The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Baldwin Arden Wake, 1813-1880

Nationality: British
Date of Birth: 1813.01
Place of Birth:
Date of Death: 1880.01
Place of Death:


Baldwin Arden Wake was the son of Baldwin Wake, MD, and the grandson of Drury Wake of Courteenhall, Northamptonshire. He married Adelaide Wake (1830-1894) and had four children, Baldwin H., Amelia, Rosamond, Florence, and George.


According to J. K. Nesbitt, Wake 'entered the navy in 1827, as a first-class volunteer on board the Espoir and was employed for some time at the Cape of Good Hope. He afterwards joined the Falcon on the West Indian Station, and subsequently served on the Forester and also the San Josef and the Racehorse. On His promotion to a lieutenancy in 1837, he joined Melville, bearing the flag of Sir Peter Halkett, the commander in chief of the North America and West India squadron. He was promoted to the rank of commander in 1849 and became a captain in the retired list in 1866.'

The Wake Family lived in Esquimalt following Captain Wake's retirement. The census records of that time from Esquimalt and area do not include the Wake family and it is possible they spent some time with family in England, while maintaining a home in Esquimalt.

JW as a passenger on the Shannon en route from Valparaiso to Britain in 1866; he described Wake as a mail agent (not a captain) and an abolitionist, and said they quarrelled after JW objected to being seated at dinner with a 'negro' (see #02240 and #12946).

Although Wake and JW had no further contact, F. Seymour Haden heard of this and obtained Wake's description of the quarrel, which he presented to the Burlington Fine Arts Club in 1867 as evidence of JW's aggressive behaviour.

Many years later Wake, a prominent citizen long resident in Victoria, met a mysterious death. On 16 January 1880, Wake left Nanaimo Harbour in his small sloop, planning to sail to his settler homestead on Valdez Island. He never arrived. Reports of his disappearance, and the discovery of his damaged sloop appeared in The Nanaimo Free Press, 17, 21 and 31 January 1880 and The Daily British Colonist, 24 January 1880. His son, George Wake, offered a reward for information leading to any clues about the disappearance of his father. Wake's body was never found.


Nesbitt, James K., The Daily Colonist, Victoria, June 1950, quoted in (accessed 19.9.2003); The Times, London, 7 April 1880.