The Bailey family of Cambridgeshire

Bailey of Wicken

My maternal Bailey family research has reached back to the 17th century, and to the fenland village of Wicken, Cambridgeshire, England.

It's here that I have managed to locate my earliest ancestor Richard Bailey and his wife Margaret Haylock - my 8x Great Grandparents - who married at Wicken in the October of 1721. Prior to this, there appears to be no earlier Baileys in this village (or at least ones that passed through St. Laurence's parish church).

The family remains in the village, working the rich fertile agricultural land around it for at least 5 generations, by which time my 4x Great Grandmother Ann Bailey has married into the the Bowers family, and begun her own family.

Cholera Epidemic?

In 1785-1786, it appears that some kind of disease passed through Wicken. Eight villagers across a range of ages were buried in the parish between these dates and each has the note 'coll' next to their name in the burial register. It is unlikely that this refers to 'colic' as this is not contagious, but instead, it may have referred to 'cholera', which would have been very contagious. I have yet to find reference to an outbreak in Wicken during this time.

Half of these 'coll' victims were from the Bailey family (again suggesting something contagious), with Richard Bailey (father and son), Frances (née Flower - the mother), and Anne (the son's wife) all dying from this condition. Also at during the same period, Peggy Fuller (Richard and Frances' married daughter) also died.

A second Bailey family in Suffolk

A second Bailey family appears in my family tree, this time on my paternal family, as the family of widower William Bailey of Botsesdale, Suffolk, England, who married my 4x Great Grandmother Mary Clarke after her two illegitimate children were born.

Their marriage was difficult. William already had four children from his first marriage, and with Mary, he would add another 7. But in 1841, both Mary and William end up in court for the neglect and abuse of the children from his first marriage. Both were sentenced to prison, with Mary serving the longest term. The family would end up in and out of the workhouse.

Variants of the Bailey surname

During my research, I have seen a number of variants to the Bailey surname:

  • Bailey
  • Baily
  • Bayley
  • Baly
  • Bailee
  • Baylee

Bailey family connections

The Bailey family are linked to a number of my ancestral families including: