Mathew Baker was one of the most renowned Tudor shipwrights, and the first to put the practice of shipbuilding down on paper.
The first list of ‘Master Shipwrights’ appointed ‘by Patent’ by Henry VIII of England included ‘John Smyth, Robert Holborn, Richard Bull and James Baker,’ in 1537.
James designed the means of mounting cannon in a ship’s lower levels, rather than on the top deck, an idea credited to King Henry.
Having been apprenticed to his father James, and having grown up in the surroundings of the dockyard, Mathew was appointed ‘Master Shipwright’ in 1572.
As John Hawkins’s reformed naval administration began to bring discipline to the craft of shipbuilding, Mathew Baker became perhaps the greatest ship designer of Tudor times, known to have built, among other ships, the Dreadnought, the Vanguard, the Merhonour and the Repulse.