Solon, An Historical Story of Ancient Greece...to which is appended Harvest Sheaves,
written & published by J.H.R. Bayley

John Horatio Robert, known as John H.R. Bayley, or J.H.R. Bayley, the oldest son of John and Jane Bayley, was christened in All Saints Church, Wellington, Shropshire, 24 January 1816.1 His parents apparently had no other children in Wellington and by about 1822, when his brother George was born, the family was living elsewhere.2 In 1816, when John Jr. was born, his father's occupation was mercer, a merchant, usually of cloth. Sometime after that he became a school teacher and his son John Horatio Robert followed in his footsteps. John was the only child in the family to have more than one name.

On 4 May 1835 John Jr. married Margaret Morris in Old Swinford, Worcestershire.3 Margaret Morris was the fifth of seven children born to Samuel Morris and Hannah Perring.4 She was christened 23 Jan 1814 in Blymhill, a small village about thirteen miles east of Wellington, in Staffordshire. Her father, Samuel, was a butcher in Blymhill.5

John Jr. and Margaret, like John's parents, tended to move from one place to another. Hamlet Ambrose, their first child was born in Birmingham, Warwickshire. The family was in Dudley, Warwickshire, when the second child, Laura Fidelia, was born. These two children, like their father, were the only ones to have names from Shakespeare, perhaps reflecting a love of classics by their parents. Werner and Marion, the next two children, were both born in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, and the last two children, Ada Jane and Pauline Edith, were born in Hanley, Staffordshire. It is not known why the family moved so often.

At one point in his life, things began to fall apart for John. In December, 1858,

"A woman, Eliza Bennett, was accused of stealing a gold pin and a scarf belonging to John Horatio Robert Bayley, schoolmaster, of Darlington St., Wolverhampton. At. the police court, Mr. Bayley swore that he was knocked down in Berry St. about 11:00 p.m. the Sunday before while walking home from the railway station where he had arrived from Walsall about eight or ten minutes before eleven. Eliza Bennett, the prisoner, had supposedly offered a pin and a scarf, resembling that which Mr. Bayley said had been stolen, to the landlady of a public-house in pledge for drink. She alleged that it had been left in pledge for money due for favors received by a gentleman. Mr. Bayley was found by the police lying in the kennel at the door of the brothel where the prisoner lived which was situated some distance from where Mr. Bayley said he had been knocked down and rendered insensible. Mr. Bayley said he had never seen the prisoner before. “He was then asked if he recollected being in Stafford Street the same night and being ordered home by the police, to which he answered that he did not recollect.” After questions to the two police officers, “the Bench dismissed the prisoner on the ground that the articles had not been identified – a decision perhaps as much for the interest of the prosecutor as for that of the prosecuted.”6



Just over three years later, at the Criminal Court in Shrewsbury,

“John Horatio Roberts [sic] Bayley, 47, schoolmaster; and John Batte, 19, schoolmaster’s assistant were charged with obtaining one gallon of brandy, one gallon of gin, and one cask of ale, from the Mssrs. Page, by false pretences, on the 14th of December, 1861, at Shiffnal.”

“It appeared in evidence that the prisoner Bayley was formerly in a respectable position, and had a large school at Wolverhampton, where he made an income of about £700 a year. He was now brought into Court in a most miserable condition from the Hospital, and appeared to be suffering from severe illness, but he was allowed to sit during the trial, in the course of which the following facts were proved : On the 7th of December last he went with the other prisoner, Batte, to lodge in the house of a woman named Eliza Bliss, at Shiffnal. While there he was occupied a good deal in sending out circulars, which turned out to be the prospectus of a school which he proposed opening at Shiffnal, on the 20th of January, 1862, under the title of a Classical, Mathematical, and Commercial Academy for Young Gentlemen, at Salop House, Shiffnal. The parties left their lodging on Monday, the 16th of December;"

“It appeared that on the 11th of December the prisoner Bayley had agreed with a Mr. Charrington to rent a house in Church Street, Shiffnal, for £22 a year ; but upon an understanding that a written agreement should be signed on the following Friday, December 13. The prisoner never called to sign the agreement, but, having obtained the key from the outgoing tenant, he and his companion, Batte, took possession, and lost no time in sending out circulars and orders to different tradesmen to send in goods. On the 14tth of December the prisoner Bayley sent a written order to Mr. Page, of Trowbridge, to send him a gallon of brandy, a gallon of gin, and a cask of Allsop’s ale. A similar order was also sent to another tradesman for similar goods."

