Alfred Bayles (1840 – 1901)
By his great grandson
David Edward Alfred Tompkins


Alfred’s grandfather, William Bayles, was born in Romaldkirk, in Yorkshire, and came to London presumably to make his fortune. He married an Essex girl and they settled in the Whitechapel area. He was a corset and stay maker and had a shop at 55, Houndsditch at Aldgate. It was there that Alfred’s father, William John Bayles, was born. He was apprenticed as a tailor but instead of staying north of the River Thames he chose to move south of the river. He had a tailor’s shop in Newington Causeway.

London had been, and still was, changing rapidly. Railways and roads were being constructed. Houses and factories were being built. This together with the existing poor sanitary system and the influx of hundreds of people caused intense overcrowding. This lead to much disease and the death of many children.

Alfred was educated at Holland Street Grammar School and in 1856 he was apprenticed as a tailor.

Alfred married Jane Russell in 1866 in St Mary’s Church in Rotherhithe and moved into the Walworth district at No. 4 Hewson Street, just south of the Elephant and Castle.

They lived in Walworth for five years during which time they had three children.

Figure Aa Newington Causeway c 1860

Meanwhile more people were moving and letting their houses to the incoming immigrants. Alfred and his family followed suit and moved to Camberwell. Whilst at Camberwell Alfred purchased eight houses in Jocelyn Street, Peckham. Alfred and his family stayed in Camberwell for seven years where they had their fourth child. They then decided to move to Dulwich.

Alfred bought eight houses at Nutfield Road in Dulwich and eighteen months later he bought a further five houses in Bournemouth Road, Nunhead, adjacent to Peckham.

Alfred’s father died in 1886 and the shop’s name was changed to Alfred Bayles. Alfred also took over the secretaryship of Trinity School. In 1894 Alfred suffered with ill health and had to resign the Secretaryship of Trinity School. They left Dulwich and moved to West Kingsdown in Kent.

Alfred joined several organisations in the village and died in 1901.

Click here for a PDF of the Bayles Family Tree.

Chapter 1: Parents and Grandparents

Figure 1a:
William John Bayles

Figure 1b:
William John Bayles

Alfred’s grandfather William Bayles was born in Romaldkirk, Yorkshire in 1768. He married Mary Grain from Stansted Mountfitchet in Essex and they moved to London. In 1817 the directory shows that his occupation was a stay and corset maker living at 55, Houndsditch in the city of London (1/1). They had twelve children the sixth of which was William John born in 1807, Alfred’s father.

Figure 1c William John Bayles’ Indenture commenced on 19th January 1823

Alfred’s father was apprenticed as a tailor to David Mitchell in Fenchurch Street for five and a half years, completing it in 1828 (Fig 1c).

William John Bayles married Mary Jenkins in 1834 at Stepney Old Church. They had eleven children, Alfred and his twin sister Anna being the fourth and fifth respectively.

William John had a tailor’s shop at 58 Newington Causeway until the end of 1840. He then moved his shop to 44 Newington Causeway whilst living at 81 Newington Causeway. When the King died he showed respect in his advertisement whilst at 58 Newington Causeway (1/2) (Fig 1e).

His father was one of the original committee that formed the Newington Ragged Schools in 1854 (1/3). He later became its treasurer.

A page from William John’s diary of March 1861 (Fig 1d) gives the following information:

Thursday 21.- Committee to meet Mr Faulconer’s tonight at 7pm and consult about the 1/- for summonses. Wrote to H Carton today.Sent a detailed a/c to Mrs Rowles today. My hunting watch to Kirner today.

Friday 22. - to send to Read today. To audit a/cs of the Charity Estates at 7pm.

Saturday 23. - to send to J Fortescue with pattern. I called upon Whitehews & Tyrele

Sunday 24. 6th Sunday in Lent.

Monday 25. - Miss Ruildesforth paid. Phelp to pay all today. Paid. See about Hunwick. Alfred home today from Fenwicks. Paving at 7.

Tuesday 26. - Alfred Robinson at Swan Str county Court today at half past ten for a debt of 2 -8 - 0. Plains note 0 2839. Fortescue. Finance at 7.

Wednesday 27. - Committee at 7 at Mr Buyens office. Hargreaves. Grocery today. Dog today.

Figure 1d William John Bayles’ diary for March 1861

Figure 1e: Alfred’s father’s impressive
advertisement “Mourning for the King”
Alfred’s father was a Churchwarden of Trinity Church (1/4).

His father was also a Vestryman on the committee of Trinity Ward. In 1867 he served on a special committee to consider the Metropolitan Poor Amendment Bill and especially with reference to the necessity of preserving the Walworth Common Estate for the exclusive benefit of the Parish (1/5).

His father served as a secretary of Trinity School, Swan Street and was followed by Alfred when he died (1/6).

London had begun to change at a rate that increased rapidly with the coming of the railways which was when Mary Bayles gave birth to twins, Alfred and Anna.

Figure 1f Newington Causeway with the tramlines laid

Chapter 2: Early Years (1840 – 1856)

Figure 2a: Alfred’s book prize from
Holland Street Grammar School 1855

Alfred and his twin sister Anna were born on the 5th June 1840. Anna lived for only fourteen weeks and died on 13th September 1840. A further four brothers and two sisters were to follow but two of the brothers would die within six months of being born.

The twins were born at the same time that London was being invaded by an army of railwaymen. They had reached the outskirts of the surrounding villages and several companies were converging towards the centre of the town. The year was 1840, not 1940, although the amount of destruction caused by the construction of the railways was as great as the bombing in the second world war. Hundreds of people lost their homes and desperately wanted accommodation. Many were accommodated in the poor quality houses in St. Georges Fields (2/1).

These had been built where the only drainage were the cess pits linked to the ditches and the River Thames. Although the ditches fell away from the river the rising and falling tide was expected to wash the sewage into the river. This together with the inadequate water supply system caused many deaths due to foul water. Consequently there were many diseases, smallpox, measles, scarlotina, whooping cough, diarrhoea and typhus.

