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Thomas Bailiff

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Thomas Bailiff

Posted: 1221476856000
Classification: Query

There are several reasons to believe that Thomas Bailiff of Orange County , North Carolina , is Scotch Irish. The Chester County, Pennsylvania, tax records establish that Thomas Bailiff arrived in Chester County around 1741-1746. Ireland was struck with famine in 1740 and 1741. During this famine, the Scots Irish immigrated to Philadelphia at the rate of 12000 per year. If the missing tax records existed, they would probably show that Thomas Bailiff and his family emigrated in 1741.

The Scots Irish usually emigrated as families. Thomas Bailiff, his wife and four year old son Edward arrived at the Port of Philadelphia in one of the linen trade ships. Because of overcrowding and high cost of land in the Philadelphia area, the Bailiff’s moved on to West Bradford Township , Chester County , Pennsylvania , where they spent several years of their lives.

The movement of Thomas Bailiff can be traced in the Chester County, Pennsylvania, tax records. To understand the Chester County tax records, the researcher needs to understand that in Pennsylvania the occupant was taxed and not the land. To fully understand the tax records, there are four terms that need to be discussed. These terms are landholder, inmate, freeman and poor. The landholder held land by lease or deed. This group of taxpayers is not identified in the records under the label of landowner but in some years the number of acres, horses and cows are listed out. The inmate was married or widowed but did not own land. They were laborers working for someone else on a farm or in a trade. In the tax records, the inmate was always identified under the label of inmate. The freeman label indicated the man was single, at least 21 years of age and living outside of the parent’s household. Single men living with their parents usually were not taxed. The poor or infirm were not taxed and even dropped from the tax rolls.

The first tax record available for Thomas Bailiff, shows him taxed in West Bradford Township , Chester County , Pennsylvania , in 1747 probably leasing land. Nowhere in the land or tax records of Chester County is there any indication that Thomas Bailiff ever owned land. In 1749, Thomas appears in East Bradford Township , also leasing land. He remains in East Bradford Township until 1753 when it appears that his status changes. In 1753, he is taxed under the label of inmate for the first time.

Thomas Bailiff was married with a four year old son Edward (born around 1737) when he arrived in Philadelphia . When did Thomas Bailiff’s first wife die? Why did she only have one child? Did she die shortly after arriving in Chester County ? It would appear that she did die early or they would have more than one child in the family. As a point of clarification, this first wife is not the Rebecca that marries Thomas Bailiff later in North Carolina because she would be well beyond child bearing age by that time. Families or individuals rarely migrated to a new home or location by themselves. Thomas Bailiff and family possibly emigrated from Ireland to Pennsylvania with his wife’s family. If so, the name of that family is not known at this time. This family possibly enabled Thomas to raise his son Edward.

Thomas Bailiff has moved back to West Bradford Township in 1754 and he continues to live there until he leaves Pennsylvania and moves to Orange County , North Carolina , in 1761. We know that Thomas is working for someone else during this time period. We have no indication of the type of work that Thomas Bailiff is doing but it is very possible he is doing farm labor for his father in law or another family he may have been acquainted with in Ireland .

The first appearance of Edward Bailiff in Chester County , Pennsylvania , occurs April 4, 1754, when Edward Bayliff’s name appears in “The Pennsylvania Gazette” listing that he has a letter in the Pennsylvania Post Office. This could be a letter from his grandparents who remained in Ireland . Edward would be 17 years old at this time.

The next appearance of Edward Bailiff is October 12, 1757, when he attends the Quaker wedding of Mary Baily and Thomas Harlan in a publick meeting of Londongrove. Mary Baily is the daughter of Joel Baily of West Marlborough Township , Chester County , Pennsylvania . Joel Baily is from a Quaker Family who has been in Chester County since the late 1600’s. Joel has a son Daniel Baily who will be discussed later on in this record. This wedding is recorded in the New Garden Monthly Meeting minutes. This record gives us our first indication that Thomas Bailiff though not a Quaker himself was closely associated with Quaker families in Ulster , Ireland . Edward is listed as Edward Bayliffe in this record.

