BAYARD, ROBERT, doctor and writer; b. in 1788 at Wilmot, N.S., son of Colonel Samuel Vetch Bayard of the King’s Orange Rangers; m. 31 Dec. 1812 Frances Catherine Robertson of Halifax, and they had at least three children; d. 4 June 1868 at Welsford, N.B.
Descended from the Chevalier de Bayard of 16th century France, Robert Bayard’s family was prominent in New York before the American War of Independence. His father settled at Wilmot at the conclusion of the war and was appointed lieutenant-colonel of the Royal Nova Scotia Regiment. Robert Bayard became a lieutenant in the British army at age 13, but was permitted to study at King’s Collegiate School, Windsor, N.S. He eventually gave up his commission, and after reading medicine for a short time entered the University of Edinburgh from which he graduated with a medical degree in 1809. His graduate thesis was on complicated labour, anaesthesia in obstetrics, and bloodletting. In 1811 the degree of dcl was conferred on him by King’s College, Windsor.
Bayard then became professor of obstetrics at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in the University of the State of New York, but during the War of 1812 chose to leave the country rather than take the oath of allegiance. He made his way to Portland, Maine, then, sailing in an open boat, to Saint John, N.B., in May 1813. After moving to Halifax, N.S., he settled with his wife in Kentville, N.S., where a son was born in 1814 and where Bayard practised until 1823.
That year they moved to Saint John where Bayard took a front place in the medical profession. He wrote at least two medical works, Exposition of facts relative to a case of croup and Evidences of the delusions of homoeopathy. A versatile person, he interested himself in the advancement of agriculture by speaking and writing and showed a taste for controversy. In August 1846 his writing in the press ended a movement for a public hospital, planned as a memorial to the loyalists. Excluded from the founding meeting of the project, Bayard criticized the private deliberations of the organizers, who included Judge Robert Parker, John William Dering Gray, Robert Leonard Hazen*, and Charles Simonds*, and suggested instead that a public infirmary be added to the Marine Hospital. In 1849 he spoke out strongly for the route of the proposed European and North American Railway from Saint John to Shediac, which became a reality in 1857.
In 1849 he also became involved in the controversies within the Church of England which reached the public through the press and pamphlets. Bayard was evangelical in his beliefs and opposed to Tractarian influences emanating from Bishop John Medley*. He supported the Reverend J. W. D. Gray, rector of Trinity Church, Saint John, and others in denouncing the Tractarians in A statement of facts, as they occurred at the late annual meeting of the Diocesan Church Society in 1849.
In 1837 Bayard was joined in medical practice by his eldest son, William, who promoted the establishment of the Saint John General Hospital in 1860 and served on its board of commissioners from 1863 to 1903. Another son, Edwin, also practised in Saint John.
In his later years Robert Bayard spent his summers on his farm in the Annapolis valley in Nova Scotia. For the last years of his life he resided on another farm on the Nerepis River in New Brunswick near Welsford, where he died in 1868. The railway station at this location was called “Bayard” for many years.
Robert Bayard was the author of Evidences of the delusions of homoeopathy (Saint John, N.B., 1857); Exposition of facts relative to a case of croup, in a letter to Henry Cook, surgeon (Saint John, N.B., 1826); A statement of facts, as they occurred at the late annual meeting of the Diocesan Church Society: with a reply to some misstatements and expositions in the Rev’d. F. Coster’s defence of the “Companion to the Prayer Book” (Saint John, N.B., 1849; 1875). N.B. Museum, Trinity Anglican Church (Saint John, N.B.), Papers, 1790–1860. Biographical review: this volume contains biographical sketches of leading citizens of the province of New Brunswick, ed. I. A. Jack (Boston, 1900), 37–40. A. V. Hanscome, History of the Saint John General Hospital and School of Nursing (Saint John, N.B., 1955). J. W. Lawrence, “The medical men of St. John in its first half century,” N.B. Hist. Soc., Coll., I (1894), 298–99.