BAYLY, Nathaniel (c.1726-98), of Epsom, Surr. and Shipton House, Abingdon, Berks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



8 Feb. 1770 - 1774
1774 - Mar. 1779

Family and Education

b. c.1726. m. (1) 3 May 1767, Elizabeth, da. of Hon. Charles Ingram, M.P., sis. of Charles, 9th Visct. Irwin s.p.; (2) 18 Mar. 1773, Sophia Magdalena Lamack of Clapham, 2s. 4da.

Offices Held


The Baylys were already Jamaica planters early in the 18th century,1 but retained their connexion with Westbury, where Nathaniel was born.2Bayly’s nephew, Bryan Edwards, M.P., in an autobiographical sketch prefixed to his History of the West Indies, states that his uncle came to England in 1759, and settled in London ‘in a high and elegant style of life’. With Abingdon Bayly had no previous connexion but was invited to contest it in 1768, obviously as one capable of bearing the expense; defeated on the poll by two votes, he was seated on petition, 8 Feb. 1770. In the House he acted with the Opposition; spoke on 19 Mar. 1770 against Clavering’s motion attacking the City remonstrance;3 and on 20 Mar. 1771, over the printers’ case, for allowing counsel to the lord mayor.4 His four recorded votes in this Parliament were all given on the Opposition side, and over the royal marriage bill, in March 1772, he was classed by Robinson as ‘contra, present’; but, with undue optimism, as ‘hopeful’ in 1774, perhaps because of his connexion with Lord Irwin, a Government supporter.

In 1774 Bayly seemed to apprehend the defeat he was to suffer at Abingdon. According to the London Chronicle of 1 October, by ‘a piece of ill-judged thrift’ he withdrew his subscriptions to local celebrations and races; and he safeguarded himself by standing also at Westbury on Lord Abingdon’s interest. Still, when the Abingdon election was declared void, Bayly applied for the Chiltern Hundreds in order to contest the borough once more, but was refused them by Lord North, to prevent ‘vexatious opposition’. During the next four years the ruin which, according to him, the Government’s American policy spelt for the West Indies and himself, and the neglect of the interests and safety of the islands, were the theme of most of Bayly’s speeches, spiced with far-fetched imputations against ministers of shaping their measures with a view to enriching their favourites and dependants. He spoke repeatedly against the American prohibitory bill—it was ‘madness in Administration to ... put the nation to so immense an expense of blood and treasure’ in order to establish an arbitrary right to tax America, ‘which the minister confessed he never meant to make use of’ (1 Dec. 1775). And on 11 Dec., criticizing the way in which the measure was sprung on those concerned—

In order to wreak the revenge of a vindictive ministry on the Americans, you are now going to ruin all the plantations in the West-India islands, and to give their present produce up for plunder to your sailors, before the inhabitants can have any notice of your intentions.

On 21 Dec:

He was well informed, nay he was fully convinced, that the inhabitants of those islands must be starved; and though they should not, their crops must be left, as they had not nearly lumber enough to save the present; that such being the case, the proprietors must be ruined, and the consequences would in the end reach the merchants, so as, he feared, to bring on a general bankruptcy among those in any manner concerned or interested in the West-India trade.5

In the budget debate, 15 May 1777, he criticized the terms of the Government’s rum contract at 5s. 3d. per gallon, and offered to supply ‘any quantity of Jamaica rum’ at 2s. 2d. per gallon.6 To his apparent indignation, the offer was not accepted.7 On 26 Nov. 1777, alarmed at the weakness of the defence of Jamaica, he offered a wager to John Buller sen., a lord of the Admiralty, who denied it: to lay 23 or 2,300 guineas that there were not as many as 23 ships there. On 27 Nov. 1778 he returned to the same charge, warning the House that a French invasion of Jamaica was imminent, and that the ministry had shamefully neglected its defences.8

He made his last speech in the House of Commons on 1 Mar. 1779, when he objected to the additional tax on sugar imposed by the budget: he and his family paid duties to the value of 30,000 a year, and the additional tax of 5 per cent would affect his property very greatly.9 But ‘one circumstance which, with many others of a similar nature, might easily account for the great desire his Majesty’s ministers had to continue the war’ was that Lord George Germain’s son, appointed by his father receiver general of Jamaica, was drawing 5 per cent on the public receipt which on a war footing amounted to 70,000 p.a. A month later, having to attend to ‘affairs of consequence’ to himself in the West Indies, Bayly resigned his seat as unable ‘to fulfil the duties of it’. He added: ‘my conduct in Parliament has never been influenced by any person or party whatever.’10 His name appears in six out of seven extant division lists, 1774-9, and always on the Opposition side; over the contractors bill, 12 Feb. 1779, he was classed by Robinson as ‘contra, absent’. Subsequently he made several attempts to return to the House. In May 1783 he was reported to have declared his candidature at Abingdon but to have declined ‘after a close canvass’;11 in January 1784, to be opposing the re-election of Sir George Yonge at Honiton;12 and at the general election to be canvassing Abingdon once more—but he did not stand a poll.13

He died in Jamaica October 1798.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: J. A. Cannon


  • 1. N. Q. cxcii. 16; J. H. Lawrence, Monumental Inscriptions of Brit. W. Indies, 238.
  • 2. See his speech in the Commons, 15 Mar. 1775, Almon, i. 317.
  • 3. Add. 35609, f. 163.
  • 4. Cavendish’s ‘Debates’, Egerton 226, ff. 341-3.
  • 5. Almon, i. 317; iii. 246-7, 281, 286; vii. 150-1.
  • 6. Ibid. vii. 213.
  • 7. See Bayly’s letter to his constituents, Bath Jnl. 5 Apr. 1779.
  • 8. Almon, viii. 46-7; xi. 67.
  • 9. Ibid. xii. 22-23.
  • 10. Bath Jnl. 5 Apr. 1779.
  • 11. Glocester Jnl. 11 May 1783.
  • 12. Bonner and Middleton’s Bristol Jnl. 3 Jan. 1784.
  • 13. Reading Merc. and Oxf. Gaz., 3 Apr. 1784.