BAKER, Sir Richard Chaffey (1842-1911)


BAKER, Sir Richard Chaffey (1842-1911)
federalist, first president of the senate
was born at North Adelaide on 22 June 1842. His father, John Baker, was born in Somerset, England, in 1813 emigrated to Tasmania, and married Miss Isabella Allan. In 1838 he visited the new settlement at Adelaide and in the following year took up land in South Australia and became a successful pastoralist. He was a member of the legislative council from 1851 to 1856 and after responsible government was established in 1857 he was a member of the new legislative council until his death on 18 May 1872. He was premier and chief secretary in the second South Australian ministry which, however, lasted only from 21 August to 1 September 1857. His son, Richard Chaffey Baker, was educated at Eton and Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1864 and M.A. in 1870. He was called to the bar in June 1864 and returned to Adelaide in the same year, There he practised successfully as a barrister and in 1868, at the age of 26, was returned to the assembly at the head of the poll for Barossa. On 30 May 1870 he entered the third Hart (q.v.) ministry as attorney general, but resigned in July 1871 so that he could take over the management of the affairs of his father who had become ill. Two years later he visited England and on his return, early in 1875, Sir Arthur Blyth (q.v.) offered him a position in his cabinet which was declined. He stood for Barossa in that year and was defeated, but in 1877 he was elected to the legislative council and held his seat until federation. In June 1884 he joined the Colton (q.v.) ministry and was minister of education for 12 months. He was elected president of the legislative council in 1893 and for the following seven years worthily carried out his duties.
Baker had given much study to the federation question and prepared A Manual of Reference to Authorities for the Use of the Members of the Sydney Constitutional Convention, which was published early in 1891 and must have been extremely useful to the delegates to the 1891 convention. It influenced to some extent the first draft of the constitution which was then drawn up. He was elected a representative of South Australia at the 1897 convention and was a member of the constitutional committee and chairman of committees. He was elected a senator for South Australia at the 1901 election and, when parliament met, was elected first president of the senate. He was re-elected in 1904 and retired from politics in 1906. He died on 18 March 1911. He married Miss K. E. Colley who predeceased him and was survived by two sons and a daughter. He was created C.M.G. in 1886 and K.C.M.G. in 1895.
Baker was an oarsman in his youth and was always much interested in cricket and racing; he was for many years chairman of the jockey Club at Morphetville. He had large pastoral interests and helped to develop copper mining. In politics, as president of the legislative council of South Australia and president of the federal senate, he refused to be a party man and carried out his duties with ability, justice and decision.
P. Mennell, The Dictionary of Australasian Biography; The Register, Adelaide, 20 May 1872, 20 March 1911.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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  • Richard Baker (Australian politician) — Sir Richard Chaffey Baker KCMG (22 June 1842 ndash; 18 March 1911) was an Australian politician. A barrister by trade, he embarked on a successful career in South Australian colonial politics, serving as state attorney general and President of… …   Wikipedia


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