This site is a work-in-progress. There is a massive amount to cover. I have included both male and female lines, and some go back 30 generations. Keep coming back for more.
I have numbered the generations working backwards from my own as (1)
SAMUEL CHAMBERLAIN BAKER and ELIZABETH BRETT (5)
SAMUEL CHAMBERLAIN BAKER was the eldest son of Samuel Lilly Baker and his wife Susan Abigail . He was born in 1796, in the reign of George III, who fell increasingly prone to bouts of madness, leaving the country in the hands of the Prince Regent.
Baptism. St Leonard’s, Deal. (KFHS transcript)
1796 30 November Samuel Chamberlain Baker son of Samuel and Susan.
His father was one of the Deal boatman. They were famous for their skill and courage, as they provisioned the numerous ships anchored in the Downs on their way through the Straits of Dover, or rescued crews and salvaged wrecks on the Goodwin Sands, and notorious as smugglers. Samuel Chamberlain followed his father as a boatman. As a boy, and later a teenager, he would have taken a lively interest in the progress of the Napoleonic wars, especially in Napoleon’s plans to invade across the English Channel. Deal was 22 miles from the French coast. He would have seen his father helping to embark troops from Deal beach, and may even have helped to launch the luggers.
He was the first of eleven children, but only six survived to adulthood.
He was 18 when the war ended with the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Deal had prospered greatly in the war years and the population had increased. But decline set in when it ended.
Bankruptcies became common among the tradesmen, and it was only by the energy and far-sighted policy of a little band of townsmen, who were convinced of Deal’s possibilities as a watering-place, that the town was saved from complete ruin.
John Laker, History of Deal, p.340.
"Sterner measures against smuggling, with which many boatmen augmented their earnings, increased their hardship.
Samuel’s family fell on hard times. His youngest sister was born at the end of 1815, when the family were living in Middle Street, but when she died in October 1818, her address was given as the Poor House. Samuel’s father had died by 1824, and probably by 1821, If he died before little Eliza, this could be the reason for the family’s poverty, or he might have been ill or injured and unable to work. But Samuel himself, and his brother William, should have been earning money by now, if there was money to be had.
What is all the more surprising is that Samuel Chamberlain’s grandfather, Samuel Baker, left over £1000 in his will in money and property. He styled himself as a gentleman. It may be that the decision of Samuel Chamberlain’s father to become a boatman, and not to follow Samuel senior in the trade of pipemaking, had caused them to fall out."
Some of the boatmen took other steps to try to improve their position, and at a meeting of the ship owners at the City of London Tavern in 1817, it was reported that a combination of Deal boatmen, called the Deal Boatmen’s Society, existed whose object was to prevent assistance being sent to vessels in distress unless “upon the conditions of the masters submitting to rules prescribed by the said combination.” The meeting expressed its disapprobation of such proceeding, and resolved to ask for the establishment of marine police at Deal. Later in the year the Deputy Master and several Brothers of Trinity House were sent to Deal to investigate, when they reported that only a part of the boatmen belonged to the Society, but that great intimidation prevailed.
Laker, History of Deal, p.341.
Elizabeth daughter of William and Jane Britt baptised August 24 th 1792.
There is no other baptism for Elizabeth Brett/Britt around this period.
Her parents were William Britt and Jane Ticehurst . Her father may have been a poulterer, but in old age o was an agricultural labourer, Britt was the spelling favoured in the East Sussex village of Ticehurst. Elsewhere in Essex, Britt and Brett were used interchangeably. In Kent, the usual spelling was Brett.
The village is 8 miles SW of Tunbridge Wells, on the high ground of the Weald.
We do not at what stage in her life Elizabeth moved to Deal, 22 miles away. She was ‘of this parish’ when she married at 24, and must have been there long enough to qualify for settlement. A sister and brother were also baptised in Ticehurst, so she cannot have left before 1797. She appears to have moved with her parents.
Samuel and Elizabeth were married by banns in 1822.
Marriage. St Leonard’s, Deal. (KFHS transcript)
1822 18 February. Samuel. Baker b,o.t.p. & Elizabeth Brett X sp.o.t.p. B (banns)
It appears that Samuel could sign his name, but Elizabeth was illiterate, and signed with a cross.
They set up home in Beach Street, in Lower Deal. Beach Street, as its name suggests ran along the seafront, with rows of sailors’ cottages. Herbert Russell writes in The Longshoreman of one such house : “The gate of the back-yard opened on to the beach itself, and it was no uncommon occurrence, when it came a spring tide on top of a north-easterly gale, for the foam of the surf to be washing about in the small court a foot deep.”
Their eldest son was baptised in the parish of St Leonard’s, but almost certainly at St George’s chapel in Lower Deal, which served the boatmen.