“Enclosed with this order was the printed heading of the prospectus of the school which Bayley was about to open, and which ran thus, the rest of the prospectus being cut off :-- ‘Classical, Mathematical, and Commercial Academy for Young Gentlemen, Salop House, Shiffnal ; conducted by Mr. J.H.R. Bayley, F.C.P., author of ‘The Dreams of Life,’ ‘Lyrical Breathers,’ &c., and member of the Society of Arts, London.’"

“It did not appear that the prisoner had obtained anything besides spirits and ale, when Mr. Cherrington went to the house on Monday, the 16th of December, and found the house empty, with a large fire in a room upstairs and some ale and spirits downstairs. The proceedings of the prisoners had already excited the notice of the police, and the landlord, with their assistance, turned them both out of the house. It was discovered that Bayley had sold some of the goods (spirits) which had been delivered to him, and he was taken into custody and told to empty his pockets. he then produced a pocket-book, which contained numerous entries in the form of a diary, from which it would appear he was in a state of great destitution and at his wit’s end."

“It was shown that Batte was acting with the prisoner Bayley throughout, and the prosecutor, Mr. Page, swore he would not have parted with the goods but for the belief which the prisoner Bayley’s letter, enclosing the heading of his prospectus, created in his mind, that he was then actually carrying on a school at Salop House. Is [sic] was not disputed that the prisoner Bayley was the author of a volume of poems entitled ‘The Drama of Life,’ &c., which had passed through two editions, and had obtained the patronage of some noblemen and gentlemen who had kindly patronised his writings."

“Mr. Motteram [defending Bayley] addressed the jury for the prisoner Bayley, and contended that the prisoner’s intention really was to open a school, at the house which he had christened Salop House, and that he was only prevented from doing so the the harsh proceedings of the landlord, and that there had been no false pretence, that he was keeping a school at the time he obtained the goods." “Mr. Hill [defending Batte] also addressed the jury for Batte, who sppeared to have been acting under Bayley’s direction, and up to that time had borne a good character."

“Mr. Justice Crompton, in summing up the evidence, advised the jury not to be carried away by their sympathies, but calmly to consider the case according to the evidence. His Lordship explained to them the precise nature of the charge, and finally left it to them to say whether it was proved to their satisfaction."

“The Jury found both the prisoners guilty of obtaining the goods by false pretences."

“Mr. Justice Crompton sentenced Bayley to four months and Batte to two months imprisonment, with hard labor.”7

In April 1863, a reward was offered for his whereabouts:

FIVE SHILLINGS REWARD.—WANTED, the present ADDRESS of JOHN HORATIO ROBERT BAYLEY, formerly of Wolverhampton, late of Nottingham. Any person forwarding the above to Wm. Seabrook, 45 Cromer Street, London, W.C., shall receive the above reward. No further reward will be offered.8



Why John H.R. Bayley went from being a respected schoolmaster at a large school, making a good living, to ending up in prison seems to be a mystery. During that time period the family was listed in the census as visiting with Benjamin Vickers in Wolverhampton. J.H.R.'s occupation at that time was "excise officer."9 He had already published several literary works and in 1871, living in Birmingham and once again listed in the census as a school teacher,10 he published a book. Solon, An Historical Story of Ancient Greece...to which is appended Harvest Sheaves, by J.H.R. Bayley, F.C.P, F.S.A, which he dedicated to the Earl of Stamford and Warrington, one of the patrons listed in the book.11 Harvest Sheaves, was a large collection of poems. Included are poems written to, or for, five of his six children, most composed in an acrostic style. A long poem, "My Grandmother's Well," mentions the well at his grandmother's home in Wilbrighton. This would have been his mother, Jane Bayley's mother, Mary Smith. Three poems are written in honor of David Major Moss. A note indicates that he was "principal of the 'Collegiate School,' Hammersmith, to whom the Author was Head Classical Master." Hammersmith is in London, but it does not say when they worked together and if it was at Hammersmith.

