Bailey, Loring Woart

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Bailey, Loring Woart

(b. West Point, New York, 28 September 1839; d. Fredericton, Canada, 10 January 1925)


Loring Bailey was born at the United States Military Academy, where his father, Jacob Whitman Bailey, was professor of chemistry, mineralogy, and geology. His mother was Maria Slaughter Bailey. He received both his bachelor of arts degree (1859) and his master’s degree (1861) from Harvard University. He thereupon moved to Canada, where from 1861 until his retirement in 1907 he held the chair of chemistry and natural science at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. In August 1863, Bailey married Laurestine Marie d’Avray.

The position at the university required that Bailey teach physics, chemistry, zoology, physiology, botany, and geology. After several years, however, the first two subjects were assigned to a colleague. At the beginning he had some knowledge of chemistry but little of the other fields-least of all geology. Yet geology captured his attention, primarily because of the complex stratigraphical relations of New Brunswick, which the previous studies by Abraham Gesner, J. William Dawson, and James Robb had done little to elucidate. Together with George F. Matthew and Charles F. Hartt, Bailey was the first to find fossils of Cambrian age in New Brunswick (near St. John), thus establishing the base for deciphering the chronostratigraphic interrelationships of a large area. Bailey’s numerous studies of the region not only provided an extensive foundation for further work in New Brunswick but also contributed to the understanding of the geology of neighboring New England, especially Maine. His Report on the Mines and Minerals of New Brunswick and his Observations on the Geology of Southern New Brunswick are classics of regional geology. Most of Bailey’s numerous publications were in the form of official reports, lectures, and newspaper and magazine articles.

After his retirement from professorial duties and from summer field work, Bailey continued his biological researches, in particular the microscopic investigation of diatoms. (His first publication, in 1861, had been the completed form of his father’s “Microscopical Organisms from South America,” which the elder Bailey had left unfinished at his death in 1857.) During the course of his research, which was carried out in conjunction with the St. Andrews Marine Biological station, the number of known New Brunswick diatoms increased from fifty to about four hundred. His work resulted in a catalog of Canadian diatoms, which was issued late in 1924. In 1888 and 1918 Bailey served as president of the geology section of the Royal Society of Canada, of which he was a charter member.


The only published list of Loring Bailey’s works is contained in Loring Woart Bailey: The Story of a Man of Science (St. John, 1925). his reminiscences, collected and edited by his son, Joseph Whitman Bailey. His most important regional studies are Report on the Mines and Minerals of New Brunswick (Frediericton, 1864); “Notes on the Geology and Botany of New Brunswick,” in Canadian Natrualist,1 (1864), 81-97; Observations on the Geology of Southern New Brunswick … with a Geological Map (Fredericton, 1865); and The Mineral Resources of the Province of New Brunswick, Geological Survey of canada, Annual Report, n.s. 10, part M(Ottawa, 1898), His microscopic biology begins with “Notes on New Species of Microscopical Organsims from the Para River, South America,” in Boston Journal of Natural History, 7 (July 1861), 329-351, and concludes with “An Annotated Catalogue of the Diatoms of Canada showing their Geographical Distribution,” in Contributions to Canadian Biology, n.s.2 (1924), 31-68.

The biography by his son provides little insight into or information on Bailey’s scientific achievements; for such see W.F. Ganong’s memoir in Proceedings and Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada (May 1925), pp.xivxvii.

Bert Hansen