De Witt Bailey (1938-2024)

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Written by: David Minshall

De Witt Bailey (1938-2024)
De Witt Bailey and his wife Sarah

I was saddened to receive a phone call today (9 March 2024) that my friend De Witt Bailey has passed away. I spoke to him about three weeks ago and had a long call about firearms related matters, a subject he still had great powers of recall on. Although only getting to know him in recent years, and not meeting often, it was always a delight just to be able to phone him as a friend and while away time with a good chat.

Those who knew him or his work will be aware of the huge legacy of study he has left us. His most recently published collaborative works were ‘British Powder Flasks’ with (the late) Ian Ford, and ‘British Ordnance Muskets of the 1830s and 1840s’ with Adrian Roads. De Witt’s historical analysis of Sharps Firearms has also made a significant contribution to the multi-volume series on the subject by Roy Marcot, Ron Paxton, Edward Marron et al. His encyclopaedic knowledge of Whitworth rifles has been an immense help in my own studies.

It was a privilege getting to know a scholar of his stature, and a pleasure getting to know the gentleman with whom I enjoyed much friendly conversation.

I shall miss him greatly.


[Photograph courtesy of Jacqueline Ford]