Topic: Bayly Street (TDN 06/02/2021)

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Bayly Street

Waitara’s Bayly Street was named after a man known as “the Father of Waitara”.

Thomas Bayly Junior arrived in New Plymouth as a young boy in 1841. His parents and four siblings, along with two uncles, their wives and children, all sailed on the Amelia Thompson. Uncle William was a butcher who became New Plymouth’s fourth Mayor and also has a street named after him, Bayly Road in Moturoa.

Born on 29 January 1832 in Cornwall, Thomas Jr spent the reminder of his childhood on the family farm at Kaipakopako. His wife Hannah (known as Anne) Rundle, whom he married in 1855, had also arrived in New Plymouth at a young age, with her parents and siblings, on the same ship as the Baylys. The young couple farmed at Tataraimaka until 1860 when the outbreak of the first Taranaki War forced them to leave their land. Thomas joined the local militia and won contracts to supply meat to the British troops but he and Anne soon moved to Whanganui where Thomas ran a butcher’s shop on Victoria Avenue. They returned to Taranaki in the 1870s, bought land in Waitara and spent the rest of their lives there.

Thomas made a great deal of money in land speculation. He also owned two dairy factories, one on either side of Waitara, and helped establish the town’s freezing works in 1885. Taking a keen interest in local politics, he served on the Waitara Harbour Board, Town Board and the County Council. Appointed a Justice of the Peace, he even stood for parliament a couple of times.  A member of the local Freemasons lodge plus various other social institutions in Waitara, Bayly occasionally preached in Wesleyan churches around the region and six of his sons played rugby for Taranaki.

Thomas Bayly Junior died in Waitara on 7 October 1891, survived by Anne and 11 of their 12 children. He was much mourned by local Māori, with whom he enjoyed friendly relations, and many came to see his body before it was buried at Te Hēnui cemetery. Bayly left an estate worth an estimated £50,000 (the equivalent of more than $10 million today) and was described in his obituaries as “a shrewd man of business” but with “a true kindness of heart”.

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