S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Bayley, Mr Thomas Butterworth Charles (agriculture, veterinary science)

Born: 21 November 1810, Kolkata, India.
Died: 29 December 1871, Cape Town, South Africa.

Thomas Butterworth Charles Bayley, son of Charles and Mary Anne Bayley, was educated at Charterhouse, a school in London, and joined the Bengal civil service in 1829. After a few years he fell ill and spent most of the period 1836 to 1843 on sick leave at the Cape. In the latter year he resigned his post and in 1844 bought the farm Hartebeestkraal in the Riviersonderend valley, renaming it The Oaks. Here he led an energetic life as a farmer and horse breeder for the next twelve years and became a wealthy man. He planted numerous species of exotic trees on his farm, including many eucalypts and four varieties of Mexican pines. One species that he grew successfully was Pinus insignis, later to become quite valuable to South Africa, of which he gave a seedling to the overseer of the Cape Flats drift sand reclamation works. He imported several kinds of farm animals and machinery, and his agricultural experiments benefitted other farmers who adopted his ideas. As an enthusiastic racing man he bred the best race horses at the Cape from imported English sires and local mares and these won most of the local horse races. At the annual agricultural shows in Caledon he won prizes for his Havana and Virginia tobacco (1846) and the best colt and filly (1848), and at the shows of the Cape of Good Hope Agricultural Society again for the best filly (1850) and the best colt (1853). He wrote articles on agricultural subjects for the Cape Monthly Magazine and was the Cape correspondent for farming and sporting periodicals in England and India. For a number of years he was a member of the Road Board.

Bayley participated actively in organised agriculture. He served on the committee of the Caledon Agricultural Society by 1846, on a sub-committee to organise a plowing contest in 1847, and as honorary secretary in 1848. In 1849 he, like many others, undertook to subscribe one pound sterling per year for the support of the Cape Town Botanic Garden. By 1850 he had joined the Cape of Good Hope Agricultural Society. That year the government asked the society to take responsibility for collecting material to be exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London, and Bayley became both an exhibitor and a member of the committee that arranged the submissions from the Cape. He furthermore served on the society's management committee from about 1852 to 1860 or later. By 1860 he was also a committee member of the Cape of Good Hope Horticultural and Floricultural Society. In 1861 he was still considered one of the most prominent agriculturalists in the colony, when the press regretted that he had not attended the Worcester agricultural show. The next year, in an article on his life and work in the Cape Monthly Magazine (Vol. 11, pp. 378-383) he was described as "an enlightened agriculturalist and land owner". In 1867 he was still one of the judges at the show of the Cape of Good Hope Agricultural Society.

Bayley lost many of his stud in an epidemic of horse sickness during 1854-1855. This led him to sell most of his remaining animals and retire to Wynberg, Cape Town, in 1856. That same year he published Notes on the horse-sickness at the Cape of Good Hope in 1854-55, compiled from official sources and the responses of various persons to a request for information. The next year he wrote an article in the Cape Monthly Magazine (Vol. 2, pp. 30-36) on "The Cape of Good Hope Agricultural Society", supporting its aims and advocating its financial support by the government. In Cape Town he continued to experiment on a smaller scale with tobacco and other crops, but also became active in public life. He was a friendly and reliable person, but held strong opinions and became involved in disputes on various topics. He never married and when he died of a chronic bronchial disorder left his considerable fortune to various charities and individuals, and the South African Turf Club. Twenty landscapes from his collection of paintings plus £500 were bequeathed to the South African Fine Arts Association, which he had helped to found shortly before his death. The trustee for this bequest was Abraham de Smidt* and the paintings formed the nucleus of the South African Art Gallery, forerunner of the National Gallery. Most of his books were left to the South African Library.

List of sources:
Bull, M. Abraham de Smidt, 1829-1908; artist and Surveyor-General of the Cape Colony. Cape Town: M. Bull, 1981.

Cape Monthly Magazine 1857, Vol. 2, article by Bayley.

Cape of Good Hope Agricultural Society. Rules and regulations.... Cape Town: Saul Solomon, 1856 (National Library of SA, Cape Town, G.15.c.79).

Cape of Good Hope almanac and annual register, 1856, 1860.

Curson, H.H. South African medical pioneers in veterinary science. South African Medical Journal, 25 November 1933, Vol. 7(22), pp. 745-751.

Dictionary of South African biography, Vol. 1, 1968.

Kaapsche Grensblad, 23 February 1861, p. 3, "De groote tentoonstelling van landbouw te Worcester".

Lister, M.H. Joseph Storr Lister, the first Chief Conservator of the South African Department of Forestry. Journal of the South African Forestry Association, 1957, No. 29, pp. 10-18.

Mendelssohn, S. South African bibliography. London, 1910.

South African bibliography to the year 1925. London: Mansell, 1979 (Vol. 1-4); Cape Town: South African Library, 1991 (Vol. 5).

South African Commercial Advertiser, 4 March 1846, p. 2, "Caledon Agricultural Society"; 3 June 1846, p. 1, "Caledonsch Genootschap van Landbouw"; 26 June 1847, p. 4 and 23 February 1848, p. 3, "Caledon Agricultural Society"; 29 November 1848, p. 1, "Public meeting at Caledon"; 25 April 1849, p. 1, "Botanic garden"; 3 August 1850, p. 4 and 18 September 1850, p. 2, "Cape of Good Hope Agricultural Society"; 22 September 1852, p. 4, "Agricultural Society"; 5 February 1853, p. 2, "Great Exhibition of 1851"; 7 May 1853, pp. 2-3, "Cape of Good Hope Agricultural Society".

South African Magazine, 1867, Vol. 1, pp. 60-68, "Judges' reports and list of prizes".

Compiled by: C. Plug