John Barton Senior (1789-1852) His Family, Life and Times with A View of Today (unpublished, written in 1980s) by Major Robert G. L. Barton is an extensive biography assembled by the late son of Walter Lindsay Barton (1877-1952), son of Rev. Joseph Barton (1829-1905), eldest son of John Barton Senior.

With the permission of Robert's heirs, I (DBHB) am in the process of adding this work to this site, from digital transcripts kindly provided by Paul Tucker. I will add all the main text first, and add footnotes, hyperlinks etc later.


Chapter 1: John Barton Senior's Forebears and his Half Brother and Sisters


John Barton, Senior, came from a family which had lived for many generations in Cumberland, where the registers in the parish of Dalston, near Carlisle, prove that they were Cumbrian ‘statesmen’, farming their own land from 1572.

"The statesmen of the Westmoreland and Cumberland valleys were a race of independent yeomen, the last survivors of an English peasantry, something different from the tenant farmers or the landless cap-touching labourers which was all that the enclosures had left in most parts of England. Independence and equality were the keynotes of this society; in his boyhood experience Wordsworth, as he tells us, had hardly met the notion of a social superior."

John has been distinguished from the others in his family who were named John by being given the label ‘Senior’.

His earliest direct ancestor who can be traced is a Bernard Barton; probably the son of the one who restored a little chapel, dating from 1358, at Highead, near Dalston, in 1682. When he died in 1712 he was described as Bernard Barton, Junior. His wife’s name was Ann, and as a widow she was described as ‘widdow and guardian of John Barton’, presumably their son, who became great grandfather to John Barton, senior, and who lived at Ivegill, a little hamlet about five miles from Carlisle.

This John Barton lived in a small house called Ive Bank, which stands on the bank above the little river, which is crossed by a lovely old packhorse bridge, just in front of the house. Over the back porch of this house is the inscription:
IB:IB.U1694
thought to stand for John Barton . Jane Barton.

In 1682 Bernard and John were among those who re-built the little chapel at Highead which is still standing. This was a chapel-of-ease from the parish church of Dalston. According to Henry Whitehead’s Church Bells in Cumberland Ward , Highead chapel and Ivegill church are in the same township, which from time immemorial has been indiscriminately called Highead or Ivegill, a township in the parish of Dalston. This chapel was restored in 1836, but since a church was built in Ivegill in 1868 the chapel has been allowed to decay, though the names of Bernard and John Barton can still be seen on a tablet on the building commemorating the re-building.

John had seven children between 1719 and 1742, but when he died in 1747 he left everything including ‘his implements of Husbandry’ to his wife Ann; among the witnesses to the will was Abraham Bewley, who lived in a farm opposite to Ive Bank.

In a letter from Bernard Barton to Edward FitzGerald in 1834, he wrote:

"Thy cordial approval of my brother John’s hearty wish to bring us back to the simple habits of the older time, induces me to ask thee if I mentioned in either of my late letters the curious old papers he stumbled on in hunting through the repositories of our late excellent spinster sister? I quite forget whether I did or not; so I will not at a venture repeat all the items. But he found an inventory of the goods and chattels of our great-grandfather, John Barton of Ivegill, a little hamlet about five or seven miles from Carlisle; by which it seems our progenitor was one of those truly patriarchal personages, a Cumbrian statesman – living on his own little estate, drawing from it all things needful for himself and his family. I will be bound for it my good brother was more gratified at finding his earliest traceable ancestor such an one than if he had found him in the college of heralds with gules purpure and argent emblazoned on his bearings. The total amount of his stock, independent of house, land, and any money he might have, seems by the valuation to have been £6l. 6s. and the copy of his admission to his little estate gives the fine as £5, so that I suppose its annual value was then estimated at £2.15s. This was about a century back…"

John’s eldest son Bernard (1728–1773) married Mary Porter, and took possession of the farm at Ivegill. It is probable that the economy there was a mixed one, as in much of Cumberland, and that spinning and weaving were carried on there.

In about 1767 Bernard invented a piece of machinery, for which he received a medal from the Royal Society of Arts, which has been described thus

"Saw at Mr. Bernard Barton’s a pleasing sight of twelve little girls spinning at once at a horizontal wheel, which set twelve bobbins in motion; yet so contrived that should any accident happen to one, the motion of that might be stopped without any impediment to the others."

The wheel which carried the whole could be turned by a grown girl or infirm old person, and children could spin much earlier at this machine than on those commonly in use.

Probably because of this wheel Bernard moved to Carlisle, where with a Mr. Hodgson he started a firm that manufactured linen articles and housewife’s clothes. Later the partnership included a Mr. Brummel, who probably also came from Ivegill.

Bernard and Mary had ten children, of whom five died in infancy. The ones who survived were John, born 17th September 1754, Margaret, born the next year, who married Robert Faulder, Joseph born in 1760, Jane born in 1763 who married a Mr. Patrickson, and Isaac who married Mary Emnis and died in 1819.

On 16th January 1772, Mr. Lowthion, John’s schoolmaster wrote to his father assuring his parents that their son

"behaved in the most unexceptionable manner, and so as to conciliate the esteem of all his acquaintance. Further, that he was modest, obliging and docible, laudably desirous of further information and sollicitous to make the best improvement of his time and opportunities."

He had no doubt that he would soon be able to prosecute his mathematical studies with ease and pleasure, at his leisure hours. He congratulated his parents on the fair prospect of being blessed with a sensible, sober and affectionate son, at the head of a rising family.

Evidence still exists of John’s aptitude for mathematics in the form of a small manuscript book, bound in leather, which he wrote in 1771 entitled A Treatise of Mensuration.

Bernard died young, leaving the care of his children to his eldest son, John, who has become known in the family as John, the Elder.

In 1846 Bernard Barton, the poet, heard from ‘a far-away cousin of mine at Carlisle’, saying:

"Our burial-place is at St. Cuthbert’s churchyard, in this city (Carlisle), where also are interred your grandfather and grandmother, but the stone is much fallen into decay."

The inscription on the stone read:

"ERECTED
IN MEMORY OF BERNARD BARTON
WHO DIED JAN. 6TH., 1773;
AGED 45 YEARS
ALSO
OF MARY, HIS WIFE; WHO DIED
MAY 20TH, 1786; AGED 54 YEARS.
ALSO
OF FIVE OF THEIR CHILDREN
VIZ
GEORGE, WILLIAM, ABRAHAM,
HENRY, AND BERNARD;
WHO DIED IN THEIR INFANCY"

Bernard wrote to a friend saying that in reply he had written to beg the old stone may be cleaned and renovated, and set upright again; for:

"It is vastly out of the perpendicular; and but for my having thus accidentally heard of it, would possibly have fallen down, and been carried off to serve as a door-step, or to assist in the pavement of some pig-stye, mayhap.

To such vile uses may we come at last.

If the old stone will stand it, I mean to have cut on the reverse side

REPAIRED AND RE-ERECTED
1846,
BY BERNARD AND JOHN BARTON,
GRANDSONS OF THE FIRST-NAMED
DECEASED"


John, the Elder, continued in Carlisle for several years, carrying on the business in which his father had been engaged, with tolerable success, but in 1783 he moved to London, where he entered into a wholesale linen trade in Milk Street, Cheapside. Later he moved to Hertford and went in for malting until his death.

John the Elder fell in love with Mary Done (1752–1784) who was living at Rockliffe near Carlisle with her two sisters (the second of the trio having become the wife of Thomas Bewley, who lived there) when they met. Mary was also called Maria, and apparently also sometimes Molly. Her parents John and Ellen Done, who were Quakers, had died. Their name, Done, was pronounced with the ‘o’ sounded as in ‘bone’.

John the Elder wrote the following letter to John Bell, of Carlisle, a minister of the Society of Friends, and an intimate in Maria Done’s family, which was given fifty years later to Bernard Barton, John’s elder son:

"Carlisle, 27th April, 1775

I am going, my much-esteemed Friend, to take the liberty of addressing you upon, and to solicit your kind, your Christian interposition and assistance, in an affair which most deeply and tenderly affects me. In doing this, I should, perhaps, by some, be thought to assume a liberty which the shortness of our acquaintance would hardly justify; and the mode of application I have made choice of, ‘tis very probable might be censured by many as singular and extraordinary. But the assurance I already have of the goodness of your heart is sufficient to encourage me to hope that, when you reflect on the importance of the subject I am going to address you upon (for to me it is truly important), you will consider it as a sufficient apology for the freedom which I have ventured to take, and likewise for the manner in which I have taken it.

It is entirely needless, I presume, to inform you of my prepossessions in favour of Miss Done, as I have sufficient reason to believe that this is an attachment which you are by no means ignorant of. It is an attachment which I have long avowed, which I have ever warmly cherished and cultivated, and which has been attended with many pleasing, many happy consequences. But, alas! all its consequences have not been pleasing! Some it has produced which have been far, very far, from contributing to that happiness which I had flattered myself such an attachment could not fail to promote. By endeavouring to attain the esteem and affection of Maria (and to obtain these I always have done, and ever shall do, everything in my power) I have unfortunately incurred the united opposition of almost all her relations – a circumstance which has given me much pain, and which is rendered a thousand times more afflicting by this most unpleasing consideration, that she likewise has perhaps experienced the unmerited slights of those who were formerly zealous to show every expression of cordial affection, and whose approbation and regard are still essential to her happiness. It is this circumstance which has cast a melancholy gloom over a connexion that in other respects has equally contributed to my honour and satisfaction; and in order to remove this it is that I ardently desire, and earnestly request, that you would exert your friendly endeavours to put an end to this opposition, and to restore us, if possible, to the general esteem and friendship of one another.

The particular part you act in that Society to which all my opponents belong, your years, your character, your intimacy with the family – and in particular your well known esteem for Maria – all these point you out as the man who of all others is best qualified for the important task I wish you to engage in. And surely that task is far from being an unworthy one. There can be no character which as men, or more especially as Christians, we ought to be more ambitious of sustaining than that of a Peacemaker. Peace merely for its own sake, and the sake of Maria, is all I wish for.

It is very possible, indeed, that even this character, amiable as it generally is, may sometimes be an unworthy one; and cases may be supposed both in public and private life, in the affairs of families as well as those of nations, where dishonourable treaties may be made. But in the present instance, I would gladly hope, this is not the case. If I thought it was – if I had reason to expect that this connexion would, in any instance, deprive Maria of anything which was necessary to her happiness; or contribute in any measure to lessen her in the estimation of any one impartial individual whose good opinion was worth caring for, if I thought such a connexion would be dishonourable to herself, or to her family, much and sincerely as I wish for it, I seriously and solemnly declare I would not persist in my suit another hour.

From what motives has arisen the opposition of her relations I am at a loss to understand. Extremely sorry should I be to suppose that it rested on any reasonable or solid foundation; and I am still persuaded it would be equally unjust to imagine it is grounded on a selfish or illiberal one. Would they but exercise that candour upon this occasion which is so natural to them upon others, I trust a little examination would make it appear that their opposition only proceeded from groundless prejudice or gross misinformation. And were they but once, through your friendly interposition, convinced of this, I hope their present shyness and reserve would be changed into a very different and much more agreeable sort of conduct. But why am I presuming to beg your assistance in removing the objections of others, when, for anything I know to the contrary, these very objections are equally your own, and you yourself a party to that opposition which I am so earnestly soliciting you to endeavour to put an end to? To confess the truth, I am not without my fears that this has hitherto in some measure been really the case. But such is my opinion of your candour and benevolence, that I persuade myself if you have, indeed, any considerable objections to the connexion in question, you will tell me of them with frankness and ingenuity, and give me a fair opportunity of pleading my own cause in a case wherein I am so much interested; and if upon an impartial examination you should still think it your duty to oppose me, I have then no right to expect either encouragement or assistance from you.

In the meanwhile, I think I may be allowed to say, without the imputation of vanity, that my conduct is as irreproachable, and my circumstances by no means worse than those of another who was so far from being objected to by my opposers, that they did everything in their power to forward and befriend him. One circumstance there was, indeed, in which he certainly had the advantage of me – I mean his being of the same religious profession with the amiable woman he wished to be connected with. But if this has been a principal objection, it need not be one any longer. Convinced as I am, and as I have publicly acknowledged myself to be, of the superiority of the tenets and principles of your Society over those of the Church in which I have been educated, I can have no objection to a change of profession, if such a change shall be found practicable –for I have often feared, and I have sometimes been told, that the Society would not be willing to acknowledge me as a member. They may, perhaps, consider such a change not as proceeding from real conviction, but as a matter of interest or convenience, and think themselves sufficiently justified in supposing that some other love than that of Truth merely has induced me to take so unusual a step. Should these be their sentiments, and should these sentiments lead them to reject me, all my hopes of a reconciliation with Maria’s relations may prove groundless, and I may still experience those slights and that opposition from which I have already suffered so much.

But if you are convinced of the contrary, I make no doubt you will have it in your power entirely to remove the scruples of others. Permit me, then, to give you this assurance that, though I should probably never have thought of becoming a member of your Society had my attachment to Maria never existed, yet still, that no attachment, however endearing, should induce me to espouse any principles of the truth of which I was not fully convinced, or to give an outward and verbal preference to anything unwarranted by the conviction of my understanding and the feelings of my heart.

But I fear you will begin to think an apology necessary for detaining you so long. I have only one more request to make, and I will detain you no longer. Should this application not meet with its wished-for success – should you, instead of favouring me with your assistance, think it proper to act a contrary part, I hope you will at least be content to let this letter pass by without further notice: so that, if it cannot be subservient to any useful purpose, I may still have the satisfaction of knowing that my futile endeavours are buried in oblivion. Farewell, and believe me I ever am, with much respect, your very sincere friend,

JOHN BARTON."

E. V. Lucas included this letter in his book on Bernard Barton and his friends introducing it with the remarks:

"The following letter concerning his courtship illustrates so clearly the frankness, independence, and thorough worthiness of the man, and is at the same time so admirable a composition that the reader is asked to pardon the insertion."

Their marriage was conducted by a priest in 1775, and on 24th October 1777, at the Carlisle Monthly Meeting of the Society of Friends (Quakers) Mary requested by ‘a paper writing’ to be re-instated as a member of the Society, ‘it appearing to us that she was sorry to have been married in the way she was by a priest’. Her request was accepted ‘under a hope she may be more exemplary in future and become a useful member of the Society’. At the same meeting John’s request to be admitted as a member was received; his request was granted at their meeting on 21st November 1777.


The late Arthur Bryant in his Age of Elegance states that:

"At the beginning of the nineteenth century the national Church was suffering, like other English institutions, from a surfeit of material prosperity. With their genius for politics – for evolving, that is, institutions capable of withstanding the erosion of human nature – the English had rejected both the Catholic and Calvinist conceptions of religious society. In place of a priesthood uncontaminated by the ties of marriage but in danger of undermining the mutual trust of the home, they had licensed a sober married clergy with the same responsibilities as other men. In place of a theocratic caste untrammelled by secular obligations and therefore a source of political intrigue, they had established a Church subordinate and allied to the State. But in their desire to give its ministers independence and social status, they had endowed them – and their wives and families – with opportunities of a larger share of this world’s goods than was readily compatible with spiritual humility and inspiration. Tithes and a monopoly of ecclesiastical preferments, enhanced in value by rising agricultural prices, had blunted the edge of the spiritual sword. To men cast in a Puritan mould – and many Englishmen were – the Anglican Church, with its decorous but uninspired services, had become an affair of ‘hassocks, footboards and lolling cushions…

Yet the tolerance of England, as always, afforded a corrective for its conservatism. The vacuum was filled by the Nonconforming congregations. Of these there were many: almost as many, one visitor concluded, as there were Englishmen. Their denominations were a commentary on the national capacity for individual eccentricity. There were Quakers – a most respected sect – whose founder, not content with more normal forms, quaked in their devotions, Jumpers who jumped up and down, Shakers who shook. Some believed in total immersion in baptism; others that divine truth had been revealed exclusively to some obscure, long-dead Englishman…"


Mary was the eldest of three sisters and was a poet. While staying with friends in Liverpool she met William Roscoe, ‘the refined young poet’, who was born in 1753. ‘They were well-calculated for close assimilation, each possessing a strong and ardent poetic temperament, combined with great intellectual power, and guarded high principle’. But although they were great friends Mary appears never to have regarded William Roscoe as a possible husband.

From correspondence between Mary and John, written after they were married during his frequent absences from home on account of business, it is certain that they were very much in love.


John Barton the Elder had, by Mary, three children, Maria (1777–1844) who married Stephen Hack, currier of Chichester, and distinguished herself as an author of many useful children’s books under her married name of Maria Hack; another daughter, Elizabeth (1779–1836) and lastly Bernard (1784–1849), who became a poet.

Mary Done died in 1784.


Maria and Stephen Hack lived in Little London, Chichester, after their marriage in 1800. Stephen’s father had lived in Chichester, and Stephen had a business there.

Stephen and Maria had ten children, the last was born in 1820, who were brought up as Quakers.

But, Maria, writing to her brother Bernard on 22nd April 1823, stated:

"Thou will readily suppose that our dissent from Friends with regard to some important points of doctrine and practice, is no small addition to my present trials – Thro’ long past years, quietness and submission, under the peculiar circumstances in which I was placed, appeared to be my duty – now the case is different – an awful responsibility rests upon me, and I dare no longer refuse to set before my children those views of Christian faith and worship which appear to me the most consistent with that word which was given to be a lamp to our path – Do not suppose I contemplate any sudden or violent disruption – I have not yet taken the children to Church – but I believe it is my duty not to withhold from them all outward help – (which confining them to this poor little meeting is virtually doing) and therefore I intend soon to take them to the week day evening service – but I wish to proceed cautiously and gradually, and in each progressive step to pause and examine whether the blessing we are taught to hope for appears to accompany it. Except he build the house, our labour is, and must be, in vain. If any of them can conscientiously remain members of the Society, they will meet with no opposition from me – but I wish them to be whatever they are, upon principle, knowing that a mere outward profession can do nothing for them, except so far as it secures a fair character among men – With regard to our future prospects I do believe that plausible pretences to humility, that alleged dependence on the sentiments of persons wiser and better than ourselves, will prove like a broken reed to those who lean upon them – It is our expressly commanded duty to be fully persuaded in our minds – and tho’ an inspired Apostle preach, or even the Saviour himself condescend to teach us by his Spirit, we are to Search the Scriptures for ourselves – Indolence and timidity may shelter themselves under the authority of man and approve themselves to man’s judgement – but what will they do in the end? Can anyone be too humble to give all diligence to perform that work which no man can do for him?"

In 1836 Maria wrote at considerable length to Thomas Gates Darton, her son-in-law on the subject of the Beacon Controversy in Quakerism, and in April 1837, in a letter to her son John Barton Hack, who was in Australia, she advised him as to his children’s religious instruction, writing:

"Now affectionately would I entreat you to entail no bondage upon the dear children which is the result of the peculiar character of the founders of the Sect, and of the circumstances of the times in which they appeared – Above all consider the danger of withholding that honour from the Scriptures which is justly their due – teach the little dears to look to them as the rule of life, and not to depend on the fluctuating, uncertain feelings of their own hearts – ‘The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul – The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple – the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart’… I believe an increasing dissatisfaction is felt at the neglect of reading the Scriptures in our meetings of worship – Many have felt it their duty to submit to baptism and to partake of the Lord’s Supper – In short, Uncle John (John Barton, senior) says that ‘Quakerism is at an end’ – however this is not yet the case, tho’ we know, from the highest authority, that ‘a house divided against itself cannot stand’…"

In a letter dated 1st September 1837 to her brother Bernard, she informed him that unlike Elizabeth Barton or John Barton, senior, she has not become a member of the national Church because she could not honestly at present say that she could fully recognise the Creeds and Articles thereof, but she felt induced voluntarily to submit to the disgrace of being disowned by the Society of Friends, because she had visited the Baptists’ chapel once a month to partake of the Holy Sacrament.

