Harry Baber and his Family.
A Nick Balmer Article



The Reverend Harry Baber.

Harry Baber was born probably in London on March 18 1817. His father was the Reverend Henry Hervey Baber who was Keeper of the Printed Books at the British Library at this time. In 1829 he was made Rector of Stretham and Little Thetford near Ely, which he held until 28 March 1869. His mother was Ann Smith, daughter of Harry Smith a Partner in Childs Bank.

The Reverend Harry Baber was educated at Westminster School; matriculating at Michaelmas 1834.He was admitted to Trinity College Cambridge on 13 June 1834. He became a Scholar in 1835, BA in 1839 and MA 1842.

After leaving University he was Ordained as a Deacon at Norwich on 26 July 1840. He became a Priest on 11 August 1841, and Curate of St Marks Park Street London.

He seems to have become specialised in education, as he became Diocesan Inspector of Schools for Cambridge in 1844 until 1847.

Possibly his career change in 1847 to becoming Chaplain of Whiteland's Training Institution and College in Chelsea was connected with his marriage in 1847. Whiteland's College appears to have been set up to prepare young ladies to become teachers, recently I found the following amusing exchange in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine Vol. 91 (555) Jan 1862 Page 99. This can be found at the Internet Library of Early Journals at http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/ilej/

The article entitled "The Poor and their Public Schools: the New Minute", discusses the report of a Royal Commission on Education, which was sent up to investigate teacher training. At one point they discussed the training of women as teachers.

"The effect of the present system of training is not less dangerous, as may be readily imagined, in the case of the weaker vessels-the mistresses. There is, indeed, a very proper degree of unwillingness, on the part both of Mr Lingen and other witnesses, to admit the complaints which Mr Senior, as a member of a Royal Commission which is above gallantry, insists upon it that he hears made--- " that they know a good deal which they have not to teach, and are ignorant of a good deal which they ought to teach." Mr Baber (who is the ladies' training-master at Whiteland's), confesses that they "spend a good deal of money very foolishly, particularly in dress;" but that is a little weakness which no one will for a moment think of imputing exclusively to any system of training. Pressed by Mr Lake as to any point in which "young schoolmistresses are most commonly found to fail," he replies that he " should be puzzled to select a point."

In 1872 he became Vicar of Ramsbury with Axford in Wiltshire, until 1891. He was also Rural Dean of Marlborough from 1881. He died on 18 January 1892. Harry is buried at Ramsbury, and it is probable that his wife Sarah is buried there too.

My Great Great Grandmother Sarah Frances Rodwell.

She was born on 25 May 1820, probably at Alderton in Suffolk, and married Harry Baber on 10 August 1847. We don't know unfortunately at what date the photograph was taken.

She came from a large family in Suffolk in the East of England, like the Baber's the family included landowners, and many parsons in its ranks. Alderton where she grew up is close to the coast near Woodbridge, a few miles North East of Ipswich. Badley is about five miles North West of Ipswich.

We also have some photos of the church at Badley in Suffolk, and a house called Badley Farm House. Possibly this where they married or lived when first married?

Badley Church Suffolk

The family tree states that Sarah's father Joshua Rodwell was married to Sarah Moore, daughter of James Moore of Badley. Possibly the farm had been left to Sarah Rodwell's mother by the time of their marriage in 1847.

Badley Farm House.

I would like to think that the two figures are Sarah and Harry Baber, but unfortunately there is no note on the photos to this effect. As they were married in 1847, I think that this is to early for the photograph to have been taken then. Perhaps they went back in the 1850's when such tall hats were still being worn?

Joshua Rodwell one of twelve brothers and sisters had been born on 28 August 1787, and died on 10 May 1867. He married Sarah Moore on 6 August 1817. Sarah died on 28 September 1855. They are described as living at Alderton and Claydon in Suffolk.

Sarah Frances Rodwell had four brothers and three sisters, her elder brother Joshua born in 1818 died as an infant probably before 1825, leaving her the eldest child. She had the following surviving brothers and sisters, Mary Jane Rodwell born 12 February 1823, died 20 February 1882, Joshua Kirby Rodwell born 5 July 1825, died 1867, James Meadows Rodwell born 12 January 1827, Margaret Elizabeth Rodwell born 1831, and finally Ann Moores Rodwell born 1834.

We have a book that belonged to Sarah Baber called "The Souvenir Keepsake of Literature and Art", priced One Guinea, full of short stories from locations all over Western Europe, with titles like "Adventure in Mantua", "The Student of Gottingen", and the "Sable Cloak". This book is inscribed on the front inside page with the following: -

"Sarah F Rodwell, from her affectionate Brother, Joshua K Rodwell June 10th 1842".

An unknown member of the Rodwell family sent a modern family tree, which is handwritten in biro, to my Aunt Claire Balmer in the 1960's. We don't know who sent it now, as Claire is dead, but they met in Northumberland. I have no idea of its accuracy but it seems very detailed and contains over 70 names. If anybody is interested in it, I will happily send them a copy.

Members of the Rodwell family have an Internet site at http://www.rodwell.org/, which contains a lot of material on the other parts of the family.

Sarah and Harry Baber had two children, Sarah Elizabeth Baber who was born on 30th November 1848, but who died at the early age of 26 years on 21 April 1875.

We know very little about Sarah Elizabeth, besides an album of hers. She collected the crests from headed letter paper. These she then glued into a notebook, with approximately 20 on each page in a pattern, which spells out a single letter from her name. The crests range from the crest of HRH The Prince of Wales, through the Crown Princess of Prussia, via Regiments, Cambridge Colleges, and Indian Railway Companies to Mrs Poe whoever she was?

Sarah Elizabeth and Harry Hutchinson Baber about 1862.

Their son was Harry Hutchinson Baber born 17 April 1850, who went to school at Marlborough College, a public school near Ramsbury, after Trinity he became a Barrister. He did not appear to have served at the Bar for long,

My Grandmother said, "he had one brief and that was enough for him. He gave it up; he inherited money from all his adoring Aunts so that he had plenty to live on. So he didn't do another days work. He sat on committees."

This is possibly a bit unfair, as he seems to have sat on a lot of charity committees. He became the Chairman of the Governors for the Home For Incurables in Streatham, a post he held for 50 years. He married Clara Barton who came from a long line of Indian Army Officers. Their daughter, Frances Amy Baber was my Grandmother.

If any of the above strikes a cord, or you are able to add to, or correct any of the above information, please contact me.  I would especially like to find out more about Harry Baber's work in education or in the parish of Ramsbury, where my family seem to have been very happy, returning there regularly until the 1960's.

Contributed by Nick Balmer
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