Upping Sticks: The Baker Family

Last updated: 28 December 2017

My first ancestor to be born in New Zealand was Winifred Alice Baker.  She was born in Lyttleton in 1853, the daughter of Charles Baker (c1806 – 1868) and Emma King (1810 – 1889).  Her parents and all her siblings came from London, England.  I currently believe that she’s the only child of her parents to be born in NZ – records back then are sketchy!

Charles was the son of William Baker, a labourer and wasn’t born in Middlesex.  At the time he married Emma, he was a gardener living in Stamford Hill.  And that’s about all I know about him before he came to NZ (so, yes, he is a complete dead end, DNA permitting!).

Emma was born in 1810, the daughter of James Goodman King and Charlotte Clarke.  On her marriage certificate, her father is described as a “cattle dealer”.  In his 1819 London Gazetter bankruptcy notice he is described as “Cotton-Winder, Dealer and Chapman”.  On his children’s 1823 baptismal records he is described as a “gentleman”  He abandoned Charlotte and his children around 1829 (see my post on that!).  Emma herself is listed as a servant on her marriage certificate.

Charles and Emma married in 1838.  By the 1841 census, they are living in Hackney, Tower Hamlets and have 2 children.  They next appear in 1851 when they immigrate to New Zealand on the Duke of Bronte.  Accompanying them are their six children – Henry, Frances, Emma H.H., George, Sarah E. and William – ages ranging from 11 down to 3 months.

The Duke of Bronte left London on 10 January 1851 and arrived in Lyttleton, New Zealand on 8 June – just under 5 months later!!!  So not a good voyage.  The Steadfast which left London nearly two months later, arrived only 2 days later.

On the voyage Charles acted as surgeon’s mate.  He was presented with £10 by surgeon William Draper for faithfully and diligently performing his duties  (!!).  Well, he would have been pretty strong and handy with a saw.  What is more likely, as the surgeon was responsible for the ship’s stores was that he was strong and could possibly count!

The Duke of Bronte was the eighth ship of the Canterbury Association to arrive in Lyttleton (sorry Aunt Bea, not one of the first four).  The Canterbury Association was created to build an organised English settlement in Canterbury by Edward Gibbon Wakefield (1796-1862) and John Robert Godley (1814-1861).  It was an opportunity for lower-class people like Charles and Emma to buy land and improve their and their children’s lives – the Kiwi dream.

But arriving on the eighth ship would mean that “settlement” would be in the loosest sense of the word!

Lyttelton, taken from the foot of the Bridle road. Lithographed at the British Museum for Dr T.M. Hocken, ca 1903] III W. Holmes del. 1851Holmes, William Howard 1825-1885, “Lyttelton, taken from the foot of the Bridle road.,” ourheritage.ac.nz | OUR Heritage, accessed December 28, 2017, http://otago.ourheritage.ac.nz/items/show/5345.

Here are some links to other photos and drawings of the time:

You can browse the Christchurch City Library’s Image Collection to see how things progressed.

For Charles, used to working with his hands and outdoors in all sorts of weather, this was probably a challenge he relished.  He ended up with a bay named after him – for a while – Baker’s Bay is now Magazine Bay.  He ran cattle and sheep there.  He advertises as follows in the Lyttleton Times:

1 May 1858

SOME persons have been injuring the Cattle on my run by means of Dogs, this is to give notice that I will reward any one giving me such information as will lead to the conviction of the offenders.
Lyttelton, April 27, 1858.

12 May 1858

THE undersigned, having taken the run lately held by Mr. Salt, begs to give notice that stock may be depastured thereon, on payment of the sum of one pound per head, per annum.
Lyttelton, May 5, 1858

September 1861

ALL horses or cattle found on my run that does not pay my demand of five shillings per quarter per head, the same having always been my charge, as advertised in the ‘Times’ of May 12th, 1858; and I do not intend altering the same, they will be charged one shilling for every offence.