She stated that on the principle of avoiding what might be regarded as committing herself with any denomination, she was very thankful to have the opportunity of receiving Xn Baptism from dear I(saac) Crewdson.

Maria wrote twenty books; all except one were for children, mostly educational, including religious teaching; five of them were published anonymously. In a letter to her brother Bernard in 1821 she described her difficulties in writing thus:

"Now, poor I, from 6 in the morning till 11 at night cannot secure one little five minutes from the perpetual interruptions of some part of a family of 15 persons – whatever I do must be done by snatches…"

Her daughter, Margaret, married Thomas Gates Darton, who was then a bookseller in the firm of Harvey and Darton, of Gracechurch Street (it was in White Hart Court in this street that the first Friends Meeting House in London was established), which published books for Maria, also one for John Barton, senior, in 1830. Although Thomas Gates left publishing in 1841, when he went to Gloucester and became a merchant, the Darton family continued in publishing until recently when a member left the firm of Darton Longman and Todd Ltd. which still publishes religious books.

From many letters to Gates and other members of her family we are able to obtain a good picture of Maria’s life. She was always greatly interested in the lives of her family, often giving them advice, including sound moral and business advice.

Her husband Stephen died on 9th February 1823, and John Barton, senior, was an executor and trustee of his will and a guardian of his children, together with Halsey Janson and William Hack. In a letter written by Elizabeth Barton to her brother Bernard on 3rd March 1823, she informed him that William Allen (the Quaker philanthropist) and his son-in-law C. Hanbury and Halsey Janson had attended Stephen’s funeral, and there were nearly one hundred mourners there. William Allen ‘had much to say at the Meeting, very acceptably I thought, and also at the house in the evening’. She added that Stephen’s business was to be carried on for the benefit of the family.

Maria, at some time between the end of 1832 and February 1835, left Chichester to live in Edgbaston, but soon moved to Wootton-under-Edge, and later to Gloucester. Her youngest child Mary, who was very delicate, lived with her until she died at Gloucester in September 1836. Other members of her family visited Maria from time to time. After March 1839 she moved to Southampton, where she died in 1844.

Two of her sons, John Barton Hack and Stephen Hack, emigrated to South Australia in 1836, and her daughter Priscilla with her husband Edward Philcox followed in 1839. Another daughter Ellen, together with husband John Knott, also emigrated to South Australia. Stephen she saw again when he visited England, married Elizabeth Wilton of Gloucester and returned to Australia in 1842. She undoubtedly missed John Barton Hack and his family very much. From correspondence it appears that John Barton Hack’s doctors had decided that for the sake of his lungs he should live in a warmer climate, and after first considering Madeira had decided on Australia. It seems probable that he and the others may have been influenced by John Barton, senior, who was then advocating emigration to help cure unemployment.

In those days Australia was very remote from Britain; in 1837 Maria wrote that letters took 5 to 6 months to Adelaide, ‘exposed to all the uncertainties of a voyage’. Later the same month in a letter to Gates she wrote:

"Is there any regular Government channel of communication, by which letters may be sent – what a comfort it would be if they were only just across the Atlantic!"

In April 1838 Maria wrote to Gates expressing her anxiety at John Barton Hack’s having purchased a ship, in view of the competition she anticipated with 5 steamers being sent out by the Commissioners to trade regularly between ‘Sydney and Adelaide – V.D.L. and ditto’. She was worried also about all the other many and varied enterprises in which he was engaged, besides being worried by possible future losses. She wrote:

"A strange dread comes over me when I read their most flourishing reports for what will it profit them – if the things of time and sense absorb every faculty."

Edward FitzGerald wrote that Maria was very like her brother Bernard in the face and had been Bernard’s instructress (‘a sort of oracle to me’ Bernard once said) when both were children. Of her death Bernard wrote:

It is a heavy blow to me, for Maria is almost the first human being I remember to have fondly loved, or been fondly loved by.

Maria and Bernard often corresponded with one another on the subject of each other’s written works, besides on the subject of Quakerism.


Bernard was at a much esteemed Quaker school in Ipswich until about 1798 when he was apprenticed at fourteen to Samuel Jesup, a shopkeeper, at Halstead in Essex. He went to live in Woodbridge, Suffolk, in 1806, married Lucy Jesup a Woodbridge girl and niece of his former master in 1808. His wife died in 1809 after giving birth to their only child, who was also christened Lucy.

He had entered into partnership with Lucy’s brother as a coal and corn merchant. However, he now left Woodbridge to become private tutor in the family of Waterhouse, a merchant in Liverpool. Here he was kindly received and entertained by the Roscoe family.

While at Liverpool he was fortunate in becoming friendly with the poet William Roscoe, who offered him advice on his poetry, besides lending him books and helping to correct his taste. He acknowledged William Roscoe’s kindness in stanzas, one of which is reproduced in Chapter XV of this book.

After a year in Liverpool he returned to Woodbridge to become a clerk in the bank of Dykes and Samuel Alexander, remaining with them until within two days of his death, forty years later.

Bernard became a poet, his work being chiefly inspired by the verses of the elder Quaker poet, John Scott of Amwell (1730-1783). He corresponded with Southey, Byron and Charles Lamb. Denis Thomas , in an article on ‘Bernard Barton and His Friends’ in the Private Library 1979, wrote:

"Living in an age before communications speeded up to the point where letter writing became a lost art, Barton and his circle kept in touch with an intimacy that no longer seems possible. Their exchanges have the literate good humour of lives well spent."

Edward FitzGerald , a near neighbour at Boulge, became a very great friend. Thomas Churchyard, the Suffolk artist, and the Rev. George Crabbe, son of the poet, were also friendly neighbours.

Bernard probably met Lamb at a London Magazine dinner. Their correspondence started in September 1822. Lamb’s letters to Bernard, with two exceptions, are preserved in the British Museum . Bernard, and his daughter Lucy visited Lamb in his cottage in Colebrook Row, Islington, not long after he had moved into it in 1830.

Byron advised Bernard, in a letter, never to give up banking, writing – ‘What! is there not from 6 to 11 p.m. six days in the week, and is not there all Sunday?’. So Bernard clung to his bank and he and his daughter, destined to become Edward FitzGerald’s wife, remained at Woodbridge.

On March 24th 1824 Lamb advised Bernard, in a letter, to have no hesitation in accepting a gift of £1,200, which some members of the Society of Friends, including some of the wealthier members of his own family, had raised as a testimony to their sense of his merit, writing

"Every man is his own best Casuist; and after all, as Ephraim Smooth, in the pleasant comedy of Wild Oats has it, ‘there is no harm in a guinea’. A fortiori there is less in 2,000."

Until 1828 when he was able to obtain a convenient house of his own, where he could have his books and pictures about him, and where his daughter, Lucy, who was now grown up, could be his housekeeper and companion, he had lived in a house that was just big enough to sit and sleep in, while being obliged to board with ladies of a Quaker school over the way. Bernard described the difficulties he had in writing under these conditions:

"for all hands are busy round me to clap, to starch, to iron, to plait – in plain English, ’tis washing day; and I am now writing close to a table on which is a bason of starch, caps, kerchiefs, etc. and busy hands and tongues round it."

The diminutive house that he bought was in Cumberland Street. It is still standing, carefully maintained by its present occupier, and is known as Barton Cottage.

On 1st July 1846 Bernard was granted a pension of £100 per year by Queen’s Warrant: ‘given at our Court at Buckingham Palace this 30th day of June 1846 – in consideration of his literary merits’. Sir Robert Peel had recommended him to the Queen for this pension, of which recommendation Edward FitzGerald wrote: ‘One of the last acts, as the retiring minister intimated, of his official career, and one he should always reflect on with pleasure’.

Bernard died in 1849. In the same year a book entitled Selections from the Poems and Letters of Bernard Barton , edited by his daughter, was published by Hall, Virtue & Co., to which Edward FitzGerald contributed a ‘Memoir’ in which he wrote:
There was in B.B. a certain boyish impetuosity in pursuit of anything he had at heart… The preparation of a book was amusement and excitement to one who had little enough of it in the ordinary routine of daily life… I have before said that he was equally welcome and equally at ease, whether at the Hall or at the Farm; himself indifferent to rank, though he gave everyone his title, not wondering even at those of his own community, who unmindful perhaps of the military implication, owned to the soft impeachment of Esquire .

Here are some extracts from the letters included in the above volume:

"To Rev. C. B. Taylor 1825

One or two of my literary friends do not like my Vigils (which was published in 1824) so well as its precursors, they say it is too Quakerish. Charles Lamb says it is my best, but that I have lugged in religion rather too much. Bowring vituperates it in toto - save the Ode to Time; by no means a great favourite with me. I am not put out of conceit with it yet, for all this. Its faults are numerous, but it has more redeeming parts than either of its predecessors. And so it ought; else I had lived two years for nothing. As to Quakerism, I meant it should be Quakerish. I hope to grow more so in my next – else, why am I a Quaker? My love to the whole visible, ay, and the whole invisible church of Christ, is not lessened by increased affection to the little niche in which I may happen to be planted… When I no longer love thee, dear Charles, because thou art a Churchman, I will begin to think my Quakerism is degenerating."

"To Rev. C. B. Taylor 1825

We had a religious visit paid to our little meeting here by a minister of our Society, an entire stranger, I believe, to every one in the meeting… After the meeting… Friends stopped to shake hands with our visitor… and on my name being mentioned to him, rather officiously I thought, by one standing by, the good old man said, “Barton? Barton? - that’s a name I don’t recollect”. I told him it would be rather strange if he did, as we had never seen each other before. Suddenly… he looked rather enquiringly at me, and added, “What, art thou the Versifying Man?”. On my replying with a gravity, which I really think was heroic, that I was called such, he looked at me again, I thought ‘more in sorrow than in anger’ and observed, “Ah! that’s a thing quite out of my way”. It was on the tip of my tongue to reply, ‘I dare say it is’, – but, afraid that I could not control my risible faculties much longer, I shook my worthy friend once more by the hand, and bidding him farewell, I left him. I dare say the good soul may have since thought of me, if at all, with much the same feelings as if I had been bitten by a mad dog – and I know not but that he may be very right."

"To Rev. C. B. Taylor 2 mo, 16, 1826

My dear Charles
On behalf of Ann, who I am sorry to say, is not well enough to write herself, I am requested to say that we are quite unable to recommend thee a cook of any kind: as to Quaker cooks, they are so scarce that we Quaker folk are compelled to call in the aid of daughters of the land to dress our own viands, or cook them ourselves, as well as we can. But what, my dear friend, could put it into thy head to think of a Quaker cook, of all non-descripts? Charles Lamb would have told thee better: he says he never could have relished even the salads Eve dressed for the angels in Eden – his appetite is too highly excited ‘to sit a guest with Daniel at his pulse’. – Go to! thou art a wag, Charles; and this is only a sly way of hinting that we are fond of good living. But perhaps more of compliment than of innuendo is implied in the proposition. Thou thoughtest we were civil, cleanly, quiet, etc. all excellent qualities, doubtless, in women of all kinds, cooks not excluded. But, my dear friend, I should be sorry the reputation of our sect for the possession of these qualities should be exposed to the contingent vexations which culinary mortals are especially exposed to. ‘A cook whilst cooking is a sort of fury’, says the old poet. Ay! but not a Quaker cook, at least in the favourable and friendly opinion of Adine and thyself:- we are very proud of that good opinion, and I would not risk its forfeiture by sending one of our sisterhood to thee as Cook. Suppose an avalanche of soot to plump down the chimney the first gala-day – ’twould be cookship versus Quakership whether the poor body kept her sectarian serenity unruffled; and suppose the beam kicked the wrong way, what would become of all our reputation in the temporary good opinion of Adine and thee? But all badinage apart, even in our own Society there are comparatively few who are in the situation of domestic servants, and I never remember but one in the peculiar office referred to. I much doubt whether one could be found at all likely to suit you; and I have little doubt that you may suit yourselves much better out of our Sisterhood than in it."

"To Mr. S. Shawe 12 mo, 5, 1837

I much inquire after N’s gout. I hope long ere this it has ceased, at any rate, to rage; for I have very awful ideas of that malady in its potential mood treasured amid the earlier memories of my childhood. My grandfather and grandmother had a country-house at Tottenham, where some of my happiest hours were spent. But every earthly Elysium has its set-off; and this was not exempt. A good citizen of the name of Townsend, a particular friend of the venerable pair, used to come down there and bring his gout with him; and my poor grandma’s fright lest I should go near his too susceptible foot used to keep her and me in a worry. – Well nigh half a century has elapsed since those days, but her reiterated exclamation, “Child! do take care and not run against friend Townsend’s foot”, is yet distinctly in my mind’s ear. T. was a patient, quiet old sufferer too, and if I did touch the forbidden stool in an unlucky moment, he was the first to notify that no harm was done. – I hope N. bears his honours as meekly, and that, with as kindly a heart as poor old Jemmy Townsend’s, his unwelcome companion may be of a kindlier nature. I much doubt if the worthy old citizen ever stood or walked much – at least, all my recollections of him go on wheels."

"To Mrs. Shawe 5 mo, 2, 1840

MANY thanks to thee and Newton for attending at my launch*. I never affect to put on a voluntary humility, or affect indifference, where I feel aught of gratification or interest; and I did both on the occasion to which I refer. At the time, I was sailing about Portsmouth harbour, looking at great castles of ships to which B.B. was but like a child’s toy, made out of half a walnut shell. Some of these leviathans were on the stocks, having been hauled up to repair; and I was asking myself if my vanity would not have been more tickled to have had one of these first-rates bear my name, and be consigned to its destined element amid the shouts of a far more numerous and brilliant assemblage than I could then suppose got together at Woodbridge. Of a truth, could the choice have been given me, I should have given my vote, most cordially, for the schooner B.B. at Woodbridge. I have so decided a preference for humbler fame of home growth, awarded by folks that I have lived among for thirty-five years, and am linked to by numberless and nameless ties of neighbourly, social, and friendly sympathy. With these feelings thou wilt readily feel and understand that the B.B. is a bit of a pet with me, and I really believe I have as much interest in her well-doing as if I held a share in her…
* Launch of the ‘Bernard Barton’ schooner."

"To Mr. Clemisha 6 mo, 13, 1844

I am not over-fond of polemical; they are almost as bad as galemicals . How our tastes alter with added years and enlarged experience! I was once an eager disputant about matter and spirit, free-will and necessity, Unitarianism and Trinitarianism and almost all other -isms; and was in a fair way of becoming a sceptic. Happily, I found out, I hope in time to avert such a catastrophe, that a man never stands so fair a chance of making a fool of himself as he does when he begins to fancy himself wiser than all around him. It is no uncommon thing to find a man overtaken in liquor taking vast pains to convince you he is perfectly sober; I require no further confirmation of his being drunk, or verging that way; for a man who is sober, seldom, if ever, takes the trouble to prove the fact. In like manner, if I meet any one who gives himself airs for having enlarged views, liberal principles, and freedom from all the vulgar prejudices by which common minds are enslaved, I have a lurking distrust, that he is, without knowing it, a narrow-minded bigot, and very likely to have taken up worse prejudices than those which he has been trying to shake off."

"To the Rev. G. Crabbe 9 mo, 1, 1845

My dear Friend
Here goes for my second letter to thee this blessed day. If that an’t being a letter-ary character I should like to know what is. Some folks make a great fuss about writing letters; they pretend to say they can’t write a letter; they never know what to say; yet they can talk, an hour of the clock! as if there were any more difficulty in talking on paper than in noisier lingo. I never could understand the difference. Not that I should prefer epistolising with a friend to having him tête à tête; but no one can carry his friends about with him; and when you are two miles apart you can no more hope to make a friend hear you, than if you were twenty or two hundred. Then talking on paper seems to me just as natural and easy as talking with your tongue; and so it would be to every one else, if they did not think it necessary to write fine letters, and say something smart or striking. This lies at the bottom of it. A man cares little, by comparison, what he blurts out, Viva voce, he thinks he may say a silly thing with impunity, it can’t stand on record against him; but when he gets a pen in his hand, he fancies, forsooth, he has a character to win, or to keep, for being eloquent, witty or profound; the natural result is, he writes a stupid, unnatural letter; then says he hates letter-writing, and wonders how any body can like it. Women, who act more on impulse than we do, and make fewer metaphysical distinctions, and are less conceited, though they may have a pretty sprinkling of vanity, beat us out and out at letter-writing. A letter with a woman, if she be good for anything, is an affair of the heart rather than the head, so they put more into their letters."

"To the Rev. G. Crabbe 9 mo, 1, 1845

Many years ago I wrote some verses for a child’s Annual, to accompany a print of Doddridge’s mother teaching him Bible History from the Dutch tiles round their fire-place. I had clean forgotten both the print and my verses; but some one has sent me a child’s cotton handkerchief, on which I find a transcript of that identical print, and four of my stanzas printed under it. This handkerchief celebrity tickles me somewhat. Talk of Fame! is not this a fame which comes home, not only to ‘men’s business and bosoms’, but to children’s noses, into the bargain! Tom Churchyard calls it an indignity, an insult, looks scorny* at it; and says he would cuff any urchin whom he caught blowing his nose on one of his sketches! All this arises from his not knowing the complicated nature and texture of worldly fame. ’Tis like the image the Babylonish king dreamt of, with its golden head, baser metal lower down, and miry clay for the feet. It will not do to be fastidious; you must take the idol as it is; its gold sconce, if you can get it; if not, take the clay feet, or one toe of another foot, and be thankful, and make what you can of it. I write verse to be read! It is a matter of comparative indifference to me whether I am read from a fine bound book, on a drawing room table, or spelt over from a penny rag of a kerchief by the child of a peasant or a weaver. So, honour to the cotton printer, say I, whoever he be; that bit of rag is my patent as a household poet.
* A Suffolkism."


Of the poems published in this volume, Edward FitzGerald wrote:

"…if not written off as easily as the Letters, were probably as little elaborated as any that ever were published. Without claiming for them the highest attributes of poetry (which the author never pretended to), we may surely say they abound in genuine feeling and elegant fancy expressed in easy, and often very felicitous, verse. These qualities employed in illustrating the religious and domestic affections, and the pastoral places with which such affections are perhaps most generally associated, have made Bernard Barton, as he desired to be, a household poet with a large class of readers – a class, who, as they may be supposed to welcome in such poetry the articulate voice of good feelings yearning in their own bosoms, one may hope will continue and increase in England."

This volume included also illustrations from landscapes by Thomas Churchyard; it is a delightful volume.

In 1893 the book entitled Bernard Barton and His Friends: A Record of Quiet Lives by E. V. Lucas was published with a dedication to Lucy Barton (Mrs. Edward FitzGerald). In the Prefatory Note the author explains:

"In 1849, the year of Bernard Barton’s death, there was published a selection of his letters and poems, edited by his daughter, together with a brief memoir of the poet by his friend the late Edward FitzGerald. This memoir, for delicacy of style, justice of appreciation, and rightness of proportion, is a model of what such memoirs should be; and to tamper with it is almost sacrilege. But the volume of which it is a part being out of print and only rarely obtainable, and the life of Bernard Barton, by reason of its wise cheerfulness, simplicity, and wholesome sweetness, being in this hurried, incomplete day of ours so fraught with charm and instruction, I gladly accepted the invitation to recover and reproduce some of its serenity…"

Of Bernard’s character E. V. Lucas wrote:

"Indeed, were not arrogance foreign to his nature, he might have looked with calm superiority upon many of his wealthier and more talented fellows, for his was the rare secret of self-containment and content: acceptance of and adherence to the facts of life were his also."

