Barwick Baker

Born on November 14, 1807, Thomas Barwick Lloyd Baker, to give him his full name, is a man who appeared on my radar simply by chance, it was whist I was searching for a B.B. for a different subject. The B.B. I was looking for turned out to be Benjamin Benjamin. However, Barwick Baker also showed up during my research and was someone I wanted to know more about.

He was born at Hardwicke Court, Uley, in Gloucestershire and followed in his father’s education footsteps attending Eton and then Christ Church, Oxford. In 1828, Baker, was called to the Bar at Lincoln’s Inn, London, and in 1833, at the age of twenty-six, qualified as a magistrate for Gloucester. He also became the visiting justice to Gloucester prison. His father, Thomas John Lloyd Baker, of whom he was the only son, died in 1841 and Baker took over at Hardwicke Court. The sixth generation of the Lloyd Baker’s currently resides in Hardwicke Court.

Hardwicke Court

I was able to find out a lot of information on Baker, made easier by finding a book put together in 1889, three years after his death on December 10, 1886, tilted ‘War with Crime – being a selection of reprinted papers on crime, reformatories, etc. by the late T. Barwick Ll. Baker Esq’.

The introduction to the books contains the following:

“In many directions his death left a void that can never be filled, for he was a many – sided man, who brought the influence of his cultured mind and earnest zeal to bear on many subjects. Above all things Mr. Barwick Baker was a man of diligent thought; he sought out the principles that underlay the practical side of every question. A country squire of moderate wealth, he studied the duties incumbent upon him in that station of life of a county magistrate, he felt bound to inquire into the causes of crime, and to use for the benefit of the community the experience gained on the Bench; a Poor – law guardian, he was drawn into personal sympathy with the poor, the outcast, and the destitute.”

I knew I was about to read about an incredibly inspiring individual, even aspiring, and the more I read the more Barwick Baker became indispensable as one of my dinner guests when asked the question who I would invite to an imaginary dinner. Especially once I had read this, also contained in the introduction:

“The first three papers deal with the prevention of crime generally, which was the one great object of Mr. Baker’s life: he sought its prevention in youth and in age; he sought it by legislative enactment and by personal influence; by interesting his brother magistrates in the subject, by educating them to study it in all its bearings, and by placing before them in a clear light the broad principles which ought to guide them in so dealing with past crime as to discourage future crime.”

In The Sharp Family by Johann Zoffany, Mary Sharp is the toddler holding a kitten. Wikipedia.

His mother, Mary Lloyd Baker (nee Sharp) was a niece of Granville Sharp (1735 – 1813), who was one of the first campaigners in Britain for the abolition of the slave trade and Mary was active in campaigning for the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade. The Mary Sharp College in Tennessee, America is named after her. Activism and campaigning were in his blood, especially from his mother’s side.

Granville Sharp

Baker was renowned for founding the Hardwicke Reformatory School and I have taken the following from http://www.childrenshomes.org.uk/GloucesterRfy/

“Hardwicke Reformatory for Boys, Gloucester, Gloucestershire.

“The Hardwicke (occasionally spelled Hardwick) Reformatory for Boys was founded by Thomas Barwick Lloyd Baker of Hardwicke Court, near Gloucester. In addition to being a member of the local gentry, Baker was a county magistrate and a prison visitor, who developed a particular interest in reforming juvenile criminals. In 1851, Baker became friends with George Henry Bengough, a wealthy young man of Wotton-under-Edge, who encouraged him to set up an establishment for the purpose. Bengough also offered to become personally involved in its operation, and the two men financed the setting up of the institution.

The school was opened in an old cottage on Baker’s Hardwicke estate, situated between the River Severn and the Gloucester & Berkeley Canal, on what is now School Farm. Its first admissions, on 24th March 1852, were three boys all recurrent offenders – about to be released from the Westminster House of Correction, and who were willing to participate in the scheme. Later in the year, they were joined by two boys from Bristol, one from Gloucester, and one from Horsley.”

It was such a coincidence that in discussing ‘reforming juvenile criminals’, as mentioned above, Bengough, came from Wotton-under-Edge, where in 1985 I spent some time in Eastwood Park, at the time a boys detention centre.

I mentioned earlier that I found Baker to be not only inspiring, but I also said even aspiring. He is a bona fide aspiration.

I am writing about a man, born close to the beginning of the 19th century, who died towards the end of the century and yet I find his words to be as relevant today as they were over a century ago. The following, contained in ‘War with Crime’, which I have shared at the end of this blog as I would recommend everyone to read the full eBook is like my own message I share today:

“To judge accurately what deterrent effect a certain sentence will possess we ought to have a pretty intimate acquaintance with the personal habits and feelings of the criminal class, and more especially to know what really is the punishment which we award, and how it is felt and estimated by the criminal and his associates. Yet how rarely is this knowledge accurately gained! how often is it not even sought for! A magistrate who has for some time visited the neighbouring prison may possess it if he has taken an interest in the subject. A country gentleman, accustomed as most of us are to studying the habits of the lower classes, would occasionally be brought in contact with criminals; but a very large portion of us must feel that we know very little of them in any other state than when they are brought before us for trial, and when of course all their thoughts and feelings are as little as possible open to us. We must in no degree measure their ideas by what we ourselves should suffer from a certain amount of punishment; but we must have considerable experience in the habits and feelings of their own class to judge what effect will be produced by it, either in esse on the convict or in posse on his associates. But if such be the case with magistrates, how much more is it likely to be the case with the higher authorities! I believe there is not a class of men in the world more worthy of all respect, both for high talent and honourable feeling, than the higher members of the profession of the law in England. I believe no men could be more fit to manage a trial — to sift the evidence -to assist a jury to bring a true and fair verdict. But what opportunity have they for knowing either what effect a certain sentence will probably produce on the criminal before them, or – still less — what effect that sentence is likely to produce on the criminals yet undetected, or on the still larger class whom we hope to prevent from falling into crime? Nay, how often have they an opportunity of knowing when they sentence a man to three months ‘ imprisonment whether he is to pass that term shut up in a large room with twenty more in idleness, or in picking oakum in a warmed and ventilated cell, or in turning a crank, or on the treadmill?

I urge you to read the full book, Barwick Baker was indeed an incredible man, and one I am so pleased I got to learn about.

2 thoughts on “Barwick Baker

  1. Will admit David I had never come across this man but he certainly was an innovator and someone who deserves full recognition. Not only an activist for a cause but perhaps more importantly delivering for so many. See my last comment for my views on your bringing social history to life today (which were of course very positive!)

    Liked by 1 person

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