Bayley, John (1763-1841) (DNB00)

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BAYLEY, Sir JOHN (1763–1841), judge, was the second son of John Bayley and Sarah his wife, the granddaughter of Dr. White Kennet, bishop of Peterborough. He was born at Elton, Huntingdonshire, on 3 Aug. 1763, and educated at Eton. Though nominated for King's College, Cambridge, he did not go up to the university, and was admitted to Gray's Inn on 12 Nov. 1783. After practising some time as a special pleader, he was called to the bar on 22 June 1792, and went the home circuit. In 1799 he became a serjeant-at-law, and was for some time recorder of Maidstone. In May 1808 he was made a judge of the King's Bench, in the place of Sir Soulden Lawrence, and was knighted on the 11th of the same month. After sitting in this court for more than twenty-two 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 in the following month was created a baronet and admitted to the privy council. By his quickness of apprehension, his legal knowledge, and his strict impartiality, Sir John Bayley was peculiarly adapted for judicial office. The ease and pleasure with which he got through his work caused M. Cotte, the French advocate, to exclaim, ‘Il s'amuse à juger.’ The most memorable case which came before Sir John in his judicial capacity was the action for libel brought in 1819 by the attorney-general against Richard Carlile for the republication of Thomas Paine's ‘Age of Reason’ and Palmer's ‘Principles of Nature.’ He died, aged 78, at the Vine House near Sevenoaks, on 10 Oct. 1841. By his wife Elizabeth, the daughter of John Markett of Meopham Court Lodge, co. Kent, he had three sons and three daughters. The present baronet, the Rev. Sir John Laurie Emilius Bayley, is his grandson.

Sir John wrote the following books: 1. ‘A Short Treatise on the Law of Bills of Exchange, Cash Bills, and Promissory Notes,’ 1789, 8vo. 2. ‘Lord Raymond's Reports and Entries in the King's Bench and Common Pleas in the Reigns of William, Anne, George I and II,’ 4th edition, 1790, 8vo. 3. ‘The Book of Common Prayer, with Notes on the Epistles,’ 1813, 8vo. 4. ‘The Prophecies of Christ and Christian Times, selected from the Old and New Testament, and arranged according to the periods in which they were pronounced,’ by a Layman, edited by Rev. H. Clissold, 1828, 8vo.

[Foss's Judges of England (1864), ix. 75–8; Georgian Era, ii. 549; Gent. Mag. 1841, xvi. N.S., 652–3; Annual Register, 1841, p. 225; Notes and Queries, 3rd series, i. 474.]

G. F. R. B.