E.V. Lucas also quotes from a letter Bernard wrote to one of his correspondents:

"My temperament is, as far as man can judge of himself, eminently social. I am wont to live out of myself, and to cling to anything or anybody lovable within my reach."

Bernard’s works are now difficult to obtain, though they occasionally appear in Suffolk, where there is at least one avid collector. One work of Bernard’s of which one does not often hear is his description of the plates illustrating Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, which appear in a volume entitled Illustrations of The Pilgrim’s Progress, accompanied with Extracts from his Work, and Descriptions of the Plates, by Bernard Barton, and A Biographical Sketch of the Life and Writings of Bunyan by Josiah Conder .

Bernard remained a Quaker all his life. On 1st September 1837 Bernard wrote to his friend Mrs. Shawe that his sister Lizzy, his last remaining near Quaker relative, had gone over to the Church of England, that she had ‘received the ordinances of Baptism and the Supper from my nephew, a clergyman, who married my sister Hack’s eldest daughter’. He said that his sister Hack had herself been previously baptized, three of her children having long before done the same. His brother and his family were all Church-folk, his daughter Lucy the same and he was ‘now almost the sole representative of my father’s house, quite the only one of his children, left as an adherent to the creed he adopted from a conscientious conviction of its truth’.

Of his religious views Edward FitzGerald wrote:

"that while he had well considered and well approved the pure principle of Quakerism, he was equally liberal in his recognition of other forms of Christianity."

Of his sisters leaving the Quakers Bernard wrote to Gates Barton on 26th September 1837:

"I had rather they had kept as they were – Maria’s alteration, as well as the steps she has taken since have not so very much surprised me.

Solitary conversion every now and then might be supposed a natural result of free and unbiased enquiry into points on which minds variously constituted might obviously arrive at different conclusions, but secessions by the score, flocking off by families, lead me to suppose the radical cause lies deeper than in individual reflection and conviction."

He was buried in the graveyard at the Friends’ Meeting House near his wife Lucy, who had died 42 years previously, under the acacia tree which he had planted to mark the grave of his wife’s mother.


Bernard’s daughter, Lucy, married Edward FitzGerald in 1856, but the marriage was a disaster, and they soon separated. Robert Bernard Martin, in With Friends Possessed - A Life of Edward FitzGerald , analyses the reasons for the failure and relates Lucy’s subsequent life.


Elizabeth never married; she lived with her stepmother. In a letter written to Margaret Darton in November 1836 Maria Hack (married sister of Elizabeth and Margaret’s mother) mentioned that Elizabeth was staying with her in Gloucester to try to cheer her up over the loss of Maria’s youngest daughter, Mary, from consumption, and that Elizabeth had suddenly been paralysed in her left hand; this had been accompanied by some depression and extreme languor, and ‘Uncle John (John Barton, Senior) has most kindly offered to come for her whenever she feels equal to the journey’ for her to go home. She felt it was fortunate that this had occurred to Elizabeth while staying with her, rather than at home at Chichester with only a servant.

Elizabeth died in February 1839 in Chichester. Bernard, in a letter to Edward FitzGerald in 1839, referred to her as ‘our late excellent spinster sister, Elizabeth’.



Chapter 2: William Roscoe and the Bartons


William Roscoe frequently visited Mary ‘when the happy wife of John Barton whom he learnt to esteem and associate with in the Anti-Slavery cause, being also a great favourite with their children’. He married Mary’s friend and correspondent Jane Griffies in 1781, daughter of a linen draper and barber in Carlisle.

Roscoe dedicated one of his early poems, entitled Mount Pleasant, to Mary Done, which was printed in 1777 with an ode Roscoe wrote to celebrate the formation, largely due to his own efforts, of a society ‘for the encouragement of designing, drawing and painting’. The society was not a success, but from its ashes emerged some years later the ‘Liverpool Academy for the Encouragement of Fine Arts’.

Roscoe worked first as an attorney and later as a banker. In 1806 he became one of the two M.P.s for Liverpool and as such helped through the bill for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. He was largely responsible for the opening of the Institute of Mechanics and Apprentices, which grew into Liverpool University. He died in 1831.

William Roscoe became John Barton the Elder’s attorney, and so for business purposes John had to write to him frequently. During the course of this correspondence , which fortunately has been preserved at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, their friendship blossomed, and from these letters, besides some written by John to others, we obtain an outline of John the Elder’s life, the course of his business, his philosophical and religious views, and the part he played as a member of the first committee for the abolition of the slave trade, which Roscoe did so much to assist.

In a letter dated 4th July 1774 from Carlisle to Mr. George Stather, who had expressed great dislike of the station in life in which John intended to engage, John Barton, the Elder, wrote:

"I long since informed you, that I could not but prefer a studious to a mercantile life; and you are not ignorant that, in consequence of this preference and my late father’s acquiescence, I was actually prosecuting my studies, with a view of qualifying myself either for the bar or the pulpit, for some time before his death… One of these was however, at any rate, to have been my choice; and nothing else was thought of, till it pleased heaven to deprive me of the best of parents. Then, indeed, it was thought highly necessary, for the interest of the family, that I should continue to prosecute that business, in which he had been so long, though perhaps neither successfully nor agreeably engaged; and as I thought it my duty to make the family’s interest my own, I agreed to act in conformity to this judgement: nor should I ever have thought of changing my situation (though by no means an agreeable one) if it would have answered the intended purpose. But this was found not to be the case. Experience has amply evinced, that the business cannot be prosecuted to any good purpose, nay we are, at this very time, dealing for nothing…

The acquisition of wealth, therefore, I leave, without envy or regret, to those whom riches can make happy.

Concerning my abilities… whatever they may be, however, of this I am certain, that they were never half so agreeably exerted on commercial as on contemplative subjects. I ever sat down to my ledger with a sort of constraint; I always perused a Locke, an Addison, or a Pope with delight; – and where my good friend, shall we hope to be engaged with advantage, but in that employment which is congenial to my mind?

I am told, you are by no means satisfied with the thoughts of my being a dissenting Minister; but if any uneasiness has arisen in your mind on that occasion, you need be no longer in pain about it. At present, my only resolution is to be a clergyman; – it will then be time to determine of what sect, when I am enabled to judge of their respective merits. But this I will freely confess to you, that, if there be any one of them, the tenets of which are more favourable to rational religion, than the one in which I have been brought up, – I shall be so far from thinking it a crime, that I cannot consider it as my duty to embrace it.

But whatever other character I may sustain, I hope I shall never forget that important precept of nature of Christianity, which teaches me to be as much your gratefull and affectionate, as I have long been your oblig’d and befriended

J. B.

(John the Elder then wanting two months to complete his 20th year.)"

On 27th April 1775, John wrote his letter to Mr. John Bell, a Minister of the Society of Friends, from Carlisle asking him to help make peace between Maria Done’s family and himself. This letter I have included in the previous chapter.

John’s first letter to William Roscoe that has been preserved was written on 7th February 1778 (R.C.216) from Carlisle; in it he concluded:

"I flatter myself however you will… now and then drop me a line; Believe me I shall at all times be happy to hear from you, and to do everything in my power to maintain and perpetuate an acquaintance which however short it may yet have been, has been sufficient, I hope to lay the foundations of a more lasting friendship."

On 20th March 1779 (R.C.217) John wrote to William Roscoe from Carlisle after his return from a business trip to Scotland where, he wrote, that:

"I had the happiness to find, contrary to my expectations, all things perfectly quiet with regard to the late intended Act in favour of the Papists… the truth is, I believe the warmest opposition proceeded from the lowest class, and even their Priests were, in some degree, compelled to take the measures they did…

By the by, I think the simplicity and ignorance generally imputed to Quaker preachers is, so far, in their favour. They are not qualified to enter into learned dissertations of the metaphysical kind, and therefore never pester your ears nor darken your understanding on such subjects as Grace, Free-will, Predestination, Incarnation, etc. concerning which so many learned gentlemen have raised so terrible a dust. In fact they say very little else to you but tell you to be wise and good, – and though to be sure they repeat the story very often, and not always very elegantly, yet ’tis so wise and good a story that you can never be the worse for it; and you escape much learned nonsense, which at best can be of no service, and may very often prove injurious…"

He concluded with:

"And now, my friend, I must say adieu, whilst I have yet room to take leave of you. I make no apology for so long a letter, because tho’ it should be a proof of weakness, ’tis at the same time a proof of my friendship. I assure you ’tis the longest one I have wrote for some years; and I leave yourself to guess the reasons – Let me hear from you as soon and as often as you can. Your Epistles will ever be more than welcome to me…"

On 5th October 1779 (R.C.220) John wrote from Carlisle to William Roscoe saying that at one time he had at least half a dozen correspondents to any of whom he would have thought little of writing half a dozen sheets at a time, but that now it was really a task for him to write a single sheet even to him. He concludes:

"I am glad, however, I have met with you. You may serve as a spur to prevent me from falling into that downright neglect of all that is literary which I own I often find myself verging to, though I have a thousand times ridiculed and despised it in others, and have made a thousand vows to myself that I would never desert my books, nor suffer my love for study to be obliterated. For surely, to a certain extent, these things are not unbecoming, even a man of business – and if ever one should, at however late a period in life, be able to retire from the bustle and hurry of the world, – they would be most invaluable. I must confess I cannot even yet help thinking that a mere man of business of three-score whose head is full of nothing but Ledgers and Journals, and who has no other happiness but that of toiling for what may never do good either to himself or any body else, is but a despicable kind of an animal; and if ever he goes to heaven I sometimes wonder what his enjoyments must consist of…"

On 25th October 1779 (R.C.221) from Carlisle John wrote to William Roscoe:

"You will be surprised when I tell you that a formal charge of treason has been brought against me before a magistrate in Lancaster…

On my return from your place, I staid about three hours in Lancaster, a part of which time I spent in the shop of one of our customers there, where a young fellow that I had never seen before came in, and read us a letter that he had recd. that day from a friend of his at the Grenades , giving an account of the taking of those islands by the French. This naturally produced a discourse of the war in general, in which one of the gentlemen present (whom I since learn is an apothecary and I believe the same that read the letter, though I am not certain) exclaimed with great vehemence against the behaviour of the Americans, and more especially against their British supporters, whilst he extolled to the sky the excellence of the King. You know me too well not to suppose that I would listen to his discourse with some degree of impatience and indignation; nor will you wonder that I expressed my abhorrence of the present war; justified the opposition of America, and ridiculed his silly encomiums on his K–g. What I said in particular I do not remember, as I never thought anything of the matter ’till the other day, when I received a letter from one of the gentlemen that was present at the time, informing me that my doughty adversary had gone the next day, and taken the step I mention. He says, however, that he has heard nothing more of it since; and, probably I shall hear no more of it either, but the circumstance is so curious that I could not help informing you of it."

On 19th December 1779 (R.C.222) John wrote to William Roscoe from Carlisle:

"…the truth is this kind of employment, which I once pursued with so much facility and pleasure has now become in a certain degree awkward and strange to me. That predominant turn of thinking and that train of ideas which were once familiar, seem now to be almost totally vanished, and their place to be occupied with a new turn of thinking and a train of ideas wholly dissimilar; and what was once my daily amusement has now become a task which I can hardly get decently performed once in a month. …believe me, my indifference is so far from meeting with my own approbation that I think it my duty to obtain a victory over it."

On 27th March 1780 (R.C.224) John wrote to William Roscoe from Carlisle having just returned from Scotland on business:

"Why the plague am I to wait so long of this Creed of yours? Is it because you have got so little faith that you are afraid of starving yourself by letting others participate with you?"

On 13th July 1780 (R.C.226) John wrote to William Roscoe from Carlisle:

"I don’t wonder to find you execrating the villainous Rioters, who have lately given so much uneasiness to us at home, and brought us into so much disgrace with all the rest of the world

I cannot agree with you in thinking, however, that every religious sect is fond of persecuting. I dare still be bold to make an exception in favour of one Sect; which has been tried and yet has not persecuted, and in which the principle of toleration makes so essential an article, that were it tried much further, I firmly believe it would come off unsullied. Of what sect I speak I need not tell you – but I will say that so glorious a distinction as this is most honourable, and sufficient alone to make it esteemed as well by the Deist as the Christian"

On 9th March 1781 (R.C.227) John wrote to William Roscoe from Carlisle, congratulating him on his marriage, after apparently having frequently condemned him for delay in getting married. Later he wrote in the same letter:

"I am yet in your debt for, at least I have not yet acknowledged the receipt of your profane letter of 30th December – Unhallowed Man! that darest not only profess thyself a sceptic in Religion, but in Philosophy likewise; and presume to put the exalted Labours of a Newton or a Boyle upon a level with the juggleing tricks of a Miracle-working Priest, or a —!"

He concluded his letter with quoting a few lines from Doctor Akenside:

"The men
When Nature’s works can charm, with God himself
Hold converse; grow familiar, day by day,
With his conceptions; act upon His plan;
And form to His the relish of their souls"

He stated he had not room to insert the whole passage but that he would find it at the conclusion of his Pleasures of the Imagination, and begged leave to recommend it to Roscoe’s perusal.

On 6th April 1782 (R.C.223) John wrote to William Roscoe from Carlisle, expressing his thanks for Roscoe’s concern on account of the:

"disagreeable attack I have had made against my house and family by a set of Villains who are really under obligations to me, and whom I have been desirous to befriend. I have the pleasure to assure you, however, that the mischief has hitherto gone no further than the breaking of a few windows, and that I now flatter myself the tumult is nearly subsided, tho’ I have been obliged for some time past to have two armed guards in my house every night."

He went on to thank him for his etching, and that he was very pleased with its design. He wrote:

"I think the Honour as well as the Profit, will be on my side, since you have furnished me with so pleasing proof of your Ingenuity and Friendship without putting me to any expence. But this, by the by, I think unfair. If you honour me with the design, you ought at least to let me pay the Etcher and Printer, and the more so as I have no other way of lessening the debt, for so little am I skilled in the fine arts that I am sure I cannot by any means return the compliment."

On 1st September 1782 (R.C.230) John wrote from Carlisle to William Roscoe, in which letter he recommended they should make an invariable rule and write at least one letter each to the other every week.

He proposed setting off for London on Friday, and would return if possible via Liverpool, and said he would be glad to hear from him at No. 18 Milk Street whence he would write.

On 16th December 1782 (R.C.232) John wrote from Carlisle to William Roscoe that a boy was born to them five weeks ago, called John, and that he was one month premature.

He was preparing for approaching removal, which he hoped would take place in little more than a month. He had sold his house and property in Carlisle Wall.

On 19th August 1785 (R.C.234) John wrote to William Roscoe from London. He trusted that no change of opinion or sentiment which he might ever adopt would be such as to remove him a greater distance from any sincere lover of the truth. He trusted that he would never embrace any system of Religion whatsoever in which the love of truth and the love of mankind do not stand forth as conspicuous and fundamental principles.

He confessed that his attachment to the Society was once so slight, that, on first moving to London, he was not without some distant thoughts of leaving it. Had he done so he said he would have become a subscriber to Lindsey. He continued:

"The very notion of such a change naturally led me to a reconsideration of our principles, and this reconsideration joined with the opportunity I now had of seeing the Quakers more in a collective capacity, terminated in drawing me still nearer to them… Well it would be if men instead of contending with others, would learn the more useful art of disputing with themselves, and be content to let their tongues halt along with their understandings. Were this more generally the case, I suspect that Silent Meetings would not be peculiar to Quakers and that the Pulpit would make as little noise as the Gallery. There is nothing which to the generality of mankind seems more ridiculous than our Silent Meetings; but for my part I confess there is nothing can show greater wisdom than a persevering resolution of opening the Lips only, on these solemn occasions, when they can be opened under the full conviction of truth; and to my mind, there can be no greater mockery than opening them without this conviction, most especially in our addresses to the Supreme Being…"

He asked for his letters to be directed to No. 19 Milk Street, saying that his house was previously in St. John’s Square, and that he and his family had a very comfortable and convenient dwelling house there as well as a warehouse.

John wrote from Kennington on 18th March 1784 (R.C.235) to William Roscoe that his wife had died on 1st March, and that he had also lost his eldest little boy, who was one and a half years old, from ‘Hooping cough’. His Sister Bewley had been so kind as ‘to remove to this place and take upon her the care of my dear little ones, a circumstance which affords me much satisfaction’.

From Kennington on 4th April 1784 (R.C.236) John wrote to William Roscoe saying that whilst in Milk Street in the midst of his business:

"I could read none: my most favourite author could afford me no pleasure. I now go there pretty regularly in a morning, I apply myself closely to business till 5 in the afternoon, and by planning it properly get as much done as if I were to continue there as formerly. Whilst there I think of little or nothing about it; when I get back to my little retreat here, I think nothing about it. My mind seems wholly relieved from all its cares…"

From London on 23rd September 1785 (R.C.237) John wrote to William Roscoe:

"…our business in Milk Street is already very considerable, and likely to be more so… I have little doubt of its proving sufficiently profitable to gratify my utmost wants and wishes with respect both to myself and family. Be it observed, however, that my wants and wishes are confined within bounds of very moderate extent; and that my confidence in having them supplied and gratified proceeds much more from this circumstance, than from any persuasion that I shall ever be what the world would call and think a rich man."

On 28th January 1786 (R.C.238) John wrote to William Roscoe from London that he had been taking stock, and had been so busy that he had seldom been able to get to Kennington, and that it was almost a week since he had seen his dear little girls. He feared he might be obliged to remain in London altogether; later he continued:

"This talked of removal to town… bears a bad aspect to my literary pursuits, and looks like turning my back on all those schemes and views of Retirement, which we have more than once fondly talked of… Views and schemes of this kind were never farther from my thoughts than at present."

He was now inclined to think that a due attention to the common concerns of life to be both an essential part of their duty and highly conducive to their happiness; he would, however, avoid ‘a grovelling or avaricious disposition’, and hoped that he was led to those sentiments and purposes by better and nobler motives than merely a Love of Self. He thought that their greatest satisfaction was the reflection that whilst thus engaged they have been discharging their duty.

On 27th March 1787 (R.C.243) John wrote to William Roscoe from London that he had received The Wrongs of Africa, a poem that Roscoe had written to help the anti-slave-trade cause, and that he wished him all possible success with it for such a good cause, saying that this was a new way of exciting and keeping alive the attention to the cause. He had taken it immediately to Robert Faulder the bookseller of 42 New Bond Street. (Faulder had married his sister Margaret on 5th October 1755).

Extract from The History of the Abolition of the African Slave-trade by Thomas Clarkson, 1808:

"At a meeting on 22nd May 1787…

'It was resolved also, – that the following persons be a committee for procuring such information and evidence, and publishing the same, as may tend to the abolition of the Slave Trade, and for directing the application of such moneys as have been already, and may hereafter be collected, for the above purpose:
Granville Sharp
Thomas Clarkson
William Dillwyn
Richard Phillips
Samuel Hoare
John Barton
George Harrison
Joseph Hooper
John Lloyd
James Phillips
Joseph Woods
Philip Sansom'
All these were present… a committee, which labouring afterwards with Mr. Wilberforce as a parliamentary head, did, under Providence, in the space of twenty years, contribute to put an end to a trade, which, measuring its magnitude by its crimes and sufferings, was the greatest practical evil that ever afflicted the human race."