Figure 2b A medical examination at Holland
Street Grammar School in 1911
To add to the problem many Irish people, fleeing from the plague in Ireland came to London between 1845 and 1848, and settled in the St. Georges Field’s area (2/2). Many were employed to build new houses meanwhile living in houses that had been vacated by wealthy people. As many as twenty people could be accommodated in a single house where less than half that number lived there originally. It is no wonder that the drainage system was unable to cope and resulted in a very low standard of health. This led to many deaths especially young children.

Alfred was educated at Holland Street Grammar School as indicated on one of the two prizes he won in 1854 and 1855 for which he received books entitled ‘Architecture of Birds’ and ‘The Great Cities of the Middle Ages.” There are also two pictures in Pamela Horn’s book which show a boy having a medical examination at a school of the same name. One of the pictures has been obtained from the London Metrpolitan Archives but at the moment there is no positive confirmation that a school of this standard existed in Holland Street in 1854 and 1855 (2/3) (Fig 2b).

In 1899 a survey was carried out by Charles Booth and his book entitled ‘The Streets of London: The Booth Notebooks: South East’ has been most helpful in portraying the communities that existed in London at that time (2/4). The detail is worth using even for the fifty years previous. Situations may have changed one way or another. At least it gives a flavour of life in 1899. Using this information the area either side of Newington Causeway differed remarkably (Fig 2d).

The west side consisted of both a poor and rough community.

Figure 2c: The Junction of Southwark Street and
Borough High Street 1865

On the east side there was the Trinity area that was described as “the aristocratic part of the Borough” (2/5). In fact that area remains almost the same today as it did in those days. Trinity Church, where Alfred’s father was a church warden, although no changes have been carried out architecturally, is now known as Henry Wood Hall and is used for rehearsals. Beyond that there were “costers, who had money but did not take it home”, and casual labourers who perhaps were “light-fingered when joining the crowds that were always in the vicinity of The Elephant and Castle junction.” There was also Pink’s factory, famous for Pink’s Jam, which employed many local people. However there were also many poor people living in very cramped conditions.

Holland Street lay to the north of his parent’s home in Newington Causeway and his walk to school would have been quite trying for a boy in his early teens. His choice would have been through a network of narrow alleys meeting a wide variety of un-savoury characters, or a longer route along the busy main road towards Blackfriars via the Junction of Southwark Street and Borough High Street (Fig 2c).

Alfred probably did not see a lot of his father at that time as in 1854 his father was a member of the committee that started The Newington Ragged Schools. However from the information in Alfred’s small notebook regarding his DIY (do it yourself) activities, it would not be surprising if his services in the conversion of the stable for the ragged school were not required. In fact it may have been the experience of this venture that partly influenced the direction that his life took.

Figure 2d: A map from Booth Notebooks showing the 1899 survey of the class of people living in the Newington Causeway area.
Newington Causeway is the main road curving to the right
Yellow – Upper-middle & Upper classes, Wealthy
Red – Middle class. Well-to-do.
Pink – Fairly comfortable. Good ordinary earnings
Purple – Mixed. Some comfortable, others poor
Lightblue – Poor. 18s. to 21s. a week for a moderate family
Dark blue – Very poor, casual. Chronic want.
Black – Lowest class. Vicious, semi-criminal.

Chapter 3: Occupation (1856 – 1866)

At the age of sixteen Alfred commenced his apprenticeship to be a tailor with Mr. James Turner. There was an exchange of letters between Alfred’s father (William John Bayles - WJB) and Mr. Turner concerning the conditions of the Indenture. Mr. Turner finally agreed to his father’s suggestion that he would have to take Alfred as he did his wife ‘for better or for worse’. The result was that Alfred would start with him on 7th February 1856 for a period of four years at a cost of £29 – 10s – 0 (Fig 3c). This was a year and a half shorter than his father’s apprenticeship. As his father owned a tailors shop he obviously had the opportunity to obtain home training.

The following is the exchange of letters between WJB and Mr Turner concerning his son Alfred’s apprenticeship. WJB’s letters are in draft form (3/1).

To Mr J. Bayles. 44 Newington Causeway 10th Jany 56


I have fully considered about taking your son and feel that in justice to you and myself that I cannot afford to take him and teach, board and lodge him Sundays included from £30 to £35 or there about. I could tell better his capabilitys after a trial of 2 or 3 weeks - there is a great responsibility in taking a youth and the time is short and though he seems a very nice one - yet he is delicate and I could not expect to make a great deal out of him in mere labour - although of course after a time I should expect to make him very useful.

Should you entertain this a trial can be made - and as a satisfaction to you - I beg to refer you to Dr Gardner of 51, Mortimer St., Cavendish Sq. who has been my medical attendant upwards of 18 years, as also Mr Tupand of 58 Baker Street who has known or done business with upwards of 10 years. I feel confident that should I have him I am capable of doing justice to him and that will be much easier for in every way while under my charge. Your reply to this as soon as convenient each --- Yours respectively

To Dr Gardner. From WJB 16 Jany 56 Draft

Mr J Turner of 65 Albany St proposes to take my son as an indoor apprentice - and refers me to you stating that you have known him about 18 years.

Would you have the kindness to inform me if I can place my son under his care as an apprentice in full and perfect confidence that he will be well taken care of. Yours ---

Figure 3a From WJB to Mr J Turner 17 Jany1856 Draft on back of envelope

From WJB to Mr J Turner 17 Jany 1856 Draft on back of envelope (Fig 3a).


