Skip to main content

James Roosevelt Bayley papers

Identifier: ADN 0002-001

Scope and Contents

This collection focuses primarily on Bayley's tenure as Bishop of Newark from 1853 to 1872, but spans the years 1836-1877. During Bayley's episcopate, the Diocese embraced all of New Jersey, and the Bishop's papers document Catholic activities throughout the entire state. Materials are in English, Latin and French.

An Episcopal register chronicles visitations from Macopin to Cape May, blending the Bishop's commentary on parish activities with observations concerning significant state and national affairs. Available letters include correspondence with parish priests laboring throughout New Jersey, seminarians studying at St. Sulpice, prominent laymen, religious communities, and fellow American Bishops including John Hughes of New York and Francis Patrick Kenrick of Baltimore.

Other valuable items also appear throughout the papers. Personal diaries relate details of Bayley's European travels during 1842-1843, as well as his 1867 pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Family correspondence, letters to the Propaganda Fide, documentation concerning the founding of Diocesan institutions and financial accounts exist for the entire period. In addition, the collections boasts Bayley's original handwritten manuscript "Sketch of the Life of the Rt. Rev. Simon William Gabriel Brute de Remur, first Bishop of Vincennes." Published in 1860, this manuscript version of one of Bayley's two scholarly works, the other being his Brief Sketch of the Early History of the Church on the Island of New York, constitutes one of the archives' most significant individual holdings.

Researchers will note that a considerable portion of the collection consists of photocopies. Original manuscripts for these items reside in the Archives of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and locator numbers in the upper right hand corners of these documents refer to their place in that repository. Bayley carried the bulk of his personal papers to Baltimore upon his 1872 promotion to that Arch-Episcopal See, however all Newark-related material was borrowed and duplicated for researcher convenience. Please consult the archivist for proper method of citation.


  • 1836-1872

Conditions Governing Access

Temporarily closed to research.

Conditions Governing Use

All materials available in this collection (unless otherwise noted) are the property of the Monsignor William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center and Seton Hall University, which reserves the right to limit access to or reproduction of these materials. Reproduction of materials or content is subject to United States copyright restrictions and may be subject to federal or state privacy regulations. Permission to publish exact reproductions must be obtained from the Director of the Archives and Special Collections Center.

Biographical / Historical

James Roosevelt Bayley, son of Guy Carleton and Grace Roosevelt Bayley and nephew of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Newark's first Roman Catholic Bishop was born at Rye, New York, on August 23rd, 1814.

Descended from prominent New York physicians, and raised in a devout Episcopal household, James Roosevelt Bayley alternately planned careers in medicine and religion. Upon his 1835 graduation from Washington (now Trinity) College, however, Bayley chose the ministry and began studying under Middletown, Connecticut clergyman Dr. Samuel Farmar Jarvis in 1836. In October 1840, he was ordained and appointed rector of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Harlem.

Bayley soon began entertaining doubts concerning the Episcopal Church's validity, however. A trip to Europe and study in Rome increased his uncertainties, and on April 28, 1842, Bayley converted to Catholicism. He began preparing for the priesthood at Paris' St. Sulpice Seminary and, upon returning to New York, was ordained by Archbishop John Hughes on March 2, 1844.

Hughes appointed Bayley Vice President and Professor of Rhetoric at St. John's College, Fordham (the Diocesan seminary), and the newly ordained convert assumed the acting president's post in 1845. Bayley was named pastor of the New Brighton, Staten Island Church in June 1846, and six months later he became secretary to Archbishop Hughes.

When the Holy See erected the Diocese of Newark on July 29, 1853 (thus severing northern New Jersey from the New York Diocese and southern New Jersey from the Diocese of Philadelphia), Bayley was consecrated its first Bishop. He served in Newark until 1872, when he received a promotion to Baltimore's Arch-Episcopal See. Ill health forced him to seek a coadjutor (James Gibbons) in 1877, and Bayley returned to Newark, where he died on October 3 of that year.

More detailed biographical information might be obtained by consulting Sister Mary Hildegrade Yeager's Life of James Roosevelt Bayley 1814-1877 the Dictionary of American Biography entry for James Roosevelt Bayley; and Rev. Edwin Vose Sullivan's unpublished doctoral dissertation, "An Annotated Copy of the Diary of Bishop James Roosevelt Bayley, First Bishop of Newark, New Jersey, 1853- 1872." The latter author also contributed a chapter on Bishop Bayley to the New Jersey Catholic Historical Records Commission's The Bishops of Newark.

See Appendix A for a genealogical sketch of the family by Monsignor William Noé Field.


8 Linear Feet (25 boxes)

Language of Materials



Papers of James Roosevelt Bayley, the first Bishop of Newark, New Jersey.

Preservica Internal URL

Preservica Public URL

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Bulk of the materials were transferred to the Archives and Special Collections Center from the Archdiocese of Newark, date unknown. Accession numbers 2006.11.07.AC and others.

Existence and Location of Copies

Select items from this collection have been digitized. To view these items, click here.

Related Materials

Baltimore, MD. Archdiocese of Baltimore, Associated Archives at St. Mary's Seminary & University. James Roosevelt Bayley papers.

Notre Dame, IN. University of Notre Dame Archives. James Roosevelt Bayley papers.

Michael A. Corrigan papers, 1870-1902, ADN 0002.002, in the Msgr. William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center.

Processing Information

Collection reformatted by M. Kenny 2007-2008.
James Roosevelt Bayley papers, 1836-1872
M. Kenny
Description rules
Rules for Archival Description
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.
  • TypeCollection

Repository Details

Part of the The Monsignor Field Archives & Special Collection Center Repository

Archives, Walsh Library
400 South Orange Ave
South Orange NJ 07079 US