On June 7th the committee met again, at which meeting John Barton stated:

"that he was commissioned by the author of a poem, entitled ‘The Wrongs of Africa’, to offer the profits which might arise from the sale of that work, to the committee, for the purpose of enabling them to pursue the object of their institution… I can only add, that the Committee were duly sensible as well of its merits, as of the virtuous and generous disposition of the author, and that they requested John Barton to thank him in an appropriate manner for his offer, which he was to say they accepted gratefully."

On 19th June 1787 John wrote to Dr. Joseph Priestley, theologian, educationalist and scientist (he had discovered oxygen on 1st August 1774) as follows:

"As a friend to the general liberties of mankind, and to that spirit of benevolence so warmly inculcated by the religion of Christ, for which he has shown himself so able an advocate, I am sure it must give Dr. Priestley real pleasure to be informed that measures are now taking, which there is great reason to hope will prove successful, for the gradual emancipation of the enslaved Africans, and for the abolition of that inhuman and diabolical traffic of which they have too long been the miserable and devoted objects. Notwithstanding the slightness of our acquaintance, and though I am well aware how much thy time and attention are already engrossed by subjects of the utmost importance; yet I trust I may on such an occasion be pardoned not only for this momentary intrusion, but for expressing my hearty wishes that the subject may engage thy attention still further; so far as to induce thee to appear as a public advocate for this most wretched and much-injured race of men. The more the public attention is excited to this subject, and the more it is enforced by leading and respectable characters amongst the various denominations of Christians, the more likely will it be that something serious and effectual may be done to wipe away this foul stain which disgraces our common Christianity.

I have inclosed some printed resolutions of a committee of which I am a member, and also an abstract of an essay published, and another intended to be published by T. Clarkson, who is one of our number, and who has taken infinite pains on this subject. Indeed he devotes the whole of his time and attention to it, and that, I have no doubt, from the purest and most laudable motives; and the chief purpose of our committee is to assist him in carrying into execution his very worthy intentions. Several members of both houses of parliament have promised they will use their utmost influence to bring about the abolition of this most unrighteous traffic, Mr. Wilberforce in particular, who is now employed in framing a bill for that purpose, to bring in next sessions. Meanwhile we are endeavouring to procure him all the information and evidence that we can; and we trust that our endeavours will be seconded by those who have it in their power to excite the public attention to this important subject, as every man of established literary character certainly has, and no one more than Dr. Priestley."

On 28th September 1787 (R.C.248) John wrote to William Roscoe from London, that he had fixed on a situation for his country residence, and arranged to go into a malting business in Hertfordshire, and that he had prevailed on his favourite Elizabeth to retire along with him, and prevailed on his partners to set him at liberty from Milk Street immediately. His partnership was to be dissolved the last day of the month, and he hoped to be married and comfortably settled in Hertfordshire in a few weeks.

The fact that the process of making malt was a chemical one was particularly agreeable to him, having some knowledge of chemistry, and the business should not employ him more than seven or eight months in the year. The circumstance attending this scheme which afforded him the greatest pleasure was that it was suggested by his ‘fair favourite herself’, and entirely met with the approbation of all her friends. This would enable him to be ‘rendered happy in a speedy union with an amiable and sensible woman for whom I have long had the most sincere and tenderest regard, and who is every way worthy of it’. He then asked when he might expect to receive the second part of The Wrongs of Africa.

On 17th October (R.C.249) John wrote to William Roscoe from London:

"My dear friend must give me great credit for this letter; much more than either its length or its matter can claim. I am absolutely so busy that I hardly know which way to turn myself: we are closing our books at Milk Street, and I am beginning my Malting operations at Hertford. Besides this I haveGra begun to be married. I say begun for a Marriage amongst us is full two months in completing; even after a beginning is made, which by the way is one of the most provoking and intolerable things that ever was thought of. It keeps a man at the same time married and unmarried, with happiness in his possession and yet beyond his reach. But there’s no remedy but patience, of which however it requires a great deal. I made my first appearance in this business at one of our Meetings last week, and shall have to keep running the gauntlet till near Christmas. Then I hope to sit down by my own fireside in peace and quietness, and as happy as I wish to be… Faulder advises advertising the Wrongs next month much in preference to this. He says that is the time when all new works will be advertised, and when company will be drawing to town. I therefore wait thy further orders. Meanwhile pray when are we to have part second. There are very many longing much to see it, and I have inquiries made concerning its forwardness every day."

On 25th October 1787 (R.C.250) John wrote to William Roscoe from London:

"Before I marry again, the rules of our Society require that I should make some provision for my children; and I think I cannot provide for them more fairly and equitably at present than by securing to them the marriage portion I received with their Mother, which was One Thousand Pounds. I wish therefore to have a proper Bond made out for this purpose, to be given to certain Trustees, impowering them, in case of my decease, to demand the said sum of £1000 for the sole and separate use of my present children provided I should die intestate, or without making a provision for them in my Will equal to that amount; the said £1000 to be equally divided amongst my said children, the survivor or survivors of them, share and share alike."

He said he had not time now to send instructions for his Will, but would mention the general principles regarding the distribution of his property. If he should have no children by his intended wife, the whole of her fortune, in case of his decease, should be paid back to her, and his own property should go to his present children as if no marriage had taken place. If he had children by his second marriage, the ‘marriage portions’ of the two mothers were to be left to the children of each respectively, and his own property, whatever that should be, to be divided equally amongst all, share and share alike.

On 27th October 1787 John wrote from Milk Street to the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce, presenting a model of the spinning machine invented about twenty years previously by his late father. He explained that Lady Broughton had had one of them constantly employed for upwards of fourteen years at Sandoe, near Hexham in Northumberland, for the benefit of the poor of the neighbourhood, and that it had been found to answer the purpose very well. Another had been introduced into Brentford, in order to employ children belonging to the Sunday Schools there, and he had had various applications for them from different parts of the country for the same purpose. He hoped that, by presenting them with a model, it would become generally known and therefore more generally useful, which was his only motive for sending it.

(In a book entitled The Oeconomy of Charity or an Address to Ladies concerning Sunday Schools; the Establishment of School of Industry under Female Inspection; and the distribution of voluntary benefactions , which was dedicated to the Queen by Sarah Trimmer of Brentford on 10th March 1787, she wrote:

"That she wished to address to her own sex a few thoughts respecting the great advantages that would probably arise to society from their taking a more active part in the management of Sunday Schools and the personal distribution of voluntary benefactions."

She suggested that in most parishes there were a number of women and children who would readily work, if they were put in the way of doing so, and that their labour would be beneficial not only to the parish but to the nation. She wished to see established in every parish Schools of Industry for poor girls. In a school of spinning flax, girls of five might be employed and the yarn easily manufactured into white or striped linen and checks, and by the time each little spinster had worn out the clothes with which her parish or private benefactors should at first furnish her, she might earn sufficient to entitle her to linen and other necessaries. Another school for carding and spinning wool, a third for needlework, a fourth to learn spinning stockings might be established.

She then described the advantages of Bernard Barton’s invention of the horizontal spinning wheel, which was safe and easy to operate and requiring less strength than the common spinning wheel. The original expense was about five pounds and it seldom needed repair.

She explained that Lady Broughton had been employing them, and she hoped, with Mr. Barton’s assistance, to see some of the poor children in Brentford employed at a similar wheel. She stated that:

"It may not be improper to add here that the late Duchess of Northumberland, Lady Darlington, and the Earl of Surrey (now Duke of Norfolk) had each of them one of these spinning wheels, for the benefit of the poor in their respective neighbourhoods."

On 26th September 1787 the Cumberland Pacquet, local newspaper at Whitehaven, published the following paragraph on the subject of this spinning wheel:

"A spinning wheel, of a peculiar construction, invented by the late Mr. Bernard Barton, of Carlisle, has been introduced into Old Brentford, in order to employ some of the poor children belonging to the Sunday Schools in that place. This machine was on the 30th ult. (by the Queen’s command) removed into a room at Kew Palace, where the little spinsters had the honour of exhibiting their proficiency, in the presence of their Majesties and the Princess Royal, who condescended to encourage them to persevere in habits of industry, by every mark of Royal benevolence, and expressed the highest approbation of the exertions that are now making in different parts of the kingdom, for the reformation of the lower class of people.

The spinning machine, invented by the late Mr. Barton, is likely to come into general use in the South of England. The Queen has ordered one to be made for Windsor, and another for Richmond; and several of the nobility and gentry propose following the Royal example, in having these machines employed for the benefit of the poor in their respective neighbourhoods. The King has also given orders to have some of them made to send to Hanover."

In 1984 Mr. A. B. Humphries of Itonfield, Ivegill, Cumberland arranged for a working model of the wheel which a team, involving Mr. Robert Fallis, Mr. Maurice Smith and Mr. Ron Harness, had made to his instructions to be exhibited in Lincoln. This wheel Mr. Humphries intends to place in Carlisle, after further exhibitions; he has published a booklet on the wheel, entitled Twelve Bobbins Spinning , printed by Airey and Stephenson of Penrith. The booklet is bound in a pure linen cover, supplied by the International Linen Promotion Ltd.

On the inside of the cover at the back of the booklet is printed the following, written by John Barton, the Elder, in 1774:

"Some are and must be greater than the rest,
More rich, more wise; but who infers from hence,
That such are happier shocks all commonsense"

On 22nd November 1787 (R.C.251) John wrote to William Roscoe from London saying that he had not yet closed his account at Milk Street which engaged him very closely when in town, but that he was nevertheless proceeding with his business in Hertford. He looked forward to a season of retirement and repose with pleasure, and the expectation enabled him the better to support his present hurry.

He was very glad that the second part of The Wrongs of Africa ‘is in such forwardness, and shall be impatient to see it, which hope will be very soon –’. Clarkson had retired, but he had not seen him, and he himself had been ‘absent the last two meetings of the Committee’, so that he could not at present say how matters stood amongst them.

His marriage was fixed for 4th December, after which he would stay two or three days in town and then go down to Hertford for good. (N.B. John’s writing of this letter was much worse than usual, and curiously enough resembles that of his grandson, Rev. John Barton).

On 12th December 1787 (R.C.252) John wrote to William Roscoe from London concerning the completion of ‘a Release on account of my late partnership’. He went on:

"Faulder has shown me thy last piece respecting the Slave Trade, with which I was much pleased and hope it may be of material service. I do not see how it can be the least inimical to the views of our Committee, but the reverse. We have not indeed gone so far as to suggest any heads of a bill, but there can be no objection to its being done from any other quarter. We mean to regulate our measure very much by the advice of Wilberforce , who is a steady friend to the cause, and will not fail to bring the matter forward in parliament in such a way as appears to him most likely to conduce to its success. We hope something will be done very soon after the recess, and we have strong assurances of support from many members of both houses.

We had a Meeting of the Committee yesterday evening, which I attended. From a similar society established at Philadelphia (Dr. B. Franklin Presd.) we recd. a large pacqt. containing numerous testimonials of the good conduct of several negroes set free, and the advantages experienced by their Masters in employing them as hired servts. instead of Slaves. It also contained specimens of the writing (and two of drawing) of several young negroes, the name and age of the writers annexed to each specimen severally attested to be genuine. The writing in many was excellent."

"Please to write as soon as convenient and address me at Hertford (Jno Barton, Hertford will be a sufficient direction). Tomorrow I hope to have the happiness of being once more a married man, and next day we propose leaving town. I was in hopes to have been married ere now, but the death of a relation of my Eliza’s has unhappily protracted this interesting business. I trust, however, that no further delays can now intervene - I have the pleasure to inform thee that all my little folks are charmingly. My little girls came from school this morning, to be prest. at the Wedding tomorrow."

On l4th December 1787 John wrote to William Roscoe (probably a London postmark):

"I fully intended forwardg this on the 12th but in the midst of my attention to my Matrimonial business I entirely forgot it. By this delay I have it in my power now to add (and I have no time to add anything more) that I had yesterday the happiness to be married to my dear and amiable Eliza. We are just preparing to set off for Hertford and are all in a bustle. Therefore my dear Frd Adieu."

On about 23rd December 1787 (R.C.252A) John wrote to William Roscoe from Hertford, but did not post it until 25th December 1787 from London, after he had added more.

"I did flatter myself, my dear Roscoe, that on my arrival here I should have found myself at once a man of liesure and been able ere this to have written over whole sheets of paper in which business should not have been mentioned. But I find I am yet far from having attained the leisure I looked for, and the yet unsettled state of the old (to say nothing of the engagements of matrimony) still keep me the same plodding anxious creature I have too long been, and interfere with those enjoyments which love and Friendship and Literary Leizure, I trust, yet have in store for me."

He then gave details of the arrangements he wished to make in his new Will.

From London he wrote that he had gone there to settle some accounts and to eat his Christmas Dinner. He proposed returning to Hertford in the morning, with his little girls. He had pleasure to inform him that they and their brother, as also Brother and Sister Bewley were all very well. He concluded with:

"We had rather a mortifying loss since I wrote last. A large trunk containing most of my Wife’s Cloaks and several of her sisters who is down on a visit to us, was stolen out of the Waggon, and I fear will never more be heard of; and the owner of the Waggon is so poor that the loss (which is above £100) will fall entirely on ourselves. ’Tis a dreadful calamity to a Bride to be thus robb’d of all her finery; however, I must do her, as well as her sister, the justice to say that they bear their loss with wonderful Philosophy."

On 3rd January 1788 John (R.C.252B) wrote to William Roscoe at the London Coffee House, Ludgate Hill, London from Hertford, thanking him for his of 2nd January, saying that he was mortified to learn that they were so near to each other, with so little probability of an interview. He said he could not get to London during the week, as he was very much engaged with indispensable business at home, but he would be extremely happy to see him at Hertford if he could get there, the distance being but 21 miles, with coaches twice daily from town. He stated that his brothers Jo. and Isaac had just arrived and interrupted him; they were on their way to Ireland. A P.S. stated his medicine continued to agree with him wonderfully, and that he was now nearly as well as ever he had been in his life.

On 10th January 1788 (R.C.252C) John wrote to William Roscoe from Hertford:

"I wish with all my heart that we had a good printing press here at Hertford. It would be delicious employment for me in my present situation to correct the proofs for the author of the Wrongs. In truth I already find that I have too little to do, and am daily wishing for more employment. I sometimes fear I shall fall into that dreadful disorder called ennui for want of it. Tell me, my dear Friend, what shall I do to prevent this? What work shall I set about that may afford agreeable employment to myself, and do some good to Mankind? I never —y [illegible] Life before had so many things I have — [illegible] wished for as ingredients of happiness, and if I be not happy I am sure the fault must lay in my own want of judgement in mixing up these ingredients, so as to render the cup of Life sweet and palateable – Adieu, my dear friend, write soon, and much, and often to
Thy affect
Jno Barton"

On 21st January 1788 (R.C.239) John wrote to William Roscoe from Hertford saying that the London Committee, seeing the good effects that were likely to arise from the exertions of the Manchester Committee were extremely desirous of having a similar one formed at Liverpool; they hoped that he, William Roscoe, would be able to undertake this for them. He continued:

"The public advertisements of the Manchester Committee are likely to be of great use. To see so many respectable people so much in earnest, serves to excite the public attention; and the more generally their example is followed by other large towns, the more probable it is that our efforts will be successful. I am going to write to Archdeacon Paley to urge him to promote a petition to Parliament from Carlisle, which hope will be obtained."

He then said that Faulder had reported receipt of the second part of The Wrongs of Africa, which made him rejoice and impatient to see it. He was then going to London on Wednesday for about a week, requested letters to be addressed to him at No. 18 Old Jewrey, and offered to render him any service he wanted whilst in town. If he heard anything new in London relating ‘to our favourite object’ he would communicate with him immediately.

On 7th February 1788 (R.C.241) John wrote to William Roscoe from Hertford. In this letter, he said that he had communicated the contents of his letter of January to the Committee, and it was read and considered at a meeting held on 28th January. He continued:

"Many handsome, and I will add deserved, Compliments were paid to the writer, and all were fully convinced of the impropriety of entertaining any further thoughts of endeavouring to form a Committee on the African business in Liverpool… Thy information respecting the sentiments of the Minister gives me the sincerest satisfaction as I think it leaves no room to doubt that he is perfectly decided in our favour; and I trust that this circumstance, joined to the general sense and voice of the Nation on the subject makes it almost absolutely certain that something important and effectual will be done in this great cause of Justice and Humanity. Most sincerely do I join with my friend in wishing that the same over riding providence which has already disposed the hearts of our countrymen to compassionate the suffering of the wretched Africans, may inspire them with wisdom to provide in the best possible manner for the present relief and future improvement of that unhappy people."

He believed that the Committee would leave the mode of bringing the matter before the house to Mr. Wilberforce, who had undoubtedly all along conferred with the Minister:

"Some months ago we had intimation given us of Mr. Pitt’s goodwill to our cause, but were particularly cautioned not to let such an idea transpire lest the business might become a party affair and the leaders of opposition be induced to take a more active part than we now trust they will do against us. Indeed I begin to flatter myself that our opposers will neither be numerous nor respectable, and that our success will exceed our most sanguine expectations. I rejoice to find that thy Pamphlet has occasioned a ferment amongst the African Merchants at Liverpool. I trust it will occasion a ferment amongst our Senators likewise and produce that conviction we so much wish them to feel."

He stated that an acquisition, which had been sent to the Sheriff for a meeting to be held on Monday next to consider (presenting) a petition to Parliament on the Slave Trade, had been signed by many of the most wealthy and respectable people in Hertfordshire, so that he hoped:

"we shall cut a very good figure – I am in hopes also that a Petition will be sent from Carlisle. I have wrote to some of my old friends there urging the measure very warmly, and hope it will have the desired effect."

He said that he had been much indisposed at times, was yet far from well, but hoped that his next letter would convey more agreeable intelligence. He added:

"my little folks are all charmingly. We had a letter yesterday from Mary and Betsy, and my little Buck Bernard is sporting himself with us here."

On 6th March 1788 (R.C.253) John wrote to William Roscoe from Hertford:

"Since my last I have received from the Committee thy favour of 31st January, giving an account of thy sentiments respecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade, which I have read over again and again with great pleasure, and with convictions very similar to those of my friend. I see very plainly that many mischiefs would attend the immediate abolition of the Slave Trade, which need not be feared if that abolition took place gradually; and am further convinced that if it takes place at all the latter, and not the former will be the mode adopted."

He said that, however, many of the Committee seemed to be of a different opinion. He feared now that it was very doubtful whether they would succeed at all in the abolition, as the matter had been before the privy council and he understood that much cold water had been thrown upon it, and that some who were once in favour of the cause had advised that the business should not be brought before Parliament at all; if it should be decided, opponents would be the Lord Chancellor and Lord Hawksbury and he feared that Mr. Pitt would turn out to be at best a luke warm friend to the cause. The opinion seemed to be gaining ground that, however inhuman and unjust, the African Slave Trade was highly beneficial to the country in a political view.

He said that he had at last got the second part of the Wrongs, of which he felt, at least, would not disappoint the expectations raised by the first part. He cautioned:

"I think the Poet evidently improves as he advances, and I hope nothing will prevent his going further. To me both the language and thoughts appear to flow with greater ease, without the smallest diminution of boldness or energy. I have never been more pleased or affected by any poetical production whatever, and (all compliment out of the question) I must say I cannot but feel a pride in calling such an Author my friend."

He was going to town for about a week to stay with Edward Janson at No. 16 Bridge Street.

On 26th May 1788 (R.C.254) John wrote to William Roscoe that he was sorry he had missed meeting him when in town, and that he was awaiting his reply to Harris ’s pamphlet ; he asked him to write to him very soon:
and gratify the curiosity and impatience that I cannot help feeling till I receive thy reply to this Apostle of Inhumanity.

