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.

Thursday, 28 July 2011


Herbert Bayliss, known as "Bert" was the youngest of eight children, six boys and two girls,  born to Charles William Bayliss and his wife Nancy. Herbert was born on 7 June 1883 at 7 Anatola Road, Upper Holloway. Like his brothers he began his career working in the building and decorating business with his father and grandfather. Herbert had a problem - he couldn't stand the smell of paint!  His mother passed away in 1898 and his father two years later. Charles William had been ill for some time and when he died the cause was given as Cancer of the Liver and "Exhaustion". Charles William died on 18 January at 42 Blenheim Road. The address is a bit of a mystery. He was attended at his death by his daughter Maude (Eleanor Maude) but she was married by this time and living with her husband in nearby Fairbridge Road so it is more likely that Charles William and his family had moved Blenheim Road sometime after 1891.

 At the time of his father's death at the beginning of 1900 Herbert Bayliss was not happy. It wasn't only the loss of his parent that was responsible for his condition. He was working as a house painter and hated it. His eldest brother,  Albert Charles (Charlie) had married in 1892 and moved to his wife's home at 6 Anatola Road and furthermore had taken a job as a Postman to secure a regular wage, leaving young Bert in the over protective care of his other brothers and sisters.  As well as working as a house painter with his brothers Bert took a part-time job as a groom with a firm called Beavis in Boothby Road, Upper Holloway. Beavis was in the coach-hire business and also operated "pirate" omnibus services - horse drawn buses which competed with the bigger transport companies on Holloway Road. It was Bert's job to groom and harness the horses. He also took the opportunity to learn to ride and drive coaches.

On 9 October 1899 Great Britain went to war with the Boers of South Africa. There were really two Boer Wars. The first, 1880-81, began after Disraeli annexed the South African Boer Republics - Transvaal and the Orange Free State in 1877. After making repeated attempts to repeal annexation, the Boers - descendants of Dutch settlers - under Kruger revolted and secured limited self goverment. After gold and diamonds were discovered in Transvaal tensions between the Boers and the British "ultlanders", aggravated by guerrilla raids and the repressive policies of the British governor of The Cape, became more intense. After the Boers attacked Cape Colony and Natal in 1899 the second war, which lasted until 1902 and would cost the lives of 20,000 British soldiers, was underway. British forces at Mafeking, Ladysmith and Kimberly were surrounded and besieged until relieved by forces under General Lord Roberts.

Boer Guerrillas
Seeing the outbreak of the war in South Africa - offering an escape from the smell of paint and a dominating family and, of course, adventure - young Bert volunteered for service in the Army.  Albert Charles was horrified and marched his youngest brother straight back to the recruiting office but the deed was done. Within a few days Bert found himself undergoing a very basic form of training before embarking for Cape Town with 7th Battalion 4th Middlesex Militia, Royal Fusiliers.

Seventeen year old Herbert Bayliss
Royal Fusiliers
According to Joyce Barrett, it was while on the troopship that Bert met Frederick Robert Parrott, another house painter, from Shoreditch. The two became great friends and Frederick would later play a significant part in family history.  Sadly, although I have discovered much about Frederick's life, I have found nothing to substantiate the story of that shipboard meeting and have found (so far) no record of any military service by Frederick Robert Parrott that goes beyond hearsay.

British troops on board ship bound for Cape Town
 By the time Bert arrived in South Africa the famous battles for the relief of Mafeking and Ladysmith were over and the great British offensive had begun.  Whether Bert saw action is unknown but he was probably with the victorious British troops when they took the capitals of the Orange Free State and Transvaal.

Bert returned to England in 1902 and went back to work for Beavis, this time as a driver working on the horse-drawn buses on Holloway Road. According to his daughter Ethel (my mother) his bus was drawn by two ex-fire service horses that used to accelerate to a gallop whenever they heard a bell.

The old Archway Tavern showing some of the
horse drawn buses that plied Holloway Road
Another relative who served in the British Army during the Boer War was Esther Abbott's elder brother, Henry George.  Born in Kentish Town in 1876, Henry George Abbotts was baptised in South Hampstead in 1880. He joined the army in August 1899 before the outbreak of  the South African war. Although no photos of Henry George are known to exist we can get a picture of what he looked like from his army records which tell us he was 5ft 6in tall with an expanded chest measurement of 42 inches. He had dark brown hair and hazel eyes. On his right forearm he had a tattoo of Brittania and on his left a Rose, a shamrock and a thistle. He had a scar on his right cheek.

British troops at the siege of Ladysmith.
Henry served in the Rifle Brigade and was present at the siege of Lady Smith.  Like his later brother-in-law Herbert he must have enjoyed the army life because in he later saw military service in the Great War.

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