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Sir Lyttleton Holyoake Bayley (1827–1910)

by G. P. Walsh

This article was published:

Sir Lyttleton Holyoake Bayley (1827-1910), politician and judge, was born on 6 May 1827 in England, the younger son of Sir John Edward George Bayley, second baronet, and his first wife Charlotte Mary, née Fector. He was educated at Eton where he captained the cricket eleven in 1844; he began to study law in 1846 and was called to the Bar of the Middle Temple on 3 May 1850. On 12 May 1852 he married Isabella Mactier. He arrived in Sydney with his wife, two daughters and a son late in 1858, bringing with him, he claimed, a large capital for investment.

He was nominated to the Legislative Council of New South Wales on 19 January 1859 and appointed attorney-general on the retirement of Alfred Lutwyche. This appointment and that of John Hargrave as solicitor-general gave great offence to the legal fraternity. In the Legislative Assembly on 8 February Daniel Deniehy moved a resolution that such appointments should only be conferred upon persons whose residence in the territory had been of sufficient length 'to afford to the country satisfactory guarantees for [their] fitness and propriety', and that Bayley's appointment was 'unsatisfactory to the House'. The motion, supported by John Hubert Plunkett and William Piddington but opposed by William Bede Dalley, was lost by 19 to 12 and Bayley took office on 1 March.

Bayley's next step was to stand for the Mudgee electorate in the Legislative Assembly, 'not', he claimed, 'as a political adventurer or to further his own professional advancement [but] as the advocate of liberty and freedom, and as the supporter of that Ministry of which he was a member'. He was elected on 18 June 1859 polling more than twice as many votes as Robert Lowe, his only opponent. Deniehy, however, was not content and immortalized the whole incident in a brilliant satire, How I Became Attorney-General of New Barataria (Sydney, 1860); under the cover of apt nicknames it provides sparkling caricatures of leading New South Wales politicians, and with delightful wit depicts Bayley in England telling incredulous friends of his curious colonial experience.

The Cowper government fell in October and Bayley resigned from the assembly on 26 November. In December he left for Melbourne where his wife died at St Kilda on 9 April 1860 after the birth of her second son, who survived. Bayley practised in Melbourne as a barrister with chambers at Temple Court, Collins Street, but soon returned to England. In April 1862 he was appointed under-secretary to the government of Bombay and in 1866 advocate-general with a seat in the Legislative Council. In June 1869 he was elevated to the bench of the High Court of Judicature and in the next twenty-five years acted as chief justice five times. He became lieutenant-colonel in the Volunteer Bombay Rifle Corps and acted briefly as aide-de-camp to the viceroy of India. In 1895, on the retirement of the chief justice, Bayley was not given his place. He resigned in disappointment but soon afterwards was created K.B. He died on 4 August 1910 at Parkstone, Dorset.

Bayley was a sound if not great lawyer. Deniehy described him as 'a tall thin young man, with pale, weak, clearly cut features and whiskers of a prononcé red', who with a few slight changes 'seemed as perfectly cut out for the minister of a fashionable metropolitan chapel of ease, as a stone cutter's cherub is for a tombstone'.

Select Bibliography

  • E. A. Martin, The Life and Speeches of Daniel Henry Deniehy (Melb, 1884)
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 20 Jan, 5, 9, 24 Feb, 12 Mar, 21, 23 June, 29 Nov 1859
  • 'Obituary: Sir Lyttleton Bayley', Times (London), 8 Aug 1910, p 11.

Citation details

G. P. Walsh, 'Bayley, Sir Lyttleton Holyoake (1827–1910)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 25 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (Melbourne University Press), 1969

View the front pages for Volume 3

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


6 May, 1827


4 August, 1910 (aged 83)
Parkstone, Dorset, England

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