I am willing to give you a premium of £30 and altho I wish the agreement to be that you keep my boy on the Sunday. I have no doubt but that he will more frequently be home altho at the first I should not encourage it in order that he should reflect upon his position and learn that his comfort will depend upon his exerting himself to the utmost of his ability always bearing in mind that his employers interest commands his paramount attention. Should my proposition meet your views he had better be with you for about 4 weeks to give you an opportunity of judging of his capabilities and in that case perhaps you would name the day you would wish him to come. Yours -- Wm Jn B (Fig 3a)

To Mr Bayles From Dr Gardner Jany 17. 56


In reply to your enquiry about Mr Turner Tailor of Albany St - I beg to say that I have known him for at least 18 years - and that I should think him a proper person to take an apprentice and that should he take your son he would in every way do him justice ---

To Mr Bayles From Mr Turner Jany 23rd 1856 (Fig b)


I shall be happy to receive your son tomorrow on trial - purpose of business has prevented my writing before. I beg to say that I should expect a moderate compensation for board during the trial in case each should not suit each other and which is the usual custom, but which I trust there will be no necessity for as I am rather predisposed in favour of your son from his appearance. Should you come with him the after part of the day would be to me the most convenient as in the morning. I am mostly out ... uncertain and I will be in the way to see you, and beg to remain. Yours respectfully J Turner

Figure 3b To Mr Bayles From Mr Turner Jany 23rd 1856

To Mr Turner From W J B 25 Feb 1856


I thought I was favouring you when I put the amount of £29.10.0. because if I had put in £30.0.0 the stamp would be £3.. and deducting your half would really have only received £28-10. I cannot make a provision in case of illness having been passed on. You must take Alfred as you did your wife for “better or for worse” and I don’t think you need alarm yourself about him - Let me know next post whether I may get the copy stamped That the matter may be settled at once. Very truly yours ... J B

To WJB From Mr Turner Feby 25th 56


I received the draught of Indenture from your son. I see nothing objectionable in it but you have omitted to make any provision in case of illness which you will be pleased to do. I know it is ---for --divide the expense of stamp but think in this case you should not -- it as I accept your offer of the £30 - and I think it fully worth it - of course I see the object lowering the am’t as it saves a --but a shilling ---. I may observe that I have great confidence in taking your son. He seems willing quick and active and desirous to oblige and unassuming in his manners. You will oblige by carrying this out as soon as convenient and be pleased to send a line when it can be concluded. I do not know whether it necessary to have an attorney but all that I leave to you and beg to remain Yours

To WJB From J Turner Feby 26 /56


I fully appreciated the object of lowering the am’t of premium to save stamp - ten shillings is not of that importance to require it. I said to myself yesterday that taking an apprentice was very much like taking a wife and it must be so as you object to the proposed clause. I am not alarmed about --- but merely consider it as a prudential matter ---that it will turn out to our mutual advantage you had better do as you say and settle it. Yours

Figure 3c Alfred’s Indenture. To learn the art of a tailor in cutting and sewing. William John Bayles covenants and agrees to find the said Alfred Bayles with sufficient clothing and washing of his clothes during the said term of four years. Finding unto the said Apprentice sufficient meat, drink lodging and all other necessaries. Alfred commenced on 7th February 1856 for a four year apprenticeship.

Fortunately this series of letters has been preserved and they give an insight into the business style that was adopted in those days. They also give an idea of the standard of education of these adults. It also indicates how careful Mr. Turner was in protecting himself in the decision of granting the Indenture. Despite the exchanges of determining the amount of money it is interesting to note that the sum on the Indenture is £29.10.0. Both parties benefited eventually. Mr. Turner admitted that Alfred was an active boy and that surely went in Alfred’s favour.

Alfred would become one of the Turner’s family for four years, no doubt visiting home occasionally. From his father’s diary (see Chapter 1), of which a single page for the week in March 1861 has been preserved, he would not have seen a lot of his father. Not only was he involved in the early stages of setting up the Newington Ragged Schools but he also had the duties of being a Vestry committee member and those of a church warden of Trinity Church.

Alfred obviously had to work very hard during his apprenticeship as Mr. Turner would expect to make a profit out of the deal. It was probably very boring in the early stages. Long hours of cutting and sewing must have made him long for more interesting work. His progression to measuring, working to patterns and finally taking full responsibility for producing a suit of clothes of the finest quality must have seemed to have taken a very long time to him. But that is how experience is gained. How many times, one wonders, when he was told off in no uncertain terms for ruining a very expensive piece of cloth!

Alfred was lucky in that his father could afford to give him a proper apprenticeship to become a tailor. He had already received a good education at Holland Street Grammar School which would also stand him in good stead for the occupation he had chosen. The majority of people had not received any education and lived in poverty, the rewards of which resulted in many problems for them. He was lucky that he was not one of the many thousands of people made homeless due to the demolition required for the construction of Southwark Street (3/2). Alfred was also lucky that when he had completed his apprenticeship he did not have to write letters of application, a job was automatically waiting for him in his father’s tailors shop.

London was still facing severe problems, many of which were caused by the construction programme of roads and railways forging ahead. In 1858 the Medical Officer of Health wrote “Overcrowding is the normal state of our poorer districts. Small houses of four rooms are usually inhabited by three or four families and by 8, 16 or 24 persons” One description was “a nest of infectious diseases” (3/3).

Where the railway crossed the road such as Newington Causeway its construction would cause disruption to the through traffic. Temporary diversions would have to be constructed and most likely have a considerable impact on the shopkeepers.

Following the completion of his apprenticeship Alfred worked for his father in his tailor’s shop putting to good use the skills he had acquired. During this time he obviously courted his wife to be, Jane Russell. Jane was a school teacher who lived with her parents in Albany Road. This was in the Walworth area at the southern end very much surrounded by the coster colony for which Walworth was famous.

There were several places of entertainment available to Alfred and Jane. One might have been Charlie Chaplin Senior and his wife where they performed on many of London’s music halls. Another place they may have visited was the South London Palace in London Road in the Bankside area. It dates from 1860 and could seat 4,000. Another which was rebuilt in 1853 was the Father Redcap at Camberwell Green, and another the Surrey Masonic Hall which was in Camberwell New Road. Perhaps the more frequent would have been the Camberwell entertainment as they were at the lesser distance for Alfred to take Jane home to Albany Road. They might even have joined the Walworth Literary and Scientific Institution (3/4).