In the 1881 census, John was listed as a "professor of languages," living in Birmingham with Margaret.12 The Birmingham Daily Mail noted his passing with a short death notice.13 He died 6 October 1885. It is not known where he was buried.

In 1891, Margaret was living in Birmingham. Her daughter, Pauline, also a widow by that time, was living with her.14 In 1901 Margaret was living in Great Barr, Staffordshire, with her daughter Laura Fidelia and her son-in-law, Thomas Watts. Also living in the house was Thomas Watts' mother, Sarah.15 Margaret died in 1902 in Birmingham, age 87, outliving at least two of her children.16 Her place of burial is unknown.


Related Links
The Bayley family
Descendants of John H.R. Bayley and Margaret Morris
Family Group Sheet for John H.R. Bayley and Margaret Morris
Selected poems from Harvest Sheaves by J.H.R. Bayley
Baptismal record of John H.R. Bayley, 1816
Baptismal record of Margaret Morris Bayley, 1814
Children of J.H.R. Bayley and Margaret Morris
Hamlet Bayley, b.1836, eldest son of J.H.R. Bayley and Margaret Morris




The picture above is a scan of the title page of the book Solon, An Historical Story of Ancient Greece...to which is appended Harvest Sheaves, by J.H.R. Bayley, F.C.P, F.S.A, published in Birmingham in 1871. The book is dedicated to the Earl of Stamford and Warrington, one of the patrons listed in the book. Harvest Sheaves is a collection of poems, several of which are acrostics to his children. One is about his grandmother's well in Wilbrighton, a clue linking him to his mother, Jane Bayley, who was born in Wilbrighton.


  1. Record of Baptism for John Bayley, 1789, Parish Church of Newport, Shropshire, Parish registers, 1569-1883. FHL MF 918785. Mother is Elizabeth Bayley, father is Thomas, 1789 Jan 2, Jno., S. of Thos. & Eliz. Bayley, p.123. Another film gives a better picture of the parish record: FHL MF 510671.

  2. In different censuses, George's place of birth has been given as Middlewich, Cheshire, Winsford, Cheshire, and Croft, Lancashire. The family was probably in or near one of these places but his baptismal record has not yet been found.

  3. Record of Marriage for John Bayley and Margaret Morris, 1835. Parish Registers, Parish Church of Old Swinford, Church of England, Worcestershire, England, 1602-1961, p.68, Record #202. FHL Br. MF 527943. Both parties signed their names (no marks); neither were previously married, and they were married by banns.

  4. Margaret's parents were married 2 November 1801 in Blymhill, Stafforshire. Their children were also christened there: Mary, 5 Jan 1802, William, 17 Aug 1804, Martha, 26 Feb 1807, Susanna, 4 Feb 1811, Margaret, 23 Jan 1814, Samuel, 9 May 1816, and Ann, 14 May 1819.

  5. The marriage and baptismal records can be found in: Blymhill, Staffordshire, Parish Registers, Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1809-1868, FHL Br. MF 426494, item 2, and Blymhill Parish Register, 1561-1812, Staffordshire Parish Register Society, vol. 76, p.206, 4 February 1811. FHL Br 942.46, B4pr, v.76.

  6. "1858: The Alleged Robbery in Berry St." Birmingham Daily Post (Birmingham, England), Friday, December 17, 1858; Issue 269, p.4. Accessed April 2008 in Gale Digital Collections, British Newspapers 1600-1900, http://access.gale.com/gdctrial/login.html.

