John Kelly Bailiff was born on the 13th February 1889 in Stranraer, Wigtownshire, Scotland to John and Ellen Bailiff. He was the eldest of 12 children, shortly after his birth his parents moved to Byram cum Sutton, Yorkshire where his father found work as a forester. When John Kelly was old enough he started working as a groom. In 1911 he was living with the Goodenough family in Monk Fryston, South Wilford. George Goodenough was a coachman, probably for Aske Hall where John Kelly was a groom. Aske Hall, Richmond was the seat of the ageing 1st Marquess of Zetland, as well as his son who would later serve as Secretary of State for India. John Kelly may have lived at Aske Hall for a while before joining the police.
On the 1st October 1912 John Kelly was appointed to the police force. At age 23 he was 5 foot 10, very tall for the time, with grey eyes and dark brown hair. This was the same year he met Mary Ann Long of Monk Fryston. John Kelly had moved to Leeds to work as a Police Constable, but on the 19th November 1913 he came back to Monk Fryston to marry Mary. As war broke out he enlisted in the army on the 1st June 1915, the same year as his first child was born.
John Kelly served in the Military Mounted Police Corps as a Lance Corporal, where he earned the Victory and British War Medals as well as the Silver War Badge. In 1917 he was gassed, leading to him being discharged on the 12th April 1917. Asthma ran in his family and the gassing left him in ill health for much of his life. He was discharged into the Army Reserve “Police” and, too ill to do much beat work, he focused on administration. He also helped to inspect farms and enforce rationing regulations around the town.
He lived in Monk Fryston until 1920 when he moved to Pontefract, in 1936 he moved again to Hatfield. He lived here with his wife and daughter eldest, Mary Bailiff in 1938 when he retired from the police. He did however continue as a Supervisor of the Watchmen for the duration of the Second World War. He still lived in Hatfield when he passed away on the 4th Feb 1951 , just over a week before his 62nd birthday.
Story and photographs kindly submitted by Betty Camplejohn.