James T. Baily (1876-1957)

James T. Baily, the eldest of four children, was born at Sleaford, Lincolnshire to James, a cabinet maker and Susannah , the daughter of a Suffolk shoemaker. Soon after James's birth the family moved to the HIghfields district of Sheffield where James Baily Sr. kept a carpenters shop at the rear of the house (Baily 1959. 12). Alongisde his carpentry work, James Sr. also took on additional work to support the family although a near fatal fall from scaffolding while working on the roofing of a villa in Netheredge left James with epliepsy and he struggled to find permanent employment (Baily 1959, 13). Susannah also suffered from ill health, and suffering from tuberculosis died at the age of thirty seven (Baily 1959, 24). Left with four small children to look after James Sr. employed Annie Winter as housekeeper but their relationship soon developed and within a year they were married (ibid).


Following a poor but happy childhood and fuelled by his father's love of carpentry and craftsmanship, Baily left school at the age of twelve and began work as an apprentice at Needham and Kugler's metal engravers. This was a short lived engagement as a year later at the age of 42 Baily's father died of pneumonia. As a result the family were split up with his step-mother returning to her parents home in Lincolnshire with Alfred and Willie, Baily's younger brothers. His sister Janie went into an orphanage in Birmingham while Baily was fortunate enough to be taken in by his Uncle Joe and given a new apprenticeship with Mr Robinson, a carpenter and builder (Baily 1959, 40).   Baily later went on to rejoin his step-mother and brothers in Lincoln where he continued his carpentry apprenticeship and schooling while contemplating his next move. After rejecting initial plans to enter the world of politcs as a reformer James settled on becoming a missionary. Having consulted his 'spiritual father' Rev. J. D. Jones, Baily enrolled in a class for lay preachers and visited the London Missionary School. Unfortunately, Baily was classed unsuitable for missionary work as despite his own good health his family history, which by now included the deaths of his brother Willie and sister from tuberculosis, was poor (Baily 1959, 48).  Instead he turned his attention to the church at home becoming a lay preacher and helping set up the Ashton Court Mission which provided educational classes, work for women alongside spiritual guidance for the Lincoln poor (Baily 1959, 50).  


Teaching was soon to follow and a move from Lincoln as Baily was offered a position teaching building trades and woodwork at the Manual Training Centre in St Albans. This along with his engagement and subsequent marriage to Lucy Allott was to mark the beginning of a new phase in Baily's life. The couple had three children, all boys, and their homelife was a happy one while Baily's passion for craftwork thrived as he continued to teach not only during term time but also at summer schools for the training of teachers and at an adult school on a Sunday (Baily 1959, 61). 



Baily, L. (1959) Craftsman and Quaker: The Story of James T. Baily 1876-1957. London: George Allen and Unwin.


Braithwaite Thomas, A. (1920) St. Stephen’s House Friends Emergency Work in England 1914 to 1920, 43-56. London: Emergency Committee for the Assistance of Germans, Austrians and Hungarians in Distress.