I have always enjoyed reading detective fiction and watching a gripping detective drama on TV or at the cinema.
I ought not, therefore, to be surprised by my obsession with family history research – whether my own family or someone else’s!
Starting with just a few snippets of information, an exploration of the records on the internet, especially the various subscription genealogy websites such as Ancestry and FindMyPast, can lead to some fascinating stories.
One such challenge was to find out more about a print of a painting of a First World War scene that belongs to the Yorkshire Area NUM.
Pam Lloyd, a friend who is involved with the NUM, showed me the print because she thought the officer pictured might be one of my Old Boys of Barnsley Holgate Grammar School. It wasn’t but I was intrigued.
The print shows an officer standing next to a car, in which is the driver; at the bottom it says: ‘Presented to Mr Dennis Bayley & Mr T L Staniland by the Lancashire & Cheshire Miners Leaders. March 6, 1916.’
I have been unable to find out the whereabouts of the original painting or any other prints.
The officer’s cap badge has a lion and unicorn and there are two other badges on his lapels. (The lion and unicorn denotes the General Service Corps, whose main function was to act as a holding unit for specialists not assigned to other corps or units. Members were on the General List or Special List of the Army Reserve).
The chauffeur’s cap has a cross depicting the Red Cross or Royal Army Medical Corps.
Further research revealed that the Officer is Dennis Bayley and the driver most probably Tom Leslie Staniland.
I am indebted to the Durham Mining Museum website, Durham Record Office, the National Coal Mining Museum and several genealogy websites for the biographical information about these men..
Henry Dennis Readett-Bayley was born on 8 December 1878 in Nottingham.
He was the second son of four children of Thomas Bayley and Annie Mary Bradley nee Farmer, from Nottingham.
Thomas was the son of Thomas Bayley, a leather manufacturer and landowner of Lenton Abbey, Nottingham and Charlotte Readet. He was a JP, leather merchant then colliery owner and was for some years Liberal MP for the Chesterfield Division.
Dennis Bayley was an ironmaster at Renishaw Iron Company, on the outskirts of Sheffield, as well as having other manufacturing interests and being a colliery owner.
He was highly decorated in his wartime service in World War One and won a knighthood for his valuable service.
He was the founder and organizer of the Dennis Bayley Fund for the transport of men wounded in France.
The fund raised £700,000, mainly contributions from British coal owners and miners and this provided motor ambulances, hospital boats and other equipment.
The Yorkshire Miners’ Association contributed generously towards the ambulances and other transport provided to Red Cross via the Dennis Bayley Fund.
The YMA was formed in 1881 by combining the South Yorkshire and West Yorks MAs.
There is a plaque in Barnsley Hospital, which is displayed on a board with several other plaques near the main entrance, for the endowment of a bed for use of ex-servicemen by the Dennis Bayley Fund. The plaque was originally in the town’s Beckett Hospital.