Baptism. St Leonard’s, Deal. (KFHS transcript)
1823 29 January Samuel Baker son of Samuel & Elizabeth. Beach Street. Mariner.
A brother for little Samuel junior followed.
Baptism. St Leonard’s, Deal. (KFHS transcript)
1824 22 September George Lilley Baker son of Samuel and Elizabeth. Beach Street. Mariner.
Shortly after George’s birth, on the stormy night of 23 Nov 1824, the ship Belina was wrecked off Deal. There was no lifeboat at Deal until 1865. Five Deal luggers put out to save the crew. One of these was the Ox. The crew are listed as:
Ockady Minter Samuel Baker
John Tapley William Baker
John Upton Thomas Cottle
Richard Welland William Redman
Since their father Samuel Lilly Baker was now dead, this must be the 28-year-old Samuel Chamberlain Baker, and probably his younger brother William Henry.
From the Belina ’s complement of 19 men and a little black boy, six were saved: the captain, mate, three men and a boy from Greenwich School, probably the ‘little black boy’. Of these, the Ox saved one man.
George Lilley died the following year.
Burial. St Leonard’s, Deal. (KFHS transcript)
1825 29 Sep Geo. Baker Beach St. 1.
A month later, Samuel Chamberlain’s grandfather, Samuel Baker , Gentleman, died. Whatever disagreement there may have been with his eldest son, he provided for Samuel Lilly’s children in his will. Four boys and two girls had survived childhood. Samuel Baker left £50 to be shared between them. He left personal effects and an annuity for his widow, £500 to the eldest son of his second marriage, and property including a house in Deal, farmland, a brewery and a public house to the two sons of that marriage. The rest of his money, and any obtained by selling his remaining possessions, was to be invested in a trust, a quarter of which was for the use of Samuel’s Lilly’s children. The remainder of the trust money was for Samuel Chamberlain’s three aunts, who, like Samuel Lilly, were children of his first marriage.
The sum which came directly to him was £8.6.8d. We do not know the size of the trust fund. But any help would have been welcome in those difficult times.
Next year, a third son was born. The family had now moved to Primrose Hill.
Baptism. St Leonard’s, Deal . (KFHS transcript)
1826 1 December William Brett Baker son of Samuel Chamberlain and Eliz. Primrose Hill. Mariner.
Then a daughter.
1829 1 Apr Mary Jane BAKER daughter of Samuel Chamberlain & Elizabeth. Primrose Hill. Mariner.
The family stayed in Primrose Hill. They were there for the 1841 census
1841 Census. Deal. Primrose Hill.
Samuel Baker 45 Mariner Y (born in Kent)
Elizabeth Baker 45 Y
William Baker 15 Y
Elizabeth Baker 11 Y
Mary Jane was 12 that year. She was the younger of two female servants in the household of the elderly George and Mary Wilmott. They were living in Brook Street and of independent means.
In 1842, Samuel, and very likely his sons, would have been among the boatmen who turned out in force to greet Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and the young Princess Royal and Prince of Wales, when they came to spend a month at Walmer Castle.
At Deal the day was naturally regarded as a general holiday, and steps were taken to give the young Queen a fitting welcome.
Shortly after two o’clock the Mayor, Aldermen and Town Council and several hundred of the inhabitants met at the Town Hall, where a procession was marshalled to proceed to Upper Deal to receive her Majesty at the confines of the Borough. The procession left the Town Hall in the following order:
Numerous boatmen, bearing the flags of all nations,
preceded by the royal standard,
the Children of Deal Charity Schools, two and two,
Band of music,
The Rev. Mr. Backhouse,
Aldermen of the Borough,
The inhabitants of Deal, consisting of several hundred, four deep,
The Deal pilots,
The Deal boatmen.
Upon the arrival of the procession at the triumphal arch at Sholden, which had been erected across the turnpike road,… the boatmen were stationed along the road in detachments of six each, every other man bearing, alternately, a flag and a torch.
John Laker, History of Deal.
Elizabeth took in washing to help keep the family. By the 1851 census two sons were left at home. They were following in their father’s footsteps as boatmen. The family were still living at Primrose Hill.
Primrose Hill, Deal
Baker head wid 54 Laundress Tisus ( Ticehurst ),
In this census, William Brett , agricultural labourer, born in Mayfield, near Ticehurst, was a pauper in the Eastry Workhouse. He was then 91. Evidently he was too infirm to support himself, and Elizabeth, as a widow, was not able to take him in. There is a Jane Brett , who may be Elizabeth’s 80-year-old mother, working as a servant in Walmer.
We do not yet know when Elizabeth died. She has not been found in the 1861 census, so probably died between 1851 and then. There was a death in the Eastry district for an Elizabeth Baker of the right age in 1867, but it is a common name.
Next Generation: 4. BAKER-BUSHELL
Previous Generations: 6. BAKER