Memorial to James Bayley 1755-1834

JAMES BAYLEY (1755 – 1834)


The monument to James Bayley is situated on the corner by the entrance door to the Cathedral and is executed in the same design as that of Theophilus Richards on the other side of the corner, thought to be by William Hollins, a well-known Birmingham funerary sculptor. I was unable to find a connection between these two families, but instead discovered the world of the Napoleonic wars through investigating the Captain Powney and his wife named on the monument

James Bayley’s monument states that he was “formerly a merchant of this town”, and a reference in the book “Luxury and Pleasure in the Eighteenth Century”, by Maxine Berg, states that he was in fact a merchant in steel toys. This is confirmed by an entry in a Birmingham directory of 1800 stating that he was a “steel toy maker” in Exeter Row.  (Exeter Row was the early name of Holloway Head.)   The possibility is that Theophilus Richards bought goods from James Bayley for his toyshop on the High Street, so they may have had a professional connection.  Between the 1770s and 1790s James Bayley supplied Josiah Wedgwood with bezels, the grooves and flanges for settings which would be used for cameos, seals, gilt frames and steel mountings for buttons in which Wedgwood inserted his own goods.  There is also extant a letter from Bayley to Matthew Boulton, so he may have also done business with the Soho works, which supplied the same goods to Wedgwood.   In 1789, together with his co-partner Sampson Freeth, Bayley was declared bankrupt, but shortly afterwards another meeting at the Shakespeare Tavern in New Street declared that creditors would be paid in full.

Sampson Freeth’s firm was well-known for the manufacture of tools, and in particular became well-known in France for the design of a corn grinder which enabled corn to be ground by hand. It would also appear that his son or relative of the same name went into the military, which is interesting in view of the various military connections of James Bayley.  As partners, Freeth and Bayley joined the Chamber of Commerce in Birmingham together at its very beginnings.

We know from his memorial and other sources that James Bayley lived in Summer Hill Road, which at this time was newly built on the edge of what would become the Jewellery Quarter, developed out of the New Hall estate which had belonged to the Colmore family. The houses were described as “detached villas” and would have been built after 1747 when New Hall was pulled down and the estate was developed. In his will James Bayley leaves to his “old and faithful servant”, Mary Sindo, a mahogany four poster bed, two armchairs and a wardrobe, plus a silver butter knife and other silver items, from which we might deduce that he lived in some style.  It is probably that this house was built by his father and became his after his mother died.

In a Birmingham directory of 1785 James Bayley appears as a toymaker and merchant.   In 1797 and 1815 he appears as a merchant and factor of Newhall Street and Summer Hill; the term “factor” was used for jewellery merchants who would arrange for the numerous small jewellery businesses to make different parts, get them assembled and sell them.  In view of where he lived and had his business, it is clear that he was part of the toy trade which had existed for about a century and for which Birmingham was renowned worldwide, and which directly preceded the jewellery trade in Birmingham.

By 1818 he may have retired as he simply appears in a directory of that date as “of Summer-hill”, but his name appears in 1831 as connected with Birmingham Canal Navigation, in which sponsors including Galton, Lloyd and Ryland are advocating for the Birmingham, Dudley and Wolverhampton Railways, together with the Birmingham and Basford Railways. As I will discuss below, Bayley’s father lived in Sandpits from which sand was shipped by canal very early on in the history of canals; 1831 is very early in the history of the railways, which suggests the Bayley family was mixing with the elite of businessmen who invested in these new forms of travel.  (The very first railway, Stockton to Darlington opened in 1825 and the Liverpool to Manchester Railway in 1829.)


James Bayley’s father, James Bayley senior (d.1772)

The will of James Bayley’s father, also called James Bayley, is available and at the time of his writing the will (1772) he states that he had three living children, William King Bayley, James Bayley and Elizabeth Bayley. From this one might deduce that James Bayley senior was the Bayley who married Elizabeth King at Upton on Severn in 1747.  The three children named in his will were all baptised at St. Philip’s: William King Bayley in 1754, James in 1757 and Elizabeth in 1765.  If the Sarah Bailey, christened in 1756 according to the St. Philip’s register, was also one of his children, she was clearly dead by 1772.   James Bayley senior wrote a will of seventeen pages in his efforts to set up trusts to ensure that his wife and children and any future issue would be well provided for, but in the event only his daughter would marry and have a daughter, the only grandchild.