Chapter 4: Marriage and Children (1866 – 1871)

Figure 4a: Jane (nee Russell) & Alfred Bayles

Alfred and Jane married in 1866 in St Mary’s church in Rotherhithe and moved into No. 4 Hewson Street, just south of the Elephant and Castle.

The consequences of the changes that were happening to London at that time would have made it a very difficult decision for a newly married couple as to where they should live. The subject must have been discussed many times whilst they were courting. Foremost in Alfred’s mind would have been the distance he would be from his work. They may have had thoughts of living on the west side of Walworth Road at one time but on the 6th October 1862 the LC&D Railway was opened to the Elephant and Castle and that was constructed on the west side (4/1). Another aspect was where the line was planned to go and where it actually was built. Alignments could be changed at the last moment.

Figure 4b: Alfred and Jane’s Marriage Certificate 30th July 1866

Another thought that must have crossed Alfred’s mind was that of his twin sister and two young brothers who all died when very young. What progress had been made regarding sanitation? In Booth’s notebooks there were still very many areas where poverty and filth were still in existence in 1899. However their choice must have been whittled down to the area just south of the Elephant and Castle. Alfred’s father being a vestryman in Trinity Ward could have known a fellow vestryman Mr. H. J. Smith of St. Mary’s Ward who lived at No. 2 Hewson Street (4/2) in 1869-70. If so perhaps his neighbour had told him he was vacating his house and Alfred was offered first refusal. Perhaps the price was higher than Alfred could afford, as it was similar to a vestryman’s requirement house being of £40 per annum rateable value. Some simple calculations in his small notebook and some help from his father, both as a member of the finance committee and some help possibly with the premium, and the decision was made, No. 4 Hewson Street is where they will live.

Alfred’s small notebook is another document that has been preserved, and is small enough to go into the back pocket. It starts with an exercise of examining the possibility of buying their own property. Alfred was brought up in a fairly large house being the son of a vestryman and satisfied with his calculations Alfred went ahead and bought a similar property with a mortgage.

Figure 4c: Alfred’s small notebook pages 1 & 2. His first approach to buying his own house

In his small notebook the decorating details also disclose information regarding the rooms in some of the properties. No. 4 Hewson Street contained their bedroom, back parlour, kitchen, breakfast parlour, Lu’s small room, servant’s small room, upstairs back room and front room upstairs (Fig 4h).

They had three children, Alfred William, called Alfee, Russell Frederick, called Freddy and Louisa Florence, called Florence as a great friend of theirs who lived with them was Louisa Nugent. A fourth child, Ernest, was born in 1876 (Fig 4d).

Figure 4d: Photos of the children – left to right Alfee, Freddy, and Florence in 1871. Ernest in 1876

There was schooling to be considered and although the Education Act of 1870 had been passed there was little chance that sufficient schools would be built and free education for all children being available for several years. There was more chance of the three children being educated at home with Jane and Louisa both being teachers.

Figure 4e: Title of Alfred’s
cash book

The financial side had been carefully studied by Alfred. In fact He bought a cashbook and entitled it “Investments and Responsibilities.” He had kept careful records of Hewson Street. He knew exactly what was involved in the maintenance of property and he knew how much rent he would receive from renting Hewson Street (Figs 4e and 4f).

In The Booth Notebooks an example of the rent for four rooms and a wash-house is between 8/- and 10/6 a week in that area (4/3). Hence Alfred would probably receive £50 a year less £5 ground rent. His cash book shows how profitable it was (Fig 4f).

Figure 4f: No. 4 Hewson Street in Alfred’s cash book

Because Alfred’s father was a vestryman Alfred was more informed of local affairs than most people.

An example was to do with the possible removal of the costermongers due to the obstruction of the traffic in the Walworth Road, the main thoroughfare. The problem was that the barrows and stalls of costermongers and street hawkers were placed so closely together that it prevented people from passing between them. The regulation was that no barrow or stall for the sale of articles should exceed three feet (0.9 metres) in width or be placed within four feet (1.2 metres) of another barrow. Another obstruction was that traders would place their goods on the pavement for which they would be fined. However costermongers were allowed to stand in the road irrespective of creating an obstruction to the traffic.

Many tradesmen were fined but one tradesman being summoned by the Vestry and fined placed a stall of the correct size in front of his house and escaped the law. The Vestry were reluctant to remove the costermongers so they widened the Walworth Road at a cost of £800. The outcome was that the police had to enforce the Regulations more strictly and the costermongers were allowed to remain until tramways were laid down (4/4). At least it would help Jane with her shopping.

Figure 4g: Map showing Hewson Street, between Heygate street & Wansey Street on the right of
Walworth Road.

Figure 4h Alfred’s DIY decorating at No. 4 Hewson Street,

The road and transport system was also improving rapidly. The omnibuses were being replaced by the horse buses. Tramlines were being laid to enable the horses to pull a heavier load and becoming a double-decker horse-bus. It also enabled fares to become cheaper. However the laying of tram lines was not without problems. There had to be room for trams to pass and room for the horse and carts to park when off loading goods. There were also a lot of people walking along the footpath, and the road in those days. This new form of road transport system was in operation by 1871 (4/5).

With so many people coming into London on the steam trains and horse-buses to work and with the additional immigrants from Ireland due to the plague and elsewhere, shops as well as houses were needed. As a result wealthy people were moving out of the area and as many as four families would move into a one family house. More shops were urgently required so these were built in the front gardens of the houses on the main roads.

The population in the Parish of St. Mary Newington had risen from 14,847 in 1801 to 107,850 in 1881, the rate of increase being much sharper in the latter years (4/6).

Alfred no doubt was fully aware of what was happening and in fact they were probably gradually losing their friends and neighbours.

