Harry Baker

From Folkopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Harry Baker, singer from Maidstone, Kent, 1876 - 1958.

His wife, Frances Baker, was also a singer.

His version of Death and the lady, collected by Francis Collinson in 1946, was printed in JEFDSS Vol 5 No 1 (1946), p19-20, with the following note:

"Mr. Baker of Maidstone, who is in his seventies, has worked all his life as an engineer at Thomas Tillings'. He is a little uncertain in his singing, and I had to ask him to repeat the tune of "Death and the Lady" a number of times before I was certain of having it down correctly."

Mr. Baker sang only four verses, but his version, with expanded words, was included in the Penguin Book of English Folk Songs.

Death and the Lady - VWML Archive Catalogue

Collinson also collected a version of The Bold Fisherman from Mr Baker.

Harry Baker was born 12 Dec 1876, and baptised 14 Jan 1877 at St Lawrence's church, Mereworth in Kent. He was the son of Eliza (née Honey) and William, an agricultural labourer, the third eldest of four children. Census records show the family living at Mereworth, West Peckham and East Peckham - all within a few miles of each other, roughly halfway between Tonbridge and Maidstone. The 1901 Census shows Harry as a Grocer's assistant, still living with his parents. He married Frances Harriett Bell in Mereworth on 19th December 1903. By 1911 they had moved to Upper Fant Road, Maidstone; Harry was working as an Assurance agent for the Prudential. Ten years later his occupation was given as "Hardware Steel", but he was out of work.

The 1939 Register shows the Bakers living at 5 Evelyn Road, Maidstone, and Harry's occupation is given as "Steel Engineer Hardener Heavy Worker". He died at the age of 81, in 1958.