Benjamin Baker (Biographical details)

Benjamin Baker (publisher/printer; printmaker; British; Male; 1766 - 1841)

Also known as

Baker, Benjamin; Baker, B R


No. 32, High Street, Islington 1791-1793 Lower Street, Islington 1798-1800 Islington 1802


Map engraver and publisher. Engraved numerous maps for William Faden and various leading publishers before becoming principal engraver to the Ordnance Survey in 1804. His duties included not only carrying out the more complex engraving but supervising the other engravers and seeing the maps through the press. Baker and his team came to be regarded as "the best topographical engravers in Europe" (Seymour).

Apprenticed (Stationers 744a) to a watchmaker, Thomas Beresford, 5 Feb 1782 (£40), but turned over to the map-engraver William Palmer 9 Apr 1782. Free (Stationers) 3 Mar 1789. His elder sister, Mary, married John Newton of the globe-making family. Died 29 Jun 1841.
Apprentices (to 1800): Joseph Bye 1793 (£30); David Wright 1795 (£50); James Tyrer 1797 (£50); Samuel Blake Frome 1800 (£50).
Trade card in Banks Collection (Banks,59.7) advertises "Benj. Baker Engraver, No.32 High Street, Islington. N.B. Maps, Charts, &c. Accuratelu Engrav'd."

(Above information kindly supplied by Laurence Worms)

Benjamin was the son of Edward Baker and Mary Howard (mar. 1756). His father
(1730-1797) was a tax and rate collector at St Brides for many years. In 1782 he had been a collector at St. Brides for 19 years (this information comes from a letter his son Edward wrote in January 1782). Benjamin's eldest brother, also called Edward (1757-before 1836), was a mathematical-instrument-maker of New Street, Fetter Lane. This Edward was originally apprenticed to his grandfather, also called Edward (1705-1779), who was also an instrument-maker, before being turned over to his uncle Benjamin Baker (1737-1821), a mathematical instrument-maker of Shacklewell. He subsequently became a Freeman of London on 6 May 1778 and specialized in making drawing instruments but because of the economic downturn found he could not get enough business to survive in 1781/1782 and applied for a job with the London Excise. It is unknown if he was successful.

The grandfather, Edward (1705-1779), married Martha Cole (1699-1780) on 5 December 1728 at St Brides, Fleet Street. Martha was the daughter of Benjamin Cole (1667-1729), the engraver and bookbinder of Oxford. She was also the younger sister of Benjamin Cole (1695-1766) the noted mathematical instrument-maker of Fleet Street, London. Her husband, Edward Baker (1705-1779) was apprenticed to Benjamin Cole, his future wife's brother, in late 1719 and became Free in June 1728.

Benjamin Baker the Ordnance Survey Engraver from 1804 had 3 sons and a son in law work for the Ordnance Survey.
(1) Benjamin Richard (1792-1876) at the Tower of London and one of the initial surveyors who did the Survey of Ireland in 6" to the Mile scale commencing from 1824 and finished in 1845.
(2) Alfred(1797-1878) an engraver at the Tower and moved with the Ordnance Survey to Southampton after a fire at the Tower in 1841.
(3) George (1804-1876) engraver and same comment as Alfred.
(4) Richard Tovey (1788-1871) married Benjamin's eldest daughter and child Sophia Elizabeth Baker (1791-1861) on 1/12/1810 at Islington. He was also an Engraver who worked at the Tower of London and went to Southampton in 1841.

Alfred and George Baker and Richard Tovey all retired in Southampton and died there. Benjamin Richard Baker returned to England after many years in Ireland, he stayed on in Ireland for a time after 1845, and died at Islington.

(Above information kindly supplied by Quentin Green via email on 15 August 2016)