Research into John Baker’s English roots:

Research into John Baker’s English roots

For the reader's background, there are four major Baker clans in the Kent and Sussex region of England:

Background

When we started to study the roots of our 1st John Baker we had very little to go by other than his date of birth which was about 1604, and it appeared from proximity that he was related to Richard Baker, probably a brother, at a location adjoining mariner William Barker’s “Merchant’s Hope Plantation” on the James River.  Barker had taken over all the properties that had belonged to Captain Nathaniel Powell who was deceased by 1624.  Finally, the 1st John Baker was recorded as both John Baker and Barker, and that continued for at least three generations.

At the end of his life, Baker’s land and family seemed to have been disbursed and one Baker researcher believed that the widow had remarried a Lt. Bond of Isle of Wight, Virginia. At first we thought we had no chance, as John Baker was an indentured servant at the company owned Eastern Shore muster.  A local historian told us these were very poor people brought from the prisons in England.  Of course, when we got into it, we learned that many of these “indentured folks” were relatives, sometimes brothers and cousins, of the person who received land for them.  The 1st John Baker also amassed quite a bit of land by the time he was forty years of age, and one author of a book about another branch of Bakers claimed there was too much about John Baker to put in his book.  The 1st John Baker also had several very noteworthy marriages to women who probably would not have married prisoners, and his daughter married in succession three of the most famous men in the colonies for her period. 

A Lynnhaven connection?

Just across the Chesapeake Bay, actually visible from the Eastern Shore Plantation, was Lynnhaven River where we found another John Baker, a very wealthy father/son combination from Mayfield in Sussex, England.  There appeared to be some relationship worthy of investigation because in later generations folks from the Lynnhaven extended families married into the Baker descendants. Click here to review those Lynnhaven connections.  We then came across a record that riveted our attention in the lower Norfolk records:  John Baker claimed that as a child he had been deprived of his property at Benfield and Charing Cross and sent to Virginia, forced to sign over estate to the late Francis Laude, a cooper in Virginia.  Charing Cross was then, and is today, one of the wealthiest land locations in England, and this young man had been railroaded when he was just a young lad. Click here for more on Lynnhaven.

An Eppes Connection?

We noted that three of the indentured servants actually came together to Virginia on the same ship, were living together on the Eastern Shore during the 1624 and 1625 census, mentioned together in a 1628 land grant to William Eppes, the 1624/1625 commander of the Eastern Shore, and then all three appeared in a 1633 land grant to William Eppe’s younger brother, Captain Francis Eppes, who was then the military commander of the upper James River area.  In the 1624 Indian massacre, the settlers had retrenched from the upper James, but had started to reclaim it from the Indians in the late 1620s and early 1630s.  The Eastern Shore commander, Captain William Eppes, had been a soldier in the Low Countries prior to coming to Virginia and had been well thought of by the CEO of the Virginia settlement, Sir Thomas Smythe.  In fact, before being assigned to the Eastern Shore, William Eppes had been captain of a plantation called Smythe’s Hundred for Thomas Smythe.  Smythe’s father settled and was buried in Ashford, Kent, the same town where Captains William and Francis Eppes were born. 

There was one other notable fact; the land on the Eastern Shore which Captain William Eppes had been granted, and the land on the upper James granted to Captain Francis Eppes, were either part of or adjoined lands previously assigned to early Virginia Governor Thomas Dale.  In 1617, Dale actually listed Sir Thomas Smythe as one of the overseers of his will along with his brother-in-law, Sir William Throckmorton.  Throckmorton had been the principal financier of Berkeley's Plantation on the upper James River.  There seemed to be a connection.

Captin William Eppes

First, we took a look at the Eppes family.  Although William Eppes was born in Ashford, his grandfather was associated with the small village and parish of Saint Clements in Old Romney where we found several informative wills. Lawrence Baker was a 1560 member of that parish.   Read more about the Eppes family. 

More significantly, we noted that Captain William Eppes was the nephew of Thomas Eppes, the mayor of New Romney who had three children. Joanne, John (1560-1603) of Brookland, and William Eppes (1554-1595) of Brookland.

Cousin John Eppes (Circa 1560- 1603) of Brookland had a son named John Eppes (1602-1626) who left his land in 1626 to Katherine Baker, daughter of Robert Baker of Brookland. Witnesses were Robert Baker and Richard Baker of Brookland.