The third record of Edward Bailiff is as Edward Bayliff (freeman) being taxed for the first time in 1758 tax records of West Bradford, Chester County , Pennsylvania . The label of freeman in the tax records tells us Edward is single and at least 21 years of age. Edward’s birth of 1737 is calculated from this tax record. This same record helps us calculate Edward’s father Thomas’s age as 1715 or 1716. Edward is living for the first time independently and is probably working for someone in West Bradford Township . It is very likely that Edward may be living in the home of his employer. If Edward is working for a Quaker, this might account for his attendance at the Quaker wedding of Thomas Harlan and Mary Baily.

Edward Bailiff is taxed in West Bradford for the years 1758 and 1759. He disappears permanently from the Chester County tax records. One possibility is that Edward moved back into his father’s household and was in the party of Scots Irish settlers who moved to Orange County , North Carolina , in the year 1761. If Edward had remained in Chester County , he would appear on the tax rolls.

Thomas Bailiff’s name appears in the August 9, 1759, issue of “The Pennsylvania Gazette” as having a letter in the Philadelphia Post office. This may be a letter from parents, a brother or sister still in Ulster , Ireland .

Thomas Bailiff moves to Orange County , North Carolina , in 1761. When a family made a move on the frontier, they moved in groups. We know from the tax records that James Watson, a single man, and John Gray Jr’s family moved in the same year. The migration group probably included Thomas Bailiff, his wife if still living and son Edward. It may have included James Watson, John Gray Jr and some other Scots Irish families going to North Carolina . If Thomas’s wife is still living, then she died in Orange County , North Carolina .

The Scots Irish moved from Pennsylvania south through Virginia to the Carolina ’s on the Great Warrior Path later named the Great Wagon Road . A branch of this road stretched through Orange County , North Carolina . The attraction in North Carolina for the Scots Irish was cheap land. The Scots Irish were a people on the move. They moved both ways on the Great Wagon Road . Some people made several trips back and forth between Pennsylvania and Virginia and their home in the Carolinas .

The only record of Thomas Bailiff in Orange County , North Carolina , is the February, 1765, court record showing Thomas Bailiff serving on a grand jury in Orange County , North Carolina .

The Orange County court records show a will of Walter Thedford dated August 13, 1767. This will list a wife REBECCA, two sons and one daughter. The will is witnessed by John Baker and Abigail Bracken. This John Baker is a brother of Thomas Baker who is the father of Elizabeth Baker who married Thomas Bailiff Jr. the son of Thomas Bailiff Sr and wife REBECCA. The death of Walter Thedford is the right time and place for this REBECCA to be the wife of Thomas Bailiff Sr. This REBECCA might be the mother of Walter Thedford’s children but it is very possible REBECCA is a second wife of Walter Thedford. This issue needs more study.

Thomas Bailiff married a REBECCA around 1768. Could the wife of Walter Thedford be the REBECCA that Thomas married? This means Thomas’s first wife is deceased before 1768 and REBECCA is a second marriage for Thomas. The Chester County, Pennsylvania, tax records suggest that Thomas Bailiff and his family moved back to the Town of Newlinton in Newlin Township , Chester County , Pennsylvania , in the year 1768. Thomas is taxed in Newlinton in 1769.

Thomas Bailiff’s son Edward dies in December, 1769. His estate record is dated December 30, 1769. Edward is listed in the estate record as from Newlinton. It would appear he is still single and still living with his parents at the time of his death. All of Edward’s possessions are granted to his father Thomas Bayliffe. William Cloud and Richard Barnard posted the needed bond of 500 pounds. Richard Baker and Joel Baily take inventory of the estate.