Having lived in Walworth for five years they decided to follow suit and moved to No. 27, Mordaunt Street in Camberwell.

Chapter 5: Camberwell (1871 – 1878)

Alfred and Jane must have thought very carefully about where they should move to. They knew they had to move, the Walworth area was getting very crowded and people like themselves had already moved or were in the process of moving. Alfred was now 31 and had eleven years work experience in his father’s shop. His father was still the boss although Alfred had to stand in for him on many occasions. Alfred’s salary was probably reasonable for maintaining their standard of living, but there must have been a certain frustration that the ultimate decisions to be made were his father’s and not his to make.

It is at his age that his life should be heading in a definite direction regarding responsibility. His father was 64 and showed no sign of retiring from the shop. Alfred’s name does not appear in either Newington or Camberwell vestry records. Perhaps he did not want to participate in public duties at that stage anyway, especially knowing the result of his father’s commitments as shown in his diary.

It seems almost certain that he decided to concentrate on what he described in the title of his new cash book “Investments and Responsibilities.” London was changing and his family decided to move because of these changes.

The area was more spacious and the means of transport had improved during the last five years. Alfred had farther to go to work but the transport was now available, he even had the choice of road (5/1) or rail (5/2) and all this had happened in the last five years. Had it have happened five years earlier this might have been their first house.

Figure 5a Alfred’s DIY decorating in 27 Mordaunt Street

Fortunately Alfred still used his small notebook as it shows that he varnished and papered his house a year after they moved into it and again seven years later. From the entries the number of rooms in the house can be identified, thus No. 27 Mordaunt Street had 3, perhaps 4, bedrooms, 2 parlours, kitchen, washhouse, conservatory, cellar and upper closet (Fig 5a). For this Alfred paid £225 whereas for Hewson Street, consisting of their bedroom, 2 small rooms, 2 other rooms, 2 parlours and kitchen Alfred had paid £370.

Whilst Alfred, aged 33, was dealing in finance with his family in mind, his father, aged 66, was concerned with it for other reasons also, as was Jane, being a ragged school teacher. Although the Education Act of 1870 was passed with the object of giving free education to all children it took many years to reach its target.

In the February 1873 Report for the Newington Ragged Schools the following extract indicates how those ragged schools managed to continue, the Treasurer being Mr. W. J. Bayles, Alfred’s father.

“The Baroness Bardett Coutts has most generously forwarded to the Treasurer a cheque for £100 for the expenses of the current year, in the hope that the Subscribers will continue their support to the Newington Ragged Schools.”

In 1875 they had a fourth child, Ernest Arthur, called Ernest as there were no complications with names in the household. Alfee was 8, Freddy 7 and Florence 5 at that time.

Figure 5b. Alfred purchases 8 houses in Jocelyn Street

Figure 5c Alfred’s DIY decorating and other jobs at Jocelyn Street

House building was still progressing as owners were selling off their land. In November 1875 Alfred bought Plot 65, Underhill Road for £170. Two years later in November 1877 he sold it for £354. He had to pay 5% interest for two more years but finished with £163 profit. It certainly looked as if he had made the right decision regarding investments and responsibility.

Alfred’s confidence must have been based very heavily on his “Investments and Responsibilities” cashbook as a year later in 1876 he bought eight houses in Jocelyn Street for £1280 (Fig 5b). This was a working class area consisting mainly of two storey houses (5/3).

Alfred was probably thinking about his children getting older and wanting a good education, and that would need finance. From his results from renting Hewson Street he obviously thought it a safe decision, especially with his ability as a DIY person to keep the maintenance costs down (Fig 5c). No doubt he had heard of the poor quality houses that had been built by the Hedger family and which had to be demolished. It was a lesson that he must have borne in mind when viewing the properties.

The population had risen rapidly in Camberwell. In 1861 it was 71,488 and in 1891 it was 235,344, nearly 5,500 people per year had to be accommodated (5/4).

Two years later, in 1878, the family made another move, this time to Dulwich.

Chapter 6 - Dulwich (1878 – 1894)

Figure 6a Alfred purchases 8 houses in Nutfield Road

In April 1878 Alfred bought 46, Wood Vale for £389 and in June he bought eight houses in Nutfield Road for £1165 (Fig 6a). In fact the two storey houses of Nutfield Road and Frogley Road were some of the first houses to be built on the Bower-Smyth estate when it was sold for building (6/1).

Alfred chose the time to move to Dulwich very carefully again. The railways had mainly been constructed and many of the streets were laid out and most had been completed by 1885. The house they chose to buy was No. 46 Wood Vale, very well located for their children’s schools and the station from which Alfred would catch the train to work. Also his brothers Frederick and Arthur lived in the same road.

Some more houses became available the following year in Bournemouth Road on the same estate as Jocelyn Street. He bought five of them for £1359 in November of that year. Although the price of each house had almost doubled he was obviously satisfied with the purchase (Fig 6c).

Figure 6b R F Bayles prize
at Alleyn’s School

With twenty two rented properties he was able to send both Freddy and Ernest to Alleyn’s School (Fig 6b).

Alleyn’s School was the lower school of Dulwich College but in 1882 it became an educational establishment in its own right. The pupils were trained for trade or commerce and the subjects taught were mainly English, Mathematics and French and Elementary Science (6/2).

In 1881 Alfred was decorating Jocelyn Street and Nutfield Road. Alfred was very much a “hands on” man as can be seen from the detail in his small notebook regarding Jocelyn Street eg. “Time to size twice and varnish seven and a half hours” and with Nutfield Road “To paint front bedroom nearly all 2 coats, 6lbs. of paint with about a gill of oil and turps – time five and a half hours.”

He obviously had some problems with some properties as he includes information “To Deodorize” – ½ a drachma Nitrate of lead dissolved in 1 pint or so of boiling water to be mixed in a pail of water in which 2 drachmas of common salt have been dissolved. A cloth dipped in the solution and hung up in any place where bad odours prevail will sweeten the atmosphere instantaneously or thrown down a sink or W.C.”

