First World War in Headington and Marston, Oxford

Herbert Baker (1893/4–1916)

Herbert Baker

Herbert Baker was born in Waterperry in 1893/4, the son of George Baker (born in Waterperry in 1849 and baptised there on 11 February) and Lucy Piddington (born in Brill, Buckinghamshire in 1864). His mother was a domestic servant in Stokenchurch at the time of the 1881 census, while his father, who was 17 years her senior, was a labourer in Waterperry.

Herbert's parents were married (apparently in haste) in the Thame Registration District (probably at Brill) in the fourth quarter of 1887 and had eight children:

  • Mary Baker (known as May, born in Waterperry in 1887/8 and baptised at St Mary the Virgin Church there on 29 January 1888)
  • Theodore Baker (born in Waterperry in 1889/90 and baptised at St Mary the Virgin Church there on 12 January 1890)
  • Jesse or Jess Baker (born in Waterperry in 1892 and baptised at St Mary the Virgin Church there on 17 April)
  • Herbert Baker (born in Waterperry in 1894 and baptised at St Mary the Virgin Church there on 25 March)
  • Ella Baker (born in Waterperry in 1896 and baptised at St Mary the Virgin Church there on 7 June)
  • Reginald Baker (born in Headington Quarry in 1900 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church there on 15 April)
  • Mabel Dorothea Baker (born at King’s Mill Cottage, New Marston in 1906 and baptised at St Clement’s Church as Dorothea Mabel Baker on 24 June)
  • Kathleen Baker (born at King’s Mill Cottage, New Marston in 1909 and baptised at St Clement’s Church on 26 September).

Herbert's parents settled in Waterperry after their wedding. At the time of the 1891 census his father George Baker (42), who was an agricultural labourer, was living on Waterperry Common with Lucy (26) and their first two children Mary (3) and Theodore (1).

Herbert Baker was born in Waterperry in 1894, and the family was still there in mid-1896 when his sister Ella was born.

By 1900 the family had moved to the Moors in Headington Quarry, and Herbert’s father was described as a cowman at his son Reginald's baptism.

At the time of the 1901 census Herbert (7) was at school (almost certainly Headington Quarry National School) and living at The Moors with his father George (52), who was now a labourer on an estate, his mother Lucy (36), and his siblings Mary (13), Theodore (11), Jesse (9), Ellen (4), and Reginald (1).

By 1906 the family had moved to King’s Mill Cottage, New Marston, and George’s father worked there as a cowman on a farm.

King's Mill CottageKing’s Mill Cottage at the entrance to Mesopotamia Walk in 2012

By the time of the 1911 census Herbert Baker (19) had already joined the army, and was based at Shorncliffe Camp near Folkestone as a Private in the Second Battalion of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

Meanwhile in 1911 Herbert's father George (65), who was still working as a cowman on a farm, and his mother Lucy (46) were living at King's Mill Cottage with six of his siblings: Mary (23), who was a housemaid; Jesse (19), who was was a gardener; Ella (15), who was a dressmaker; and Mabel (5) and Kathleen (2). Herbert's other brother, Theodore (21), was living at The Rectory in Bishopstoke, Hampshire, where he was working as a groom.

Poppy In the First World War Herbert Baker served as a Quartermaster Sergeant in the 1st Battalion of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (Service No. 9341). He died in Mesopotamia (Iraq) at the age of 22 on 2 August 1916.

He is buried in the Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery (XXI.A.19), and his war grave there has the added words “DEAR SON OF MINE YOU SLEEP WITH THE BRAVE”. (Only 40% of war headstones bear an inscription such as this near their base: the main inscription was free, but families had to pay 3½d per letter for a personal message.)

Baker is remembered on the New Marston War Memorial on the Marston Road, Oxford.

Herbert Baker's three brothers Theodore, Jesse, and Reginald also signed up voluntarily. The following photograph appeared in the Oxford Journal Illustrated in April 1916:

The four Baker brothersThe caption underneath reads: “The four sons of Mr. & Mrs. Baker, King’s Mill, New Marston (left to right),
Sergeant H. Baker, Oxf. and Bucks Lt. Infy.; Pte. J. Baker, Oxf. and Bucks Lt. Infy.;
Driver T. Baker, A.S.C.; and Lc.-Cpl. R. Baker, Oxf. and Bucks Lt. Infy.”


New Marston War Memorial

Herbert’s parents
  • Herbert’s family moved to Holton shortly after his death, and lived at the Grey House. George Baker continued to work as a labourer, and died at the age of 78 and was buried in Holton churchyard on 4 July 1927. Lucy Baker died at the age of 75 and was buried with him on 13 December 1939.
Herbert’s siblings
  • Mary (May) Baker (born 1888) married Henry Berry (24), a gunner, at Holton Church on 6 May 1918.
  • Jesse Baker (born 1892) was described as a butcher living in New Marston when he married Ethel Hall of 27 Essex Street at Cowley St John Church on 5 April 1915. The birth of their daughter Jessie Irene Baker was registered in the Headington district in the first quarter of 1917, and she married Arthur Hartland at Holton Church on 5 December 1951.
  • Ella Baker (born 1896) married William Arthur Liggins (32), a widower, who was a foreman joiner at Coventry, at Holton Church on 3 August 1919. They had two children, with both births reg. in the Coventry district: Ruby D. Liggins (third quarter of 1920) and Eric G. Liggins (first quarter of 1926).
  • Mabel Dorothea Baker (born 1906) married Reginald Holloway (24) of Colney, Herts (a London bus driver) on 22 December 1934 at Holton Church.

See also

Back to New Marston War Memorial

Back to War Memorials page on Headington Community Website