William Bayly Upton

(Updated November 17, 2017)

William Bayly Upton was the paternal grandfather of Eliza Upton, who was my great-grandmother. So William Bayly Upton was my 3X great-grandfather. I do not know where he was born but, as far as I can tell, he lived for most of his life in Cashel, County Tipperary.

William Bayly Upton and his wife Margaret McClure had eight children, of whom William Upton was in the middle.  There were five boys and three girls.

This is a hand-written chart of the Upton family, probably prepared by Eliza Upton and handed on to her Smith descendants:

And here is a chart that I have put together based on the above and on what I have been able to find during my researches:

Upton Family tree as of Nov 17, 2017

I have no firm information on the two oldest sons, Christopher and Samuel, although William Henry Upton, author of a very interesting book about Upton family history, says they were “officers in  Col. McGregor’s regiment, raised in England to serve against the Spaniards in the Peruvian war for independence, and were both killed in that war about 1820-2.” The book was published in 1893.

The third son William Upton married Priscilla Kent and had four children, of whom the second daughter Eliza Upton married Lancelot Smith. I do not know anything about the lives of Eliza’s two brothers William and Randal or about her sister Margaret; I believe they all died young. William Upton died in 1836 at the age of about 35, leaving his widow Priscilla to bring up four young children. Again I have no confirmation of this but I assume that William Bayly Upton supported this family after his son’s death.

William’s younger brother David Upton married Mary Gilbert and they had three children: William Bayly, Matthew Gilbert and Fanny (probably Frances).  David died suddenly in 1846 at the age of about 40. His widow Mary emigrated to America with two of her three children: Fanny and Matthew. Later, in America, David’s son Matthew Gilbert Upton became a newspaper editor in San Francisco and had a son called William Bayly Upton (1856-1916). He in turn had a son called William Bayly Upton Jr. (1892-1971)  and on to the next generation of William Bayly Upton III (1929-1984) but the male line has ended there because the last of these had no children as far as I know.

The youngest son Bayly Upton, born in 1807, is still a mystery. I believe he was unmarried. He died in 1852.

All three of William Bayly Upton’s daughters married in Cashel and had children. The information I have about them is in the post about Eliza Upton.

I don’t know what significance there was in the continued use of Bayly as a second name (and even a first name in one instance) for Upton sons.  The name of Bayly is not common in Ireland – there were only 57 mentions of “Bayley”  or “Bayly” in Griffith’s Valuation compared to 428 mentions of “Bailey”.  The Bayleys were not concentrated in any particular region or county; the biggest numbers were in counties Down, Dublin and Tipperary.  Possibly the mother or grandmother of William Bayly Upton was a Bayly.

The Baylys in Tipperary had significant land holdings at the time of Griffith’s Valuation in that county in 1849.  They seem to have lived in the Nenagh area but owned property there and elsewhere.  I find it interesting that one of the Baylys – John Bayly Esq. – owned the land, houses and other buildings in the townland of Rathcoun, where the Smiths went to live a few years later.  The same John Bayly also owned farmland in Shanballyduff townland in 1849 where Lancelot Smith later rented a second farm.  John Bayly sold those properties to Charles Thiebault in 1857 after the Smiths had arrived.

William Bayly Upton was, among other things, an apothecary.  In Pigot’s Directory of Ireland published in 1824, there is a listing in Cashel for “Upton, Wm Bayly, Main St., Apothecaries & Chemist & Druggist”.  Listings in old directories give the person’s name (surname first), where they lived or worked, and their occupational category or social status.  Only people of some prominence are listed in the earliest directories like this one.

Looking at Pigot’s Directory for other 1824 listings in Tipperary, this was an entry I found for Clonmel:
“Upton, Wm. Bayly, Johnston-st, Printers (general & proprietor of the Clonmel Herald, published on Wednesdays and Saturdays)”

This is the same William Bayly Upton.

The Clonmel Herald was published from 1813 to 1841. I don’t know if William Bayly Upton was the proprietor for that entire time but believe so. The newspaper was regarded as the mouthpiece for very Conservative political views; the Tipperary Free Press referred to it as “one the most ultra organs of Conservatism ever published in this country”.

In Slater’s Directory of Ireland for 1856, there are two William Bayly Uptons listed in Cashel: “Upton, William Bailey, 95 Main st, Apothecaries” and “Upton, William Bailey, Esq., Friar st, Nobility, Gentry & Clergy”.  From this information, I do not conclude that Mr Upton was suddenly elevated to the peerage but that he had retired.  If my estimate of his birthdate is right, he would have been almost 80 years old in 1855 when the information was collected for the Directory.  Both entries in the Directory refer to the same person; one was his business and the other gives his home address.

From searching in Griffith’s Valuation records, it is clear that my 3X great-grandfather William Bayly Upton owned many houses and plots of land in the town of Cashel in the 1850s.  Since this was just after the Great Famine, the ownership of many of the properties may have been more of a burden than a passport to wealth and it appears from Griffith’s Valuation and later valuation records that many of the houses the Uptons owned in the town were derelict or close to uninhabitable. However, William Bayly Upton seems to have had other sources of wealth. Family historian W.H. Upton described him in this way (on page 368 of his book):

“He was a physician, but in later years did not practice his profession. He owned much town property in Cashel, and was proprietor and editor of the Clonmel ‘Herald’, published apparently for recreation. He is described as a man of profound learning, interested in Biblical studies, master of seventeen languages, and possessed of a library which cost £10,000.”

William Bayly Upton died in January 1863 in Cashel aged 86. His death notice was published in the Cork Examiner and other local newspapers of the time. His wife Margaret had already died in April 1850 in Cashel at the age of 74.

William Bayly Upton sounds like a really interesting person. It must have been sad for him that all five of his sons died before he and his wife Margaret had died.

Another question that I would like to answer is who were William Bayly Upton’s parents. If the naming pattern of his children is any guide (and it is not always reliable), his father’s name may have been Christopher Upton – the name given to his eldest son. Possibly his mother’s name was Rebecca.


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