Chapter 7
The Bakers

Emma Baker, Eli’s wife, came from West Horrington, near Wells in Somerset [B.1, B.1a, B.2].

After emigrating Emma must have kept in touch with her family in England. The Titchener and Baker families in England were also in touch with each other, though probably only occasionally. Charles, in his 1862 letter to Eli and Emma, writes that his son “Daved sent to your Mrs sister Jane” to get Eli and Emma’s address, which Charles had lost. The contact continued through Minnie Judd, a niece to Emma and a daughter of the second marriage of James Baker, an elder brother of Emma. 1899 sees Edward William Titchener (“Will”), one of Eli and Emma’s younger sons, writing to introduce himself to Minnie; but this, his first letter to her, was probably also his last, for he died the following year. Seemingly the contact continued through Minnie Judd and her Aunt Emma. It was at any rate close enough for Elijah Percy Titchener, a grandson of Eli and Emma and the youngest son of William James Titchener, to visit Minnie Judd and her husband, William Herbert Bissell Judd, when he was on leaves from the trenches in France during World War I. Madeline, the youngest daughter of Minnie and “Willie” Judd, maintained and extended this contact, taking a great interest in her Titchener relatives in New Zealand. Madeline Judd married John Cobb, and together they researched the Baker family. It is through them that we have the Baker family tree [B.1, B.1a].

The earliest Baker recorded in their tree is Stephen Baker of West Horrington. His birth date is not known. He married Hester (or Esther) Young also of West Horrington in 1750 or 1751. He died in November 1789. Stephen and Hesther had three sons, of whom the youngest, James, born in 1764, was Emma’s grandfather. James Baker married Ann Townsend of East Horrington in 1788 at St Cuthberts Church in Wells. Their eldest son, also named James, was born in 1790. He married Mary Brown in 1810, also at St Cuthberts. James and Mary had 10 children of whom the eighth was Emma, who married Elijah Titchener and emigrated with him to Australia and New Zealand.

The seventh child of James and Mary, yet another James, married twice. His second wife, Sarah Anne Gregory, bore him three chlidren, of whom the youngest was Minnie, later to become Minnie Judd and the mother of Madeline.

Madeline Bissell Judd, to give her her full maiden name, was married to John Leonard Cobb. In following her interest in the New Zealand Titcheners, she extended her correspondence to include Madeline (“Madge”) Titchener (after whom she was named), Amelia Frances (“Min”) Titchener the wife of Percy Titchener, Orma Samuda (nee Titchener) and, later, my mother Freda Muriel Titchener.

We have been lucky to have met Madeline Cobb and her husband, John, and to have received the products of their joint research into the Baker family; in particular to have been given a copy of Madeline’s “Family Notes of the Titchener and Baker Families in New Zealand and England from 1828 up to Early 1977”, and to have had the opportunity to copy some of the many photographs in Madeline’s collection of New Zealand Titcheners.

Madeline’s “Family Notes” contain a number of mistakes and confusions, which, fortunately, I have been able to correct over time. Of particular interest are background comments on different members of the two families. Thus she recalls the visits of Percy Titchener to her parents during World War I. “I was about three years old then, and used to sit on his knee by the fire; he used to bring the family fabulous boxes of chocolates, but plain food was so scarce in England then that Minnie used to wish so much that he would give them something less frivolous.”

Probably the most unusual of the Baker family was Annie Baker, elder sister of Minnie and Madeline’s aunt. Annie was born in 1866. She never married. She became a notable figure in the movement to abolish the white slave traffic. The movement began in Victorian times and continued well into this century. Annie became Assistant Secretary of the National Vigilance Association and, later, Director of the International Bureau.

A book entitled “A Vision and Its Fulfillment” by W. A. Coote describes the work of the Association. The flyleaf gives the address of the Association as St Marys Chambers, 16A The Strand, London WC. It is undated, but the author’s preface carries the date 1910. A preamble introduces it as “Being the history of the origin of the work of the national vigilance association for the suppression of the white slave traffic. With a record of visits paid to the Capitals of Europe, and to America, Egypt, and South Africa, for the purpose of organising National Committees for the Suppression of the Traffic, by [in the next line] W. A. Coote”; [and then in succeeding lines] “Containing 68 authorised Photographs and Autographs of leading persons who have taken part in the movement”. Annie Baker’s photograph appears at p.14.

The movement continued well beyond 1910. Madeline Cobb’s “Family Notes” record that “Annie Baker attended Conferences in Europe from time to time, including some of those of the League of Nations. In 1926 King Alphonso of Spain awarded her the Decoration of the ‘Cruz de Beneficencia’ of the First Class in recognition of her work as Secretary and Director of the International Bureau, and her work for women in general”.

Annie made a name for herself in a day when career women were rarities. She was obviously a person of considerable force of character. Madeline, in a conversation with Margaret and me, called her “domineering”, adding that Annie and Minnie lost their mother when they were quite young and were brought up “almost as orphans”. Tree B.1a shows them to have been 18 and 15 repectively at their mother’s death [B.1a]. The only other child of James Baker and Sarah Anne Gregory, was an elder brother, John, who had died in infancy. Annie died in 1927, only a year after receiving her award from King Alphonso.

The early Bakers were people of some substance. George Baker, the middle son of Stephen, born in 1762, left a will when he died in 1843 in which he is described as a “yeoman”. Here perhaps is the basis of “Blind Frank’s” claim that the Titcheners came from yeoman stock. George’s will, proved in 1843, the year of his death, shows him to have owned three houses as well as land.