The dark rolling Moors
of the Scottish/English border are home to this notable surname Baker. Its ancient history is closely woven into the rich and beautiful tapestry of the border chronicles.
In-depth research into some of the most ancient manuscripts such as the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, the Inquisitio, the Ragman Rolls, the Domesday Book, baptismals, parish records, tax records and cartularies, gave researchers the first record of the name Baker in Durham where they were seated from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D.
The name, Baker, appeared in many references, and from time to time, the surname was spelt Baker, Bakere and these changes in spelling frequently occurred within the family name. Scribes and church officials spelt the name as it sounded, and frequently the spelling changed even during the person's own lifetime.
The family name Baker is believed to be descended originally from the Boernicians. This ancient founding race of the north were a mixture of Scottish Picts and Angles, a race dating from about the year 400 A.D. By 1000 A.D. this race had formed into discernible Clans and families, perhaps some of the first evidence of the family structure in Britain. From this area we get some of the most impressive names in history, surnames with unique nicknames such as the Sturdy Armstrongs, one of whom was, appropriately, the first to colonize the moon, the Gallant Grahams, the Saucy Scotts, the Angry Kerrs, the Bells, the Nixons, the Famous Dicksons, the Bold Rutherfords, the Pudding Somervilles, and most of the names ending in "son."
From these fighting clans of the border the surname Baker was found in Durham where they were recorded as a family of great antiquity seated at Elemore Hall and Crooke Hall where they held manors and estates in that shire. Sir George Baker was Recorder (Judge) of Newcastle on Tyne. By the 15th century the family had branched southward to many locations, to Worcestershire (Hill Court); Dunstable House in Surrey; Mudbury in Devon; London, Tarrington in Norfolk; Stanton in Northumberland; Bulley in York; all being members of the same family, and owning vast estates. The junior branch of Bakers were at Sissinghurst in Kent, Worcestershire, Derbyshire, Somerset. For those interested in further research, we would recommend "Family Memorials....relating to Baker and Conyers" by R.G.B. printed in 1851. Notable amongst the family name during the early history was Sir George Baker.
The Clans or families to the north of the border became Scottish after about the year 1000 A.D., and to the south they became English. Nevertheless, despite the border, many would still be united clans, but strangely loyal to the defense of their respective countries.
Clan feuds became so intense that in 1246 A.D., six Chiefs from the Scottish side and six from the English side met at Carlisle and created a set of laws for all the border territory. These were unlike any laws prevailing in England or Scotland or, for that matter, anywhere else in the world. For refusal of assistance when called a person could be hanged on the instant, without a trial. While clans were on this "hot trod" to recover stolen property,(from which we get the modern expression "hot to trot"), they were protected from almost all eventualities.
In 1603, the crowns of Scotland and England unified under James VI of Scotland who found it expedient to disperse the "unruly border clans." The Border Clans were dispersed to England, northern Scotland and to Ireland. Some were banished directly to the Colonies.
In Ireland, they were granted lands previously held by the Catholic Irish. They signed an "Undertaking" to remain Protestant and faithful to the Crown. They settled in County Cork in Ireland and in county Waterford.
The New World beckoned and the many settlers in Ireland, known as the Scotch/Irish, became disenchanted. They sailed aboard the armada of sailing ships known as the "White Sails" which plied the stormy Atlantic. Some called them, less romantically, the "coffin ships." Amongst the first pioneers who could be considered kinsmen of the family name Baker, of that same Clan or family, were Dr. Baker who settled in Victoria, B.C. in 1862; Elizabeth Baker, who settled in Nova Scotia in 1750; Arnold, Benjamin, Charles, Christian, Edward, Elizabeth, Francis, Frederick, George, Henry, James, John, Michael, Phillip, Patrick, Richard, and William, all arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860. In Newfoundland, John settled in Fermeuse in 1675; Benjamin in Ferryland in 1681; Edward in Conception Bay in 1706; George in St. John's in 1756; John was a fisherman in Trinity in 1758; Edward in Port de Grave in 1765; John was a proprietor of fishing rooms in Scilly Cove in 1800; William was a planter in Bird Island Cove in 1823; Edward was a fisherman in Brunette in 1851; John settled in Burin in 1861, and many more. There are many place names of the name in Newfoundland, Baker Brook, Baker Cove, Baker Point, Baker Loaf Island and many more.
These pioneers became the nucleus of the first settlements from Maine to the Cumberland Gap. They provided much of the stock which produced the early presidents and governors of the United States. In Canada they settled Nova Scotia, the St. Lawrence and the Ottawa Valley.
The family name Baker, provided many prominent contemporaries, Sir Benjamin Baker, K.C.B. K.C.M.G. F.R.S., Consulting Engineer to the Egyptian Government for the Aswam Dam, Joint engineer of the Forth Bridge, and engineer of the Central Tube Railway; Sir Herbert Baker, Architect, who designed the Bank of England, and Rhodes House, Oxford; Sir Joseph Baker; Air Chief Marshall Sir John Baker; Richard Baker, Broadcaster; Sir Roland Baker; Rt. Rev. William Baker.
The most ancient grant of a Coat of Arms researched was:
Silver with a black saltire on which there are five silver escallops, and at the top a silver lion on a black chief.