Aaron Baker

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Aaron Baker
Born 1620
Died 1683 (aged 62–63)
Dunchideock, England

Aaron Eli Baker (1620–1683) was an English colonial agent of the Honourable East India Company, holding Presidency positions in Bantam and Madras in the 1640s and 1650s. Baker made a fortune in the East India trade.

Madras period[edit]

Baker was the first President of Madras when the Presidency of Fort St George was created in the year 1652. He served as President from 1652 to 1655.[1] In 1652-53, caste conflicts arose between "left-hand" and "right-hand castes" which was settled by the English, who reserved the eastern half of the Indian quarter for the "left-hand" castes and the western half of the quarter for the "right-hand" castes.

During this period, the area around Madras was in great turmoil due to the rebellion of Mir Jumla against his overlord in Golconda. During this time, Bala Rao, the chief of Poonamallee raised the customs duties on English goods, thereby causing a drastic increase in the price of goods. Madras was besieged by Bala Rao and his colleague, Tupaki Krishnappa Naick. This blockade and the economic boycott of English trade by Bala Rao forced the English to reduce Fort St George from a Presidency to an Agency when Baker's term came to an end.

Baker's wife, Elizabeth Baker, has the dubious distinction of having the oldest English tombstone in India. She died in 1652 in childbirth at sea when on her way to join her husband in Madras.[2]

Private trade was allowed while holding Presidency positions but had at first been frowned upon; both Aaron Baker and Sir Edward Winter were ultimately dismissed for it.[3]

Later years[edit]

Baker retired to Bowhay, near Dunchideock, Devon, England, with the fortunes he earned.[4] In 1669 he rebuilt the chancel aisle of St. Michael's church in Dunchideock, where is a monument to his memory.[5]

On 25 July 1672 Mr. Aaron Baker of Exminster and Mrs Mary Rowe of the parish of Ayston were married.[6]

Baker died in 1683 and is buried in St. Michael, Dunchideock.

References[edit]

  1. ^ List of Governors of Madras, from worldstatesmen.org
  2. ^ The Hindu : The bells of St. Mary's
  3. ^ 403 Forbidden
  4. ^ Baker, H. R. Popham, 'Aaron Baker of Bowhay' in Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries 14:7, (1927) pp. 322-323.
  5. ^ "Etched on Devon's Memory - Dunchideock Community Page". Devon County Council. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  6. ^ Dunchideock Parish Registers
Preceded by
Thomas Greenhill
President of Madras
1652–1655
Succeeded by
Thomas Greenhill