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.

Monday, 26 August 2013


These two are "mystery" photos. The pictures were given  to me by a relative who was unable to identify them beyond the opinion that they were related and probably members of the Bayliss family. The woman may possibly be one of the daughters of Charles Bayliss or, as has been suggested, a picture of his daughter-in-law,Nancy Curtis - either is possible. The young man's identity is a complete mystery. Possibly other members of the family have copies of these pictures and know who they are.


I don't know of any other family wedding photograph that actually captures the happy couple kissing so this is unique as far as I know. The occasion is the wedding of Stanley Bayliss and Gladys Seamons at St.John's Church, Upper Holloway, London. The date was Christmas Day, December 25th 1943. Stanley was serving in the Irish Guards and Gladys in the Land Army - the latter provided a guard of honour.


Continuing the theme of disputed photographs begun in the last post I present a picture, originally a newspaper cutting which I found among my mother's papers after her death. The damaged cutting probably depicts the 1918 funeral of Herbert Bayliss - simply because I can think of no other reason why she would have kept the picture. So I present it to you without further comment.

Friday, 2 August 2013


I had hoped that by now I would have been able to post my article on Stanley Bayliss, the youngest of Herbert Bayliss's children with his wife Esther. Unfortunately  although I had facts and dates the promised personal recollections which I felt were so important did not arrive and during the wait I became distracted by another project. I am, however going to begin by posting items from my personal collection of family photographs. Some of these may have been seen before but in each case the picture will have a new caption. Photographs will be from all branches of the family and will include some from my paternal line which will be unfamiliar for the most part to those reading this blog who are descended from the Bayliss line.

My first choice is a picture which, when I first saw it, I instantly recognised as the above mentioned Stanley Bayliss. When I first showed the picture to Stanley's daughters I was shocked that they did not believe it was their father because I had no doubts whatsoever and the identity had been confirmed to me by my mother, Stanley's sister. So here is the disputed picture.

As far as I am concerned this is a picture of the young Stanley Bayliss (1918-2002). I have not clue as to the identity of the young woman. Neither am I sure of the location although my thoughts are that it might be the garden of  Stanley's mother's bungalow on Canvey Island which would be right for the period which I judge to be the late 1930's'

Monday, 18 March 2013


Another period of inactivity from me - this time the result of a period of poor health. Hopefully things are on the mend and I should be starting the article on my uncle Stanley Bayliss very soon and this will include information on his wife Gladys's family.

Some of you, I know, bought and read Sidney Day's wonderfully evocative book about growing up in the Dartmouth Park Hill area so when my second cousin, Peter Barker, provided me with his own memories inspired by the book I asked if I could share them with the rest of the family. Peter, who shares my Great Grandmother Mary "Polly" Abbotts, grew up in exactly the same area as Sidney Day so it is good to compare their memories. I have decided to put the piece on my companion blog DOWN THESE STREETS and you can read it either by clicking on the title here or by the link in the right hand column.

Thursday, 31 January 2013


As soon as I'd finished the previous post I decided to write to The Norwood Society and see if I could find any more about The Rescue Society Maternity Home where Joe Slater was born. They kindly passed my e-mail on to Jerry Savage at the local library and he confirmed something that we suspected - that there had been a change in the street numbers and 89 Central Hill, originally built as The Red Lion public house and later taken over as a home for unmarried mothers, particularly, domestic servants, was renumbered as 99 and is now private flats.So, with the help of Google Maps, here is a picture of the house where Joe Slater was born in 1911.

99 (formerly 89) Central Hill

Tuesday, 29 January 2013


Well, it's not actually Joe who is the mystery but his mum, Josephine. I met her a few times as a very young child but have no clear memories of her. Her son, my uncle Joe, I remember very well as I am sure all the cousins of my generation do. Joe, as we saw in a previous article, was married to Esther, my mother's sister.
Joe was a big man, an ex-merchant seaman, and I always thought he looked a bit of a tough guy - I certainly remember the clip around the ear he gave me once for being cheeky! But I'm getting ahead of myself...

This post will be different from ones that have gone before in that it is really a report on the unanswered questions about Joe's mother and the circumstances surrounding his birth and childhood that both I and his daughter-in-law, Adrienne Slater, have encountered.

