Bailey, William Frederick (1857–1917), lawyer and estates commissioner, was born at Castletown Conyers, Co. Limerick, eldest of at least two sons and three daughters of Dr William Bailey, RN. He graduated BA (1879) from TCD, where he was awarded a gold medal in history and political science, and was auditor and gold medallist in oratory of the college Historical Society. Admitted to the King's Inns, he was called (1881) to the Irish bar and joined the Munster circuit. He was appointed Barrington lecturer in political economy at TCD (1881) and subsequently examiner in English under the intermediate education board. Appointed (1886) a secretary to the royal commission on Irish public works, he became (1887) a legal assistant commissioner under the Irish land acts. He gave evidence before the Morley select committee (1894) and the royal commission (1898) on the acts, and was appointed president of a committee studying their operation prior to the introduction of the land act of 1903; thereafter he was appointed land commissioner and subsequently estates commissioner. He supported the cooperative movement and served (1907) on a departmental committee on Irish forestry for the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction.
Author of several useful works including Fiscal relations of the United Kingdom and Ireland (1886), Local and centralised government in Ireland (1888), Ireland since the famine (1903), The Slavs of the war zone (1916), and The Irish land acts (1917), he contributed articles to a variety of periodicals and edited English poetry for schools. Elected hon. secretary (1882–95) and president (1902–4) of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland, FRGS, and MRIA (1904), he was created CB (1906) and member of the Irish privy council (1909).
A leading figure in the social and cultural life of Dublin, he supported the Irish literary revival and was a patron and trustee of the Abbey Theatre, vice-president of the National Literary Society, and a governor of the National Gallery. He thoroughly enjoyed life, travelled the globe, and lectured frequently on his experiences; he was a keen photographer, cyclist, and golfer (becoming the first president of the Castle Club, Rathfarnham, Co. Dublin), and was a notable host. He died 16 April 1917 at his home, 3 Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin. No evidence has been found of marriage.