Emma, on the other hand didn’t like Lyttleton at all.  According to the GR MacDonald dictionary of Canterbury biographies, she wanted to leave on the first ship out.  Why?  As a servant she would have worked in houses above her “station” in London.  She probably started out living in a shack or tent when they arrived in Lyttelton at the beginning of winter.  It was probably not the life she envisaged when she left London.

What probably upset Emma the most about Lyttelton was the death of her daughters Frances Harriet (aged 10) and Sarah Elizabeth (aged 10 months) in September 1851 – less than three months after they arrived.

But she never left.

Charles died in 1868 in his early sixties:

The Star, Wednesday, October 28, 1868, page 2
Local and General
FATAL ACCIDENT – We are sorry to record an accident which terminated fatally, to Mr Baker, dairyman, an old resident at Lyttelton.  It appears from the statement of Mr Julian, that yesterday morning he accompanied the deceased as far as the head of the bay for a ride, and that in returning he was a few yards in advance of the deceased.  When near the house of the custodian of the bathing shed, the deceased’s horse came up without its rider.  He caught the horse, and upon turning round, he saw the deceased lying on the ground.  He spoke to him, but obtained no answer, and observing that blood was flowing from a wound on his head, Mr Julian immediately rode into Lyttleton for assistance.  Dr Motley was speedily in attendance, and ordered the removal of the deceased to his own house.  Drs Donald and Rouse also attended, but the deceased never rallied, and expired at nine o’clock last night.  The cause of death was ascertained to be a fracture of the base of the skull.  An inquest was held this afternoon, before WJS Coward Esq., coroner, at the Albion Hotel.  A verdict of accidental death was recorded.

Lyttelton Times, Volume XXX, Issue 2450, 29 October 1868, Page 2 (also Nov 4)


BAKER.-Oct. 27, at Lyttelton, Mr Charles Baker, in the sixty-second year of his age.

Emma moved to Christchurch to live with one of her surviving daughters.  She was a rich widow – according to GR MacDonald, Charles left an estate of £10,000.

Charles & Emma’s Children

There were seven Baker children (that I know of) of whom 5 lived to adulthood:

  1. HENRY FRANCIS BAKER was baptised on 29 Sep 1839 in Hackney.  He died in Sydney, Australia. He married Ellen Augusta Holmes on 30 Sep 1857 in Christchurch.
  2. FRANCES HARRIET BAKER was born about Feb 1841 in England and died about Sep 1851 in Lyttleton.
  3. EMMA HARRIET HAINES BAKER was born on 18 Oct 1842 in Bethnal Green.  She died on 27 Jul 1932 in Christchurch. She married David Broom Bowie (1837-1914) on 18 Oct 1866 in Christchurch.
  4. GEORGE BAKER was born before 08 Jan 1845 in Hackney, Middlesex, England. He died in 1919 (Influenza Epidemic).  He married Mary Jane Vincent around 1867 in Lyttleton.
  5. WILLIAM BAKER was born about 1849 in England.
  6. SARAH ELIZABETH BAKER was born in Nov 1850 in England and died about 20 Sep 1851 in Lyttleton.
  7. WINNIFRED ALICE BAKER was born on 03 Feb 1853 in Lyttleton. She died on 21 Nov 1932 in Christchurch. She married Jasper Pyne O’Callaghan (1839-1895) on 18 Apr 1872 in Christchurch.

Mrs Constance Clarke

I don’t like to name sources as they’re usually living people and I don’t want to breach their privacy.  However, Mrs Constance Clarke (nee Baker) would be 103 this year!  She was the granddaughter of George Baker and Mary Jane Vincent.

I have to thank Mrs Clarke for pointing me in the direction I needed to go.  When I visited the Canterbury Museum in 2000, I was fortunate to find the Baker family information she had left amongst their holdings.  She left the information in 1967!

So thank you cousin Constance!!!