Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: March 27, 2018
Webpage updated: January 01, 2020



JOHN BAYLY (1723-1811)

Mr John Bayly was the first member of the family to settle in Plymouth.  Descended from a Dorset family that can trace its pedigree back to the 16th century, his father, Mr Robert Bayly (1694-1776), had married a Miss Hannah Brabant (1692-1751).  She was the sister of a merchant and ship-owner who lived in one of Plymouth's most famous properties, the Island House on the Barbican, where the Pilgrim Father's are said to have lodged during their enforced stop-over in the Town in 1620.

Captain Brabant invited Robert's third son, John Bayly (1723-1811), then fourteen years of age, to join him in business in Plymouth.   The year was 1737.  John Bayly inherited the business and the lease of Island House when the the Captain died in 1752. 

Mr John Bayly married Miss Mary Burges, of Topsham, near Exeter, and in 1786 purchased the freehold of Island House from Sir William Molesworth.

Between 1771 and 1788 John and his brother Peter were very involved in the cheese, butter and salt trade.  It is a family legend that John used to rise at 4am so as to have time for Prayer and Meditation before the work of the day.   It was John who, in 1780, started the timber merchant's business at Coxside.   He also owned several ships: the "Neptune" was used as a tender at Portsmouth and Dartmouth; the "Diligence" chiefly operated out of Liverpool but brought a cargo of butter from Waterford in Ireland to Plymouth in 1792; the "Bristol Merchant" and the "Unity" traded out of Bristol and in 1791 the latter brought a cargo of thin cheese from there to Plymouth.  Other ships were the "Experiment", "Dove", "Fly" and "Pearl".   John refused to insure any of his ships but apparently relented on that principle during the American War of Independence when the French and Spanish were raiding British shipping off the coast.

Mrs Mary Bayly died in 1803.  Mr John Bayly died on September 2nd 1811.  His wish was for 'a plain funeral and no mourning' but that each of the ministers at the Meeting House was to have a scarf and gloves.

John and Mary had four sons.  Mr John Brabant Bayly (1756-1812) carried on the coastal trade with Bristol and inherited the "Red House" or "Great House" on the Barbican; Mr Robert Bayly (1760-1842) was initially sent off to Saint Petersburg, in Russia, to work for Messrs Cramp & Sons, merchants, but so disliked the people he was obliged to mix with that after five years he returned to Plymouth and was put to work in the timber yards until he changed career, went into the law and in 1786 removed to London.

Following the deaths of Mr John Bayly in 1811 and Mr John Brabant Bayly in 1812, control of the family's business interests went to Mr Richard Bayly (1763-1836) and his younger brother, Mr George Bayly (1772-1851), who ran the main shipping business and inherited Island House along with other properties nearby.

George's ships were described as 'more like haystacks than ships' and he sold out to the South Devon Shipping Company.


  Compiled with the kind and valued assistance of Mr R D Bayly.