A CHRISTCHURCH PRESS PROJECT

Richard Baker
The Cressy

Original information:
Richard Baker was six when he migrated from Kent to Canterbury with his parents, James (1818-1885), an agricultural labourer and shepherd, and Sarah (31), and siblings Matilda (10), Mary Ann (8), James Frederick (1845-1916), Edward (1850-1922), and Sarah (infant).

Upon arrival, the family, of Wesleyan faith, spent from December 30, 1850, to January 2, 1851, in Barrack D, Room 2. Because the family had little money, they camped on the Lyttelton hillside in Cemetery Gully (the Church of England burial ground). They were then joined by the Oldfield family and together dug out a portion of the hillside and built a scrub bivouac.

The family subsequently rented a wooden cottage, from where Sarah Baker worked as a washerwoman while James was employed at Pigeon Bay. James then found work with a gang constructing Ferry Road through the swamps, and tramped to Gollans Bay at Lyttelton, where the family lived in a gloomy and often sunless cottage for some months. James was next employed by a stock inspector, J. T. Parkinson, to tend sheep, cattle and horses during their fortnight’s quarantine after landing from Sydney.

After living for some time at Sumner, in 1855 the Bakers shifted to Kaiapoi to become one of the founding farming families on Kaiapoi Island, between the north and south branches of the Waimakariri. Some of the first Wesleyan services in the district were held in the Bakers’ Kaiapoi home by Rev John Aldred. According to records, in 1900 Richard was still living at Kaiapoi Island. He is buried at Linwood cemetery.