He and his wife intended going to Brighthelmstone the next week. Faulder had said The Wrongs of Africa had sold so well as to ensure they at least paid for themselves, but he hoped they would do more. He had learned that the reason for Roscoe’s last visit to London was some of the failures that had lately happened in Lancashire:

"I hope and trust my friend is no otherwise concerned or affected by them than as a man of Law, and will therefore be benefitted and not injured by them. ’Tis however melancholy work to be even a mere spectator of such general ruin and distress, which appears to be multiplied and extended on the present occasion beyond all former example."

On 2nd July 1788 (R.C.255) John wrote to William Roscoe from Hertford asking to be excused for not having written from Brighthelmstone, but that he had been kept so entirely engaged in walking, riding or sailing that he had never had less leisure in his life. He had hoped to be able to assure him that company, bathing and exercise had been of service to his health, but he was sorry to say he was still but an invalid; yet hoped he was improving daily and hoped the season would help greatly.

On return to Hertford he had had the pleasure of receiving a parcel of 6 pamphlets from Roscoe in answer to Harris . He had read one and given the others:

"…to some of the most intelligent members of our Committee and we are all unanimously of opinion that it is the work of a master and by much the best answer that Harris has received. The Committee has requested that thou wouldst, with as much expedition as possible, communicate to the author of the Scriptural Confutation of Harris their wishes to take off what remains of the impression (on his own terms of course) and in case that should not be sufficiently numerous for their purpose, they request the Author’s leave to print a new edition. I beseech thee let no time be lost."

On 29th July 1788 (R.C.256) John wrote to William Roscoe from Hertford apologising for not having written sooner, but that ever since he had returned from Brighton he had been very much engaged with company, or very much indisposed, or both. He was little qualified to undertake a journey to Lancashire in answer to Roscoe’s kind invitation; he would have accepted with pleasure:

"but at present I am too much of a Valetudinarian to be anywhere but at home where I am advised to keep myself as undisturbed and quiet as possible."

At a meeting of the Committee at Old Jewry on 15th July 1788 they had recorded the following minute:

"This Committee impressed with a sense of the Laudable zeal and great abilities, manifested by the author of ‘A scriptural refutation of a pamphlet intitled Scriptural researches on the licitness of the Slave Trade’, do gratefully accept his offer, and request Mr. Barton to convey to him the thanks of the Committee for the important service he has rendered the cause in which they are engaged."

He went on to say that the cause was gaining strength and yet the opposition it appeared to meet with in the House of Lords was somewhat discouraging. If they could judge from what had passed:

"…the poor Africans will have but very lukewarm advocates from the Bench of Bishops, from whom much was expected by many. I fear they will show themselves much more zealous courtiers than Christians."

On 31st October 1788 (R.C.257) John wrote from Hertford to William Roscoe saying that he was wonderfully better than when he last wrote, and he had been for some weeks nearly as well as ever in his life. He said he was taking medicine daily in considerable quantities, seldom less than six or eight quarts every twenty-four hours; but as he found it agreed with him vastly well, and was assured its continuance was absolutely necessary, he was determined to persevere. ‘It looks like living for the Doctor rather than for oneself; and, the ordinary price of medicine considered, it should seem to require the full income of no small estate to discharge the bills of the Apothecary:

"But be not alarmed, my dear friend. Neither Physician or Apothecary are growing rich at my expence. The Medicine I take is pure, simple water."

He had found a spring near his home. He had long since given up all his medicine. He began to be afraid of being deprived of the means by which his health had been restored, his spring beginning to be so much resorted to by others that he was sometimes troubled to get himself supplied.

One of the Committee had recently been in France and dined at Paris with the Committee there established. The French Committee appeared to consist of very worthy and respectable characters, and Madame Neeka was particularly remarkable for her zeal in the anti-slave-trade business. She was intending to publish tracts on the subject, as soon as she could obtain leave:

"which is a confirmation of the account received at Liverpool of her having been translating the ‘General View’. I most sincerely congratulate the author on the honour thus done to his work, and hope it will thereby be rendered as extensively useful as he could wish. I believe with thee that little regard wil— [illegible] in the house of Commons to the Doctrines of Scripture on this [illegible] yet where the advocates of the Trade have been hard enough (to) attempt to press the Bible into their Service, there may never (the less) be great use in shewing that their arguments drawn from this quarter, have yet shown a wonderful desire to have such arguments pass for solid with others. I am assured that Lord Hawksbury himself condescended to distribute some Harris’s Scripture Researches, recommending them at the same time as containing unanswerable argumts in favour of the Slave Trade."

He concluded by saying he did not know when he should have the pleasure of revisiting the north but that nothing could be more uncertain, but this made him the more happy to be informed of Roscoe’s intention of coming up to town in that winter. It would give him great pleasure to see him at Hertford and they hoped to be favoured with as long a visit as business would possibly admit.


John Barton the Elder, who had been born on 17th September 1754, died on 4th April 1789 and was buried in the Friends Graveyard in Bermondsey.

The Cumberland Pacquet, the paper to which he had contributed articles under the pen name ‘HIERO’ published the following short obituary:

"He was a gentle man of good natural abilities which he improved by unusual application.
His literary attainments reflect much credit on his memory and to him the world is indebted for some of the most popular essays on the subject of the Slave Trade.
At the age of twenty two years after discussing several particulars in religion and morals (which appeared in this paper in the years 1774 and 1775 under the name of Hiero) he embraced the tenets of the people called Quakers in whose society he was much respected as he was also by all who knew his worth or regard the qualities of strict integrity temperance and friendship and universal philanthropy."


With regard to his articles over the name of HIERO on religion and morals, John had written to William Roscoe on 7th February 1778:

"From the accounts I see in the public papers, I expect to be a witness to some singular scenes, either in Edinburgh or Glasgow or both – the Scotch are kicking up a wonderful dust about this late act in favour of the Papists, which if made to extend to their part of the Island, will most probably make them break out into open rebellion… though I have long laughed at the fooleness of Popery, I really believe that I shall be engaged in a paper war in behalf of the Papists on this occasion. I have ventured to appear in print again for them. If you ever read the Cumberland Pacquet you may perhaps meet with Hiero, who has by turn taken up the cudgels for the Deists, the Quakers, and the Catholics.

However, he wrote again in 1779 to say that he believed his ‘scribbling in the newspaper way is now at an end’ – it looked as if the newspaper was anxious to put a stop on the controversy that his articles had raised over the doctrines propounded by different sects.

In one of these articles he had written:

"But if my adversaries are really at a loss to know what are my religious principles, I refer them to the New Testament, for I declare it with great sincerity, the true religion which I am anxious to promote is no other than that of Jesus Christ – the purest and most divine, the simplest and most intelligible religion that ever was propagated on earth; but which the ignorance or craft of too many of its pretended teachers has affected to represent as something mysterious and unintelligible; as better adapted to exercise the heads of Metaphysicians than to improve the hearts of men. Hence have arisen all those absurd controversies…about which the most pious and learned men ever have been, and ever will be, divided; some of which are confessedly incomprehensible, and all of which are attended with uncertainty."

He later quotes from Sherlock’s Discourses:

"The doctrine of Christ was framed rather to purify the heart and give wisdom to the simple, than to exercise the head, and furnish matter for the curious and the learned; to be a general instruction and common rule of life to all men, and not to satisfy the vanity of worldly wisdom in inquiries above its reason. With him the precepts of virtue are the principles of wisdom, and holiness the greatest ornament of the mind of man."

Perhaps certain senior clergy of the Church of England of the 20th Century would be well advised to ponder on this advice!


Chapter 3: John Senior's Mother


On 13th December 1787 John Barton, the Elder, married Elizabeth Horne (1760–1833), who was also a Quaker. They were married at the Friends’ Meeting House, Red Cross Street, Southwark.

Elizabeth’s great grandfather Thomas Horne was a glover of Arundel, Sussex, who died in 1718. His son Benjamin was of St. Katharine by the Tower, later of Bermondsey, and afterwards a coal factor of Tottenham. His son Thomas, Elizabeth’s father, was born in 1725, was of St. Saviour’s, Southwark, citizen, clothworker and coal factor. He was prosperous, and had a country house at Tottenham , and a town house near his business at No. 44 Bankside, Southwark.

Thomas’s son Anthony, who was born in 1758, joined him in his business, and lived at No. 47 Bankside. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Foster Reynolds of Mitcham.

Elizabeth Horne’s elder sister, Mary, married Edward Janson of the Borough, a distiller. His son Joseph, his fifth child and born in 1789, became a great friend of John Barton, Senior, and is frequently mentioned in his journal.

John and Elizabeth’s only child was John, Senior, who was born on 4th June 1789 at Bankside, Southwark. John, Senior, recorded that though the house was situated in a very unfashionable neighbourhood, it commanded a pleasant view of the river Thames and the City of London beyond it, with its forest of steeples and St. Paul’s dome rising over all. It also had a view of the London and Blackfriars bridges – Southwark bridge was not then in existence.

The houses on Bankside which the Hornes owned have since been demolished, though the Anchor Inn, situated nearby, was still standing in 1851.

John Barton, the Elder, died the year his son was born, and before his birth.

John, Senior, declared that he knew little of his father’s character and history, but that he was a lover of intellectual pursuits, of which his portrait, he reckoned in some measure, evinced and similarly the few of his letters that he possessed.

His wife, Elizabeth, must have been a very good mother and stepmother. Her stepson Bernard wrote of her:

"My father married again in my infancy, so wisely and happily, that I knew not but his second wife was my own mother, till I learned it years after at a boarding school."

John, Senior, wrote of her:

"She ultimately took a small house in Tottenham – a short distance from her father – for which she paid only sixteen guineas per year and lived in great frugality till, by his death, she came in for a share of his property. It appears from her account books which she kept with great regularity and which are still in my possession, that she never spent at that time so much as £200 a year, though she had four children to maintain. She was a very conscientious woman, and perhaps I am indebted to her prayers and tears, which were many, for every good feeling that I possess. She was so kind a stepmother that Elizabeth [Elizabeth Barton, John Barton, Senior’s, half-sister] who lived with her till her death (1833) loved her as if she had been her own daughter. She was afflicted with severe depression of spirits, as appears painfully from the little books in which she recorded the chief events of her life and her state of mind."


Chapter 4: John's Childhood and Life before Marriage


When John Barton, the Elder, died, his widow Elizabeth, probably for the sake of better medical advice and for the comfort and advantage of the society of her parents, went up to Bankside from Hertford to lie in. After John was born Elizabeth returned to Hertford, but did not stay there long, but went for a time to Croydon and then took the small house in Tottenham, near her parents who lived in White Hart Lane.

Later she moved to Chichester; though this must have been after December 1825, because John Barton, senior, states having visited her during that month at Tottenham; he later recorded visiting her in Chichester in May 1828.

In a letter dated l4th January 1830 to Bernard Barton, Maria Hack, writing from Lavant, Chichester, said that ‘Mother is on the whole more feeble and poorly this winter, but has no particularly weakening symptom’. Despite this decline, she lived on until 20th August 1833, when she was aged 73.

John, Senior, wrote:

"At eight years I was sent to a boarding school at Tottenham , where I suffered much from the rudeness of the boys, being a timid child, and having been brought up among women. I had not been at school many months when I was attacked with a swelling in the calf of my leg, which proved so serious that it detained me from school more than a year. My uncle Janson kindly granted me the use of his town house in Bull’s Head Passage, Wood Street, in order that I might more readily have the advice of Mr. Blizzard the surgeon (afterwards Sir William Blizzard). He made an incision in my leg to let out the matter which had formed there, and for a long time left the wound open with caustic. As the summer advanced he recommended sea-bathing, and my uncle Horne was kind enough to take me down with my mother to Brighton in his carriage (Apr. 6, 1798). This was the first journey I had ever taken, and I still remember the wonder and delight that I felt at the first view of the sea. In the autumn of the same year my Uncle Janson was kind enough to take me down to Dover, where he generally spent some weeks annually. About the next winter, I think, I returned to school, my leg having healed. I then found myself behind my former companions, though when I first went to school I was thought a promising boy. This so much discouraged me that I made little effort to learn, and was often at the bottom of my class. My school days were far from happy. The master had not the talent of conciliating the attachment of his pupils, and though I was rather a favourite with him, I never loved him.

Indeed I may say the same of my youthful days generally – I was not happy. I caught perhaps in some measure the infection of my mother’s low spirits. I felt the difference in her circumstances and those of the other branches of the family who were wealthy. I sometimes perhaps imagined myself despised and slighted, when nothing of the sort was intended. In all essential points my uncles, aunts and cousins were kind to me, some of them very much so. But I was naturally timid, though I enjoyed tolerable health I never had that robustness of frame which is generally connected with high spirits. I came from school with a very slender stock of learning, but I had a natural love of reading and gained more, I think, from what I read in my play hours than from what I learned in school hours."

At the age of fourteen John Barton, senior, was placed at Chichester with his brother-in-law Stephen Hack, who was an importer of Irish provisions and corn, and who was also engaged in the leather business. He was employed in the counting house of the import business, but he had a good deal of spare time which he employed in reading, which he declared was his chief pleasure. At twenty-one he became a partner with his brother-in-law. This partnership continued until about 1814.

From Horsfield’s History of Sussex published in 1835 we learn that manufactures and trade in Chichester in the early centuries seem to have been concerned with the coarser kinds of woollen cloths:

"…because the town mill on the Lavant appears to have been so applied, and to have been leased to a Fuller by the corporation.

In the reign of James I an export trade from Chichester to Cork, in Ireland, was first attempted, and became so successful that it was the original source of opulence of several of the principal families. It was by making malt of barley brought from Norfolk and the eastern counties, and by brewing strong beer, both of which were sent to Ireland, where they were considered luxuries, and were not at the same time in general use, or the art of making them extensively known or practised. The many old malt-houses at present seen in Chichester denote the extent of the trade carried on.
The corn market, where the trade of malting and exporting grain to Ireland was in its zenith, was more considerable than that of any provincial town in the south of England. Fuller, who wrote in 1660, remarks, that it is sufficient evidence of the plenty of this county, that the totle of wheat, corns, or malt, growing or made about, or sold in the City of Chichester, doth amount yearly, at a halfpenny a quarter, to sixty pounds and upwards (as the gatherers will attest); and the number of bushels we leave to be audited by better arithmetitians. So I was informed by Mr. Peckham, the recorder of Chichester. Within the last twelve months, very extensive buildings have been erected in the East Street for the corn market.

The cattle market, held every alternate Wednesday, is second only to those held in Smithfield, London, for the number and value of cattle sold at one time. This extraordinary increase may be chiefly attributed to the victualling the navy at Portsmouth, in time of war, and supplying the great consumption at Brighton."

The estuary called Chichester Harbour has the port of Chichester at Dell Quay situated on its eastern shore. The distance from the city, exceeding a mile, was considered by our ancestors as being detrimental to the extension of trade, and in 1585 an act was passed for bringing the haven of Chichester, by a new cut canal, to the suburbs of the said city, the provisions of which were never carried into effect. About the year 1824, a navigable canal was made to connect the harbour of Chichester with the river Arun; and from this canal, near Donnington, a branch passes to the southern suburb of the city.

"The present commerce, for which customs are paid, consists of exports, chiefly flour, for the west of England; timber to Portsmouth and Devonport, for the navy; malt to Ireland – which trade has much declined. Imports are barley from Norfolk; provisions from Ireland; coals from Newcastle and Sunderland; and wool and wine from Spain and Portugal."

In 1813 a return of shipping in the port of Chichester showed that 101 ships, carrying 3,602 tons and 337 men, used the port.


John certainly made up for his lack of study in his schooldays by intensive study during his adult life, as can be seen from his journal recorded up to the year 1832. The range of subjects covered was extremely wide and, from the criticisms of the works he read, it is obvious that he had a searching and critical mind which would not accept facts presented without question; in fact he would on occasion not accept a mathematical formula without working it out for himself.


Chapter 5: John's First Marriage and his First Political Work


On 29th August 1811, at the age of 22, John married Anne, the elder daughter of Thomas and Anne Woodroffe Smith, who were living at Stockwell at the time of John’s courtship, though Thomas had died before John’s marriage.

Thomas Woodroffe Smith, a Quaker, was born in 1745, the son of Robert and Anne Woodrouffe of Leadenhall Street, London, and Anne, his wife, was born Anne Reynolds, daughter of Foster and Elizabeth Reynolds of Carshalton, in Surrey. Thomas had changed his name to Woodrouffe Smith sometime prior to his first marriage, which was to Elizabeth West (1758-1788) of Maidenhead in 1786.

John’s marriage is recorded in the London and Middlesex Quarterly Meeting Digest Register of the Religious Society of Friends, and reads – ‘John Barton, merchant of Chichester, son of John and Elizabeth Barton late of Hertford, m Ann Woodrouffe Smith at Wandsworth, 29 viii 1811’. Ann is described as the daughter of Thomas Woodrouffe and Ann Smith, of Stockwell. The couple were married at the meeting house, almost certainly the second meeting house; the first (17th Century) one having been demolished in 1778 to make way for the second.

Thomas Woodrouffe Smith was a London merchant of Greek Street. In 1801 he became Lord of the Manor of Teddington by purchase. A memorial to both Thomas, and his younger daughter Maria (1794–1854), who married George Head Head in 1833, can be seen in the church of St. Mary with St. Alban (formerly St. Mary’s church) in Teddington; it was erected by Maria’s bereaved husband and reads:

"In Memory of Thomas Woodrouffe esq., Late of Stockwell Park in the County of Surrey Lord of this Manor of Teddington who died 3rd May 1811 aged 66 years and of Maria Woodrouffe Head – his daughter, wife of George Head Head, esq. of Rickerby House in the County of Cumberland, who succeeded to her father’s estates and was deeply interested in the welfare of this parish. The integrity, right and elegant mind and benevolence of the father were fully possessed in his daughter whose light by the grace of the Holy Spirit was made to shine conspicuously in the consistent testimony she bore for her Lord and Saviour. She died 8th February 1854 aged 59 years after a long and suffering illness throughout which the Lord directed her heart into the love of GOD and into the patient waiting for CHRIST."


Some lordships of the manor, which imply a district with its jurisdiction, rights and perquisites, date from Saxon times, and some from the Norman Conquest when they were granted by the conqueror in return for loyal service. They are part of a wider feudal land tenure imposed by William in 1066, and the resulting feudal system remained until the reforming legislation of the 1920s when ‘copyhold’ tenancy was abolished. The lord was empowered to hold a court called the court-baron for redressing misdemeanours, and settling disputes between tenants. The privileges which a lord of the manor used to enjoy, including ‘droit de seigneur’ (his right to appropriate any village maiden on her wedding night), have been much eroded since the 1920s Act of Parliament was passed. Lords are now entitled to sign themselves ‘Lord of the Manor’ but not to assume a title.

On l4th June 1986 the Daily Telegraph reported that Lords of the Manor – who at that time included diverse bodies such as Smith’s Crisps and the Management of Leicester race course – would no longer have automatic right to appoint Church of England vicars to parishes following the approval of a reform of the benefices system by the Commons. Previously only Jews and Roman Catholics were restricted from making these appointments, so that even Methodists, Baptists, Hindus or atheists could make the appointment to a benefice.

Thomas left an estate worth £200,000 to his two daughters, and made John an executor, which was to involve him in much work.