His other cousin, William Eppes (1554-1595), had his will witnessed by Lawrence Baker of Brookland.  This is more than likely Lawrence Baker (Born November 21, 1570) to John Baker of Brookland and his wife Jane.  We would speculate that his grandfather was Lawrence Baker of Brookland who married Christian Boone on April 22, 1554.  Richard Baker of nearby New Romney, who died in 1579, was the father of a John Baker.  Stephen Baker had requested to be buried at the altar of Saint Michaels in New Romney in 1527.

Old Romney was adjacent to New Romney and the two had been the home of a citizen group called the Romney Brotherhood whose members included in 1489 a Clement Baker (Will 1516),and Sir John “Bloody” Baker of Sissinghurst in 1549.  Sir John Baker owned a manor in the village adjacent to Brookland called Appledore Manor. 

The Romney Brotherhood also included the Ayers family; John Ayers in 1559, Thomas Ayer in 1560, and John Ayers in 1566.  The daughter of the 1st John Baker would marry Virginia Company member Thomas Eyre whose name was listed in Virginia Company meetings as Mr. Ayers!  The unusual name John Eves was mentioned, and this name was mentioned in the will of the grandson of the 1st John Baker.

Captain William Eppes’ cousin Joanne Eppes married John Baker of Brookland, and they had six children; Thomas Baker, Thomasine Baker, and Margaret Baker and three others whose names were not mentioned, all born before 1580.  We think one of them was Lawrence Baker previously mentioned.  Lawrence Baker of Stone, two miles west of Brookland, married Elizabeth Bere in 1578.

We came across a pedigree of the Brockhull family of Kent in which we found that a John Baker of Brookland married Alyce Tourney, daughter of Thomas Tourney of Brockhull.  There were no dates but her brother, John Tournay of Brookland was married in 1599.  The grandmother of these two sisters was Joanne Sellinge who had married John Tourney of Calais.

We discovered a will extract written on September 1, 1589 by John Baker of New Romney who was a member of the parish of Saint Nicholas in Brookland.  This was the same parish of William Eppes (1506-1580), the great uncle of Captain William Eppes of the Eastern Shore muster, and he requested in his will that he be buried at Saint Nicholas.  William Eppes was the town warden of Dover, a Member of Parliament, and Speaker of the Cinque Ports.  It was in his will that so many of the family names mentioned were the same ones we saw later on the Eastern Shore such as Robyns (Lydd), Wilkok, Stringer, Ayers, Clarke, Glover, Hammon and Berry.  Other names associated with that parish; William Barker married Joanne Sellinge in 1572, and Edward Baker married Amy Barnes in 1624. Were these two Joanne Sellinges related?

Ten miles southwest of Brookland was Ewhurst where Perriton Manor was transferred from Sir John “Bloody” Baker to Baronet Nathaniel Powell according to Vol. 3 of Halsteds.  Captain Nathaniel Powell of Virginia was a cousin by marriage to Lady Dale, the wife of Sir Thomas Throckmorton, and Powell’s land, now known as Merchants Hope, was near or adjacent to Thomas Dale’s approximate 3,000 acres. During the 1624 census of Virginia, a William Baker was living in his own muster here and he had been in Virginia since 1609, quite long by the standards of those days. I strongly suspect he was one and the same as Captain William Barker who suddenly appeared, and could well be the father of our John Baker / Barker! Visit our Baker / Barker comparison chart.  Is Captain Nathaniel Powell the son of Baronet Nathaniel Powell, and William Barker of Brookland the father of William Barker the mariner of Merchants Hope?  

We found an interesting note in Halsteds (Vol 3 - 528) that a Thomas Baker (W1728) devised for benefit of poor out of rents formerly belonging to Mr Eps, lands in Old Romney and Midley. Land described as belonging to the Widow Coats. We imagined that the genealogy would look like the following:

It is interesting to note that Michael Baker of Mayfield had sons Lawrence Baker (B1574) and John Baker (B1576) 

It almost looked like we had found the roots of the 1st John Baker, until we looked at Wittersham, an area about four miles west of Brookland where we found a large family of Bakers that included John Baker (born 1559), Alexander Baker (Born 1566), Lawrence Baker (Will 1559), Nicholas Baker (Born 1551), Michael Baker, father of Lawrence Baker (born 1574) and John Baker (Born 1576). 

Two miles further west at the village of Rolvenden we found Andrew Baker, father of John baker (born November 12, 1598) and Thomas Baker (born November 16, 1595) as well as John Baker, bachelor, buried October 8, 1604), and Thomas Baker, father of John baker (born September 25, 1597). 

