WELCOME TO THE BAYLISS LINE. This blog has been created for my family. By "my family" I mean all those who are related to the Bayliss family either by blood, marriage or even relationship. There are, of course, other Bayliss families not related to us but this blog has at its heart a very specific family who had their origins in Gloucestershire. I am connected to that family because my mother was a Bayliss and it was her curiosity that started my research back in the early 1990's. So, what are you likely to see on this blog? Well, as it is a blog, I want it to be as entertaining as possible rather that a dry listing of facts (that is for Ancestry.com). I will, hopefully, be posting entries on our ancestors and relatives, on the places where they lived, and the historical times they lived through. I have an extensive collection of photographs of people and places which I will, of course, be sharing.

I'd like to ask anybody who reads this blog to give me some feedback. I'd really like this to be a two way thing. It sometimes unearths new information and, to be honest, it gives me encouragement. There will be two ways of providing feedback - either through the comment button (you will need a Google account for this) or via the e-mail address which appears on this page - alternatively, ring me. Now scroll down to read the latest entries.....and, of course, via Facebook.

Friday, 24 June 2011


William Curtis was born on 23 May 1802 in Union Street, Borough in what is now South London, just across London Bridge, but which was then designated as Surrey.  His parents John and Hester took him to be baptised at St.Mary's Rotherhithe, also known as St.Saviours and today as Southwark Cathederal, on 20 June of that year. The record of his baptism can be seen on the fourth line of the left hand page above.  William grew up to be a cabinet-maker, plying his trade in Shoreditch. In later years he seems to have adopted the middle name of Reubin or Rubin although it is not recorded at his baptism, being perhaps an after thought by his parents. In 1824 William married Sarah Lydia Nathan at St. Leonard Shoreditch. We know virtually nothing about Sarah. Various researchers have suggested that she was as young as fifteen at the time of the wedding (the age of consent was only twelve until 1875) and although I initially subscribed to this I now believe she was born circa 1804.  Estimates of how many children she had vary between eight and Fifteen - the truth is somewhere between. The couple seem to have begun their married life in the notorious Essex Street off Kingsland Road but the soon moved farther south to Willow Walk in Shoreditch. Being a cabinet maker was not a particularly lucrative possession and we can see this from an article which appeared in The Morning Chronicle in August 1850 in which a Shoreditch cabinet-maker (that being the local trade) described how his family existed on an income of between four and five shillings a week:

                    "I get up always at six...my wife gets up after me...gets my breakfast ready at eight. It's coffee and bread and butter...she has dinner ready at one and that's coffee and bread and butter three days at least in the week, and that's finished in ten minutes too. Then I've tea, not coffee, for a change about five and I go to bed at ten without any supper - except Sundays - after sixteen hours labour, just with a few breaks, as I've told you."

In his book THE VICTORIAN UNDERWORLD, Donald Thomas tells us more about this same Shoreditch cabinet-maker  "The total meal-breaks in this sixteen hour day were calculated at half to three quarters of an hour. Some craftsmen worked sixteen hours on Sundays as well but not this man. "I haven't the strength for it", he said simply. On Sundays, however, the diet of bread and butter, tea and coffee was varied a little "We have mostly half a bullock's head, which costs ten pence to one shilling. We have it boiled with an onion and a potato to it; or when we're hard up we have it without either for dinner, and warm it up for supper. There's some left for Monday sometimes but never very much."  In the coldest months, obliged to provide heat and light for his work, the cabinet-maker found that even his modest domestic economy was eroded. There had been times "when we've had no butter to our bread and hardly a crumb of sugar to our coffee...The extra fire and candle in the winter takes our every farthing and more; and then we're forced to do without butter."  His child, at five years old, was still too young to be put to workbut the time would soon come. She was just learning to read and attending Sunday school. "Children soon grow to be useful, that's one good thing," said the cabinet-maker philosophically.

We must remember that William was in the same trade as this man and living in exactly the same area so it is possible, even probable that William and Sarah's life was very similar. They raised their children in poverty.On 6 November 1840 Sarah gave birth to a daughter. Four years later the child was christened at St. Leonard's Shoreditch on the same day as her older brother Charles (who had been born in 1837). The girl was named Nancy Harriett Curtis.  Twenty years later Nancy Harriett Curtis would marry the twenty-one year old Charles William Bayliss.  She was my Great Grandmother - and Great Grandmother to all my Bayliss cousins of my generation.

Nancy Harriett Curtis probably taken
at the time of her wedding.

1 comment:

  1. Now that was worth waiting for, remarkably good picture too. Hi there Great Grandma!