the manner in which it harmonised with the theological prejudices of the time, gained for it an amount of popularity which it scarcely merited, when we consider that its depreciatory estimate of the value of scientific research is derived from a survey of the subject in which Bacon is but faintly commended, the name of Locke entirely omitted, and the Copernican system referred to in contemptuous terms (7th ed. pp. 104-9). 'We,' says Baker, in conclusion, 'who know so little of the smallest matters, talk of nothing less than new theories of the world, and vast fields of knowledge; busying ourselves in natural inquiries, and flattering ourselves with the wonderful discoveries and mighty improvements that have been made in humane learning, a great part of which are purely imaginary, and at the same time neglecting the only true and solid and satisfactory knowledge' (p. 285),
Baker died somewhat suddenly on 2 July 1740, having been seized with apoplexy and found insensible on the floor of his study. During his lifetime he had expressed the wish that he might be buried near the grave of the founder, to whose liberality he felt himself under so much obligation. His desire found its accomplishment, and he was interred near Dr. Ashton's tomb in the ante-chapel of the former chapel of St. John's College. Cole (MSS. xlix. 93) describes his funeral as 'very solemn, with procession round the first court in surplices and candles.'
Baker was a grandson of Colonel Baker of Crooke, a staunch royalist, who distinguished himself in the civil war by his gallant defence of Newcastle against the Scots in 1639. A nephew of the antiquarian, George Baker, entered as a fellow commoner at St. John's only the day before his uncle's seizure. Few scholars have enjoyed a better reputation than Baker even among those who differed from them in opinion; and his slender purse was ever open even to assist those with whose views he did not altogether sympathise. In imparting knowledge from his own great stores, he was equally unselfish; and by Zachary Grey (a friend of Cole's), who collected the materials for his life, he is designated not only 'the most knowing in our English history and antiquitys,' but also 'the most communicative man living' (Examination of Neal's History of the Puritans, ii. 62 n.; see also Fiddes's Life of Wolsey, p. 312). His generosity met with a certain return, and many of his friends were in the habit of presenting him with books, while he himself was an indefatigable collector. He subscribed to all antiquarian works, and procured subscribers. At his death the greater part of his collections came into the possession of the college, and the shelves of the college library were enlarged for their reception. Two large volumes of his letters to Hearne are in the Bodleian, and also some of his books. His letters to Strype are in the Cambridge University library, and the publication of his whole correspondence is in contemplation by the Surtees Society. His notes on Wood's 'Athenæ' are incorporated in the edition by Bliss. Most of his books contain notes, sometimes of considerable value, in his own handwriting, a hand always recognisable by its size and great legibility. His sense of the wrong which he had experienced is left on lasting record, owing to his invariable practice of appending to his name on the blank leaf the words 'Socius ejectus.' There are portraits of Baker in St. John's College and in the Bodleian, the latter having been formerly in the possession of Lord Oxford.
Baker's valuable manuscript collections have been largely utilised by Messrs. C. H. and Thompson Cooper in their successive works, the 'Annals of Cambridge,' the 'Athenæ Cantabrigienses,' and the 'Memorials of Cambridge.' The fact that his history of his own college was allowed to remain so long in manuscript is probably to be attributed to the prejudices excited against him as a nonjuror, and, consequently, an opponent of all religious tests. The college, however, early procured a transcript (see Mayor's Pref. p. vi). The additions to the copy in the Cole manuscripts are incorporated in the edition of 1869. Cole tells us that Dr. Powell (master of St. John's 1765-75), a violent, dogmatic man, could never listen with patience to any commendation either of the history or its author.
[Marshall's Genealogist's Guide; Lives (compiled chiefly from materials collected by Zachary Grey) by Masters (Camb., 1784), by Nichols, Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century, v. 106-117 and index; and by the author of the Life in the Biographia Britannica; Life by Horace Walpole. Works, ii. 339; Index to Baker's History of St. John's College, ed. J. E. B. Mayor; Brydges's Restituta, iv. 409 ; Freeman's Portrait Pictures of St. John's College; Index to Reliquiæ Hearnianæ.]
BAKER, WILLIAM (1668–1732), bishop of Norwich, was the son of William Baker, vicar of Ilton, Somersetshire, where he was born in 1668. He was educated at Crewkerne School, and entered at Wadham College, Oxford, of which college he was first fellow, and eventually became warden in 1719. He was successively rector of St. Ebbes, of Padworth, and of Blayden, all in the diocese of Oxford. In 1714 he was collated to the archdeaconry of Oxford. In