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National Trust Willunga branch.

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National Trust of South Australia


Baker, James Payne (Doctor)

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Fast Facts
Type of person Individual
Date of birth 1837
Place of birth St Mary, Islington, London, England.
Date of arrival 1877
Principal occupation Medical Doctor
Date of departure 1879
Date of death 1904
Place of decease Tauranga, New Zealand.

James Payne Baker was born on 26 March 1837, the son of James Baker, a chemist, and his wife Frances. He was baptised on 29 January 1840 at St Mary, Islington, London.

James Payne Baker married, firstly, Amy Wilkinson (ca 1842-?) on 3 July 1861 at Notting Hill, Middlesex when he was 24 and she 19. They had at least two children, James Elphinstone (1862-1868) and Malcolm Welsh (1864-1868). Both children were drowned on the sinking of the Star of Tasmania at Oamaru, New Zealand in February 1868. It is unknown what happened to his wife other than that she survived the ship disaster. He married, secondly, widow Louise Ellen Black/Bluck (nee Nelmes) (ca 1845-1921) in 1898 in New Zealand. They did not have any children but she had a son from her first marriage.

James was a farmer at his first marriage in England, then a school teacher in New Zealand. He was listed as 'of Dunedin' in the 1865-66 electoral roll. He passed a Matriculation exam for the University of Melbourne, Victoria in 1871 but did not enrol. He returned to England to study medicine in London and midwifery in Edinburgh, Scotland. On 5 September 1876, he arrived in South Australia on the ship Argonaut as the Surgeon-Superintendent to thirty passengers. In January 1877,he practised medicine at Edwardstown.

By March 1877, Baker had taken over Dr Jay’s practice in Willunga, which included Aldinga and Yankalilla. He advertised that patients could secure a roadside visit by ‘placing a red or white flag on the gate’. His surgery was located at St Anne’s Lodge in Willunga, where he lived. In July 1878, he complained of ‘sundry injurious remarks’ and indicated that his Diplomas could be inspected at his surgery. In December 1878, he complained of someone unknown disturbing his peace by ringing his ‘nightbell’ while ‘slightly sober’. By July 1879, he was a petitioner appealing to the Chairman of the District Council of Willunga for a railway line from Adelaide to Willunga. In October 1879, he warned the inhabitants of Willunga of ‘unqualified’ men who are assuming the duties and task of Doctor’. His stay in Willunga, though, was short, at just two years (1877-1879).

By December 1879, Dr Baker advertised for the settling of accounts, as he was moving to Mount Pleasant. This was a month after Dr Jay’s son inherited St Anne’s Lodge. In March 1881, Baker was at Parkside and, on 8 March 1882, he placed an advertisement to indicate that the vacancy for his groom had been filled, presumably having previously advertised the position. However, the next month he appeared in the Insolvency Court. In September 1883, he was appointed the public vaccinator at Yongala and, in June 1886, the medical officer for the Yatala district. On 6 February 1891, Baker applied for registration in Christchurch, New Zealand, citing London, Edinburgh and Adelaide where he had previously registered as a Medical Practitioner. In 1892, he was listed in the Medical Directory as of Wellington, New Zealand and, in 1893, lived at Eketahuna, Masterton, New Zealand. By 1896, he was living at Tauranga, New Zealand. In 1900, he donated a small sum of money to the Tauranga Football Club and the Wellington Delegate Club. He had been an organist for the Masonic lodge at Eketahuna in 1894 and at Tauranga in 1902. Baker died on 2 November 1904 at Tauranga. A brief obituary appeared in the British Medical Journal the following year. It was also reported he was an Anglican lay preacher and ‘conducted services in places which regular clergymen could but rarely visit’. He was also a member of the New Zealand Branch of the British Medical Association and a Mason. He and his second wife were buried at the Thames Valley, Bay of Plenty Cemetery in New Zealand.


  • Willunga National Trust records
  • Ancestry -London England Births and Baptisms 1813-1917
  • Ancestry - London England Church of England Marriages and Banns 1754-1932
  • Ancestry – New Zealand Gazette
  • Ancestry – New Zealand Register of Medical Practitioners and Nurses 1873 1882-1933
  • New Zealand – Birth Death and Marriage Indexes
  • Findmypast – New Zealand Electoral Rolls
  • Papers Past New Zealand digitised newspapers
  • University of Melbourne Calendars University of Melbourne
  • British Medical Journal 8 April 1905: 803
  • University of Melbourne Archives – Student Card for James Payne Baker.

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