Civilian Dr Robert Stephen Baylor
Civilian Dr Robert Stephen Baylor (aged 55) of 2 Walkers Row, Fermoy (Ballinrush near Kilworth)
Date of incident: 4 Dec. 1922
Sources: CE, 5, 6, 23, 28 Dec. 1922; II, 5, 23 Dec. 1922; FJ, 5, 23 Dec. 1922; SS, 9, 30 Dec. 1922; Nenagh Guardian, 9 Dec. 1922; Belfast Newsletter, 23 Dec. 1922; Power (2009), 334-37; Murphy (2010), 250; Keane (2017), 343, 421.
Note: One of the best-known solicitors in the south of Ireland and certainly in Fermoy, where he had long practiced, Baylor received a bogus letter on the morning of 4 December 1922 ‘instructing him to go out and draw the will of a farmer living at Ballinrush, about a mile from Kilworth’. When he did so later that day, he and his driver John Joyce were confronted on the borheen leading to the farmer’s house by two armed men with handkerchiefs over their faces. Their assailants fired on them. The driver was able to run away to the safety of the farmer’s house, but Baylor was badly wounded in the right leg and found lying in a ditch. He was taken to the Mercy Hospital in Cork city, where doctors eventually decided to amputate the injured leg. Though the operation was deemed successful, he succumbed to his wounds on 22 December at the Mercy Home in Cork. He left a wife and three young children. Baylor was described as ‘a brilliant member of the legal profession, to which he was admitted in 1889, winning a silver medal and that much coveted honour, the Findlater Scholarship’. See CE, 23 Dec. 1922).
The in memoriam notice published for the Fermoy solicitor Dr Robert S. Baylor in the Cork Examiner of 22 December 1923 on the first anniversary of his killing stated that he had been ‘lured by a bogus letter on the 4 Dec[ember] 1922 to be wilfully murdered, and [that he had] died on the 22 Dec[ember] from the wounds then received’. See CE, 22 Dec. 1923.
Bill Power has suggested that Baylor’s death was a case of mistaken identity, and that the intended target was the former crown solicitor Anthony Carroll, who had purchased a Fermoy-area estate in 1919. See Power (2009), 334-37. Baylor had been a regular attendant at Sinn Féin courts during the War of Independence. See Murphy (2010), 250. Shortly before his death Baylor became the solicitor to the Fermoy Urban District Council in succession to Seán Troy, who had been appointed a District Justice. In March 1923 the Free State Minister for Finance was asked in the Dáil ‘if he was aware that the late Dr Baylor acted as a servant of the state in local Referee Courts and as solicitor for the [National] troops in [the] Fermy area; if any claim for compensation has been made on behalf of his widow and three young children; and, if so, what was the result?” See Keane (2017), 343.
Robert Stephen Baylor was in 1911 the 43-year-old husband of Kate E. Baylor. They resided with their three then very young children (two daughters and a son, the oldest of whom was aged 4) at 2 Walkers Row in Fermoy. Robert Baylor listed his Doctor of Laws degree for the census-taker.
Educated by the Christian Brothers in Fermoy and at St Colman’s College there, he served his legal apprenticeship with the Fermoy legal firms of John Barry and Mr O’Riordan. After setting up his own practice, he did much business in sessions of the county court, where ‘his fame as a sound lawyer was universally acknowledged’. He had reportedly never taken any active part in politics. His funeral cortege to Kilcrumper Cemetery on Christmas Eve 1922 was described as ‘one of the largest and most representative which left the town for a long time, testifying to the esteem and popularity in which the deceased gentleman was held, and to the universal sorrow which locally prevails at his tragic and untimely demise’. See CE, 28 Dec. 1922.