On 15th September 1810 Mr. Joseph Lancaster lectured to the inhabitants of Chichester and its vicinity in the Assembly Room; after which it was resolved to establish a school on Mr. Lancaster’s plan in Chichester. The school was ‘to afford the children who are unprovided for by the existing Charities in this city’, and its establishment was considered ‘worthy the countenance and support of the liberal and benevolent among its inhabitants’. The system of education was to be that invented by Mr. Joseph Lancaster and patronized by the King, the Queen, the Prince of Wales, and all the royal family.

The original Declaration of Trusts relative to the piece of land and building erected thereon for the use of this school, dated 12th August 1811, refers to the establishment of a boys’ school in Tower Street, and is signed by twenty-eight leading citizens – bankers, surgeons, physicians, mercers, a wine merchant, an upholsterer, a grocer, a tanner and by John Barton, merchant, who was already an annual subscriber to the British and Foreign School Society. On their own initiative these men formed a Committee, raised the necessary funds, created a procedure and erected a school room. The school was attended by boys only, but it is obvious from the minutes of the committee meetings that it was the intention to provide some education for Chichester girls, a fact showing unusual enlightenment for that time.

"John Barton, secretary of the Chichester School Committee reported on 7th April 1812 that he has had an interview with Mr. William Allen one of the Trustees of the Borough Road Institution, who engaged to provide a person to organise the girls’ school."

The Free School for Girls on the plan of Mr. Lancaster was opened in May 1812. A school room had been built for the purpose and stood on the site of Messrs. Shippams factory at East Walls.

"Mr. Marsh, Dr. Sanden, Mr. Pope, Mr. Stephen Hack and Mr. John Barton were appointed as a subcommittee to make arrangements for the fitting of this room, providing a mistress and setting the school on foot.

Parents wishing their children to be admitted to the new school had to make application to one of the subscribers appearing on the printed handlists for they were entitled to recommend one child for every half guinea subscribed. As the committee of subscribers had laid down, the girls’ school would follow the Lancasterian pattern similar to that of the boys’ school. This pattern was drawn out in such detail and was so suited to the times that much deviation was unlikely. During these early years, reading, writing and ciphering (using the Arabic numerals in the processes of arithmetic) were virtually the only lesson, with the catechism on Tuesdays and Fridays at 3 p.m. Inspectors seem to have visited daily."

The nature of these inspectors may be imagined from such insistence on the following:

"Every monitor must keep an account of the number of words which each boy in his class spells upon the slate incorrectly: and the boy so defaulting shall be confined after school till he has written as many words as he had so spelt incorrectly.
An exercise book of 1828 shows a vast amount of figuring executed with meticulous care. New rules are introduced with attractive lettering. The sums are written out fully and history lies on every page: ‘How many ells of super-fine scarlet drab…?’, ‘A Privateer took a prize valued…?’, ‘A boy can point sixteen thousand pins in an hour. How many will he do in 6 days, supposing he works eleven clear hours in a day?’"


Of his first wife Anne, John wrote in his letter to his children:

"Anne was a gentle, affectionate, refined and beautiful young woman, but indifferent in health, and the anxiety from this cause cast a cloud over my happiness. In the autumn of 1817 I was induced on her account to spend the winter at Nice which appeared beneficial to her and on the whole there were few periods of my life that I look back to with more pleasure. In the following summer we visited Switzerland, remaining some time at Geneva – in the autumn we returned to Chichester."


George Sotiroff from manuscripts of John’s has recorded that he in fact visited Bern, and from a letter John wrote to the Standard in March 1846 that he had visited the Canton of Schwyz.

John was undoubtedly interested in economics in early adult life.

In the Economic Journal of September 1953 Vol.LXIII George Sotiroff wrote, in an article describing recently discovered works of John’s, that

"The MS contains what may turn out to have been the earliest piece written by John Barton: A Critical Analysis of the Political Essays of David Hume – an incomplete work dated December 1814, but part of which was obviously written after February 1815. It is possible that some of the undated notes were written still earlier…"

From this manuscript, which he calls John’s notebook, Paul Sturges, in his article in the History of Political Economy, 1982, wrote that:

"One can learn something of how he spent his time. The earliest entries relate to about the year 1814 and show him reading and making notes on publications such as Morris Birkbeck’s ‘Notes on a Journey through France’, Robert Mushet’s 1810 pamphlet on the bullion question, and some of David Hume’s political essays. …Much of what follows is notes from his reading and this includes notes on Adam Smith. In later years Barton was to attribute his interest in economic questions to his exciting first reading of Smith. He felt inspired to go on and do some economic work himself. The notes show him beginning this work copying tables from his reading, e.g., on wages of agricultural labour, drawing up tables of his own compilation relating to the effects of various conditions on prices, and sketching out his own ideas. The earliest example of the latter is a sketch of an arrangement of political subjects dated 5th April 1815. The notebook continues in this vein until approximately 1826, at which point it appears to have been abandoned until November 1846, when a little material was added.

In several entries Barton reveals what was already an overriding preoccupation of his economic work: the state of the poor and the best means for ameliorating their conditions… The effect on Barton of reading Smith was to set him studying economics in a deliberate search for knowledge that would be useful to those of his fellow men in less fortunate circumstances than his own… Barton began to do exercises in the notebook which could form the basis of a book. He began with essays on Capital and Revenue, and Capital and Currency, dated respectively November and December 1816. In the latter essay he struggled with the question of the causes underlying rural poverty. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day of that year he added more notes on this topic, and during the early months of 1817 a series of essays on such topics as the effect of taxation on the prices of commodities, the effects of an increase of public expenditure on prices, effects of an increase of the circulating medium on prices… By mid-1817 he had the substance of his first book prepared in the notebook, but still lacked the encouragement to put it into publishable form."

There is evidence that John was already in correspondence with the political economist David Ricardo (1772–1823), author of several original and powerful treatises, including High Price of Bullion (1809), Proposals for an Economical and Secure Currency (1816) and Principles of Political Economy and Taxation (1817) and from the surviving volumes of John’s Journal, which commence with entries in July 1819, we learn that he met David Ricardo and had discussions with him on several occasions.

"It was his contact with Ricardo that provided the stimulus. On the appearance of Ricardo’s Principles in 1817 Barton wrote to him (in a letter which does not survive) rejecting Ricardo’s theory of profits. He argued first that the rate of profit is regulated by the rate of wages ‘one being inversely as the other’, and second, that as the accumulation of capital is embodied in fixed capital (machinery, buildings, etc.) it gives less permanent employment to labour.

Ricardo replied disputing both these points. Barton seems to have accepted Ricardo’s argument on the first point in Observations, written in June and published later in the year. However, he persisted in his second objection, and Ricardo’s change of mind on this point, which so distressed McCulloch, appears in print in Chapter 3 ‘On Machinery’ in the third edition of Principles. The precise significance of this ‘conversion’ is still discussed and it remains Barton’s chief claim to notice."

A copy of Ricardo’s letter to John dated 20th May 1817 can be seen in Chapter XIII of this book.

So it was that in June 1817 John published his first work on economics; a pamphlet entitled:

Observations on the Circumstances which Influence the condition of the Labouring Classes of Society which was printed for John and Arthur Arch of Cornhill, London, by W. Mason of Chichester.


[Extracts on Conditions in Georgian Britain]


At this time, Arthur Bryant, in the Age of Elegance, tells us:

"Apart from London and the Scottish and Irish capitals there were only two towns in Great Britain, Manchester and Liverpool, with 100,000 inhabitants, and five others – Bristol, Glasgow, Birmingham, Leeds and Sheffield – with over 50,000.

The manufacturing towns, or rather overgrown squatters’ villages – for they had none of the traditional dignity associated with English cities – now spreading fast around the new steam factories, iron works, and mines of the Midlands, South Lancashire, Clyde and Tyne, were astonishing phenomena…

Yet, though increasing fast, the industrial population was only a small fraction of the country, hidden out of sight on remote heaths and in lonely Pennine valleys. More than three quarters of the English people lived in ancient villages or small market towns. Even a generation later, after a further feverish expansion, only one in eighty was working in the cotton trade – the country’s largest industry. There were far fewer miners than there were tailors and bootmakers, and more domestic servants than cotton workers. Set against ‘Britain’s calm felicity and power’, London’s Alsatias and the helot settlements beside the Irk and Swayle seemed accidental and unimportant. Only a prophet could have foreseen that, in these, and not in the pastoral and still feudal south, lay the England of the future."

What of the poor man’s diet?

"Even in the worst times of the war the dietary of the English had never fallen to the dreadful level of many parts of Europe where periodically starvation and typhus took toll of thousands. Frederic Men, in his survey of the condition of the poor made during the famine years of 1795 and 1796, analysed the budget of a Leicester wool-comber with two children who, out of an income of £47 a year, made up of his own and his wife’s and his elder son’s earnings and an £11 grant from the Poor Law guardians, were able to buy weekly ten pounds of butcher’s meat, two pounds of butter, three and a half of cheese and about nineteen pints of milk, as well as potatoes, vegetables, tea, sugar and beer. He was not even a particularly industrious man, for he was said to spend several days every month in the alehouse lamenting the hardness of the times…

By and large, as the population increased, the feeding standards of the poor were declining. It was probably no longer true, as Defoe had claimed a century before, that the English labourer ate and drank three times more than any foreigner. In counties like Kent, where before the war farm-workers had enjoyed meat almost daily, there had been a big falling-off, but they were still better off than Continental peasants who lived part of the year on roots. Even after enclosure many cottages still contrived, so long as the war lasted to keep a pig; ham and eggs and ‘a bit of frizzle’ figure with cheering frequency in Bamford’s account of his early days of poverty… Even in the enclosed villages, where wholemeal bread, cheese and ale had come to form the landless labourers’ main dietary, there was in normal times as much of all three as he could eat or carry with him into the fields. Many country folk still baked and brewed at home; the germ remained in the wheat, and the oven, like the porch and the tank, was part of the peasant’s birthright. So were the ale brewed in the copper, the mead, sweet and mellow but strong as brandy, made from home-raised honey, the cowslip and other rustic wines distilled from the traditional recipes and drunk on special occasions. The old skills and habits were dying out with enclosure, but large numbers of country workers still quenched their thirst on untaxed ale of their own making. And what they bought in the alehouse, if not always wholesome, was at least strong and cheap: an old Buckinghamshire labourer declared he didn’t think nothing of no beer if it didn’t give him three falls for a shilling…

In the north the poor man’s food was usually much more varied. Its staples were oatmeal crowdie, riddle and girdle cakes, thick porridge with buttermilk, pease-kail, dumpling, oaten jannocks and barley-bread, butter, treacle and plentiful milk… The Duke of Argyll recalled how as a boy he watched the farmhands eating their breakfasts with spoons and mugs of horn out of a bowl of steaming porridge ‘as big as a footbath’."

The consumption of meat, wheat, butter and cheese by the population of London in 1807 seems to have been large.

"It also ate the fruit and vegetables of 14,000 acres of intensely cultivated market-garden land fertilised by dung from the London streets."

It consumed also plenty of ale and porter, as well as spirits.

"The division of this great quantity of food was left to the laws of supply and demand, but only a small proportion of it can have been consumed by the well-to-do. Most of it must have found its way into working-class homes… Gobbett, using the measuring-rod of what was customary in his youth, reckoned that a working-class family of five – father, mother, baby, and two growing children, needed daily five pounds of bread, two pounds of bacon and one pound of mutton and a gallon and a half of beer.

About nearly everything English there seemed an air of what, to a foreigner, was an almost insulting opulence. The verminous tatters of the Continental peasantry had no part in this tidy countryside. Such distress as existed was tucked away out of sight…The clothes of English working folk looked as if they had come straight from the manufactory. The cottage wives in their grey stuff gowns, woollen petticoats and checked aprons lacked the wretched, ragged appearance that so shocked Dorothy Wordsworth in the Low Countries. Their menfolk did not go about in bare feet; except in the north, where the clogs on the cobbles was traditional music; even wooden shoes were regarded as symbols of poverty and property. What particularly struck one foreigner were the scarlet cloaks and black silk bonnets of the countrywomen in the market towns. ‘When a class, so inferior, is so well dressed, who can doubt,’ he asked, ‘of the prosperity and comfort of the nation to which it belongs?’

English houses impressed foreigners, like their food and clothes. Every traveller noted the contrast between the beggars and rural hovels of the Continent and the neat Kentish and Sussex villages – ‘our own land of fair and handsome faces, well-fed inhabitants, richly cultivated and enclosed fields’, as Harry Smith, returning from the wars, called it. Village greens with shouting children and fat geese, white-washed cottages exquisitely grouped round church and manor-house, roses, honeysuckle and jessamine festooned over porch and casement, gardens full of flowers and embowered in trees, gave travellers the impression they were in a land where even the poor throve. So did the clean-scrubbed floors of the cottage interiors, the gleaming oak and copper, the inns with their neat, sanded parlours and plentiful fare. ‘This,’ reported a French American, ‘is the land of conveniences’. After more than a year travelling the country he found, at Barnsley, its first bad inn, and even this, he thought, would have been deemed excellent in France’.

In the south the countryman’s cottage was generally of stone or brick, half-cast and timber, with thatched roof and from three to four rooms. It was built of local materials blending with the landscape. The casements, Simond noted, instead of being left open to the weather or stuck up with rags, as on the Continent and in America, were leaded and glazed. In the far north and west, where much lower standards prevailed, single-room turf cabins of the Continental type were common. Yet even these were usually white-washed and had casements with gardens and flowers, indicating, a traveller thought, a remarkable degree of ease and comfort among the labouring classes… The homes of the better-to-do weavers on either side of the Southern Pennines – daub and timber cottages with low wooden latches overhanging crystal streams or stone houses in rows on the hillsides, with open doors ‘inviting the stranger to glance at their neatness, cleanliness and felicity’ – usually had a room in front, a loom-shop behind and two or three sleeping chambers above, or else a large loft where the family worked…

Cobbett passing through Durham and Yorkshire noted the excellence of the miners’ and cutlers’ homes. ‘There were a dozen good rush-bottomed chairs, the backs and rails bright with wax and rubbing’, wrote a weaver’s apprentice of his master’s house, ‘a handsome clock in a mahogany case, a good chest of drawers, a mahogany corner-cupboard all well polished, besides tables, weather-glass, cornice and ornaments and pictures illustrative of Joseph and his brethren’. At the time of the peace, Howitt recalled, the Derbyshire and Staffordshire workers had so much furniture in their houses that they could scarcely turn round."

But G. M.Trevelyan in English Social History reminds us that:

"The modern English slum town grew up to meet the momentary needs of the new type of employer and jerry-builder, unchecked and unguided by public control of any sort. A rampant individualism, inspired by no idea beyond quick money returns, set up the cheap and nasty model of modern industrial life and its surroundings. Town planning, sanitation and amenity were things undreamed of by the vulgarian makers of the new world, while the aristocratic ruling class enjoyed its own pleasant life apart, and thought that town-building, sanitation and factory conditions were no concern of government…

When Waterloo was fought, rural England was still in its unspoilt beauty, and most English towns were either handsome or picturesque. The factory regions were a small part of the whole but unluckily they were the model of the future.

A new type of urban community was permitted to grow up which it was fatally easy to imitate on an ever-increasing scale, until in another hundred years the great majority of Englishmen were dwellers in mean streets. When, as the Nineteenth Century advanced, local government was gradually made to attend to its duties, by being subjected to democratic local election and to central control from Whitehall, then indeed large provision was made for health, convenience and education. But even after these belated reforms in the utilitarian sphere, ugliness remains a quality of the modern city, rendered acceptable by custom to a public that can imagine only what it has seen."


Chapter 6: The United Kingdom in John's Life Time


The state of England at this time was one of attempting to recover from the effects of the Napoleonic War; the war having speeded up the Industrial and Agricultural Revolutions. From Arthur Bryant’s The Age of Elegance we learn that:

"In 1815 a population of fourteen millions was contributing £72,000,000 per annum or a fifth of the national income, as compared with the £19,000,000 paid in 1792 by one of ten millions…

The war had raised the National Debt from £252,000,000 to £861,000,000: a ‘poisoned dart’, Napoleon boasted, left in England’s vitals. The annual interest was £32,645,618, half as much again as the total pre-war national expenditure, and five times more than the poor rates about which so much fuss was made.

This borrowing, added to every year and at rates lower at the end of the war than at its height, and the punctual discharge of interest, was regarded as a triumph of national strength and good faith. It profoundly impressed foreigners. So did the maintenance of ‘a paper currency not convertible into gold and therefore not liable to be withdrawn, and yet issued in such moderate quantities as satisfied the wants of man without exceeding them’. Since Pitt’s Government, by suspending cash payments, had given the privately-owned Bank of England – the principal proprietor of the National Debt – the right to issue paper currency unbacked by gold, there had been a huge increase in circulation. Yet it had been matched by the expansion in real wealth brought about by the machinery and improved farming which an enlarged currency had helped to bring into existence. Without it Britain, under her free system, might not have defeated Napoleon.

Yet though on the whole the Bank had exercised its privilege with patriotism and restraint, its directors, and the provincial bankers whose private note-issues had been rendered more valuable, would have been less than human had they not pursued their monopoly of creating money to a point where the increase in note-circulation exceeded the creation of real wealth. In 1810, when the House of Commons set up a Bullion Committee to investigate, £100 of paper currency was selling on ’Change for £86.10s. Yet even this modest depreciation, as the event proved, was due more to the drain of bullion to feed Wellington’s army than to internal inflation. Though speculators did a roaring trade smuggling guineas abroad, and at one time a premium of nearly thirty per cent was paid for gold, the latter started to flow back to England as soon as the war ended. Considering the Bank’s opportunity, the degree of permanent inflation was extraordinarily small – a tribute both to the integrity of British bankers and the increase in national production."

However, by the summer of 1818 there was a return to gold, causing an immediate restriction in circulation.

From A History of England by I. Tenen we learn that during the war farmers, sure of high prices for their produce, had extended their farms and sought further enclosures. Factories had worked hard supplying war material, and the Continent purchased the cheap products of our new factories. But after his successful defeat of the Russians, Napoleon had, by a series of decrees, starting with the Berlin decrees in 1806, prohibited countries under his control from trading with England; prohibiting the importation of English goods and even letters and passengers. This became known as the ‘Continental System’ and was countered by ‘Orders in Council’ in 1807, emergency proclamations by the Privy Council having the force of law, whereby neutrals were forbidden to enter ports under French control unless they had first landed their cargoes for a time in a British warehouse. Exemptions could be obtained by purchasing a licence at a high price.

Neither side’s controls could be rigidly enforced. Napoleon allowed corn to be exported to England provided it was paid for in gold, hoping that this would damage our economy. He also found our cheap clothing indispensable when equipping his army, and a lot of English goods were smuggled on to the Continent, often through Malta and Heligoland.

But in the later stages of the Napoleonic Wars the Continental System succeeded in restricting European markets alarmingly. After 1815 continental countries imported British machinery and mechanics to modernise their industries, thus threatening the collapse of the monopoly the British had enjoyed. With the sudden end to the boom the working man’s lot became desperately bad. Manual workers were being replaced by machinery, and soon factory workers themselves had to face wholesale dismissals and drastic wage reductions. By the Combination Act of 1799 Trade Unions were treated as ‘conspiracies in restraint of trade’ so that the workers formed secret societies. Their lot was further aggravated by heavy indirect taxation on commodities, including the necessaries of life, and the high cost of food meant the poor being undernourished. While wages of mill-hands were sinking towards ten shillings, the cost of a large loaf was rising to one-and-tenpence.

The farmer had suffered too from the slump, but as the income of landowners depended on prosperous farmers, parliament (consisting largely of landowners and their friends) passed the Corn Law in 1815, forbidding the importation of foreign corn till the price of English com reached the extremely high figure of eighty shillings a quarter. When foreign corn was admitted, it was heavily taxed.