The will reveals a wealthy man who owned sixteen acres in Sandpits, which he was developing with warehouses and properties, and who was keen to ensure that the brew house and stables of his own house, which were under construction in 1772, should be completed. In 1758 he subscribed to a book called “Thoughts Moral and Divine”, where his address is listed as New Hall Walk, and in 1774 his name appears in a directory where his occupation is given as “factor commerce” and his address as 3 New Hall Street – presumably he was listed after death.  His will shows a man concerned about the future of his wife and children, with money to ensure they were educated and asking the executors to get his sons apprenticeships. He left £3,300 to his wife (which was probably the money she brought to the marriage) as well as his goods, and instructions that she should be able to remain in the house until death, together with specifications about money to be provided for his wife if she remarried; £1,000 was left to each of his sons and £1,500 for his daughter.  His life as a merchant, factor and developer seems to have been followed by his son James, who may well have lived in his father’s house and possibly took over his business.

James Bayley’s brother, William King Bayley (1754-1813)

William King Bayley was buried at St. Philip’s in 1813 aged 59, the burial register stating that he was a bachelor. Like his father he was a merchant, but in hats, with businesses both on High Street, Birmingham and in London.  He went bankrupt several times, in all cases listed as a merchant, factor and chapman.  (A chapman was a dealer who arranged for goods to be assembled and sold, much the same as a factor.)  He left his property to his brother and money both to his niece and her husband, as well as money to Lieutenant Cockburn, and was generous towards his servants.

James Bayley’s sister, Elizabeth Bayley (1765-1826)

There is a reference in the Birmingham Journal dated 4th November 1826 stating that James Bayley’s only sister, Elizabeth Fortescue Cockburn died in 1826 “after a long and severe illness”, and  in his will he leaves John Fortescue Cockburne, “of Bootorstown near Dublin”, £1,000.  In 1809 John Fortescue Cockburne, a Lieutenant, married Elizabeth Carleton at St. Martin’s in the Bullring, by licence.  Elizabeth Bayley married Francis Carleton in 1782 at St. Clement Danes in London, where it was stated that her father James was dead and her mother was also called Elizabeth.

Her first marriage took place when she was only seventeen, and necessitated a bond sworn by oath of £200, followed by a licence which states that she lived in Islington, her father was dead and her mother gave permission for the marriage. The reason for such a bond and licence is probably due to the fact that she married on 15th June 1782 and her baby Elizabeth Carleton, was baptised on 6th July at Deal in Kent.  Perhaps the illness and death of her father in the same year had brought about such a rushed event.

As Francis Carleton must have died before 1809 I did not understand why it was so difficult to find a record of his death, until his name turned up on army lists, and it became evident that he was very likely to be the Captain Francis Carleton of the 16th Regiment of Light Dragoons who is reported in the Scots Magazine as having died on 18th June 1804 at Surinam in South America, which had been occupied by the British in 1799 after France incorporated the Netherlands, and was handed back to the Dutch in 1816 at the end of the Napoleonic wars.

In 1782 when he married he was a Lieutenant of the 2nd Regiment of Foot stationed in Dublin and shortly became a captain of an independent company of Foot which accompanied Sergeant John Stewart to survey hospitals in the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean.  This whole area was to become involved in the French wars, (the Caribbean islands were divided between French and British colonists), and prior to this date there had been sympathy in the Caribbean with the American War of Independence and troubles with Dutch trade, not to mention piracy.

Francis Carleton next appears in the records in 1803 as a cornet in the 22nd Light Dragoons, which served in Ireland and Egypt.  It is possible that he left the army before rejoining in 1803, and eventually moved to the 16th Regiment of Light Dragoons.  What we do know is that he married Elizabeth Bayley and had a daughter who, as Elizabeth Powney, appears in James Bayley’s will as his niece and the inheritor of all his freehold and leasehold estates.  His daughter, Elizabeth Carleton, married Captain Powney of the Royal Navy, and it is these two who appear on James Bayley’s memorial stone.