Joseph Frederick Slater was born on 10 June 1911 in London and baptised at St.Mary's Church in Eltham.
The place of Joe's birth was 89 Central Hill, Upper Norwood in South London which is The Rescue Society's Maternity Home Reformatory which may or may not have had connections with the Virgo Fidelis Convent which is situated nearby. Josephine is listed on the April 2 Census for 1911 as Josephine Slater, a domestic servant, single, born in Wexford, Ireland about 1891.

St.Mary's Eltham

Joseph was baptised at St.Mary's Church Eltham. On 20 May 1919 Joseph was placed in the Nazareth House Convent Orphanage in London Road, Southend on Sea. According to the Convent Records his parents were Frederick and Josephine Slater with Josephine's maiden name being Byrne. Frederick, who was deceased by 1919, had been a soldier.  The problem is that there is no record of a marriage between Frederick and Josephine.  There were, of course, lots of soldiers named Frederick Slater who perished during the Great War but without further clues it is impossible to even guess which one may have been Joseph's father. The reason for Josephine placing her son in Nazareth House seems to have been that as a single mother she needed to work and she had a position in service in London, possibly with one of the directors of the P&O shipping line.

Nazareth House, Southend-on-Sea
 So what was Josephine's story?  The truth is we don't really know. Adrienne, who is married to Joe and Esther's son, Ian, has been the primary researcher and I know that one of the problems has been that there are several different spellings of the name (just as there is with Bayliss) but Adrienne is a diligent researcher and believes she has tracked Josephine's birth to Wexford in Ireland in 1890 with a father named Joseph and a brother of the same name. On the census for 1901 she appears as Josephine Breen. The family were Roman Catholic.  Did young Josephine become pregnant and was sent to England to have the child which was not un uncommon occurrence?

Joseph Slater with his mother Josephine

Each step in the story simply throws up new questions. If Josephine got pregnant in Ireland, who was the soldier Frederick Slater?  His name, as we have seen does not appear on Joe's birth certificate and there is no record of a marriage between him and Josephine. Did Frederick ever exist?

Joe's son Robin once suspected there may be some connection between Josephine and Guernsey in the Channel Islands. While nothing concrete has ever come of this I did discover on the 1881 census a six year old Josephine Byrne living in Joseph Street with her mother Margaret and a younger brother named Joseph!
Again, not our Josephine, but a strange coincidence.

Young Joe stayed at Nazareth House in Southend until 1925 when he was transferred to the Nazareth House in East Finchley. Very soon after this Joe left the orphanage to go to sea as a steward on the P&O line. His son Robin believes this was achieved by a letter of introduction from Josephine's employer. Why Joe chose to make his land base in Southend is unknown but we know that he lodged with a family named Beal or Beale who lived in Whitegate Street off Southend High Street. Young Joe made his first of many voyages to Australia at the age of seventeen. He met and married Esther Bayliss (as told in a previous post about Esther) and they made their home in Southend. During the 1939-45 war Joe was at sea serving on convoys to Russia and later to Australia taking Australian troops to Cape Town in South Africa for training.

Joe as a steward  on the P&O line

Josephine continued to work in London. After leaving service she worked for the BBC and had a flat in Fitzrovia not far from the Broadcasting House which Robin remembers was above a fishmongers shop. She died in 1958.
Joe (right) on board ship with a friend (no not Bing crosby!)

I have many vivid memories of Joe and Esther and happy holidays spent at their house in Pleasant Row in Southend. But the times I remember most were the family parties at my grandmother's when Joe, after a few drinks, would roll up his trousers to his knees and mince across the room singing a song that would be regarded as very unpolitical today - which began with the words "When you get down Leicester Square all the boys are girls down there, you'll find them all doing the pansy walk."  Of course the fact Joe looked like he could have easily gone a couple of rounds with Henry Cooper added to the effect.

Joe as I remember him from my childhood striding down Pier Hill, Southend.

I don't remember seeing Joe after he and Esther moved from Pleasant Row to Ditton Court Road in Westcliff although, ironically I now live only a very short distance from their flat. I believe Joe's health was poor at this time and he passed away in 1974. He was only 63.  Esther continued to liive is Westcliff until her death in 1990, Esther and Joe's sons continue to live in the area today and one of his grandchildren is named Joe after him.

That there are so many unanswered questions here is one of the frustrating but unavoidable problems of any genealogical research but just as with my grandmother's second husband the truth will hopefully be revealed

I have done very little original research on this post and most of it is a combination or Adrienne's research and information from Joe's sons Robin and Ian. The photographs of Joe and Josephine come from their collection.