The country labourer and small landowner were being driven off the land by the ‘enclosure movement’. An attempt to settle on a lawful fixed minimum wage for farm workers had failed due to opposition from the farmers, and led to a scheme of poor relief by which underpaid labourers could claim assistance from the parish. Every ‘poor and industrious person’ was to receive from the parish a certain sum per week in addition to his wages, so much for himself and so much for other members of his family, when the loaf cost a shilling. As the loaf price rose, so the dole was to rise with it.

This system had started in Berkshire in 1795 as a result of a meeting of the Justices at the Pelican Inn, Speenhamland. But the poor rate grew so large that it ruined many surviving small landowners, and labourers still remain hungry.

G. M. Trevelyan in his English Social History states that the fixing of a fixed wage for the county of Berkshire in relation to the price of bread would have been a difficult policy to carry out against the resistance of recalcitrant farmers, during a period of violent price fluctuations, but that it was in principle the true remedy. He says:

"If it had been adopted for Berkshire and for all England, it might have diverted our modern social history into happier channels."

As it was, the system of poor relief started in Berkshire was adopted in one county after another until:

"…the evil system was established in perhaps half rural England, particularly in the counties of recent enclosures. The Northern Counties were among those outside the system, for in the North the near neighbourhood of factories and mines tended to keep up rural wages by competition."

This payment of rates in aid of wages relieved the large employing farmer from the necessity of giving a living wage to his work people, and most unjustly forced the small independent parishioner to help the big man, while at the same time it compelled the labourer to become a pauper even when he was in full work! The moral effect was devastating on all concerned. The large farmers were confirmed in their selfish refusal to raise wages, the independent classes staggered under the burden of the poor rate, while idleness and crime increased among the pauperized labourers. An American observer wrote with too much truth in 1830:

"The term pauper as used in England and more particularly in agricultural districts, embraces that numerous class of society who depend for subsistence solely upon the labour of their hands.

It is not, however, true, as was thought at the time, that rates in aid of wages were an important cause of the rapid rise of population which Malthus was teaching his contemporaries to dread so much…the rise of the population was due not to an increase in births but to a decrease in deaths."

We shall see that John pointed out this error of Malthus’s calculations.

G. M. Trevelyan continued:

"…after Waterloo, with the crash in corn prices, the reduction in the ranks of the small cultivators was resumed. It was upon them that the Speenhamland system weighed hardest financially, for in many Southern counties, particularly in Wiltshire, the numerous farmers who employed no paid labour themselves were forced to pay heavy poor rates in order to eke out the wages paid by the large employing farmers, their rivals who were destined to supersede them. And the small cultivator still suffered by the continued enclosure of the open fields and commons, and by the progressive decline in cottage industries.

Once the war and its reactions were well over, it appears from statistical calculation of real wages that the agricultural labourer was no worse off in 1824 than he had been thirty years before, taking the average of the country as a whole…But his standard of life had declined in those parts of the rural South which lay furthest from the wage competition of factories and mines, particularly where the poor rates were being employed to keep wages down."

After a slump, trade, including agriculture, started to pick up again in 1817, and 1818 proved a year of boom. But by the summer of 1819 there was a return to a slump with foreign markets drying up, and another severe reduced in wages caused grave hardship.

Poaching became common and severe measures were adopted to counteract it. The discontent of the poor was met with harsh repression by the government of the day. As there was no effective police force, soldiers were drafted into the bigger industrial towns to cow the artisans. The Yeomanry was used to scatter mobs, a method which led to many ugly incidents, the best known of which being the Peterloo or Manchester Massacre of 1819.

However, in 1822 three able men joined the Cabinet. Robert Peel became Home Secretary, after a very successful ten years as Irish Secretary, and did much to reduce crime by making punishments less severe, including abolishing capital punishment for all but three or four offences.

William Huskisson did much to revive trade by lowering many duties and taxes on imports of food (such as sugar) and manufactured goods (such as cotton goods) when he was President of the Board of Trade in 1825. The Corn Law was modified, so that corn from the colonies was encouraged, and in 1828 a sliding scale was introduced by which heavy taxes on foreign corn, that was required in times of famine, were reduced in proportion as the price of English corn rose. Mobility of labour was improved by lifting restrictions on its movement. In 1824 the Combination Act was repealed.

In 1828 the Duke of Wellington became Prime Minister, supported by Peel. A period of reform of Parliament and local government was now started. In 1828 Dissenters were admitted to all public offices, and in 1829 the Roman Catholic Relief Bill became law, opening all political and civil offices to Roman Catholics, excepting those of the King, the Regent, the Lord Chancellor and the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. In 1830 Wellington resigned and a Whig government was elected, supported by the more broad-minded Tories. Lord Grey, who sat in the House of Lords, became Prime Minister, with Lord John Russell as leader of the party in the House of Commons.

Lord Grey had always supported Parliamentary reform, so the first business of his new government was to introduce a Bill for the reform of Parliamentary representation. Grey and Russell drew up a Reform Bill and introduced it into the Commons on 1st March 1831, proposing drastic reorganisation of constituencies and altering the franchise, so that the vote was to be given to those in the borough who occupied a house for which they paid £10 annually, and in the counties to all freeholders and those who paid £10 or more annually on a long lease, or £50 on a short lease. But in the Boroughs the rent had to be paid in not more than two instalments per year, as opposed to weekly, and householders must pay their rates directly, which the poorer ones never did – so really all below the prosperous middle class were still excluded.

The population of England, Wales and Scotland had risen from 11 million in 1801 to nearly l6½ million in 1831. The population of Ireland was now just over 7½ million.

The Bill was met with great opposition, and finally defeated, resulting in a general election in which the Whigs were returned with a big majority: and as a result the Bill passed through the Commons in October 1831. The Lords, however, led by the Duke of Wellington, rejected it. Nottingham Castle, the Duke of Newcastle’s home, was burnt down and various palaces of bishops were attacked in retaliation to their opposition against the Bill. A third Bill was introduced, but was again thrown out by the Lords. Revolution seemed imminent, with riots being put down by troops and Grey resigning, but, as Wellington failed to form an alternative ministry, the king recalled the Whig leader and promised to create sufficient new peers to get the Bill through the Lords. The Bill was passed in March 1832 .

In 1833 the Factory Act was passed prohibiting the employment of children under nine besides protecting children, also women, in other ways. In 1834 the Poor Law was reformed; the extension of the Speenhamland system of outdoor relief to supplement wages having put an intolerable burden on ratepayers and not sufficiently on employers. Now an able-bodied man could not obtain assistance unless he actually entered the workhouse.

Trevelyan in his English Social History wrote of this New Poor Law:

"Such was the remorseless utilitarian logic of the Poor Law Commissioners to whom the Act gave power. It was a harsh remedy for a terrible disease: the Speenhamland policy for granting the poor rate in aid of wages had pauperized even the employed workman and kept wages down; moreover, it was now ruining the ratepayers. An operation was necessary to save society, but the knife was applied without anaesthetics.

The working class in town and country regarded the new Poor Law as an odious tyranny, as indeed it often was. But it had created a central machine which, by displacing the old local autonomy, was used as years went by to remedy the grievances of the poor and to make a national system of which the country had less reason to be ashamed."

In 1846 the Corn Laws were repealed; this was following agitation by the Anti-Corn Laws League, led by Richard Cobden M.P. and his colleague John Bright M.P. (mill-owner and splendid orator). The heavy rains of the autumn of 1845 had ruined most English corn, famine due to potato blight was ravaging Ireland, and it was imperative to import corn. Robert Peel, the Prime Minister, in spite of great opposition among the Tories, but with the support of the Whigs, succeeded in getting a bill passed through Parliament; however, shortly after this Peel had to resign.

In 1847 the second factory act – the Ten Hours Bill – was passed, further regulating working conditions in factories.


In John’s life time the Monarchs were:-

George III 1760–1820
(married Charlotte, daughter of the Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz)

George IV 1820–1830
(Prince of Wales, then Regent 1810–1820; married Caroline, daughter of Augusta, elder sister of George III, who married the Duke of Brunswick).

William IV 1830–1837
(third son of George III; previously the Duke of Clarence).

Prime Ministers and some of their chief Ministers

[There are lots of errors in Robert's work here...]

Henry Addington 1801-1804
(later Lord Sidmouth)

William Pitt 12th May 1804–25th January 1806
(2nd Administration)

George Grenville 23rd January 1806–25th March 1807
(2nd .Administration)

Duke of Portland 25th March 1807–20th October 1809
Viscount Gastlereagh War Minister

Spencer Perceval 1809–11th May 1812
(assassinated)
Lord Liverpool May 1812 – l7th February 1827
Viscount Sidmouth Home Sec. till 1822
Robert Peel Home Sec. 1822-1827
Viscount Castlereagh Foreign Sec. till 1822
George Canning Foreign Sec. 1822-April 1827
Wm . Huskisson Board of Trade from 1823 (M.P. for Chichester 1812-22)
Sir Robert Wilmot Horton Under Secretary of State for War and the Colonies

George Canning April 1827 - 8th August 1827
Wm . Huskisson Board of Trade

Viscount Goderich 8th August 1827 - 8th January 1828
(afterwards Earl of Ripon)

Duke of Wellington January 1828 - November 1830
Robert Peel Home Secretary
Wm . Huskisson Colonial Sec.

Earl Grey November 1830 - 9th July 1834
Viscount Melbourne Home Sec.
Lord John Russell Paymaster of the Forces
Charles Gordon Lennox Ordnance Department
5th Duke of Richmond
Viscount Melbourne 16th July 1834-November 1834
Lord John Russell Paymaster of the forces
Sir Robert Peel December 1834 - April 1835
Viscount Melbourne April 1835 - 30th August 1841
Lord John Russell Home Sec. till August 1839 Colonial Sec. till August 1841
Sir Robert Peel September 1841 - 29th June 1846
Duke of Wellington In cabinet without office
Lord John Russell July 1846 - 2nd February 1851, March 1851 - 21st February 1853


In John’s life time the world had begun to shrink for man, as the means of more rapid communication started to be invented and brought into use. At the same time the population of the world began to expand greatly.

Railways for carrying passengers and goods appeared. George Stephenson’s first locomotive was built in 1814, and his Rocket travelled at 25 to 35 m.p.h in 1829.

The Stockton & Darlington railway was opened for passengers in 1825, and in 1830 the Liverpool & Manchester Railway was opened; Plate No. 6 shows the types of carriages provided on this railway in 1831.

From the History of the G.W.R. by E.T. MacDermot (pub.1927) we learn that travel was not always very comfortable on the railways. Regarding conditions in 1839 he wrote:

"Now second-class coaches were discontinued, and people who would not pay first-class fares had to be content with carriages roofed indeed, but with sides and doors only about three feet high, the rest being open to the weather. Needless to say, even these were vastly superior to the outside of a stage-coach, to which they corresponded."

Later in the same year the Secretary of the G.W.R., giving evidence before a Parliamentary Committee said, with regard to conveying third class of passengers, that perhaps the company would arrange to convey the very lowest orders of passengers later on, but as yet no decision had been come to. Probably such people would eventually be taken once a day at very slow speed in carriages of an inferior description at a. very low price, perhaps at night.

In February 1840 a Select Committee of the Commons was told that the G.W.R. was carrying persons in the lower stations of life at a fare of 3s.6d. each ‘going on with the goods in his waggons from Twyford’. So indirectly and by sufferance only, third class passenger traffic on the G.W.R.began.

1846 was the Railway Mania and panic year, when 272 railway acts were passed; by the middle of the 19th century the main network of railways in the U.K. was established. The following figures indicate the progress made - in 1843 England, Wales and Scotland had 2,000 miles, and Ireland 31 miles of railway - by 1874 the former had 14,322 miles and the latter 2,127 miles.

On the sea steam vessels started to appear. In 1814 there were five steamers built in England, and in 1820 the first in Ireland. Cunard started to sail in 1840, and the P. & 0. in 1841. By 1849 there were 17,807 sailing vessels and 4l4 steamers of the U.K. engaged in home and foreign trade. By 1878 the number of steamers had risen to 2,970, while the number of sailing vessels had decreased by about 600. In 1851 the ‘Pacific’ crossed the Atlantic in 9 days 19 hours, 25 minutes, arriving at Holyhead.

Inland waterways in 1851, in England, included some 4,000 miles of canals and navigable rivers. Most of the canals were built from mid-l8th century till the first quarter of the 19th century. (After many of the canals having fallen into disuse during this century, steps are now being taken to revive some of them.)


The population figures in John’s lifetime are given below, together with those of more recent years, which are given in brackets:

1. England and Wales
In 1831 13,896,797
In 1841 15,906,829
(In 1951 43,744,924)
(In 1985 49,924,000)
Scotland
In 1831 2,364,386
In 184-1 2,628,957
(In 1951 5,095,969)
(In 1985 5,137,000)
Ireland
In 1831 7,767,401
(In 1951 4,329,587)
(In 1985 5,093,000)

(The population of the U.K. in 1985 was 56,000,000; the number of people aged 65 or over increased by over 2,000,000 between 1961 and 1985).

Emigration and Immigration figures
Emigration from U.K.
In 1815 2,081
1820 25,729
1830 56,907
1850 280,843
(1871 252,435)
(1875 173,809)
(1984 164,000)
(1985 174,000) (estimated)
Immigration into U.K.
(In 1871 49,167)
(In 1875 94,228)
(In 1956 178,596)
(In 1958 165,485) These were the figures for overseas entrants into the National Insurance Scheme ; they exclude workers’ dependants, unless they were themselves working.
(In 1984 201,000)
(In 1985 270,000) (estimated).

Births and Deaths In England and Wales
Total Births Illegitimate Births (included in Total Births) Deaths

From 1821-1831 3,920,133 19,976 2,557,707
In 1838 464,000 343,000
1842 518,000 35,000 356,000 (approx)
1855 635,000 41,000 426,000
(1984 636,800 110,400 566,900)
(1985 656,400 126,200 591,000)

Total Births in Scotland and Ireland

Scotland N. Ireland Irish Republic
In 1855 93,300 136,400 (in 1864)
(1984 65,100 27,700 64,200)
(1985 66,700 27,600 n.a.)

Illegitimate births included in the above
In 1855 7,300 5,200 (in 1864)
(1984 10,600 2,800 3,911 (in 1981)
(1985 12,400 n.a. n.a.

Deaths in Scotland and Ireland
Scotland N. Ireland Irish Republic
In 1855 62,000 93,100 (in 1964)
(1984 62,300 15,700 32,154)
(1985 63,900 16,000 n.a.)
‘n.a.’ means ‘not available’.

Births and Deaths in U .K..
Total Births Illegitimate Births (included in Total Births) Deaths
(1874 1,092,616 665,208)
(1984 702,000 119,340+ 644,900)
+ The proportion of births that were illegitimate rose between 1975 and 1984 from 9 per cent to 19 per cent.

Points of Interest;

1. Figures for deaths in each of the countries were not accurate until well into the 1860s, when registration was complete.

2. Regarding emigration; there was a scheme for free passage to other parts of the Commonwealth for ex-servicemen and families from 1919-1922. A more general scheme was initiated by the Empire Settlement Act 1922, which remained in force, with renewals, for more than twenty years.

3. In 1951, 37,600 persons emigrated from U.K. to Australia, the main destination involved, under the assisted passage scheme. The corresponding number in 1958 was 29,349.

4. The figures which I have shown have been obtained from Haydn’s Dictionary of Dates (1876), Whittaker’s Almanack, The Daily Telegraph, and from my M.P., who kindly obtained figures and information from many sources.


Chapter 7: The Last Three Years of John Senior's First Marriage


Unfortunately the first two volumes of John’s Journal have been lost, but as the third volume opens with an entry in July 1819 we are able to learn some of his activities during the last three years of his first marriage.

It appears that John’s mother-in-law moved to Clapham after her husband’s death, as the letter written to John by David Ricardo in May 1817 was addressed to him at ‘Mrs. Woodrouffe Smith’s, Clapham, Surrey’.

John visited Clapham fairly frequently, sometimes accompanied by his wife, to attend meetings of the executors of Woodrouffe Smith’s trust, and to visit London for various reasons, besides the Teddington and Esher areas, in connection with the trust’s landed properties.

Sometimes he stayed at Carshalton House, which was owned by William Foster Reynolds between the years 1815 to 1840, a Quaker merchant and the younger brother of Mrs. Woodrouffe Smith.

In August 1819, after leaving Clapham, John visited Sittingbourne, Dover, Canterbury, Hastings and Brighton.

When on his travels, he often met Joseph Janson, a nephew of his mother; they were great friends, with similar interests and, when studying the same subjects compared notes, sometimes by correspondence, on the progress they were making. Joseph Janson was a banker and, like John, a keen educationalist.

The Inglises and the Thorntons he often met when in Clapham; they lived at Battersea Rise. When in London John sometimes attended debates at the House of Commons, and occasionally met Ricardo, and other economists; also Joseph Woods the architect and botanist, who had been a member of the first committee for the abolition of the slave trade.

From his Journal entry for 8th August 1819, it is evident that John was a member of the Court of Guardians in Chichester, which involved attending meetings. He was appointed a member of the committee to draw up a set of bye-laws for the better regulation of the business of the Court.

On 17th October 1819 John recorded that he recommenced writing Further Observations on the Conditions of the Labouring Classes. These observations must have been those included in his second pamphlet. On 16th January 1820 he recorded that he proceeded with his pamphlet entitled An Enquiry into the Cases of the Progressive Depreciation of Human Labour during the last 70 years.


In February and March 1820 he was much concerned with preparations for the General Election, which for Sussex was to be held at Chichester. There follows, below, a brief account of the arrangements made for, and the result of, the election from the interesting article by Julian R. McQuiston in the English Historical Review, volume LXXXVIII of 1973, entitled ‘Sussex aristocrats and the county election of 1820’; but before recounting briefly the events leading up to the election we should remind ourselves of the important position that the big aristocrats then enjoyed in England, and something of their way of life.

Their houses were princely, they held large landed estates, and there were large numbers of them. Petworth was one of the biggest of these palaces.

Horsfield’s History of Sussex relates that

"Petworth House is remarkable for the most complete collection of the exquisite carvings in wood of Grinling Gibbons.

The park wall is about 12 miles in circumference. The enclosure is beautifully undulated and graced with trees of the noblest growth. In front of the mansion is a sheet of water of considerable extent. The views which the park commands of the downs of Surrey and Sussex, and the intervening scenery, are of singular beauty and grandeur."

Capability Brown was largely responsible for the design of Petworth’s park.

Petworth was the seat of the Earl of Egremont.

"George Wyndham, the 3rd Earl of Egremont, was the most important of Turner’s patrons. He formed a fine collection of works by contemporary British painters and sculptors, and had bought a large number of Turner’s paintings between 1802 and 1813, including a view of Petworth, Sussex, the seat of the Earl of Egremont: Dewy Morning, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1810 and still at Petworth…in the late 1820s and 1830s Turner spent a considerable amount of time at Petworth, even having his own studio there."

Arthur Bryant describes these grand palaces in The Age of Elegance :

"Within the stately houses went on a life designed for enjoyment and content. It seemed a paradox that their inmates, as mirrored in their letters and contemporary novels, should have suffered the usual human lot of anxiety, envy, longing and even, sometimes, of despair. Amid furniture ‘in all the profusion and elegance of modern taste’ and the masterpieces of an unbroken civilisation, on lawns shaded by cedars of Lebanon and rolled and scythed until they resembled green lakes, surrounded by avenues, temples and parks cropped by deer, with terraces for sun and groves and fountains for shade, with walled gardens and hothouses that poured out a never-ending flow of peaches, nectarines, grapes, melons and pineapples, with coverts full of game, cellars of choice vintages, side tables of gleaming mahogany groaning with game, hams and cheeses, these elegant, favoured creatures, with the stimulus and wherewithal for the cultivation of every social, aesthetic and learned taste, still contrived on occasion to be bored and out of humour.

