt., 1842; his promotion to Major was announced the day before he was killed); died unmarried when he was killed on active service near the Kei River (South Africa), 13 November 1847;
(6) Louisa Isabella Baker (1814-92), baptised at St Werburgh, Dublin, 14 July 1814; died unmarried, 22 January 1892;
(7) Wellington Charles Cecil Baker (1817-47), born 31 March 1817; educated at Eton; an officer in 23rd regiment (Ensign, 1835; Lt., 1838; Capt., 1844); died unmarried at Southampton, 22 March 1847 and was buried at Iwerne Courtney, 26 March 1847;
(8) Rev. Sir Talbot Hastings Bendall Baker (1820-1900), 3rd bt. (q.v.).
He inherited Ranston from his first cousin once removed, Peter William Baker, in 1815.
He died at Ranston, 4 March, and was buried at Iwerne Courtney, 12 March 1825; his will was proved 31 March 1825. His widow died 28 February and was buried at Iwerne Courtney, 6 March 1857; her will was proved 28 April 1857.

Baker, Sir Edward (1806-77), 2nd bt. Eldest son of Sir Edward Baker Littlehales (later Baker) (1764-1825), 1st bt., and his wife Lady Elizabeth Mary, daughter of William Robert Fitzgerald, 2nd Duke of Leinster, born 4 November 1806. Educated at Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1825). JP and DL for Dorset; High Sheriff of Dorset, 1832-33. President of the Dorset Friendly Society. An officer in the Dorset Yeomanry Cavalry (Capt.). He was a freemason from 1847. He was unmarried and without issue.
He inherited Ranston from his father in 1825. He lived away for about ten years but returned to the house in 1876.
He died unexpectedly of bronchitis in London, 28 March 1877; his will was proved 20 April 1877 (effects under £25,000).

Baker, Rev. Sir Talbot Hastings Bendall (1820-1900), 3rd bt. Fourth and youngest son of Sir Edward Baker Littlehales (later Baker) (1764-1825) and his wife Lady Elizabeth Mary, daughter of William Robert Fitzgerald, 2nd Duke of Leinster, born in Bath (Somerset), 9 September 1820.  Educated at Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1839; BA 1843; MA 1847). Ordained deacon, 1844 and priest, 1845. Curate of Brewood (Staffs), 1844-48; vicar of Preston (Dorset), 1848-78 and rural dean of Dorchester, 1870-77; chaplain to Bishop of Salisbury, 1862-69; prebendary of Salisbury Cathedral, 1868-1900. He was interested in archaeology, and excavated a Roman pavement and bridge at Weymouth in 1871. He married 1st, 17 July 1850 at Milborne Port (Somerset), Florence (c.1830-71), daughter of John Hutchings of Ludlow, and 2nd, 30 December 1875 at Shedfield (Hants), Amy Susan (1847-1940), daughter of Lt-Col. George Marryat, and had issue:
(1.1) Geraldine Emma Baker (1853-69), baptised at Iwerne Courtney, 13 December 1853; died young, 29 April and was buried at Iwerne Courtney, 5 May 1869;
(2.1) Florence Letitia Baker (1876-1973), born 16 November 1876; married, 20 July 1912 at Iwerne Courtney, Adm. Seymour Elphinstone Erskine CB (1863-1945), second son of Sir Henry David Erskine KCVO of Cardross, but had no issue; died aged 96, 23 February 1973; will proved 18 July 1973 (estate £33,819);
(2.2) Sir Randolf Littlehales Baker (1879-1959), 4th bt. (q.v.);
(2.3) Olive Elizabeth Baker (1883-84), baptised at Iwerne Courtney, 30 December 1883; died in infancy, 2 April and was buried at Iwerne Courtney, 7 April 1884;
(2.4) Eunice Evelyn Baker (1888-1967), baptised at Iwerne Courtney, 11 November 1888; lived at Burley (Hants); died unmarried 27 January 1967; will proved 1 May 1967 (estate £45,032).
He inherited Ranston from his elder brother in 1877 and retired from his incumbency to run the estate.
He died 6 April 1900; his will was proved 16 August 1900 (estate £70.930). His first wife died in London, 21 March 1871. His widow died aged about 92 at Mentone (France), 26 January 1940; her will was proved 9 December 1940 (estate £1,420).

Baker, Lt-Col. Sir Randolf Littlehales (1879-1959), 4th bt. Only son of Rev. Sir Talbot Hastings Bendall Baker (1820-1900), 3rd bt., and his second wife, Amy Susan, daughter of Lt-Col. George Marryat, born 20 July and baptised at Iwerne Courtney, 31 August 1879. He succeeded his father as 4th baronet, 6 April 1900. Conservative MP for North Dorset, 1910-18. An officer in the Dorset Yeomanry (2nd Lt., 1904; Lt., 1905; Capt., 1911; Maj. by 1915; Lt-Col. by 1918) who served in the First World War (wounded; mentioned in despatches; DSO and bar, 1918; TD). JP, DL and County Alderman for Dorset. He married 1st, 29 June 1920, Elsie (1885-1955), daughter of Robert George Burrell of St. Nicholas House, Thetford (Norfk) and widow of Maj. Alexander Boyd Cuninghame (1876-1917) of Makeni (Rhodesia), and 2nd, 8 October 1955, Mary Caroline (1897-1987), daughter of Augustus Scobell Orlebar of Hinwick House (Beds) and Tetworth Hall (Cambs), schoolmaster, and widow of Lt-Col. Frank Preedy DSO MC, and had issue:
(1.1) Selina Littlehales Baker (1925-2010) (q.v.).
He inherited Ranston from his father in 1900.
He died 23 July 1959 and the baronetcy became extinct on his death; his will was proved 16 October 1955 (estate £58,241). His first wife died 1 February 1955; her will was proved 27 May 1955 (estate £28,008). His widow died aged 90, 21 November 1987; her will was proved 29 January 1988 (estate £156,750).