Figure 6c Alfred purchases 5 houses in Bournemouth Road

In 1882 Mr W Sandford aged 26 replied to the advertisement, most probably in the Times, for the position as a cutter. He had had several years on the board as a practical tailor, was assistant cutter for upwards of four years and followed that as a general cutter. He was asking for a salary of £2-2-0 per week. This figure was considerably higher than the average tailor’s weekly wage of between 21 and 23 shillings (6/3), although this was not a lot higher than the poor figure of between 18 and 21 shillings (as shown in fig 2d). He was obviously accepted as in a letter to her son Alfee, Jane said because Alfred was ill “Florence had to go to the Causeway and give Sandford orders what to do. She also had to sign the cheques.”

In 1883 Alfred William commenced work with Newberrys as recorded in his own cash book, a discipline that Alfred had encouraged his children to do.

In 1886 Alfred’s father, William John, died at 308 South Lambeth Road at the age of 78 years. The informant was Alfred’s brother William Edward, his address being 18, Rue de Trevise, Paris. It might seem strange that William was the informant when living so far away but as William was tutor to Henri de Rothschild perhaps no expense was spared, unless William just happened to be present when his father died. At that time Alfred and his family were living at 1, Berkeley Villas and his brothers, Arthur Bayles at “Lorelei” Wood-Vale, and Frederick Bayles at “Rosenheim” Wood Vale.

The shop’s name was changed to Alfred Bayles Tailor (6/4). Alfred also took over the secretaryship of Trinity School.

Figure 6d A letter to Alfred from Trinity School thanking him and regretting his resignation

Alfred did not follow his father as a vestryman in Newington or Camberwell, probably because he saw the enormous amount of his father’s time that was taken up by meetings in the evenings and even those during the day. He did have the responsibility of the shop but travelling to that was very much improved.

However Alfred may have come to a compromise, he had his property, his DIY and his wine making, and more time with the family. The outcome was pleasurable as well, including the profits from the properties and the drinking of the wine.

In 1894 Alfred William married Ann Burchell on 6th May at Westminster. That same year Alfred resigned from the Secretarialship of Trinity School due to poor health and received a letter dated 11th September from them thanking him for the many years that he and his father had served in that capacity and presented him with two books (Fig 6d).

Ernest would have finished his education at Alleyn’s School and with Alfred’s poor health the family decided to leave Dulwich and move to West Kingsdown, a small village in Kent. The chosen location was probably influenced by Edward Pink who had a fruit farm there.

Chapter 7 - West Kingsdown (1894 – 1901)

Figure 7a: The family at Pells Farm House
Alfred William and Anne, Constance and Ernest, Blanche Harding,
Louisa Florence, Alfred and Jane

The leaving of the secretaryship of Trinity School marked the end of an era for the Bayles family’s association with that school.

They first moved into Pells Farm house where they lived until September 1897 (Fig 7a). The Inventory of Fixtures and improvements list certainly had Alfred’s stamp of DIY on them e.g. doors and windows being altered.

For the first four years that Alfred was at West Kingsdown several changes occurred in his family’s life. In 1894 his son Alfred William had married Anne Burchill on the 6th May just prior to the letter from Trinity School in September. A year later in January 1895 Ernest Arthur moved to Cheshire to start work at British Insulated Callendars and on 17th May Alfred and Jane were presented with their first grandson, Frederick William Burchell who was christened at St. Edmunds, West Kingsdown. In 1896 their first granddaughter was born, Florence Louisa born on 7th August 1896 and also christened there. She was always known as Cissie because her aunt was known as Florence and her other “aunt” was Louisa Nugent.

Figure 7b: Alfred signs the school register eight
days ahead of Edward Pink’s entry

Alfred became a manager of the local school and examined the registers periodically the first being on May 11th 1896 where the entry states “Examined the registers and found them correct” (7/1).

On January 22nd 1897 Alfred signed the registers. It was a different season of the year this time and the previous entry reads “A fall of snow. 12 absent” Eight days later on January 30th the entry reads “School concert and presentation of prizes by Edward Pink Esq. Close on 30 prizes for regular attendance and attention to lessons given away” (Fig 7b). This was the gentleman who owned the Pinks Jam business which produced fruit on his farm at West Kingsdown and was sent to his factory in Long Lane, Southwark in London. Long Lane was a short distance from where Alfred had his tailors shop in Newington Causeway and it leaves very little to the imagination that these two gentlemen were very old friends. Perhaps they would spend time together watching cricket, especially as Alfred was Treasurer of the Cricket club, and drinking Alfred’s wine (Fig 7c).

Figure 7c Alfred’s wine making

Figure 7d: Russell Frederick Bayles on
the right in South Africa

Russell (Freddy) had gone to Bloemfontein, the capital of Orange Free State, in South Africa because he suffered with a chest complaint An extract from Countries of the World, South Africa: The Orange Free State concerning his visit to South Africa is most interesting as follows:- “The dryness of the climate is such that Bloemfontein, the capital of this little State, situated on a branch of the Modder – a tributary of the Vaal River – is rapidly becoming a kind of inland Madeira for sufferers with weak chests and diseased lungs, though the long five or six day’s journey of thirteen hours a day in a coach, or still longer in a bullock wagon, seriously detracts from the pleasure of the trip, and quite as seriously adds to its cost”(7/2) (Fig 7d).

Figure 7e Russell Frederick Bayles’ death certificate 17th May 1897

The year of 1897 brought much sadness to the family. After many months both he and the doctor had realized that staying in Bloemfontein was not improving his health so Russell decided to return home. The cost of being there, to which all members of the family had periodically contributed, must have been a great worry to him and probably did nothing to help his improvement. He sailed on the ship ‘Tantallon Castle’ and his father was waiting on the quayside to greet him. What a shock and sad moment for Alfred when he heard the news that his son had died on the journey (Fig 7e).