There are two things of interest in Edward Bayliff’s estate inventory. One is he “owns a servant mans time”. This may indicate that he paid someone’s transportation to America . His estate had “a large amount of book debt”. Is this money owed for book purchases or is this money loaned out to other people and kept on the accounting books? Edward’s estate was valued at 213 pounds which is less than half of the amount of bond that was required to be posted.

After his son’s death in 1769, Thomas and Rebecca Bailiff moved from Newlinton back to West Bradford Township . It would appear that all of Thomas and Rebecca Bailiff’s children were born in West Bradford Township , Chester County , Pennsylvania , instead of in Orange County , North Carolina . The one exception might be William Bailiff. Thomas Bailiff appears in the Chester County tax records from 1769 until 1778. On the 1778 tax record, his name is marked through by the tax assessor indicating that he was gone from the county at the time the tax assessor visited the home to collect taxes.

During this 1769 to 1778 period, another interesting thing occurs in the Chester County tax records. Two different Daniel Bailiff’s appear in the tax records during this time period. Most researchers have credited these entries as one Daniel Bailiff. In 1773, 1775 and 1776 one Daniel Bailiff appears owning 50 acres of land. This Daniel Bailiff is either Daniel Baily the son of Joel Baily who died in 1783 or this Daniel Baily’s son (Joel Baily’s grandson). The interesting entry is in 1774 when a Daniel Bailiff (inmate) appears in Chester Township , Chester County , Pennsylvania . This is the only time this Daniel appears in the tax records of Chester County . The fact he is taxed under the label of inmate tells us he had no land and is a separate person from the Daniel Bailiff with 50 acres of land. This Daniel Bailiff probably came from Ulster , Ireland , in 1772 or 1773. Chester Township is on the border where Chester County joins the state of Maryland . This researcher thinks this Daniel Bailiff moved from Chester Township on to Berkley County , Virginia (later West Virginia ) in 1775 in search of cheap land. Unfortunately he died in Berkley County in 1777 before he obtained his land.

Thomas Bailiff is absent from the Chester County tax list from 1778 when his name was marked off the West Bradford Township tax list by the tax assessor until 1783. Where was Thomas Bailiff and his family for this five year period? Was he in Orange County , North Carolina ? No record appears in Orange County for Thomas during this time period.

Thomas Bailiff and family reappear in East Bradford, Chester County , Pennsylvania , in the 1784 and 1785 tax records. On August 21, 1785, Rebecca Bailiff appears in the Orange County, North Carolina, land records with enough money to purchase 300 acres of land from James Watson for two of her sons Thomas Jr and Abner. This money probably came from the estate of her husband, Thomas Bailiff. Thomas is apparently still living at tax time in 1785 but is deceased by August 21. Could Thomas of died on the trip from Chester County , Pennsylvania , back to Orange County , North Carolina ? There is not an estate record in either Orange County or Chester County .


THOMAS BAILIFF b. 1715/1716 Probably Ulster , Ireland

m. Ca. 1736 Probably Ulster , Ireland

d. 1785 ???

WIFE (1st)(unknown name) b. ca. 1715/1716 Probably Ulster , Ireland

d. Between 1742-1767 Probably Chester Co, Pa


1. EDWARD b. ca. 1737 Probably Ulster, Ireland

d. 1769 Newlington, Newlin Twp, Chester Co, Pa

REBECCA (unknown maiden name ) THEDFORD (2ND WIFE) b. ca. 1740

m. 1768 Orange Co, N.C.

d. After Aug 1822 Orange Co, N.C.


2. THOMAS b. 1769 West Bradford, Chester Co, Pa

3. ABNER b. ca. 1771 West Bradford, Chester Co, Pa

4. JOHN b. ca. 1775 West Bradford, Chester Co, Pa

5. NANCY ANN b. ca. 1777 West Bradford, Chester Co, Pa

6. WILLIAM b. ca. 1779 Orange Co, N.C. or ???


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