George Baker (1781-1851), topographer and historian, was a native of Northampton, England.
While a schoolboy, at the age of 13, he wrote a manuscript history of Northampton, and from that time he was always engaged in enlarging his collections. His first printed work was A Catalogue of Books, Poems, Tracts, and small detached pieces, printed at the press at Strawberry Hill, belonging to the late Horace Walpole, earl of Orford, London (twenty copies only, privately printed), 1810, 4to. His proposals for The History and Antiquities of the County of Northampton were issued in 1815. The first part was published in folio in 1822, the second in 1826, and the third, completing the first volume, in 1830. This volume contains the subdivisions of Spelho, Newbottle Grove, Fawsley, Wardon, and Sutton. The fourth part, containing the subdivisions of Norton and Cleley, appeared in 1836, and about one-third of a fifth part, containing the subdivision of Towcester, in 1841. At the latter date, 220 of his original subscribers had failed him, and with health and means exhausted he was compelled to bring the publication to a close. His library and manuscript collections were dispersed by auction in 1842, the latter passing into the possession of Sir Thomas Phillipps. Baker's Northamptonshire is, on the whole, as far as it goes, the most complete and systematic of all our county histories. In the elaboration and accuracy of its pedigrees it is unsurpassed. An index to the places mentioned in the work was published at London in 1868.
Baker, who was a unitarian, took a deep interest in various local institutions, and was a magistrate for the borough of Northampton. He was not married. A sister, Miss Anne Elizabeth Baker, was his constant companion for more than sixty years. He died at his residence, Mare Fair, Northampton, on 12 Octoctobe 1851.
on the presumption of superior antiquity is so called in contradistinction to Stony Stratford, market town in Buckinghamshire from which it is separated by the river Ouse, over which is a bridge, to which may be applied as pertinently as to their original appropriation the well known lines of Cowper.
Hark! 'tis the twanging horn o'er yonder bridge,
Thomas Pygot, Esq. King's sergeant at law, by will 25 Feb. 11 Hen 8. (1519-20) devised his inn at Stony Stratford called the Cock, to feoffees, "for evermore to the indentation and maintenance of the brigg of Stony Stratford.' This charity was subsequently blended by the trustees with a benefaction from Mr. John Mashe of a messuage and certain lands for the reparation and amendment of the causeways and highways of Stony Stratford. In 41 Geo. 3 (I801) an act passed for paving, lighting, and otherwise improving that town, and under a power in this act, the trustees sold the above charity lands and purchased an estate at Loughton in Buckinghamshire to the same uses, the rents of which have been since expended in and towards the repairs of the said bridges causeways and highways indiscriminately, without reference to the proportion of such rents exclusively applicable to the repairs of the bridge, and of the causeways and highways respectively. Subject to the proportion of these charitable funds applicable to this purpose, the inhabitants of the counties of Northampton and Buckingham are liable in equal proportions to repair the bridge; and in consequence of the inadequacy of the means, the pecuniary burden to the parties, and the narrow decayed and dangerous state of the bridge, an act of parliament was obtained last session (July 1834) empowering the justices of the peace for the counties of Buckingham and Northampton, to remove the present bridge " called Old Stratford bridge," and on or near its site to erect a wider and more commodious one. The act authorises them to raise the necessary sums of money on the credit of the county rates of the said counties equally, and of certain tolls to be established for twenty-one years; and in order to put an end to any questions which may hereafter arise as to the proportionate part of the rent of the estate at Loughton, applicable to the repair of the bridge, and to extinguish the future liability of the trustees of the Stony Stratford bridge and street charity, it is enacted that they shall within twelve calendar months from the passing of the act pay the sum of £735 to the treasurer to be appointed by virtue of this act, or to such person as the justices shall authorise to receive the same, and after payment of such sum the trustees " shall be discharged from all future and further liability to repair the bridge and so much of the causeway as shall lie within one hundred yards from the end of the intended bridge next Stony Stratford ; " and until the said sum shall be raised and paid, the trustees shall yearly pay the proportion of the charity funds lawfully applicable to the repair of the said bridge, to the respective treasurers of the counties of Buckingham and Northampton in equal moieties.