Rolvenden sat outside Tenterden where we located a Christopher Baker, son of John Baker of Battle, father of George Baker of London, and grandfather of Alexander Baker of London, Esquire in 1634. He was the 1588 Master of the "Foresight" during the Spanish Armada.  Tenterden was listed as a Bakers of Sissinghurst Manor.  Cranbrook and Sissinghurst Manor were located only another four miles west.

 

Bakers of Sissinghurst

As we looked at the Bakers west of Brookland, we kept running into manors that had belonged to the Bakers of Sissinghurst.  Appledore Manor sat outside Brookland, and nine more manors between Appledore and Sissignhurst which which was only twelve miles away! Five of them were around Tenterden.

Sissinghurst Castle lies in the Weald of Kent in an eight-mile wide valley of remarkable fertility and loveliness.  In Elizabethan times it would have been known as Sissinghurst Manor when it was moated and twice the size of the current relic.  The name Sissinghurst dates back to at least 1180 when Stephen de Saxingherste was mentioned in connection with the charter of the Cumbwell Priory at nearby Gouldhurst.  By 1305, Sissinghurst was impressive enough for King Edward I to spend the night.  In 1490, Thomas Baker purchased Sissinghurst. The Bakers were then a yeoman family settled in nearby Cranbrook during the reign of Edward III; but Thomas Baker came upon impressive wealth to purchase such a large manor.  Cranbrook was then becoming the lead cloth-making center for England and it retained that reputation for three hundred years.  Many Flemish weavers settled in Cranbrook. As late as 1620, it was fashionable to be dressed in Cranbrook cloth.  Several other families developed prominence such as the Courthopes of Goddards Green, but Sissignhurst remained the oldest and greatest manor of the Weald.  Strangely, when Thomas Baker died in 1497, or his son Richard Baker died in 1504, there was nothing to indicate they had amassed their fortune in the cloth-making business.  It is known they were devout men, careful with their money, who cared deeply about their families, but would not over indulge them. 

Their sons were to make their own way and to share equally in the family wealth at a mature age when they had developrd their own professions.  Richard Baker (died 1504) had inherited Burwash in Sussex, and Staplehurst and Cranbrook in Kent.  Sissinghurst wasn’t mentioned specifically probably because it was in such disrepair.  It is assumed that his son, third generation John Baker, inherited Sissinghurst while his brothers Thomas, James, and Robert Baker inherited the other properties such as Cranbrook or Burwash. (Burwash is only two villages, four miles from Mayfield.)

Sir John Baker

Sir John (Bloody) Baker lived at Sissinghurst Castle in the 1550s in the period when he was the Under Sheriff of London (1520), Recorder of London (1525-1532), Attorney General of England (1536-1540), Under Treasurer and Chancellor of the Exchequer (1540), Privy Councilor (similar to today’s cabinet minister)(1540-1558), and Speaker of the House of Commons (1547-1552).  John first married into the Sackvilles, and his daughter Cecily married Thomas Sackville, the 1st Earl of Dorset, whose family was the overlord of his Mayfield manor.  He entertained Queen Mary at Sissighurst in 1557.

As the Attorney General, Baker had been pivotal in Henry VIII’s dissolution of monastic and chantry. He received six of the Thomas Wyatt manors when Henry VIII had him executed.  Henry VIII left him 200 English pounds (a substantial sum at that time) in his will. He served as a privy councilor for Henry's son King Edward, and then his daughter "Bloody Queen Mary".  Lore has it that he was called "Bloody Baker" because he killed so many Protestants, and the heresy burnings in his diocese where he was the Justice of the Peace were higher than any other in England.  But he probably received the name because of his close association with "Queen “Bloody” Mary" who ordered many protestants burned at the stake across England in they did not once again accept the Catholic religion.  John Baker of Sissinghurst had at least forty manors and they are depicted on the following.  Note this does not include other manors accumulated by his father and grandfather such as Burwash.

Sir John Baker died on December 23, 1558 and his son Richard inherited Sissinghurst. 

Son Richard Baker

Sissinghurst was already quite old, and Sir Richard rebuilt much of the manor. In 1573, Queen Elizabeth spent three nights at Sissinghurst.  It probably looked like the following drawing.  Elizabeth then went to Hothfield to be entertained by Richard’s sister, the widow Mary Tufton.  Richard presented Queen Elizabeth with a 117 ounce silver-gilt cup.  Several days later, Queen Elizabeth knighted Richard Baker.  Richard, who died in 1594, passed Sissinghurst to his son John Baker who died in 1596. Illustration from about the period 1565. The gardens as well as one of the remaining towers makes this a must see when you visit England.  John’s son, Henry Baker, was sheriff of Kent (1604-1605), knighted in 1606, and bought himself a baronetcy in 1611.  Henry died in 1623 leaving three very young sons.  The eldest boy, John Baker, subsequently became sheriff of Kent, but picked the wrong side in the civil war and the family never recovered financially.

