Mr Percy Bailey was born in Penzance, Cornwall, England in early 1894.
He was the son of Joseph Bailey (1873-1944), a butcher, and Edith Davies (1875-1957), Penzance natives who had married in mid-1893 and he had three siblings: Ada (1897-1987, later Mrs Robert Stewart), Joseph Gordon (1900-1957) and George Leslie (1907-1991).
It appears that Percy lived at 25 Gwavas Street in Penzance for all of his life and appeared there on the 1901 and 1911 censuses. By the time of the latter record he was described as a butcher's assistant, having followed in his father's footsteps.
Bailey initially booked on the White Star Line vessel Oceanic but transferred to Titanic when he heard that several friends were booked for that steamer. He travelled as a second class passenger (ticket number 29108, which cost £11 10s.). He was travelling to New York City to visit an uncle (Harry Jennings) before going on to Akron, Ohio to the home of a friend of his father. He had been hired by a firm in that city as an apprentice butcher.
He arrived in Southampton on 9 April from where he sent a postcard to his parents.
Dear Mother and Father,
I telegrammed to you. We had a very tiresome journey on the L.S.W. [London & South Western Railway] Railway it was terribly slow travelling, and we had a job to get lodgings but we got in.
From your loving son - Percy
The following day he boarded the Titanic and penned a longer letter to his parents.
|April 17th (sic) 1912 On board RMS Titanic
Dear Father and Mother,
We arrived on board this morning after a nights rest at Southampton. We put up at an Hotel named Berrimans, the lady who owns it, is a Cornish lady, we had a good supper and a good breakfast of ham and eggs, we were doing it fine. I slept with a young man named Wills a brother to the man who married Mrs Trevasks daughter, he came to Southampton to see his sister-in-law. We had several people joined us at St. Erith bound for the same place as we are going so we are a big family altogether. Well dear Mother, I suppose you are missing me but don't be downhearted old dear Percy will be behaved to you as a son ought to treat his Mother and Father. This going away from home will make me a better man and try and lead a good life. The Titanic is a marvel I can tell you I have never seen such a sight in all my life, she is like a floating palace, everything up to date. I hope you are all well as it leaves me at present.
Father I shall never forget your kindness, you have don more for me than many Fathers have done for their sons. Well dear parents I don't think there is any more news I can tell you now kiss Grandma for me and tell her I am sorry for all my wicked thoughts which I said to her, but never again, will I cheek her.
Give my best love to all who ask for me and tell Ethel to come and see you any time. I will draw my letter to a close hoping you one and all are quite well.
I remain your loving son
Whilst on board Bailey shared a cabin with Harry Cotterill and George Hocking also from Penzance, none of whom survived the sinking. Percy's body, if recovered, was never identified.
The following account appeared in a New York newspaper shortly after the sinking:
|Titanic Disaster felt in Home of Bronx Man
Harry Jennings, Alexander Avenue Butcher Mourns Loss of Nephew Who Was to Make His Home In America.
The echo of grief and horror which can be heard the world round, as the result of the greatest sea disaster in history has reached a Bronx fireside at 213 Willis avenue, where lives Harry Jennings, a butcher for H. Walger, at 333 Alexander avenue, and whose nephew Percy Bailey, was among the second cabin passengers that went down to Neptune's grave with the biggest ship afloat.
Bailey was on his way to the Bronx to stop at his uncle's house for a short stay prior to going to Akron, Ohio, where he was engaged by a butcher's concern to finish out his apprenticeship at the business. he was nineteen years old, and, according to Jennings, sought to come to America on his own volition. He left his home and parents in Cornwall, England, and, according to a letter he wrote his uncle a few weeks ago, was proud that he would take passage on the Titanic's maiden voyage to America.
Throughout the Bronx flags can be seen on almost every flag staff at half mast. Borough hall at 177th street and Third avenue, was one of the first in the Borough to raise the National Standard.
Memorial services will be held in many churches on Sunday and sermons appropriate to the topic of the day will be preached. Ambulances from Lincoln Hospital, the only Bronx institution to send emergency 'buses to meet the steamer Carpathia on Thursday night, were speeded in the direction of West street manned by doctors prepared to render what aid possible in the event of being called on. Three ambulances were sent from Lincoln in charge of Hospital Superintendent Richard H. Townley. House surgeon Thomas E, Frestoin, a Bronxionian, with Doctors Presley, Eddy, Wolf and Borst, accompanied the buses to the steamship pier. Squads of policemen were picked from the Bronx precincts and sent to serve duty along West street. Police Commissioner Waldo and Fire Commissioner Johnston ordered flags at half mast on all department buildings in orders issued to that effect last night.
His parents and siblings continued to live in Penzance, later moving to Chapel Street. His father died on 8 July 1944 and his mother on 10 January 1957 at her home, 32 Barwis Terrace, Penzance. His last surviving sibling George died in Falmouth, Cornwall in 1991.