Baker, Charles (1617-1679) (DNB00)

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For works with similar titles, see Charles Baker.

BAKER, CHARLES (1617–1679), jesuit, whose real name was David Lewis, was the son of Morgan Lewis, master of the royal grammar school, Abergavenny. He was born in Monmouthshire in 1617, and studied in his father's, school. When about nineteen years old he was converted to the catholic faith, and sent by his uncle, a priest of the Society of Jesus, to the English college at Rome (1638). He was ordained priest in 1642, entered the Society of Jesus in 1644, and became a professed father in 1655. The South Wales district, of which he was twice superior, was the principal field of missionary labours. There he zealously toiled for twenty-eight years, visiting the persecuted catholics, chiefly by night, and always making his circuits on foot. A victim, to the Oates plot persecution, he was arrested 17 Nov. 1678, while preparing to say mass, was committed to Usk gaol, tried and condemned to death for the priesthood at the Monmouth assizes, 29 March and executed at Usk on 27 August following.

After his apprehension there appeared a pamphlet, by Dr. Herbert Croft, bishop of Hereford, entitled 'A Short Narrative of the Discovery of a College of Jesuits at a place called the Come, in the county of Hereford. To which is added a true relation of the knavery of Father Lewis, the pretended bishop of Llandaffe,' London, 1679, 4to. The charge brought by Dr. Croft against Baker was that he had extorted money from a poor woman under the pretence that he would liberate her father's soul from purgatory. Sir Robert Atkyns, the judge who tried Baker, declared that the pamphlet, which had been produced in court, was false and scandalous.

[Foley's Records, v. 912-931, vii. 456; Challoner's Memoirs of Missionary Priests (1803), ii. 225; Oliver's Collectanea S. J. 48; Dodd's Church Hist. iii. 321; Cat. of Printed Books in Brit. Mus.; Cobbet's State Trials, vii. 250.]

T. C.