  7. "1862 Oxford Circuit – Shrewsbury, March 22, Criminal Court." LAW INTELLIGENCE, Birmingham Daily Post (Birmingham, England), Tuesday, March 25, 1862; Issue 1146, p.3. Accessed April 2008 in Gale Digital Collections, British Newspapers 1600-1900, http://access.gale.com/gdctrial/login.html.

  8. "1863: Advertisements & Notices." The Leeds Mercury (Leeds, England), Wednesday, April 1, 1863; Issue 7790. Accessed April 2008 in Gale Digital Collections, British Newspapers 1600-1900, http://access.gale.com/gdctrial/login.html.

  9. 1861 Census, England, Staffordshire, Wolverhampton, RG9/1990/106/p.27, E.D. 29, Household #140, Civil Parish: Wolverhampton, Ecclesiastical Parish: St. Mark, The Bayley family were visitors at the Vickers household when the census was taken.

  10. 1871 Census, England, Warwickshire, Aston, RG10/3150/22/p.37, E.D. 31, Household number 181 1/2, Civil Parish: Aston; Ecclesiastical Parish: St. Matthew, town: Duddeston Cum Nechells, 124 Lister St., Also in this census is granddaughter Etty Bayley, age 13, born Walsall, Staffordshire - not sure whose child she is though. John was also in the census in Walsall visiting his son Hamlet in 1871: 1871 Census, England, Staffordshire, Walsall, RG10/2960/Folio 62, p.18-19, E.D. 3, Household #85, Civil Parish: Walsall; Ecclesiastical District: St. Matthews, John H.R. Bayley, age 57, unmarried, school teacher, born Wellington, Salop [Shropshire], England. He was married at the time, so why he is listed as unmarried is unknown.

  11. Solon, An Historical Story of Ancient Greece...to which is appended Harvest Sheaves, by J.H.R. Bayley, F.C.P, F.S.A, published in Birmingham, England, by Guest, Bull St., 1871.

  12. 1881 Census, England, Warwickshire, Birmingham, RG11/3011/32/p.13; City of Birmingham, Civil parish of Birmingham, Eccles. parish of St. Paul, Household #82, living at #1, St. Paul's Square, John is 67, professor of languages, born Widington [sic] Salop.

  13. The Birmingham Daily Mail: 6/10/1885 BAYLEY 5i age 72, John Horatio Robert, Wolverhampton Extracts from Warwickshire Newspapers 1874-1907 - DEATHS, Website: http://www.hunimex.com/warwick/bmd/death_announcements_1874-1907.html; accessed 14 Oct 2008.

    Index to the Civil Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths for England and Wales, 1837-1980, Microfiche copy of originals at the Office of Population and Census, Merseyside, England; fiche from the British Isles Reference collection, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, UT. His death was recorded in the December Qtr., 1885, Birmingham District, vol. 6d, p.101. He was 73.

  14. 1891 Census, England, Warwickshire, Birmingham, RG12/piece2371/folio 69/p.17, E.D. 28. FHL Br MF 6095123, Number on schedule is 101. Listed are Margaret Bayley, age 76, head, and Pauline E. Cole, her daughter. Both are widowed.

  15. 1901 Census. England, Staffordshire. Indexed data from Ancestry.com. 1901 England Census (online database). Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. Census information from the GRO, London, RG13; Piece: 2705; Folio: 54; Page: 1, Civil Parish of Great Barr., Eccles. parish of St. Margaret. Margaret is living with her daughter and son-in-law, Thomas and Laura Fidelia Watts. She is 88, a widow, born Blymhill, Wales. She died in 1902, age 87, though. Great Barr is about 3 miles SE of Walsall. Wales is crossed off in the census record and Staffordshire is written in.

  16. Free BMD database: a transcription of the Civil Registration index of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales, http://www.freebmd.org.uk/, c.1998-2008 The Trustees of FreeBMD. Accessed 7 April 2008. Death was recorded in June Quarter, 1902, District of Birmingham, vol. 6d, p.54, age 87. The two children who died before her were Ada Jane Bayley,in 1884 and Werner Bayley,in 1888.



Anne Healy's Genealogy, Created October 2002
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