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Edmund John Baily


Edmund John Baily was born in England on Feb 10 1821 and admitted to the ‘Bluecoat School’, Christ’s Hospital at the age of eight, becoming a pupil in Dec 1829 until his discharge in July 1836. In June 1838 at the age of seventeen, whilst employed by the Post Office of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland as a labourer, he was charged on at least seven counts, and confessed that he was guilty and “-  with force and arms he feloniously did embezzle [and steal] certain post letters” containing Post Bills and Bills of Exchange, each worth about 25, a total of 150 – a considerable amount of money in those days when it is believed that his father had been earning only 100 in a whole year. Edmund was tried at London Central Criminal court on Jun 17 1838 and convicted and sentenced “ – to be transported beyond the seas for the term of his natural life”.


Although the records of the court proceedings stated that Baily was a labourer, his convict record shows him as a clerk. He arrived in Sydney aboard the “Portsea” in December 1838 together with another 239 male convicts. He was granted a Ticket-of-Leave on the recommendation of Port Macquarie Bench on Jun 18 1846 to remain in the district of Parramatta. On Jul 26 1848 Baily was given a passport by the local Police Magistrate “- to travel between Parramatta and Twofold Bay and Manaroo by way of Sydney in the services of Mr Cameron”.


His Ticket-of-Leave was altered on Nov 19 1848 ‘- to Sydney so long as he remains in the services of Mr Blakeney of Sussex Street’. Michael Blakeney is listed in the 1851 edition of the ‘Sydney Directory’ as Shipping family and Carcass Butcher – this was possibly Baily’s introduction to the meat industry.


 On Mar 16 1849 Baily was given a ‘Twelve Months’ passport to travel to “County King and Lachlan in the services of Mr Galloway”, recommended by Mr Galloway. His Ticket-of-Leave was again altered on Mar 29 1849 to Parramatta District. His Conditional Pardon was signed on Oct 5 1849 and entered on Nov 1 that year. In the same year, there is an entry in an old notebook belonging to Edmund Baily, now in the care of Aldyth Jones, which refers to a Mr Matheson and an amount of 2 – this appears to be the first reference to his future wife’s family. The next record was Jul 30 1850 when he married Margaret Matheson, whose younger sister Ellen was later to marry Thomas Playfair in 1860. After Ellen’s death Thomas married her half sister, Georgina Matheson. Thomas Playfair named his second son after Edmund Baily, using the whole name – Edmund John Baily Playfair.


There is a reference in Oct 1851 to the sale of Fitzgerald’s cattle to Mr William Piesley for 46. Both  Mr Piesley and Edmund Baily are listed in the ‘Sydney Directory’ of 1855 as having slaughterhouses at 110 Sussex Street. It is recorded that in April 1857, Baily leased a slaughterhouse at Blackwattle Swamp in the City of Sydney to Benjamin Richards of Richmond NSW. There were slaughterhouses at Blackwattle Swamp from 1835 until 1860; this was the area at the end of Blackwattle Bay which has since been reclaimed to form Wentworth Park.


The partnership of Baily and Playfair was formed in 1860. The only reference to Playfair in that notebook was on Jul 15 1861 where it appears  that Baily sold Playfair sixty two shares in the Illawarra Steam Navigation Company for ninety shillings each, a total of 279.


Around this time, Edmund and Margaret Baily resided at “Ravenswood Cottage”, Waverley.


Upon the death of Baily on May 29 1862, the Waverley Council recognised “- the passing of Mr E.J.Baily, Chairman of the Municipality of Waverley”; this position would be the equivalent to the present position of Mayor. That Council was only proclaimed in 1859 and Baily was elected to this position at his first attendance on Feb 1862 but his service was short lived as he died a little over three months later. He had represented the Waverley Ward.


It had been suggested by a Baily family member that Edmund had died as the result of a fall from a horse. However the Sydney Morning Herald, on May 30 1862, reporting his death, wrote as follows:

“We are informed that on Saturday last he complained of a severe cold. On Sunday and Monday he was partially indisposed; he came into the City, however, as usual on Monday morning but returned home early in the afternoon. Two medical men were consulted and under their treatment he appeared to be progressing favourably toward convalescence; but at about five o’clock yesterday morning he was suddenly seized with a more dangerous form of disease which terminated fatally in a few minutes. It is understood that the immediate cause of death was an affection of the liver”


At the time of his death, Baily owned only one butchering business in his own name, 95 Palmer Street Sydney but he also owned two butcher shops trading as Baily and Co., presumably with Playfair, at 162 South Head Road and 109 Crown Street, both in Sydney. Unfortunately it appears that there was no publication of the ‘Sydney Directory’ in 1860, which would possibly have shown the Playfair Partnership. When Edmund Baily died his estate was ‘sworn at 10,500’ for probate and soon after, his widow Margaret sold the shops to Thomas Playfair.


Edmund John and Margaret Baily had seven children, one of these, a daughter Elizabeth [Lilly] b. 1856 married Octavius Beale, b. 1850, the founder of the “Beale Piano Company”; one of their twelve children, Harold Beale b. 1889, was the father of Aldyth Jones. Much of the Bailey information was supplied by Aldyth to Ross Playfair, for inclusion in his book. Aldyth’s information is included in her three works, “Keeping Your Word”, A6 BEA,4a,b&c 1994, in the Australian Library Section at the Society of Australian Genealogists in Sydney.


Thanks to Aldyth Jones and Ross Playfair for this section on Edmund John Baily.
For more information on Octavius Beale go to


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