The following year in September 1898 Alfred William and his family moved to Abridge in Essex.

Alfred was to see two more of his grandchildren, Alfred George, born 25th October 1898 and christened at Holy Trinity Church, Abridge and Eva Alice Jane born 6th March 1900 and christened at Lambourne Church. Unfortunately he died before Alfred William and Ann’s fifth child Ethel Annie was born and Ernest and Constance Bayles’ only son Russell was born.

Despite the Education Act of 1870 making it mandatory for all children to be educated it would be interesting to evaluate the actual time that children attended school. The entry for August 28th 1899 reads “Hopping starts today a week earlier than expected. Came to school and found 65 present out of 93. Tomorrow Bartley Field commences hopping when another 15 will be absent and on Wednesday Mr. Pink and Mr. Rogers will be causing over 20 more to be away. So I consulted Mr. Warland and he advised closing the school for three weeks which was done”.

Not only was Alfred knowledgeable in finance and property but was keen in making wine as indicated by the many recipes he included in his small notebook. These included elder, grape, raison, ginger, orange, damson, black currant, plum, dandelion, gooseberry and rhubarb wine, many in vast quantities too. He also made marmalade and lentil soup too. No doubt much of this had something to do with the Horticultural Society, of which he was Treasurer.

On February 11th 1901 Alfred signed the register during a snowy month and with the expected absenteeism. In fact on 5th February only 22 children were present out of 118 on the register.

On 16th November 1901 Alfred died with acute gastro-enteritis at The Rectory (Fig 7f). He was buried at St. Edmunds where he had been Churchwarden. On 21st November the school register showed a very different entry regarding Alfred. It stated “On account of the funeral of Mr. Bayles a manager of this school, the children had a holiday in the afternoon.”

Figure 7g Alfred’s obituary in The Ash, Kingsdown,
Ridley and Stansted Parish Magazine for December 1901

Alfred’s obituary reads “We are very grieved to have to record this month the sudden death of our Churchwarden Alfred Bayles. He came into the parish a perfect stranger, but very soon won the respect of all its inhabitants by his kindly nature and goodness of heart. Treasurer of the Cricket club and also of the Horticultural Society, in which he took great interest, a manager of the School, as well as Churchwarden, he was always most ready to help in anything which he believed would be good for the parish. He was not only a good neighbour and a good parishioner, but more, he was a good Christian, fearlessly conscientious in speaking and doing what he knew to be true and right. We shall miss him very much. The sympathy of us all is assuredly given to Mrs. Bayles and family in this, their great sorrow. May God give them that comfort and support which He alone can give, and help them in this Advent Season to look forward to that re-union to come which shall never see another separation” (7/3) (Fig 7g).

Figure 7f Alfred’s death Certificate 16th November 1901

Chapter 8 - Essex & the Descendants (1901 onwards)

Alfred left a Will and with regard to the property, No. 4 Hewson Street and the eight houses in Jocelyn Street were left to his daughter, and the eight houses in Nutfield Road and the five houses in Bournemouth Road were left to his two sons.

Alfred’s wife Jane moved to Loughton, Essex with their daughter Louisa Florence and Louisa Nugent. Louisa Nugent died and was buried at St. Mary and All Saints Church, Lambourne. Jane died 25th November 1909 and was also buried at that church in Essex.

Ernest married and settled in Cheshire. He sold his share of the houses to his brother Alfred.

Louisa Florence remained a spinster and had a house built in the same village where her brother Alfred lived at Abridge, and named it ‘Kingsdown’.

During the second world war both No. 4 Hewson Street and the eight houses in Jocelyn Street were bombed on the 14th September 1940. Fortunately the other houses survived.

Figure 8a Alfred William and Anne’s Golden Wedding
Back Row left to right
Charles Ernest Dainton Smith, Alfred George Bayles, Evelyn Grace Axon, Walter Axon (senior), Florence Louisa Axon (nee Bayles), Frederick William Burchell Bayles, Walter Axon (junior), Edward George Burchell Tompkins, Stella Annie Florence Bayles.
Middle Row left to right
Eva Alice Jane Smith (nee Bayles), Kathleen Rowena Taun Bayles, Louisa Florence Bayles, Alfred William Bayles, Anne Bayles (nee Burchell), Ethel Annie Tompkins (nee Bayles), Agnes Bayles (nee Blacker), Agnes Sheila Bayles.
Front Row left to right
Isobel Margaret Bayles, Jennifer Blanche Bayles, Christine Florence Bayles, Anne Caroline Tompkins, David Edward Alfred Tompkins, Rowena Elizabeth Bayles.

Figure 8b Left to right
Alfred William, Louisa
Florence and Ernest Arthur


It is more satisfying sometimes to find out what an ancestor is like than to just add another name on the family tree. In order to find out the sort of person my great grandfather, Alfred Bayles, was I have had to examine every piece of evidence I could find. On three occasions it has been described by somebody who knew him.

The first was in the exchange of letters concerning his apprenticeship. In Mr Turner’s first letter dated 10 Jan 1856 he refers to Alfred as a youth who “seems a very nice one – yet he is delicate.” In his second letter dated Jany 23rd 1856 he says “I am rather predisposed in favour of your son from his appearance.” In his third letter dated Feby 25th 56 his opinion of Alfred was very high in that he said “I may observe that I have great confidence in taking your son. He seems willing quick and active and desirous to oblige and unassuming in his manners.”

The second occasion is in a letter from Trinity School dated 11th September 1894 regretting Alfred’s resignation of the Secretaryship of the school. It says “We the undersigned beg your acceptance of these two books as a small token of our high respect for you and also in thankfulness for the kind sympathy always extended by you to the teachers.”

The third occasion is in Alfred’s obituary where it says “… won the respect of all its inhabitants by his kindly nature and goodness of heart – he was always most ready to help in anything which he believed would be good for the parish. He was not only a good neighbour and a good parishioner, but more, he was a good Christian, fearlessly conscientious in speaking and doing what he knew to be true and right.”

