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Bayly, Nicholas Paget (1814–1879)

by J. L. Stewart

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

Nicholas Paget Bayly (1814-1879), grazier and merino stud breeder, was born on 14 September 1814 at Bayly Park, Kemps Creek (Horsley Park), New South Wales, son of Nicholas Bayly and Sarah Laycock. The family name of Paget came from his father's uncle, Henry Bayly, who took the surname Paget of his wife's family when he succeeded to the Paget barony in 1770. An orphan at 9 Nicholas was taken to England in 1829 by his brother Henry to complete his education. On his return in 1833 he entered the employment of Lieutenant William Lawson who had properties at Mudgee, Coolah and Liverpool Plains. In accordance with custom part of his salary was paid 'in kind' with sheep.

To run his flock in 1840 Bayly bought a 14,000-acre (5667 ha) property at Mudgee later known as Havilah, which in biblical phraseology means 'the land of gold'. This is said to have emanated from the exclamations of a clergyman panning for gold while picnicking on the property. Bayly set about building a quality stud, buying 1000 ewes of George III flock lineage from Lawson and 2500 from George Cox of Burrundulla. The element of barter in many transactions is reflected in his purchase of a favourite ram, Old Billy, from Lue stud in 1860 for '£20 and a good horse'. For some reason, and despite being on the foundation committee of the Mudgee Pastoral and Agricultural Association in 1846, Bayly disliked entering exhibitions and shows; but he won several prizes, reflecting the high standing of his stud, for a report of the Sydney International Sheep and Wine Show of 1879 shows that P. J. Osborne's winning merinos were 'the Bayly blood' and 'what appear to be pure Baylys', a fitting tribute. Some experts claim that Bayly's strange decision in the 1870s to cull out ewes with a black tip to the staple resulted in a significant decrease in the weight of fleece produced; this was rectified when H. C. White bought the estate in 1881. In the controversy which arose in the 1860s over the comparative merits of Mudgee and Victorian wools Bayly challenged the Victorians to decide the issue by the prices obtained on the London market for 1866-67 and won by realizing 31½d. a lb. to the Victorian average of 29d. a lb.

In 1859 Bayly was among the local justices of the peace (a position he held for over thirty years) who wanted to resign because they objected to a new appointment to their ranks. He was widely respected and active in community affairs: inaugural councillor of the shire of Mudgee in 1843, foundation alderman of the break-away Cudgegong municipality in 1860 and on the committee for establishing a public hospital in 1863. With the respect went a sternness as a local columnist wrote in 1877:

When Bayly, N.P. his ears doth prick
At what the 'Purfession' doth say
He makes them and their talk tall
Feel mean, and kind o'small
Doth blunt-spoken Bayly, old Nick.

The total extent of his holdings is not clear but as late as February 1877 Bayly selected four blocks totalling 200 acres (81 ha) on the Gulgong goldfield under volunteer land orders (said to be worth £135 each) as the land was open for selection under section 14 of the Lands Act of 1861. On 28 May 1840 he married Ellen Dickenson at Prospect, New South Wales; they had one son and one daughter. On 25 January 1848 at Mudgee he married Sarah Amelia Blackman; they had three daughters and one son. After an apoplectic fit he died on 2 October 1879 and was buried in the Church of England cemetery, Mudgee. His probate was sworn at nearly £40,000, apart from his real estate. He had been a warden and trustee of St John the Baptist Church, but in 1863 had given £500 for building a Wesleyan church. A monument is on the Mudgee-Lue road opposite the entrance to Havilah, and a memorial window is in the Church of England, Mudgee.

Select Bibliography

  • Mudgee Independent, 15 Feb, 5, 12 Apr 1877
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 1, 3, 4 Nov 1879
  • G. H. F. Cox, History of Mudgee (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

J. L. Stewart, 'Bayly, Nicholas Paget (1814–1879)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/bayly-nicholas-paget-2956/text4295, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 19 October 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

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