Baker, Selina Littlehales (1925-2010). Only child of Sir Randolf Littlehales Baker (1879-1859), 4th bt., and his wife Elsie, daughter of Robert George Burrell of St. Nicholas House, Thetford (Norfk) and widow of Maj. Boyd Cuninghame of Makeni (Rhodesia), born 26 October 1925. Served in Second World War in Women's Land Army. She a was a keen horsewoman, hunted with the Portman Hounds, and ran a riding for the disabled group; in later life she turned to breeding racehorses with considerable success (her horse Mister Baileys set a course record time for the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket in 1994 which still stands). She married, 23 July 1955, Maj. William Harry (k/a Lem) Gibson Fleming (1918-81), who was High Sheriff of Dorset in 1966, and had issue:
(1) Anthea Margaret Gibson Fleming (b. 1956), born 25 December 1956; bloodstock adviser and racehorse breeder near Wantage (Berks); director of The Thoroughbred Breeders' Association, 2015-date;
(2) James Randolf Gibson Fleming (b. 1958) (q.v.).
She inherited Ranston from her father in 1959 and largely rebuilt it in a much smaller form in 1960-63; the reduction necessitated the sale of many family and other pictures which the new house could not accommodate. She handed the estate on to her son in about 1981.
She died 28 March 2010; her will was proved 16 July 2010. Her husband died 30 April 1981; his will was proved 20 July 1981 (estate £588,872).

Gibson Fleming, James Randolf (b. 1958). Only son of Maj. William Harry Gibson Fleming (1918-81) and his wife Selina Littlehales, daughter of Sir Randolf Littlehales Baker, 4th bt., of Ranston, born July 1958. Educated at Eton, the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst and the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester. An officer in the Royal Hussars (Prince of Wales' Own) regiment, 1977-81; President of Queen's Own Dorset Yeomanry Association, 2010-date. Vice-Lord Lieutenant (from 2006) for DorsetRural entrepreneur; a director of several companies associated with the estate; Chairman of Hanfold plc, 1987-93 and of CLA Game Fair Board, 1992-97 and a Director of Wessex Internet Ltd. DL (from 2005). Trustee of the Talbot Village Trust (1991-date) and Cancer Care Dorset, 1994-2004 (Chairman, 2000-04); Vice-President of the Weldmar Hospice Care Trust. Holder of a private pilot's licence. Awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration by Bournemouth University, 2017. He married, 14 June 1986, Fiona Lucy (b. 1962), daughter of Robin Don of Elmham House (Norfk), and had issue:
(1) Hector Gibson Fleming (b. 1987), born July 1987; educated at Sherborne School and Exeter University (BSc); with Fortis Logistique, Republic of Congo, 2009-14 (Managing Director, 2010-14), EWI Capital, 2014-16, and Wessex Internet Ltd., 2016-date (Managing Director, 2017-date);
(2) William Robert Gibson Fleming (b. 1989); educated at Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst; an officer in the Army Air Corps (2nd Lt., 2012);
(3) Olivia Rose (k/a Livy) Gibson Fleming (b. 1992).
His mother handed over Ranston to him after the death of her husband in 1981.
Now living.


Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 1924, p. 187; B. Botfield, Stemmata Botevilliana, 1858, pp. 117-21; Who was Who, 1951-60, 1961, p. 56; J.M. Robinson, The latest country houses, 1984, pp. 189-91; Who's Who 2013; M. Hill, East Dorset Country Houses, 2013, pp. 277-81; M. Hill, J. Newman & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Dorset, 2018, pp. 331-32.

Location of archives

Littlehales (later Baker), Sir Edward Baker (1764-1825), 1st bt.: papers as private secretary to Lord Cornwallis in Ireland, 1798-1801 and Under-Secretary of State for Ireland, 1801-19 [National University of Ireland, Maynooth: Littlehales papers].
No substantial family or estate archive is known to exist, but it may remain in the custody of the family.

Coat of arms

Quarterly, 1st and 4th, argent, a castle between two crosses pattée, in chief, and a key in base, sable; on a chief, azure, two keys erect, or (for Baker); 2nd and 3rd, argent, on a bend cottised sable, three cinquefoils or; a chief, gules, charged with three arrows erect, points downwards, proper (for Littlehales).

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 8 July 2018 and was updated 9 July 2018.

1 comment:

  1. There is a collection relating to EB Littlehales in the national archives (Ireland) also. It is currently uncatalogued


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