Son John Baker of Cranbrook and London, disinherited

We found it interesting that the namesake, John Baker, had not inherited Sissinghurst but rather his brother Richard Baker.  There was no mention of it in the Sissinghurst records, but other records revealed that son John Baker had been disinherited, and his son Richard Baker (1568-1610) spent ten years in debtor’s prison where he died in 1610.  It was probably this Richard Baker that served in the Low Countries.

The disinherited son, John Baker of Cranbrook, had been originally granted the adjoining estates of Staplehurst Manor and Lovehurst Manors just north of Sissinghurst.  This John Baker was better known as John Baker of London.  He married Catherine Scott, the daughter of Sir Reginald Scott who was the captain of the castle in Calais under Henry VIII. Reginald’s son married Elizabeth Baker, Bloody Baker’s daughter.  Finally, a John Stone was a church warden at Staplehurst, and a John Stone was the father of Captain William Eppes’ good friend, Captain William Stone, who managed his Virginia properties.

The son of the disinherited John Baker was Richard Baker (1568-1610), better known as the author and Chronicler of the Kings.  Richard was also a Member of Parliament for Oxfordshire but died in 1610 in debtors prison after spending ten years as a prisoner there.  Clearly the father and son had committed some act or lived the life of luxury in London before being disinherited and getting into debt.  Richard’s son Sampson was the ancestor of a line of Bakers that settled in New England.  Clearly this situation between father and son, John Baker and Richard Baker, had all the necessary ingredients for the John Baker who made a claim in Virginia that his estates in Charing Cross (London) had been taken from him illegally.

The disinherited John Baker of Cranbrook and London had an uncle named Thomas Baker, and another named Robert, so it is not difficult to accept that he would have so named other sons Thomas Baker and Robert Baker.


1st generation Thomas Baker
2nd generation Richard Baker
3rd generation Sir John Baker, Bloody Baker (1488-1558), St. Dunstands, Cranbrooke
4th generation Richard Baker (1528-1594) Sir John Baker of London, disinherited Ceceily Baker = Sir Thomas Sackville who owned the lands including Groombridge!
5th generation John Baker of Cranbrooke
Receiving annunity from Sir Thomas Shirley, the elder
Thomas Baker, s/o Richard Sir Richard Baker (1568-1610) spent ten years in debtors prison before he died there.
6th generation Baron Henry Baker (D1623) of Cranbrooke and Baron John Baker of London


Bakers of Mayfield

John Baker of Mayfield, now of Lynnhaven, Virginia was alive in 1553, and his father was John Baker of Mayfield , an investor in the Virginia Company, who had married as his first wife, the daughter of the very wealthy Robert Offley, merchant of London. Baker’s sister-in-law Offley married his Virginia neighbor, Adam Thorogood.  His wife’s aunt, Adria Osbourne, married Thomas Harris of Neck of Land on the upper James.  Our 1st John Baker also married a niece of that Thomas Harris.  So Adria Harris was the aunt of the wives of our 1st John Baker and John Baker of Mayfield and Virginia who at one point lived at locations visible to the eye-to-one another!

After Katherine Offley died, John Baker of Mayfield remarried Elizabeth Rivers.  (Lower Norfolk Records.  On March 22, 1653/1654, John Baker's statement of November 15, 1653 was recorded in which he said that he was John Baker of Lynnhaven, a singleman, and his statement said that his father (deceased) was John Baker who was married at St. Martins in the Field to Elizabeth also deceased).

