Baker, James Payne Dr

Date of Birth/Death:


James Payne Baker was born 26 March 1837 the son of James Baker, chemist and his wife Frances, and baptised 29 January 1840 at St Mary, Islington, London. James Payne Baker married firstly Amy Wilkinson on 3 July 1861 at Notting Hill, Middlesex when he was 24 and she 19. They had at least two children born in New Zealand:

  • James Elphinstone born 1862, died 1868
  • Malcolm Welsh in 1864, died 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 she survived the ship disaster. He married secondly widow Louise Ellen Bluck (nee Nelmes) in 1898 in New Zealand. There were no children of this second marriage although his wife had a son by her first marriage.

Dr Baker was recorded as a farmer at his first marriage in England, and then as a school teacher in New Zealand. He was listed as of Dunedin in the 1865-66 electoral roll. Following the death of his sons, 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 Argonaut as the Surgeon-Superintendent to thirty passengers. In January 1877 he had practised medicine at Edwardstown but soon moved.

In Willunga, he advertised patients could secure a roadside visit by ‘placing a red or white flag on the gate’ when he was travelling to Aldinga and Yankalilla. 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 his Diplomas could be inspected at his surgery. He complained of someone unknown disturbing his peace by ringing his ‘nightbell’ while ‘slightly sober’ just before Christmas 1878. By July 1879 he was a petitioner with others appealing to the Chairman of the District Council of Willunga for a railway line from Adelaide to Willunga. But 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 very short.

By December 1879 he advertised for the settling of accounts as he was moving to Mount Pleasant. This was a month after Dr Jay’s sons inherited St Anne’s Lodge suggesting Dr Baker may have been required to move residence and his practice.

By 1882 and again in 1886 he was declared insolvent, and was living at Parkside and later Salisbury. He eventually returned to New Zealand where he died 2 November 1904 at Tauranga. He and his second wife were buried in New Zealand.


Willunga National Trust Branch, Willunga Doctors, Folder 42:9.

Willunga National Trust Branch, Willunga District Doctors 1841-1909

Baptism London, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms 1813-1917 –

Ancestry – London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns 1754-1932,

New Zealand Birth Index 1862/14651 and 1864/18726; Death Index 1868/8224, 1868/8228,

New Zealand Electoral Roll (Findmypast)

‘A Link With the Past’, Otago Daily Times, 13 November 1943,

1868 ‘NEW ZEALAND.’, The Sydney Morning Herald , 28 February, p. 6. ,

1868 ‘INTERCOLONIAL NEWS.’, The Argus , 22 February, p. 6. ,

‘Register of Insolvencies 1841-1928’, South Australia, Australia, Destitute Asylum Ledgers and Admissions to Industrial and Reformatory Schools, 1849-1913 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2021..

University of Melbourne page 61   Archvisit’s response 22 January 2021: Only details on the Student Card were: Matriculation Roll 501, 6/12/1871. Remarks: Matric.Exam.Oct.1871 – Passed.

1876 ‘SHIPPING NEWS.’, The South Australian Advertiser , 12 December, p. 4. ,

1878 ‘Advertising: Public Notices’, Evening Journal, 26 July, p. 1.,

1878 ‘Advertising: Professional’, South Australian Register , 29 July, p. 7. ,

1878 ‘Advertising: Public Notices’, South Australian Register, 19 December, p. 2. ,

1879 ‘Advertising: Public Notices’, Evening Journal, 6 October, p. 1.,

1879 ‘Advertising’, Evening Journal, 31 December, p. 4.,

1879 ‘Advertising’, The Express and Telegraph, 24 July, p. 1. ,

Obituary’, British Medical Journal, 8 April 1905, page 803.
‘Thames Valley, Bay of Plenty’. New Zealand Cemetery Records 1800-2007,




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