The Josiah Bayly House – Oldest House in Cambridge
When new owners moved into the Josiah Bayly House in the 1990s they found shackles on the walls in both the attic and the basement. They believe the shackles were to constrain slaves. These same owners found the attic full of stuff left from owners over the past 100 years.
One of the items found was a cheval mirror (a full length mirror on a stand that allows it to swing and lock into the desired angle for reflection). The woman who’d bought the house cleaned it up and put it in her bedroom. She reported that on occasion she would see the reflection of a little girl in the mirror – a reflection that would quickly vanish, but the child’s facial features were discernible… and it was always the same child.
The former owners admitted in a personal interview that there were many spirits in the house. The owners’ teenage daughter was tormented in her sleep by woman who stood at the foot of her bed slapping her feet trying to get her to wake up. The same teenage daughter and her mother on separate occasions would hear someone out on the second floor balcony yet no one was there when they investigated.
These were just some of the things that happened to this family that caused them to know that they were not alone in their beloved home.
And they did love their home.
Who Was Josiah Bayly?
The Josiah Bayly House is believed to be the oldest house in Cambridge. It was originally built around 1750 in Annapolis by a man named John Caile, but he dismantled it and loaded onto a barge and shipped to Cambridge where it was first rebuilt where the current Courthouse now stands. Then it was rolled up the hill to its current location.
The house is best known as being owned by Josiah Bayly who was born on Halloween in Somerset County. He served in the Maryland House of Delegates (1803, 1804), was District Attorney in 1818, and was also Maryland’s Attorney General from 1831 to 1846. Josiah died at age 77 and was the oldest member of the Maryland bar, but he is probably best remembered as the attorney who defended Patty Cannon, the famous ringleader of a bunch of thug kidnappers and slave catchers.
The Floating Ghost
The Josiah Bayly House has been associated with the spirit of a “floating ghost” for many years. Oral tradition tells us that as far back as when the house was being reassembled, a workman saw a man in a red coat standing in a second story window. … but this was before they had put the floors in. That same redcoat has been seen throughout the years looking out from the various windows in the Bayly House – standing in the upper gallery. For years people believed that redcoat came with the house on the boat from Annapolis.
There’s a belief that spirits will attach themselves to buildings or objects and travel with them where every they go. This Redcoat has been called the “floating ghost” because he floated across the Bay from Annapolis and he floats around the house.