We have charted the Bakers of Withyham and Mayfield below from the Pedigrees of the Families of Sussex published in 1830.  John Baker of Mayfield descended from Thomas Baker of Battle, the first being Sir Thomas Battle of Omendenneskok in 1371.  It is thought the Bakers of Sissinghurst descended from this same Battle family.  In fact, John Baker of Mayfield, wife Katherine Offley, seems to have inherited his manor in Mayfield from his grandmother, Elizabeth Isted of Morehouse in Mayfield as his other properties were from the ancient Bakers of Battle.  John Baker of Mayfield had a cousin named John Baker whose sister Mary Baker married Robert Brook (1602-1655) of White Church in Hants, a man who went off to Maryland and created a place for himself in Maryland history as a military leader. White Church appeared as an important location in our study of Sir Thomas Dale because it was the home of William Shrimpton, one of two persons named by Lady Dale in her 1640 will to inherit Dale’s Virginia properties.  Another neighbor was Thomas West, Lord de la Warr who was a Virginia Governor at the time of Thomas Dale, who named his plantation “Shirley”.  The 1st John Baker lived and sold his land at Shirley!  White Church was also very near one of the two major locations we pinpointed as the potential birthplace of Sir Thomas Dale!  You may want to read more at the Thomas Dale site.

 

Baker Wills

We knew that John Baker had been associated with Captain William Eppes on the Eastern Shore from 1623 to 1628, and then he did not reappear again until 1632 on the upper James River.  We also learned from the Francis Eppes records that Francis had possibly returned to Ashford from Virginia for several years before appearing on the upper James River.  We noted that a John Baker married an Eleanor Epps at Elmstead on the outskirts of Ashford on April 10, 1627. Had this been the marriage that gave us Hugh Baker?

We also knew that the 1st John Baker had been born about 1604 and as we scanned the documents for that period several dates came to our attention. 

q       John Baker, son of Thomas Baker of Cranbrook, was born October 3, 1603.  (This Thomas Baker was probably Sir Thomas Baker of Cranbrook, Knight, 2nd son of Sir Richard Baker of Sissinghurst (Died 1594).  But could it have Thomas Baker, son of John Baker of Cranbrook and London who had been disinherited?  We should pay attention to Cranbrook because we found the recorded birthdate of September 28, 1589 for a William Mumms. William Mumms was in the 1624 Eastern Shore muster of Captain William Eppes, appeared later on the upper James River with John Baker, and his daughter married Hugh Baker, the son of the 1st John Baker!

q       Another timely birth was that of John Baker, son of Robert Baker and Winifred Stone, who was born on September 29, 1605 at nearby Gouldhurst which was only four miles west of Cranbrook and ten miles east of Mayfield and Burwash Manor, which had been inherited by a Robert Baker one century before.  How did they relate to the Robert Baker mentioned at Brookland in this same period?  William Eppes asked his best friend, William Stone, to watch his estate in Virginia.  Was there a relationship here? 

q       Also in Gouldhurst, a William Baker and his wife Elizabeth, gave birth to a John Baker on January 12, 1605.

 

John Baker of Mayfield also had an uncle Robert Baker of Withyham, whose son was John Baker of nearby Groombridge.  Another manor of Robert Baker of Gouldhurst?

1st generation Thomas Baker of Battle
2nd generation Henry Baker of Battle, Henry VII
3rd generation John Baker of Withyham, Henry VIII
4th generation John Baker of MayfieldRobert Baker of Withyham
5th generation Michael Baker of Withyham Thomas (John Baker)
6th generation John Baker of Mayfield =Kath. OffleyThomas Baker
7th generation John Baker of Lynnhaven Dorothy Baker = John Baker of Stoneland
 

There are a couple others to note at Withyham in Sussex:
Michael Baker of Withyham
  • Lawrence Baker (B1574)
  • John Baker (B1576)
Lawrence Baker of Withyham
  • Nicholas Baker (B1551)
Bennett Baker married in 1579 William Williamson, and a William Williamson claimed a headright for Daniel Baker in 1635

Summary

As you can see from this presentation, there were a lot of Bakers in county Kent in the years leading up to John Baker’s birth approximately 1604.

I decided to attempt a description of the type person I would have selected to go with me to the Eastern Shore and be part of a remote outpost of less than 50 people on a new continent.  Their mission was primarily to be the early warning for the Virginia settlement from the Spanish who they felt certain would attack.  Secondary responsibilities were to mine salt and catch fish and send them back to the settlers at Jamestown and on the James River.  I would want someone who knew the sea, could work a small boat in the bay and ocean, bright and independent, trustworthy, knew how to and would work. 

I most certainly would have recruited in Romney Marsh for this was a unique area in all of England.  They did not have to pay taxes, but had to provide so many ships each year to the English monarch.  If I were William Eppes, I would have visited my Eppes relatives in Romney Marsh where my great uncle had been the distinguished Mayor and asked them to introduce me to young men who may fit my description.  While I was there, I would have had a relative take me to the meeting of the Romney Brotherhood!