Before leaving the subject of Francis Carleton, there is a note in the Navy List concerning Captain Powney stating that Elizabeth Carleton, his wife, was the niece of the Chief Justice of Ireland, which suggests therefore that Francis Carleton was the brother of this chief Justice, Hugh Carleton of Cork, first Viscount Carleton. My research suggests that it was in fact Francis Carleton who was the nephew of this important man, who helped bring about the unification of Ireland with England.  The Carleton family were descended from merchants and were the leading family in Cork.  Elizabeth Bayley may have made a hasty marriage, but it was to a member of a family who were of the same wealth and class.  Her great uncle by marriage sat in the House of Lords and lived in Hanover Square.  Her husband’s brother Henry became a Major General.

Elizabeth Bayley’s second husband, John Fortescue Cockburne proved rather elusive. I found a brief mention of him on army lists as a Lieutenant on half pay in the Second Garrison Battalion, having been a lieutenant since 1811. Part of this battalion fought in Madeira, but as the garrison battalions consisted of wounded and old men, he may not have fought.  He and Elizabeth do not seem to have had any children, and after her death in 1826 he married again in 1827 in Dublin and had several children; one daughter settled in Australia.  Both her husbands, therefore, had links with Ireland and fought in the British Army.

Although Elizabeth seems to have died in England, she has strong links with Ireland and it is interesting to note that she may have met her second husband in Ireland, as Viscount Carleton at one time had a house in Booterstown, near Dublin where John Fortescue Cockburne settled.

James Bayley’s niece, Elizabeth Powney (1782-1837)

Elizabeth nee Carleton married John Powney at St. Martin’s in 1810, and it is noteworthy that the marriage followed so quickly upon the second marriage of her mother in 1809, also held in St. Martin’s. Unlike her mother, however, Elizabeth did not marry until she was 28.  She married a man from an old established family.     John Powney’s father, Pennyston Portlock Powney, was an M.P. for New Windsor and was involved both with royalty and in the politics of the day, and was a Ranger of Windsor Little Park and a Lieutenant Colonel of the Berkshire militia.  John Powney had an equally distinguished career, ending up a Captain and Commander, and awarded a K.H., a Hanoverian Order of Chivalry.  His career was extraordinary and too long to list, but included escorting the King off Weymouth, escorting the East India fleet to St. Helen’s and escorting a British minister to the United States; when he escorted a Mexican Charge d’Affaires to New Spain he was presented with a table service.  He was attached to the fleet in the Mediterranean, assisted at the capture of Flushing, served on the coast of North America and protected fisheries near Jersey.  He finished his career overseeing the coastguard in Aldeburgh.

Elizabeth seems to have had no children and in 1837 a notice in the Western Times states, “May 31 at Chudleigh, after a protracted illness and great suffering, Elizabeth the beloved wife of Capt. J. Powney, R.N., K. H., aged 56.”

After the death of her uncle, James Bayley, Elizabeth and her husband seem to have lived in his house in Summer Hill for a while, as Captain Powney is listed in a directory, but they apparently settled in Devon. Her husband married a much younger woman after Elizabeth’s death and had several children, dying in 1855.  Elizabeth had inherited most of the family fortune, but lived little longer than her uncle.


As well as remembering his old servant in his will, James Bayley left £50 each to the Bluecoat School, the General Hospital, the Dispensary and the Deaf and Dumb Institute, popular bequests for the congregation of St. Philip’s at the time. His freehold and leasehold estates were left to his niece, and his shares in Birmingham Canal Navigation were left to people in Staffordshire.  His executors were from Bridgenorth and Sutton Coldfield, and he also leaves bequests to people in Bristol.  These facts do not convey the unusual aspects of his will, which has two codicils which seem to have been hidden around the house, and give the impression that in his last days he was eager to remember practically everyone he had known with small gifts of money or silver objects.  Among the objects listed are a silver marrow spoon, a diagonal barometer, a silver lemon strainer and eight gold sovereigns.  He remembers his servants, mentioning one who had served his mother, leaves bequests to the children of people he had known, and remembers to leave money so that his servants can have funeral clothes.  He request that he should have a funeral “without parade” and no pall bearers, and be laid to rest in the family vault.  The fact that he left a bequest to a new servant suggests a kind man, and like his father he also subscribed to a book of sermons.

His will demonstrates that he was at the heart of the rapid expansion of Birmingham and the expansion of trade, based upon metal trades, and his relatives were deeply involved in the Napoleonic wars. He offers us a glimpse of how the events of the times he lived in affected the congregation of St. Philip’s during these turbulent times.

 Gill Partridge Jan 2017



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