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Henry Bayley

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Henry Bayley (1826-1887), Managing Director of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company

1887 Obituary [1]

HENRY BAYLEY, senior Managing Director of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, was born at Ipswich in November 1826. He came of an old shipbuilding family settled on the banks of the Orwell, his grandfather, Jabez Bayley, having been well known as the builder of the noted "Orwell," and other renowned Indian trading-ships for the Honourable East India Company, as also of some wooden line-of-battle ships for the Royal Navy.

In 1843 Henry Bayley commenced his early training for a business career in a mercantile house at Liverpool. Two years later he entered the service of the Peninsular and Oriental Company, then in its infancy, and rose in 1857 to the position of Assistant Manager, and in 1867 to that of Managing Director. The engineering work connected with the Company’s operations at all times engaged a large portion of Mr. Bayley’s attention.

During a tour of inspection in 1863, to the Company’s establishments at Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay, and more especially their important repairing-yard and shops for their fleet at the latter place, Mr. Bayley took a specially active interest in the work of deepening the rock channel of the Company’s dry dock at Bombay, a work of considerable difficulty, but which was successfully carried out under the advice of Mr. James Abernethy, Past-President Inst. C.E.

During the forty-two years of Mr. Bayleys connection with the Peninsular and Oriental Company, he watched and aided the development of steam navigation in all the changes and vicissitudes inseparable under the conditions of transition from the paddle-wheel to the screw-propeller, and which resulted in the acceleration of the British mails and communication with the 'Far East' upon the scale of its present conspicuous magnitude. Mr. Bayley was also Chairman of the Marine and General Mutual Life Assurance Society, succeeding to that position upon the retirement of the Right Hon. Hugh Childers, M.P. (late Chancellor of the Exchequer). He was likewise a member of the Honourable Company of Shipwrights of the City of London, and was Chairman of West’s Patent Press Company, which possesses numerous cotton-presses at various stations in British India.

It would be impossible to separate the career of Henry Bayley from the consideration of that commanding Company with which his life’s work was identified. The terrible accident which terminated in his death on the 7th of July, 1887, occurred before the public rejoicings for fifty years of surpassing national progress had well nigh terminated, but his active life had spanned more than four-fifths of that Jubilee period. The development of the Mail Services with India, with the Colonies, with China and Japan, in those forty-two years, had arisen, taken concrete form, and been perfected under the administration of which Henry Bayley was a conspicuous and typical member. Begun by Waghorn, and further extended through the Suez Canal, the overland route has become a beaten track. Passengers, specie and cargo (and Troops, in the eventful moment of the Indian Mutiny), passed over the lines of the Peninsular and Oriental Company between England and her Indian empire, and her farthest settlements in Australia and New Zealand, and the Managing Directors controlled the action of a large and powerful fleet navigating uncertain seas in two hemispheres.

In the conduct of these large operations Henry Bayley was brought much in contact with leading mercantile men, and not infrequently with government officials, with the result that his uniform and consistent courtesy, and lofty sense of integrity, obtained for him the esteem and the respect of all. Within the sphere of the administration of the large commercial undertaking, the prosperity of which he had laboured to achieve, no limit can be assigned to the affectionate regard in which he was held by his colleagues, and by the numerous servants and officers of the Company ; indeed, his one Epitaph from them all may be summed up in their own words, “Nobody like him!”

Mr. Bayley was twice married, but left no children to bewail his untimely loss, through a carriage accident, which resulted in two deaths out of the three persons involved in it.

Mr. Bayley was elected an Associate of the Institution in December 1885.

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