William Baker of Coseley

William Baker, a yeoman of Coseley, died and left a will in 1696. This will identifies him as the father of Elizabeth Shaw the wife of Richard Shaw of Cinder Hill, Sedgley. Elizabeth Baker had married Richard Shaw on 9 Nov 1691 in All Saints Sedgley.

It would appear that William Baker himself had married Elizabeth Fellow from Wolverhampton in the same church on 29 Apr 1656. It is recorded that the banns were called in St Peter’s Wolverhampton in Feb 1655/56 and here we learn that William’s mother was a widow, Joanne Baker. From this we can tentatively deduce that William’s parents were John Baker and Joanne Tea (married Sedgley 1611) and this gives a possible baptism for William in 1625 in Sedgley.

Only a few of William and Elizabeth’s children have identifiable baptisms in the Sedgley register. There are at least three William Bakers in the large and burgeoning parish of Sedgley at the time. There is a William Baker of Ettingshall and a William Baker of Cotwallend, who are likely different individuals identified in the register and distinct from William Baker of Coseley.

William’s oldest daughter would appear to be Sarah Baker, baptised on 5 Mar 1658. She married Thomas Timmins in 1680 and is directly mentioned in William’s will. There are no readily identifiable baptisms for his sons William or Thomas. It is presumed Thomas is the older son, as he is the sole executor of the will. Thomas Baker, William’s son, himself died and left a will in 1709, This is verifiable because Thomas Baker makes Richard Shaw, his brother-in-law, his executor. This latter will is difficult to interpret because, whilst Thomas describes himself as a yeoman, the list of debtors runs to three columns of names and assets of over £400.

William’s unmarried daughter is identified as Hannah Baker and there would appear to be a baptism for her on 4 Mar 1660/61. Again no baptism is to be found for Elizabeth but she is probably the youngest child born in about 1670.

The inventory of the  effects of William Baker (Snr) amounted to some £227. It was taken by Thomas Elwall, Thomas Whitehouse and Thomas Handley. Although much of the wealth is 9 Cows 2 Heifers and a barn full of corn and hay, as is typical of these Sedgley wills, William also dabbles in iron and coal. Listed in the inventory are ‘nails, bellows and other shop tools’. When his son, Thomas dies, the value of the coal and ironstone in the ‘Coal Pit Bank’ on his land is measured at £22. The mix of agricultural and industrial activity was a clear route to economic and social advancement. It also appears to be correlated to an openness to non-conformist religious views. This might be indicated by the fact that at least one of the Inventory takers had probable connexions with the early Baptist church in Coseley. Non-conformism might also explain some of the missing register entries.

It would appear that Elizabeth Baker, William’s wife, was already dead by the date the will was written on 5 Feb 1694/95. William himself was buried on 7 Apr 1696.

Sources and Notes

  • Will of William Baker, Probate 1 Jun 1696. Lichfield
  • Will of Thomas Baker, Probate 10 Apr 1710, Lichfield (Son)
  • Will of Richard Shaw, Probate 8 Dec 1754, Lichfield (Son in Law)
  • There are a number of Thomas Elwalls in Sedgley at the time. The one who took the inventory is presumed to be the one linked on this site only because:-
    • William Baker’s grandchild, Thomas Shaw marries Thomas Elwall’s grandchild, Ann Elwall in 1729.
    • Both Thomas Whitehouse and this Thomas Elwall have plausible connections to the early Coseley Baptist church