The Slippery Slope/Biographical Note

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It is not proposed to write a lengthy biographical notice of the Author of the following pages, but it is perhaps desirable to give a sufficient sketch of his career to indicate the authority and experience which lie behind his words.

William Amias Bailward was born in the Somersetshire village of Horsington in June 1852, and was educated at Rugby School and Balliol College, Oxford. He underwent a full legal training, which was of much value to him in after-life, but after being called to the Bar and having gone once or twice on circuit, he decided to abandon the Law as a profession and spent some years in foreign travel, visiting Australia, New Zealand, India, and other British colonies and possessions.

On his return finally to England he settled down to live in London with a sister who became at that time the guiding influence in his life.

Soon afterwards (in 1887) he first became interested in the work of the Charity Organisation Society and their Honorary Secretary in Bethnal Green, the district which remained the principal field of his labours until his death in March 1918.

He was for the greater part of that time a Guardian, and for some years Chairman of the Board of Guardians of that Union, and considering the great differences which must have existed between his views and those of many of his colleagues and of the electorate it is a remarkable tribute to his personality and moderation that he should have been constantly elected. It was greatly due, no doubt, to his influence that Poor Law administration in Bethnal Green has formed an effective contrast with that of other East End Unions.

To the casual acquaintance he was known generally as a witty and agreeable companion and a good sportsman, in the best sense of the word, and only a few intimate friends were really cognisant of the great amount of time, labour, and research which he devoted to Poor Law and Charity Organisation work.

His chief interest, even in sport, always consisted in giving entertainment to his many friends and the younger members of his own family.

It is an indication of the confidence which was reposed in his judgment by all those with whom he was brought into contact, that at the time of his death he was a member of thirty-five Committees of various kinds, and had it not been for his extreme dislike of any kind of notoriety he might well have taken a leading part in political and civic life.

Amongst his papers was found a slip written shortly before his death, with the following quotation from Montaigne:—

"Je veux … que la mort me trouve plantant mes choux, mais nonchalant d'elle, et encore plus de mon jardin imparfait;"

and these essays are a small part of the fruit of that unfinished garden.

His last illness was probably due to his assiduous attendance at the Bethnal Green Appeal Tribunal during the winter of 1916-17 for long hours and in all weathers.

1 Princes Mansions,
Victoria Street, S.W. 1.