the same time, a young woman, also born in 1875, left Turks Island
for New York. Her journey brought her through Nassau, where she
met the dashing young Barbadian tailor. Needless to say, she never
saw New York. Robert Melville Bailey married Rhoda Adams Simons
on 21st October, 1902 at Trinity Methodist Church, Nassau, N. P.,
Bahamas. The ceremony was performed by Rev. Gastic. That union produced
nine children: Joseph Benjamin (1903), Gladys Simons (1904), Rosalie
Carmen (1906), Nathaniel Alexander (1907), Millicent Louise (1909),
Robert Martin (1911), Arthur Hazelwood (1912), George Kitchener
(1915), and Helen Lenora (1917). Of these nine children, three are
alive today. They are: Nathaniel Alexander Bailey, Millicent Louise
Bailey-Symonette, and Robert Martin Bailey.
and Mrs. Bailey purchased a home at 35 Dorchester Street, in the
city of Nassau where most of their children were born and raised.
The home remains as the family homestead until this day.
Bailey's first tailor shop was on Marlborough Street near West Street.
His second shop was on King Street east of Christ Church Cathedral.
He later moved his shop to the Lofthouse Building on Marlborough
Street, just west of George Street. His fourth location was on Bay
Street where Beaumont House is now located. After the Bay Street
Fire in 1942, Mr. Bailey relocated to a shop on his own property
at 35 Dorchester Street, just west of the British Colonial Hotel.
sewed for many of the dignitaries of the country at that time, among
them governors, politicians, bishops. Many of these became his personal
friends. He counted among his personal friends Mr. W. P. Adderley,
father of A. F. Adderley and grandfather of the Honourable Paul
Adderley. Mr. Leon Dupuch, first Editor of the Tribune and father
of Sir Etienne Dupuch, was also a close friend. In fact, R. M. Bailey
was a regular columnist for the evening daily. Sir Walter K. Moore
was another one of his clients and associates. Because he was an
intellectual his tailor shop was often filled with Members of the
House of Assembly and other community leaders, seeking his opinions.
Sir Milo Butler was one of those who often sought him out at his
sewing machine. Mr. S. C. McPherson was also a close friend and
major concern, however, was education. Having received a college
education by the turn of the century, it bothered him greatly that
there were not even high schools to cater to the needs of the masses
in his new homeland. There were a few private schools that educated
the chosen few, but the majority of Bahamian children were denied
this privilege. R. M. Bailey, therefore, became an advocate for
offered himself as a candidate for the House of Assembly in an attempt
to assist in securing high school facilities for Bahamian children.
In his election bid, he received the full support of The Tribune.
He lost by only one vote to Bay Street merchant Bruce Killroy Thompson.
At one point, he used his tailor shop as a classroom to tutor young
was instrumental, along with others, in establishing the Cosmopolitan
High School. This school was located on the premises of the Aurora
Lodge Hall, Charlotte Street, Nassau, N. P. Bahamas. Mr. Bailey
and other parents paid teachers out of their own pockets in order
to educate their children. The first couple to run the school was
Mr. and Mrs. Coffin. The second couple was Mr. and Mrs. Howell,
and the third couple was Mr. and Mrs. Graves - all expatriates.
This school was only opened for a short time, as the parents found
it difficult to continue supporting it financially.
M. Bailey was not discouraged, however, and he used his influence
with Members of the House of Assembly and other community leaders
to lobby for a high school operated by the government. This was
a difficult task indeed, but R. M. Bailey saw his dream fulfilled
in 1925, when the Government High School opened its doors for the
Government High School's main purpose was to train future teachers,
who were to receive free education. Any other student paid a school
fee. The school opened in 1925 with five students, three of whom
were teacher trainees. The other two paying students were Mr. Bailey's
own children - Millicent Louise and Robert Martin Bailey. His daughter,
Helen Lenora Bailey attended Government High School at a later date.
When Government High School opened in 1925, its sole teacher was
Mr. Albert Woods.
Bailey joined the United Order of Odd Fellows as a young man, and
remained an active member all his life. He rose to the rank of Past
Noble Father. He was the musical director of that organization.
The Odd Fellows Choir, under his direction, was the first Choir
in The Bahamas to perform Handel's Messiah. The performance was
staged at Christ Church Cathedral, George Street.
Bailey, an Anglican, worshipped at Christ Church Cathedral. For
a period of years, however, he left the Anglican Church and joined
Bethel Baptist Church, Meeting Street. One reason for joining Bethel
was to assist them with their educational and musical programmes.
He became a trustee of the church, Choir Director and Superintendent
of the Sunday School. He trained choirs and musicians. He was a
dynamic public speaker, and often held public meetings at Bethel
Baptist Church. The purpose of these meetings was to inform the
classes of the issues of the day. Toward this end, he regularly
invited politicians and other community leaders to address the audiences
gathered for these meetings.
was a witness to the Burma Road Riot and was called to testify during
the inquiry into the Riot. As a result, he was appointed to the
first commission appointed by the Governor to investigate labour
returned to the Anglican Church in 1948, at age 73. It was time
for the younger ones that he had trained to carry on his work. He
remained a faithful worshipper at Christ Church Cathedral until
his death on 24th June, 1960.
remained socially active in the community throughout his life. Up
until his death, he would spend hours at his sewing machine philosophizing
with all those who sought his advice. No doubt, the late Sir Etienne
Dupuch and his daughter, Mrs. Eileen Carron of The Tribune would
remember such times.
the time given to his country and others, Mr. Bailey never neglected
his family. He was a devoted husband and a loving father. His surviving
children have fond memories of him as a strict, but caring, disciplinarian.
The Bailey children were exposed to music at an early age, three
of them - Gladys, Louise and Helen - becoming musicians in their
own right. His son, Nathaniel Bailey is a noted Bahamian tailor,
trained by his father. One of his daughters, the late Rosalie Carmen
Bailey, became a Registered Nurse and well known midwife, who delivered
many of this country's leaders.
fact that his family remains one of the most respected families
in this country gives an indication of the stature of the man himself.
Among his offspring today are doctors, lawyers, accountants, educators,
and other professionals. Noted among his offspring are his grandson,
composer of the first Bahamian opera and Director of the National
Youth Choir, Cleophas R. E. Adderley, and his granddaughter, President
of the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce, Mrs. Eva Bailey-Schaffner.
R. M. Bailey Secondary School was named in his honour.