I have no doubt that this is the area in Kent where William Claiborne drew Thomas Baker, Andrew Baker, and Alexander Baker for his Kent Island settlement in the 1620s.  It also is the reason that he received so much help from the Northampton, Virginia residents to help him as they were from this same small region of Kent.

Romney Marsh would have included New and Old Romney, Appledore, and Brookland.  I would then focus on three possible families in hopes that we could eventually discover the roots of the 1st John Baker.

Scenario #1 would have to be that the 1st John Baker was the John Baker of Gouldhurst, outside of Cranbrook, born in 1605.  The dates are correct, but I wonder if Captain William Eppes would have recruited there. 

Scenario #2A.  We don’t have any birth dates recorded but the 1st John Baker most likely descended from the Bakers of Brookland.  That genealogy may have started with Clement Baker (died 1516 and a contemporary of the 1st Thomas Baker of Sissinghurst) of New Romney and the Romney Brotherhood.  The reader should remember that when Thomas Baker of Sissinghurst died in 1497, he was probably already the descendant of the Bakers of Battle with a two hundred year plus lineage.  Battle was only fifteen miles from Brookland.  When Thomas Baker died, only two sons were mentioned but certainly there were more.  Appledore Manor in the next village to Brookland belonged to the Bakers of Sissinghurst by at least the 1560s.  The Bakers of Brookland could already have been an extract of the Bakers of Sissinghurst toward the end of the 1500s. 

Scenario #2B.  For this scenario, I would look at both Brookland and ten miles southwest towards Ewhurst. John Baker of Brookland married Alyce Tourney close to the 1600 date. Sir John Baker had granted his manor in Ewhurst to Baronet Nathaniel Powell. A Captain Nathaniel Powell, who we suspect being the son, patented a large 600 acre tract of land on the upper James River that he called Powel's Brook. That was later purchased by a William Barker who was a very wealthy mariner, and he renamed Merchant's Hope adjacent to which we found a Richard Baker who we believed to be the brother of the 1st John Baker. In John Baker of Brookland's parish, there was reported a William Barker.   Perhaps the reason that the 1st John Baker dropped off the radar screen after his death is that he was related to mariner William Barker of Merchants Hope.  His land was possibly accumulated with mariner William Barker’s son’s lands.  The son’s name was John Barker.

Perhaps this was the reason for the periodic swapping of the name from Baker to Barker to keep people aware.  This would explain why this continued for three generations! 

We never figured out exactly what Captain William Eppes relationship was to Sir Thomas Dale but speculated that William and Francis Eppes had served in Dale’s company in the Low Countries in 1616.  Perhaps like two ships passing in the night, Dale had heard Eppes was an outstanding soldier, and when he returned to London in 1616 suggested that Eppes go to support his friend Thomas Smythe in Virginia.  When Eppes was reassigned to the Eastern Shore, he probably was told to get back to England and recruit some men to help him serve Virginia’s forward defense line.  By 1619 he must have been writing back to his family to line up some more folks.  Half of his troops died his first year on the Eastern Shore, and in 1623 three more came over including our 1st John Baker. 

Baker stayed with Eppes for his agreed five years on the Eastern Shore, but then in 1628 he returned with Eppes to Ashford, England. After a short visit, Eppes went to his new assignment as second-in-command at Saint Christopher’s Island, and Baker married his distant cousin at Elmsted outside Ashford.  Meanwhile brother Francis Eppes returned to Ashford, England for several years but was asked to return early in the 1630s when Thomas Smythe, treasurer of the Virginia Company, told him that they wanted Francis to reclaim the upper James River from the Indians.  They probably promised Francis land at Hopewell; Thomas Dale had died and Lady Dale’s family fortune was in great jeopardy.  Smythe knew she would be more than happy to sell a portion of their holdings to Smythe.  After all, Thomas Smythe was an overseer of the will of Thomas Dale.  Moreover, Thomas Smythe’s father retired in Ashford and lived in a large manor house there.  Although only ten miles away, the Baker’s of Sissinghurst had four manor houses near Ashford, one of which Sir Richard Baker had renamed PERRITON after his father sold Perriton at Ewhurst to Baron Nathaniel Powell.  Son Captain Nathaniel Powell was married to Lady Dale’s cousin Tracy.  Perhaps Baker stayed with a distant cousin in Ashford. 

After all these years, I am sad to report this is all I can pass along to my descendants, but it strikes me that it is a good start!

Click here to review a master list of English BAKER names and dates.