These references were when Alfred was aged 16, 54 and 61 years of age.

The Southwark Local Studies Library had produced a series of Neighbourhood History books which have been most useful in explaining the reason for Alfred’s family moves. The staff there have also been most helpful in my research.

The competition has been a wonderful opportunity to explore the unknown about an ancestor, but has left me wondering if this is only the tip of the iceberg for great grandfather Alfred Bayles.


Chapter 1: Parents and Grandparents (1768 – 1840)

1/1 Directory 1817
1/2 An advertisement – Mourning for the King, and also good salesmanship.
1/3 General Meeting held on May 29th 1854 Mr Bayles included on the Trinity District Committee for the Newington Ragged Schools
1/4 William John Bayles was a Churchwarden of Trinity Church and joint Honorary Secretary for a scheme to help the poor. The parishioner’s meeting on 7th January 1861 held in the Vestry of Trinity Church.
1/5 Report dated 1867. Elected Members of Vestry. No 2 or Trinity Ward. Mr. William John Bayles, 81, Newington Causeway - pp 8-10
1/6 Private letter headed Trinity School, Swan Street, Trinity Sq. SE dated 11th Sep 1894 to Mr. Bayles referring to the secretaryship held for so many years by Alfred and his father (Fig 6d).

Chapter 2: Early Years (1840 – 1856)

2/1 Poor quality houses. The Story of Bankside by Leonard Reilly and Geoff Marshall, p. 42
2/2 The influx of Irish people 1845 – 1848. The Story of Bankside by Leonard Reilly and Geoff Marshall – p. 72
2/3 Holland Street Grammar School is shown in Alfred’s two book prizes. Research has not confirmed the status of the school to date.
2/4 A survey in 1899. The Streets of London, The Booth Notebooks, South East. Roads are given Walk numbers.
2/5 Ditto. Borough. Walk 19 – p. 84

Chapter 3: Occupation (1856 - 1866)

3/1 There is an exchange of letters between Alfred’s father WJB and Mr. Turner concerning Alfred’s apprenticeship to become a tailor. WJB’s letters were in draft form.
3/2 Homelessness caused by the construction of Southwark Street. The Story of Bankside by Leonard Reilly and Geoff Marshall, p. 40
3/3 MOH states infectious diseases causing overcrowding. The Story of the Borough by Mary Boast – p. 24
3/4 Walworth Literary and Scientific Institution. The Story of Walworth by Mary Boast – p.42

Chapter 4: Marriage and Children (1866 – 1871)

4/1 Arrival of the London, Chatham & Dover Railway at the Elephant and Castle. The Story of Walworth by Mary Boast – p.28
4/2 Henry Joshua Smith, 2, Hewson Street. Fourteenth Annual Report (1869 – 70) of the Proceedings of the Vestry of the Parish of Saint Mary, Newington – p. 122
4/3 The cost of rents. The Streets of London, The Booth Notebooks, South East Walk 16 – p. 72
4/4 Removal of Costermongers. Fourteenth Annual Report (1869 – 70) of the Proceedings of the Vestry of the Parish of Saint Mary, Newington – pp. 15 - 18
4/5 New road transport in Walworth. The Story of Walworth by Mary Boast – p.28
4/6 The rapid rise in population in the Parish of St Mary Newington. The Story of Walworth by Mary Boast – p.31

Chapter 5: Camberwell (1871 – 1878)

5/1 Road transport between Camberwell Green and the Elephant and Castle. The Story of Camberwell by Mary Boast – p. 32
5/2 Rail transport from Camberwell. The Story of Camberwell by Mary Boast – p. 30
5/3 Jocelyn Street is in Peckham. The Streets of London, The Booth Notebooks, South East Walk 41 – p. 163
5/4 The rapid rise in population in Camberwell. The Story of Camberwell by Mary Boast – p. 33

Chapter 6: Dulwich (1878 – 1894)

6/1 Nutfield Road houses. The Story of Dulwich by Mary Boast – p. 28
6/2 Alleyn’s The First Century by Arthur R. Chandler – pp. 23 to 29
6/3 The Hierarchy of Labour 1867 in Mid-Victorian Britain 1851-75 by Geoffrey Best – pp. 115 & 116
6/4 Post Office London Directory 1887. Bayles, Alfred Tailor 81, Newington Causeway

Chapter 7: West Kingsdown (1894 – 1901)

7/1 West Kingsdown School register
7/2 Countries of the World Vols V-V1 – p. 163
7/3 Ash, Kingsdown, Ridley and Stansted Parish Magazine December 1901


Ash, Kingsdown, Ridley and Stansted Parish Magazine December 1901
The Streets of London – The Booth Notebooks South East 1997
Beasley, John - The Story of Peckham and Nunhead 1999
Best, Geoffrey – Mid-Victorian Britain 1851 – 75 1985
Boast, Mary - The Story of the Borough 1997
Boast, Mary - The Story of Bermondsey 1998
Boast, Mary - The Story of Walworth 1993
Boast, Mary - The Story of Camberwell 2000
Boast, Mary - The story of Dulwich 1990
Brown, Robert, M.A. – The countries of the World, Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co.
Horn, Pamela - The Victorian and Edwardian Schoolchild - 1989
Reilly, Leonard and Geoff Marshall - The Story of Bankside 2001


The author is grateful for permission to reproduce the following illustrations:-

Southwark Local Studies Library, Figures Aa, 1f and 2c.
City of London, London Metropolitan Archives, Figure 2b.
The London School of Economics and Political Science, Figure 2d.
Mrs. Zena Bamping of Cimarron, Hollywood Lane, West Kingsdown, Sevenoaks, Figure 7b.
Ordnance Survey map dated c 1870, Figure 4f.

All other illustrations are from the originals held by the author.

Designed and hosted by Canterbury Web Services Limited