was the elder son of Joseph (or John) Bailey of Wakefield, and Susannah, sister of Richard Crawshay (1739 - 1810), the famous iron-master of Cyfarthfa. When quite a young lad, he tramped the whole way from Yorkshire to seek his rich uncle at Merthyr. By hard work and perseverance he soon obtained a good grasp of the iron industry and coal-mining in all their branches. Later he was joined by his younger brother, Crawshay Bailey, and both won the favour of their uncle, who, at his death (1810), left a quarter share of the Cyfarthfa iron-works to Joseph. The latter looked around for a suitable district where he could establish his own iron-works, as his cousin, William Crawshay I, was anxious to become the sole proprietor, and had appointed his son, William Crawshay II, as the manager, and neither welcomed so powerful a personality as Joseph Bailey either as co-proprietor or co-manager.
Joseph sold his quarter share in Cyfarthfa in January 1813 for £20,000. Accompanied by Matthew Wayne, an experienced Cyfarthfa agent, he bought the Nant-y-glo works (which had immense natural advantages, but which had been at a stop for many years) as from 25 March 1811. They soon had the works restored, and before the end of the first year were loading their pig-iron into barges on the Monmouthshire Canal. Production increased year by year. Even during 1816, the year after the end of the Napoleonic wars, when there was a general slump in iron manufacture, and acute unrest throughout the country caused by the high cost of wheat, Nant-y-glo was the only iron-works which actually increased its export. It is not known whether Crawshay Bailey was assisting or not, but during 1820 Wayne transferred his interests in the works to Crawshay Bailey. The two brothers soon made Nant-y-glo one of the great iron-works of the kingdom. By 1823 they had five blast furnaces in operation, and in 1826-7 added two more. They had also been fortunate to add the Beaufort iron-works to their Nant-y-glo works. This was obtained by agreement with Messrs. Kendall and Co. (17 January 1833), possession being given (25 March 1833) for the sum of £45,000. Joseph's wife, Maria, daughter of Joseph Latham of Llangattock, Brecknock (who had been managing partner in the Beaufort iron-works), d. at Nant-y-glo, 27 May 1827.
Having amassed a large fortune, Joseph set about purchasing estates in Brecknock, Radnorshire, Herefordshire, Glamorgan, etc. Among them was that of Glanusk Park, where he lived for the rest of his life, having in 1830 retired from personal direction of the works. His brother Crawshay Bailey now had the responsibility of management.
On 19 August 1830 Joseph m., as his second wife, Mary Ann, daughter of J. T. H. Hopper of Wilton Castle, co. Durham. He was high sheriff of Monmouthshire (1823). On 8 January 1835 he was elected M.P. for the city of Worcester, which he represented until he was returned (2 August 1847) as member for the county of Brecknock. He was made a baronet in 1852 [and d. 20 November 1858 ].
His son, JOSEPH BAILEY II, was elected M.P. (12 December 1837) for Sudbury, Suffolk, and in 1841 was returned for the county of Hereford, serving as M.P. until his death in 1850.
Joseph Bailey I was succeeded in the baronetcy and the Glanusk estates by his grandson, Sir JOSEPH RUSSELL BAILEY (1840 - 1906), 2nd baronet, who was created baron Glanusk, January 1899 [he made important additions to the History of Brecknock (by Theophilus Jones), and these were incorporated in the 3rd (1909-30) edition of that work]; he was succeeded by his son, JOSEPH HENRY RUSSELL BAILEY (1864 - 1928), 2nd baron Glanusk, 3rd baronet [a major in the Grenadier Guards, and afterwards lt.-col. 3rd Batt. South Wales Borderers; like his father, he was lord-lieutenant of Brecknock ].
Published date: 1959
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