The sitter had a long and successful career in the Royal Navy. Baker was made Lieutenant in 1688, received rapid promotion to Captain in 1691, and was given command of H.M.S. Newcastle, 46 guns, in Sir George Rooke's squadron assigned to escort the Smyrna fleet of about 400 merchantmen through the Mediterranean in June 1692. He commanded the Monmouth, 70 guns, in the Battle of Vigo Bay on 12 October 1702 which resulted in the capture of an immensely valuable Spanish treasure fleet. Baker's distinguished conduct during the war with Spain, led to his appointment as Rear-Admiral (of the Red) in 1708 and his squadron remained on active service until the war finally ended in 1713. Baker was elected Member of Parliament for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis the same year and purchased the estate of Marten in East Landon, Kent. He was appointed Vice-Admiral (of the White) in June 1716. King George I presented him with a ring as a mark of appreciation for his services and Queen Anne gave him permission to augment his family arms by a trident and naval crown. Baker died at Port Mahon on 10 November 1716, when commanding the Meditteranean fleet and a monument erected to him at Westminster, records that
'He was brave, judicious, and experienced officer and a sincere friend, and a true lover of his country. Manet post funere virtu'.
We are grateful to Frank Cockett for his suggestion that the man-o'-war in the background of this portrait may be attributed to Peter Monamy (1681-1749). Monamy painted Rear-Admiral Baker's Revenge in his picture showing the arrival of the Queen of Portugal at Spithead in September 1708 (National Maritime Museum, Greenwich). Rear-Admiral Baker's Revenge escorted the yachts bringing the Queen from Holland.
The Bakers, a branch of the Baker family of Sissinghurst Castle, Kent, were a long-established family in Deal, Kent.