On October 5th 2001, there was a ceremony at Portsmouth dockyard for the unveiling of a plaque to William Bayly. The plaque is located in the lobby of the old Royal Naval Academy where Bayly was Master for 21 years.
The Old Naval Academy was built in 1729. For over 100 years it was a cause of contention and friction between the Admiralty in London and the sea-going Captains. In spite of this, many fine seamen and some future Admirals graduated from this Academy to serve their country with distinction. The placing of the plaque in this heritage building required the approval of both the Admiralty and English Heritage.
The new plaque reads as follows: William Bayly 1737-1810, Astronomer and Circumnavigator, was born in Bishop's Cannings Wiltshire. He sailed twice around the world with Captain James Cook and was later Master at the Royal Naval Academy located in this building from 1785 to 1806.
Guests at the ceremony comprised relatives of the Bayly family, citizens of Bishop's Cannings, and members of the Captain Cook Society (Ann Jarvis of Bishop's Cannings, Jo Birtwhistle of Portsmouth and Don Anderson from Canada). Commander William Allen (retired RN) hosted the ceremony and introduced the speakers.
As one of the descendants of the Bayly family Don Anderson spoke about the life and accomplishments of William Bayly. Ms. Floss Bayly of Bishop's Cannings, the oldest descendant present spoke of the benefits realized by the village from Bayly's charitable endowments before his death in 1810.
The Royal Navy was represented by Commander I. M. Crabtree of H. M. Naval Base Portsmouth who was instrumental in arranging the installation of the plaque. The Navy also hosted a reception in the Wardroom after the presentations.
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 1925, volume 25, number 1 (2002).
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