Bayley, James Roosevelt
BAYLEY, JAMES ROOSEVELT
Eighth archbishop of the Baltimore, Md., Archdiocese; b. New York, N.Y., Aug. 23, 1814; d. Newark, N.J., Oct. 3, 1877. A descendant of long-established families of English and Dutch ancestry, he was the son of Dr. Guy Carleton and Grace (Roosevelt) Bayley and the grandson of Richard Bayley, physician, and James Roosevelt, a prominent merchant. Elizabeth Bayley seton, foundress of the Sisters of Charity in the United States, was his aunt. He attended Mt. Pleasant Classical Institution and Amherst College in Amherst, Mass., and Trinity College, Hartford, Conn., from which he graduated in 1835. After a year in medicine, he studied for the Episcopal ministry under Dr. Samuel Farmar Jarvis, Middletown, Conn., and was ordained on Feb. 14, 1840, while rector of St. Andrew's Church, Harlem, N.Y.
Worried by doubts concerning the claims of his church, he resigned the rectorship and late in 1841 sailed for Europe. At the Church of the Gesù in Rome he was received into the Catholic Church by Bartholomew Esmonde, SJ, on April 28, 1842. Then, after a year at the Seminary of Saint-Sulpice in Paris, he finished his studies in New York and was ordained on March 2, 1844, in St. Patrick's Cathedral. After administrative posts at St. John's College (Fordham University), New York City, and some pastoral experience, he served as secretary to Bp. John hughes for seven years. During this time he became interested in the history of the Church in the United States.
In 1853 he was appointed the first bishop of the Diocese of Newark, covering the state of New Jersey. He was consecrated in St. Patrick's Cathedral on October 30, by Abp. Cajetan Bedini, Papal Nuncio to Brazil. The ensuing 19 years brought a great transformation in Newark as he organized and administered the growing diocese, founded a college, a seminary, and a community of Sisters of Charity, and brought in other religious communities of men and women. His attendance at Church councils, including vatican council i in 1869, journeys to Europe and the Holy Land, and his writing and lecturing indicated widening spheres of action.
Bayley's Brief Sketch of the Early History of the Catholic Church on the Island of New York (1853, 1870) and the Memoirs of the Rt. Rev. Simon Wm. Gabriel Bruté, D.D., First Bishop of Vincennes (1860) appeared when Catholic historical scholarship was just beginning in the United States. Unfortunately, his duties left little time for his interest in Catholic history, literature, and bibliography. He was decided in his convictions and simple and direct in expressing them in the many pastoral letters he wrote and the many lectures he gave, especially on behalf of temperance. However, he believed in kindness and good example rather than controversy as the means of arousing interest in the Church. Against his wishes, he was appointed on July 21, 1872, as successor to Martin J. Spalding, Archbishop of Baltimore. He was harassed by frequent illness and burdened by the demands of an extensive province and the conservatism of an old, established see. His last pastoral letter in 1876 pleaded for greater zeal and generosity in support of archdiocesan institutions.
In addition to his interest in the Native American missions and the American College in Rome, which he had helped from its founding, he was called upon by the Holy See to help in the school question and in the erection of new metropolitan sees. He conferred the biretta upon the first U.S. cardinal, Abp. John mccloskey of New York. He had the satisfaction of consecrating the Baltimore cathedral 55 years after its dedication. By 1876 chronic illness induced him to ask for a coadjutor with the right of succession in the person of Bp. James gib bons of Richmond. The papal brief for this was received while Bayley was seeking relief from illness in Vichy, France. In August of 1877, he returned to New Jersey critically ill and died in Newark. Following the Requiem in Baltimore, he was interred as he had requested at St. Joseph's Convent, Emmitsburg, Md., beside his aunt, (Bl.) Elizabeth Seton.
Bibliography: m. h. yeager, Life of James Roosevelt Bayley, First Bishop of Newark and Eighth Archbishop of Baltimore 1814–1877 (Catholic University of America, Studies in American Church History 36; Washington 1947).
[m. h. yeager]