Stratford is doubtless a modern corruption of Street-ford, allusive to the ancient Watling street on which it stands, and the ford through the Ouse from Passenham meadow, which, though long since abandoned, as traditionally known to have gone in a transverse direction immediately south-east of the late Saracen's head inn, now converted into the Belvidere academy. Though the appellation of Old Stratford implies the comparatively modern origin of the other Stratford which has now eclipsed it, yet the earliest recorded notice of it is in 25 Edw. I (1296) where it is associated with Furtho and the small fees of Moreton on the death of Edmond earl of Lancastera; and it first occurs as Old Stratford in 15 Hen. 7 (1499) on the decease of Margaret, widow of Thomas Furtho, esq. who held a close of pasture in Old Stratford of the marquis of Dorsetb.
This hamlet stands on both sides of the Watling street or Chester road, and is in four different parishes. It consists of 39 houses, twenty-seven in Cosgrave parish, nine in Denshanger in Passenham parish, two in Furtho, and one in Potterspury, and contributes accordingly to the poor rates, and is included in the population reruns of those parishes.
HERMITAGE and CHAPEL. The chapel of the hospital of St. John upon the causeway leading to the bridge at Stony Stratford mentioned by bishop Tanner, and which he conjectures to have been on the Northamptonshire side of the riverc, may with little hesitation be identified with the hermitage and free chapel in Old Stratford, of the site of which, with the lands thereto belonging, Edward Furtho, esq. died seised in 18 Jac. (1620) having lately purchased them of George Ferne, gent.d
SUPPOSED ROMAN STATION. Bridges, or rather his editor Whalley, observes,' It was here that ethe Lactodorum or Lactoredum of Antoninus’s itinerary was probably placed, which is lard by Cambden on the other site of the river at Stony Stratford. The present name signifying the same with Lactorodum, its situation on a military way, and the proportionable distance from the other stations marked down in the itinerary, are circumstances f which are added by Cambden in favour of his conjecture ; and such as seem convincing enough to prove that this station was seated either there, or in a place of a resembling name in the neighbourhood. But as Old Stratford implies antiquity in its name, and there have been some few Roman coins cast up in the fields adjoining, none of which, nor any other Roman antiquity, were ever known to have been found near the other Stratford, this in the opinion of later critics seems most likely to have been the Roman station. To which we must add, that what is now called Old Stratford, appears to have had anciently the name of Stone Stretford, which Cambden tells us is a word of the same signification with Lactorodum. Thus in the sixth year of Edward III Henry de Kersebrook released to Henry earl of Lancaster the manor of Passenham with its members Deneshanger, Pouxley, and Stone Stretford.'
Without anticipating the arguments on which the appropriation of Lactodorum to TOWCESTER will be founded, it may be sufficient to observe, that the claim of both Stratfords rests solely on the assumed etymological affinity between the Roman and modern names, and the circumstance of some few Roman coins cast up in the fields adjoining ; ' for, so far from their being a a proportional distance from the other stations,' they do not harmonize with any of the readings. The route is marked in the second, sixth, and eighth iters of Antoninus, and the first of Richard of Cirencester. In some the distance from Benevento [Burnt walls near Daventry*] to Lactodorum is made XII miles, and thence to Magiovinto XVI miles, and in others the distances between these stations are transposed, but the eighth iter, whilst it omits the intermediate station of Lactodorum confirms the total number of XXVIII miles, however the items may be distributed. Now Old Stratford is xx miles from Benevento, which will not accord with either numerals, and is therefore fatal to its pretensions. The XXVIII miles terminate at another place of the same generic nameFenny Stratfordand the site of Magiovinto is placed by the common consent of all modern Roman antiquaries at the Auld field, or old field, about a quarter of a mile south of that village.