Joseph Bailey                                Mini Bio


Joseph Bailey

Joseph Bailey was born on 1 Feb. 1868 in Kingston, Portsea, Hampshire County, a suburb of Portsmouth, on the southern coast of England.  He was the fifth child born to Daniel and Ruth Sparks Bailey.  This family had previously had two older boys and two girls, but by the time young Joseph was three years old, both of his older sisters had died, leaving the three young sons who were then followed by yet another sister. 

Joseph’s father, Dan Bailey, had grown up on a small farm in western Sussex County, watching his parents, as well as all of his other relatives spend their lives trying to scrape a life from a small patch of worn out soil.  He decided he wanted something different for his family.  Dan and his wife, Ruth, were very closely associated with her brother, James Sparks.  When this James married and moved his bride to the Portsmouth area for better employment opportunities, Dan and Ruth Sparks Bailey followed them with their children, including Joseph.

We’re not sure what then became of these two families but within the next decade both of them had moved away from Portsmouth.  James Sparks moved his family to Southwick in Sussex County, then to London for a short time and then back to Littlehampton in Sussex Co.  Perhaps Dan and Ruth Bailey followed them as both families continued to remain close to each other over the years. 

Joseph grew up close to his Sparks cousins, and particularly to Sarah Sparks.  The photo shown above was taken in 1888 just a few months before they were married.

Joseph seemed to have some knowledge of London and took a job there as a conductor on the train.  He was living in Battersea, in Wandsworth District, just across the Thames River to the south of Westminster, when he and Sarah Sparks were married on 16 Feb. 1889.  He had just passed his 21st birthday.  It was not uncommon for young people to marry their own cousins in those days, and in fact, many families encouraged it.

The couple remained in London for a time and their first two children were born there—Reginald in 1889, and Fredrick in 1891. 

Joseph then changed jobs and became a steward on a ship that sailed from London to Southampton and on to Liverpool; returning back to the home base by again passing through Southampton.  Joseph realized that he could see his family twice as often if he resettled them to Southampton where he could visit them on each leg of his voyage.

In 1892 they found a new residence in Woolston, across the river on the east side of Southampton.  Here their last two children were born—Leonard in 1893 and Lillian Florence Bailey on 27 Feb. 1896.  (This last child eventually became the Mother of Irene Gladys Morton McDonald.)

We are not certain what became of Joseph after the birth of his last child.  His children grew up with the understanding that he had been lost at sea, going down with his ship.  This however, seems to have been more of a tale to help avoid any painful stigmas and whether the children believed it themselves or not is not known.

His wife, Sarah Jane Sparks Bailey, kept an old family Bible in which she recorded that he died in New York harbor in 1917.  This would have been about twenty-one years after the birth of his only daughter, and about the time of the move to Canada of his wife and children.

It would seem that Joseph’s work may not have been conducive to a healthy family life and that their marriage suffered for some reason, resulting in the separation of the couple from each other and the children from their father.  With Joseph and Sarah being first cousins to each other, it must have also been a painful event for their other brothers and sisters too.

We don’t know the full story and so will refrain from making any judgments about this man.  Perhaps we can learn a lesson from this story and set our vocational plans in such a way that they will not allow us to be separated for any lengthy periods of time from our spouse and children.

All we can say is that he was a good enough man that Sarah Sparks chose him for her husband when they were both young and had four fine children with him.  He is our ancestor and, along with our other progenitors, he gave us our life, our heritage and some of our genetic traits.  We thank him and admire him as our Grandfather without making any derogatory judgments. 

We have done the temple work for this good man in hopes that he might accept it and desire to be sealed eternally to his wonderful wife, Sarah Jane Sparks Bailey.