Bayley Street, WC1B

Place Name

Sir John Bayley, 1st Baronet (August 3, 1763 – October 10, 1841), was a judge who lived nearby on 41 Bedford Square in the 1820s. Born at Elton, Huntindonshire, he was the second son of John Bayley and Sarah, the granddaughter of Dr White Kennet, Bishop of Peterborough. He was educated at Eton, and while nominated for King’s College, Cambridge, did not go, and was instead admitted to Gray’s Inn in November 1783. He was called to the bar in June 1792, and in 1799 became a serjeant-at-law. Sheila Fairfield in The Streets of London writes: “He became a judge in 1808. In 1819 he judged the famous case of libel brought by the Attorney General against Richard Carlile for republishing Thomas Paine’s pamphlet Age of Reason.” After sitting in court for more than 22 years, he was at his own request removed to the Court of Exchequer in November 1830. He resigned his seat on the bench in February 1834, and the following month was admitted to the privy council and created a baronet of Bedford Square, in the County of Middlesex. Though well-regarded by his contemporaries for his legal competencies, his business dealings are somewhat more controversial. Bayley jointly owned three sugar plantations in the British Guiana and Dominica, and when the British government emancipated the slaves in the 1830s, he and his partners were compensated over £20,000 each for over 400 slaves in their possession. Bedford Square was laid out between 1775 and 1780, and it is likely this street was built around the same time to give access to the Square, hence at first it was called Bedford Street. Just over a century later, it had been renamed and appears on the Ordnance Survey Map published in 1896, as Bayley Street.



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