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The Fabulous Baker Boys...

…of Rushden



In 1928 Thomas Baker was interviewed by The Rushden Echo about his grandfather Benjamin.  Here’s roughly what he said:



Benjamin Baker was one of five Rushden brothers.  #1 shows the five: from the left Charles (age 76), Benjamin (70), James (80), William (67) and Thomas (78).  They had 35 children between them!



Benjamin, said his grandson, was a shepherd to the Fletcher family of Rushden Hall, for whom he used to slaughter one sheep every week.  He also used to gather sheep from farms all over the district and drive them by road to Smithfield (70 miles, roughly).  He would have a flock of 500 – 600 and with the aid of two well-trained sheep dogs do the whole journey in three days, returning by stagecoach.



The dogs didn’t wait for him: as soon as they saw the last sheep penned they ran off for home, arriving well before the coach.



However: I think four days (not three) would be possible with sheep, which seem to cope with 17-18 miles a day.  Three nights en route, then.  The route he would have taken: Bedford – Luton – St Albans, almost certainly.



Great story.  I wish I hadn’t spoilt it by looking at the census returns…  The family of five boys & 2 girls is easy to find – trouble is, they all say Benjamin spent his working life as a “leather currier” in the shoe trade, which was big in Rushden (#2).  Would he have had spare time for trips to Smithfield?  Was currying leather a seasonal job?  The Worshipful Company of Curriers describes the job as cleaning, stretching & finishing the tanned hides by oiling, waxing and colouring them (#3).  Sounds full-time to me.



There’s a Curriers Hall, even (#4). 



Memory can be unreliable, or am I missing something?  Can anyone in Rushden help?

The Fabulous Baker Boys... image 1
The Fabulous Baker Boys (1928)
The Fabulous Baker Boys... image 2
1861 Census
The Fabulous Baker Boys... image 3
Currier at Work
The Fabulous Baker Boys... image 4
Curriers' Hall