educated on Isle of Wright, England, Baker migrated to Victoria in January
1854 and went straight to Ballarat where he was said to have taken the first
brick making machine. Before moving to Richmond in 1887, he was closely
associated with mining, commercial and agricultural pursuits in Ballarat and
prominent with the Mine Owners' Association. In state politics, Baker was
elected to the seat of Wimmera (1883-89) and Lowan (1889-94) serving as
Minister for Public Instruction and Minister for Customs (1893-94) under
Sir James Patterson (Melbourne General Cemetery). As Minister for
Public Instruction, he and Thomas Brodribb (Boroondara Cemetery)
were in “violent disagreement” and resided over the collapse of the
technical colleges and the closure of the Training College. Baker was
chiefly known as an advocate of temperance and in Parliament was said to
have “rendered most valuable services to the cause of Temperance
Legislation”. Among other notable temperance identities of the time were
Sir James Munro (St. Kilda Cemetery) and Sir Richard Heales
(Melbourne General Cemetery). In a record to rival that of
(q.v.) for the number of electoral defeats - Baker unsuccessfully contested
the seats of West Ballarat (1871), Castlemaine (1874), Grenville (1874),
Wimmera (twice, 1880), Lowan (1894), and Jolimont (1897). He resided at
Risdon - Seymour Road, Elsternwick and died on 10 March 1915 aged 84
(above) Richard Baker
(Reproduced with kind permission of the
Victorian Parliament Library)
(above) Monumental Headstone (enlarge image)
“Temperance in Australia. The Memorial
Volume of the International Temperance Convention, Melbourne, 1888” (1889).
The Argus 13 March 1915.
The Age 13 March 1915.
Lumsden, D. (ed), “Sands & McDougall’s
Victorian Parliamentary Companion” (1889).
Thomson, K & Serle, G., “A Biographical
Register of the Victorian Legislature 1851-1900” (1972).
ADB Volume 3 1851-90 (A-C).
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