Yet on the whole, as Squire Lambton reckoned a man could do on £40,000 a year, they managed to ‘jog along’."

The Age of Elegance goes into considerable depth in establishing the contemporary concept of a gentleman .

"The ruling principle of English society was the conception of a gentleman. Good breeding was not merely a mark of social distinction but a rule for the treatment of others. It made few concessions to the idea of equality; men, it was held, were born to varying lots, and in 1815 one took these distinctions as one found them. But a gentleman was expected to treat his fellow creatures of all ranks openly and frankly, even when it meant sacrificing his interests to do so…

A man’s reputation as a gentleman was looked on as his most valuable possession. Any action, or even association, incompatible with it was regarded as a stain which must be immediately expunged. This accounted for the extreme sensitivity with which public men reacted to any slight on their honour, vindicating it, if necessary, in some dawn encounter with pistols on suburban common or foreign beach. Pitt, Castlereagh, Canning, Wellington and Peel all risked their lives in this way while holding office…

A gentleman, at his best, was one who raised the dignity of human nature – noble, fearless, magnanimous. When the Governor-General of Canada, the Duke of Richmond , learnt he was suffering from hydrophobia, he never breathed a word of his impending doom, but performed his social duties with the same calm and dignified bearing to the dreadful end. ‘Throughout the whole of his career’, Gronow wrote of Wellington, ‘he always placed first and foremost, far above his military and social honours, his position as an English gentleman…

A gentleman was under an obligation to be generous; he held his possessions like his life on terms. The very flies at Petworth, wrote Haydon, seemed to know that there was room for their existence; dogs, horses, cows, deer and pigs, peasantry and servants, guests and family, all shared in Lord Egremont’s bounty and opulence. If there was anything the English despised more than a coward, it was a skint. ‘It is not only a received thing’, wrote Simond, ‘that an Englishman has always plenty of money and gives it away very freely, but no sacrifice of a higher kind is supposed to be above his magnanimity."

Simond also records that Lord Egremont allowed his farm workers to play bowls and cricket on his lawns and even write their names on his walls and windows.

"‘Gentlemen are, or ought to be, the pride and glory of every civilised country’, wrote Bewick, himself a radical; ‘without their countenance arts and sciences must languish, industry be paralysed and barbarism rear its stupid head’."

With regard to the rich, Arthur Bryant states the English:

"liked them, too, to share and excel in their pastimes. ‘Nothing’, the Duke of Wellington declared, ‘the people of this country like so much as to see their great men take part in their amusements; the aristocracy will commit a great error if ever they fail to mix freely with their neighbours’. Sport in England was a wonderful solvent of class distinction. Even fox-hunting, with all its expense and showy competitiveness, had still something of a rough democracy about it, at once exclusive and classless, of Master and huntsman, groom and whipper-in, dog-stopper and stable boy, meeting day after day on the level of a common love."

And how true this still is, and foxhunting is still the most humane way of keeping the fox population under control, which is essential.


Sussex was represented in Parliament by two M.P.s, one residing in the eastern half, the other in the western. This arrangement was appropriate chiefly on account of the long and narrow shape of the county. In 1820 there was to be a general election, due to the accession of George IV; the 3rd Earl of Ashburnham, who lived at Ashburnham, in the east of the county, and who had been M.P. for Ashburnham before succeeding to the title in 1812, and Lord Egremont, whose seat was at Petworth in the west, sought to remove Sir Godfrey Webster, an offensive county member, who in 1812 (described as a baronet of immense fortune) had been elected on the Tory interest, but who had by 1818 become an outspoken critic of ministerial policy, and intended to stand again at the forthcoming election. Walter Burrell was the other M.P. for Sussex.

Lord Sheffield, whose seat was Sheffield Park, near Uckfield, also wished to oust Webster.

Egremont was the greatest landowner in Sussex in 1820, with 30,000 acres. Ashburnham, with his seat at Ashburnham Place, Battle, owned 14,000 acres in Sussex. Other big landowners in Sussex were the Duke of Norfolk, with 21,446 acres, the Duke of Richmond, with his seat at Goodwood, held 17,000 acres, the Earl of Chichester, with his seat at Stanmer, Lewes, held 16,000 acres, and the Marquess of Abergavenny, with his seat at Bridge Castle, 15,000 acres.

Egremont nominated Edward Jeremiah Curteis, who lived at Windmill Hill Place, a mile east of Herstmonceux, with an estate of nearly 2,000 acres in Sussex, as suitable to contest Webster’s seat. Ashburnham wrote to Egremont saying that:

"On receipt of your former letter, I lost no time in speaking to my friend and neighbour Curteis: and I am vain enough to think, that I know how to speak to him with most effect…he listened with evident pleasure, and only declined the deciding at once…I will pledge myself that he will prove as staunch a supporter of Government, as any Minister can reasonably expect, or wish, a County Member to be."

Later Curteis, who was in London on business at the time, confirmed, through his wife, that he was prepared to stand and that only the question of expense, particularly ‘against so wild a being as the Opponent’, and the fact that he felt he was not well known outside his own neighbourhood, had deterred him from accepting immediately.

Sir Godfrey Webster owned an estate of 6,000 acres. The ‘indefatigable arbiter of Whig society’, Lady Holland, was his mother. As Elizabeth Vassall, a Jamaican heiress, she had married Sir Godfrey Webster the 4th baronet, and then had left him for Lord Holland, whom she had met in Italy. Of Webster Lord Ashburnham wrote:

"From his own immediate neighbourhood, not a freeholder of any rank or description, from the highest to the lowest, excepting only his Relations and Dependants will give him a vote’. He also complained of him…There is not a Shopkeeper in Battle, to whom he has not long been in debt; he has not money to pay the Labourers employ’d in cutting the last faggots that are to be found on his Estate: and scarcely credit to obtain a joint of Meat or a loaf of bread…he must either get into Parliament, or get out of the Kingdom."

The Gentleman’s Magazine of October 1836 was rather more generous in its viewpoint though:

"His mode of life was characterized by very great expense and extravagance, which at length drove him into retirement…the elegance and taste, and love of art, displayed about his venerable residence at Battle Abbey, at the same time demanded a tribute of respect; and the care with which he laid open and explored the monastic ruins, deserves the thanks of the antiquary."

Walter Burrell, who lived at West Grinstead House, which he had had built in 1806 (a castellated mansion in the Gothic style) with a small estate, was a son of Sir William Burrell (1732–96) an antiquary, M.P. for Haslemere in 1768, who collected material for a history of Sussex during 1787–1796. Walter Burrell had been an M.P. for Sussex since 1812. Burrell’s elder brother, Sir Charles Merrick, who lived at Knepp Castle, Shipley, and was M.P. for New Shoreham from 1806 to 1826, had married Frances Wyndham, elder daughter of Lord Egremont, in 1808. In their May 1831 edition the Gentleman’s Magazine obituary of Walter Burrell stated that he had unostentatious conciliatory manners, was easy of access, intimately acquainted with all the local interests of the county, and that during five successive parliaments was anxious to reconcile the conflicting objects, and to promote the wishes of his constituents; and that he possessed strong good sense, sound judgement, unsullied integrity and independent principles.

On 27th February, having returned from London, Curteis wrote to Ashburnham, giving him a copy of his election declaration which he had sent to the London papers, which asserted that ‘the Bills lately passed by Parliament for suppression of Blasphemy and Sedition have my full approbation’, and he added that ‘I am and ever shall remain, a firm and determined supporter of the constitution of my country against all attacks and inroads, from whatever quarter they may proceed’.
Curteis was worried that this public declaration would provoke the Howards and the Cavendishes.

On 29th February Curteis wrote to Ashburnham that: ‘I have written thirty letters into the West in the nature of Circulars this Morning to the great Persons of the West – the Bishop – the Arch Deacons – the Sheriff – D. of Richmond and to all the Peers that I can recollect and an earnest and solicitous letter to the Lord Lieutenant and to many Magistrates and Clergymen’.

On 1st March Lord George Cavendish, third son of 4th Duke of Devonshire, who had married in 1782 Elizabeth Compton, daughter and heiress of 7th Earl of Northampton, from whom he had acquired an estate of 11,000 acres at Eastbourne, told Egremont that he was offering his son, Charles Compton Cavendish as a further candidate. Egremont, however, tried to persuade him to withdraw his son, unless Curteis could be persuaded to withdraw gracefully. Much discussion ensued, over a period, between Egremont, William Stephen Poyntz, who was married to the daughter of 7th Viscount Montague and inherited the Cowdray estate on the death of his brother-in-law George Samuel, 8th Viscount in 1793, (who died when attempting to shoot the waterfalls of Shaufhausen in Switzerland) and a leading Whig, Lord Chichester, James Abercromby, the Duke of Richmond’s man of business, Lord Sheffield, and other magnates as to who in fact should represent Sussex.
Curteis at times became a bit concerned as to whether he was to be fully supported for the candidature, there was obviously so much manoeuvring going on behind the scenes and he once observed that ‘the Baronet is paying his Debts’. However, Lord Sheffield wrote to Lord Ashburnham on 8th March:

"It is not easy to decide whether the Cavendish effort exhibits a greater want of the County or of Common Sense or of both. At least it is an Insult in respect of all the principal persons of the County, who after due experience of the extreme unfitness of Sir Godfrey and the disgrace of having such a representative, were desirous of supporting one who is in every respect proper and fitting - a respectable useful Country Gentleman and Magistrate. I flatter myself this Cavendish effort so late, will have the effect of producing still greater exertion on the part of the County’"

Lord Ashburnham pointed out to Lord Sheffield that:

"Curteis as a landed proprietor perhaps draws as good a revenue out of Sussex acres as anyone in the County: that he supports Administration as steadily as a County-Member might: and that as to County-Business, both in and out of Parliament, it is his ‘hobby-horse’."

On March 4th Lord Egremont announced that Burrell and Curteis had formally joined forces and that he himself would provide £5,000 to reinforce the campaign. Writing to Lord Ashburnham he stated that if friends in the eastern section could match that sum, financing of the election was assured. On 5th March Curteis wrote to Ashburnham that there was some evidence that the radical faction in Chichester, who numbered some 300 according to Lord Egremont, might attempt to take the election by storm on nomination day.

But Curteis, after visiting Chichester, reckoned that though the radical mob controlled the city, he had secured the clergy and the gentry. He felt, however that due to the slow progress of Burrell’s canvassing the small freeholders had gone over to Webster. William Huskisson and Lord Selsey , however, had used their local influence to remedy this state of things, and Huskisson had requested help from the Treasury.

Curteis protested that ‘The Insults at Brighton are very great’, and that the insolent had scrawled ‘Queen-Divorce etc. on every wall’, and ‘What an insult to the Pavil. will it be, if they (Webster and cohorts) are allowed to beat’. He felt that the considerable landowners in Sussex like Camden, whose seat was at Bayhem Abbey, Lamberhurst, Sheffield, Whitworth , Abergavenny, Egremont and Hampden must ‘bring up their Men – if they do not: the County is lost and undone and the King’s Majesty insulted’.

On 6th March Lord George Cavendish publicly proclaimed his bold and heretofore unsuspected resolution to enter his son Charles Compton into the contest. His pretext was the unvarnished language employed by Curteis in condemning the opponents. of coercive legislation.


From what Webster said after the election, it appears that as long as he stuck to reform he could get plenty of votes.
As the struggle now looked more formidable Curteis became anxious over the funds available to fight the election, and besides depositing £5,000 himself with a London banker, he asked for further aid from his noble supporters. He was worried at the thought of competing with the purse of the Cavendishes, Lord George having resolved to enter his son Charles Compton into the contest for the eastern section.

As canvassing had gone well in the eastern section Lord Ashburnham became confident of the outcome being favourable to Curteis. He wrote to Egremont on about 9th March – ‘Sir Godfrey’ is at last arrived…an hired mob of Radical vagabonds dragg’d him yesterday into hastings: and by dint of Gin, not money (as far from being able to pay, he bilks and swindles the very Post-Boys who drive him: these are facts) the same triumphant entry was effected at Battle’. He felt that though Webster had swirled through Battle, Hastings and Rye, it was only in the last town that he could challenge the solid majority pledged to Curteis and Burrell.

Curteis was nominated on 13th March – Webster suddenly withdrew on the eve of the day before nominations; his decision was due to pecuniary needs.

When nominated Curteis

"did not forgo his biting denunciation of the persistent critics of the established order:

…he avowed his attachment to religion, but not the religion of Carlisle; and his regard for true liberty, but not the liberty Hunt , Watson , and Thistlewood , which with considerable earnestness he described as a liberty begotten by French Jacobinism on the body of Atheism…That he was well convinced that the Freeholders of Sussex would not consent to be taught their politics by Hunt or the academy of Cato Street, nor their morals by Paine , or by Cobbett, who like a mountebank, was attempting to work wonders by the magic of his rotten bones, ridiculously taken from their tomb in America, or morals by Carlisle and the Black Dwarf."

Webster now supported Cavendish vigorously, William Huskisson spoke out

"against contradiction between the liberal professions of the Whig house of Cavendish and its borough-mongering, his strictures did not dampen the militancy of the radical faction of Chichester. On his part, Cavendish made it clear that his decision to stand had been encouraged by the election proclamation of Curteis, and sensing that many were irritated by the extravagant language of Curteis, Burrell sought to draw away from too close an embrace with his unpredictable ally."

Curteis was still worried about the strength of radicalism in Chichester, and asked for the magistrate’s assistance in sending votes. Radicalism in other towns also worried him, though in the country he was doing well, he felt. He was determined to fight the Cavendishes who were both using the charm of their ladies and indulging in rough handling, in which Huskisson was seized and held by two stalwarts while a third rubbed herrings over his face, to canvas votes. However, on the eighth day of polling, 21st March, Cavendish withdrew.

Curteis received only 292 more votes than Cavendish, and only 231 votes separated Burrell and Curteis.

"These figures provide proof of the bitterness of the contests, and the slight margin of victory and defeat. In his acceptance speech Curteis said – ‘that whatever praise and approbation the family of Cavendish might in former days be entitled to from the nation at large (and he believed they were entitled to a great deal) he could not on this occasion as from himself pay them any compliment for none was owing to them from him’."

The non-conformist opposition to Curteis had been formidable.

"At Chichester and Rye where long-established dissenting congregations flourished the Cavendish majority had demonstrated the vitality of the alliance between Whig dynasts and those who worshipped in chapels.’ But in the rural areas the Tories led by Lords Ashburnham and Egremont had been too much for him."

Lord Ashburnham wrote to Lord Egremont on 31st March 1820 that the local radical leaders

"would never have shewn to us, that there exists in the Towns within this County as ferocious a spirit of Radicalism, as any of the most essentially manufacturing districts throughout the entire Kingdom: had they not got hold of a Cavendish charged to the very muzzle with cash and banknotes, and had fired away until they made themselves heard from one end of Sussex to the other."

Lord Egremont agreed and was of the opinion that the Whigs as a party in the Country counted for nothing as indicated by this general election, but that the radicals and revolutionaries were powerful and rising everywhere, and he feared therefore, that ‘dangerous times were at hand’. Huskisson was of the same opinion, and was unhappy about Curteis, feeling that he needed to be kept steady. He warned that:

"Men of a very different Character, who will come into the House yielding to the impression which they have received at their elections, and that impression, if any opportunity is afforded them of displaying it in the House will, by being reflected back from there, be increased tenfold out of Doors."

Huskisson was convinced that the downturn in agriculture and manufacturing industry had been the cause of radicalism spreading from the towns to the countryside.

Burrell told Ashburnham in a letter on 9th April that:

"I do not greatly admire my Colleague, not on account of the trouble and vexation he brought upon me by his absurd conduct, for I never saw any Dorking five-clawed cock with more white feathers; but because I have good reason to doubt his Politics. He having told Lord Henry Howard and Colonel Lloyd from both of whom I have heard it, that he was still a Whig. What he meant by this I know not, for he was really quite beside himself during the Election."

Curteis complimented Lord Egremont on the fact that he himself had won, because the victory had been Lord Egremont’s and that of the Aristocracy of Sussex. He wrote:

"I do not mean of the Peerage by any means, but of an Aristocracy comprehending almost all that is great and good in the County, beginning with Personages of high rank and including every Graduation down to the Gentleman Farmer."

Julian R. McQuiston sums up the result with:

"In the end, however, the return of two county members nominally favourable to the government had been secured by Ashburnham and Egremont. In their manoeuvre they had overturned an unpalatable advocate of popular radicalism and had clipped the pretensions of a proud Whig family (the Cavendishes). All of which was no mean accomplishment."


In An account of the Sussex Election at Chichester, 1820, John’s speech made at a meeting at the Dolphin, Chichester, on Wednesday, 1st March 1820 is recorded; a relevant extract of the report on the election reads as follows:

"The business of this meeting, which was numerously attended, was opened by the Hon. Baronet himself, who apologized for having taken the liberty of so unusual a measure as the calling a public meeting of his friends, instead of paying his personal respects to them; but the shortness of the time, the extent of the county, and his engagements on the morrow at Brighton, would he hoped plead his excuse. He felt it necessary to say something on the opposition now raised against him: it would be a grand struggle between a government aristocracy, and the independent freeholders; the cause was theirs; and he only an humble instrument in their hands. The cry raised against him as a supporter of blasphemy was false as it was wicked. The Hon. Baronet here exclaimed – ‘I hold in my hand the very bill, it is called, “a Bill for restraining the publication of blasphemous and seditious libels”. That truly great man, Sir J. Mackintosh, (and a greater this country cannot boast of) invited Ministers to divide this bill: stating, that if they would bring in a bill for preventing blasphemous publications only, he would readily give it his vote: with regard to the other, which related to seditious libels, that would require to be debated. This being refused by Ministers, it placed the opposition in the situation, either of suffering your rights and liberties to be invaded by letting the bill pass without a division, or incurring the odium now cast upon them, as friends of Radicalism’. He then urged the freeholders to every exertion; relying as he did on the spirit, which, at the last Election, brought him triumphantly through that contest, he did not doubt of ultimately succeeding. He then paid a warm tribute of respect to his friends in this city and neighbourhood who had done so much for him on a former occasion, when he was only known to them in his public character, and concluded by thanking them most cordially for the prompt manner in which they had come forward at only a few hours notice.

He was then followed by Mr. Barton, who began by regretting that on this, and other occasions of a like nature, those of one political party only thought proper to attend. He was convinced that the reluctance felt by persons differing in sentiment in great public questions, freely and openly to exchange their opinions, and compare their views, contributed extremely to that unhappy separation of interests, that mutual jealousy and distrust unhappily prevailing between the different classes of society. He was confident that this jealousy and mistrust often arose wholly from misapprehensions, which a little explanation would be sufficient to do away. Even if such explanation did not serve in any degree to convince the opposite parties on the points in dispute, it would remove any suspicion as to the motives of their adversaries. He would have been glad to see the ‘Enemy to Radicalism’ here to night; and would have been quite ready to give a patient, and he hoped, a candid hearing, to whatever that gentleman might urge: and could he (the Enemy to Radicalism) shew any reasonable ground for his accusations against Sir Godfrey Webster; he (Mr. B.) would immediately desert him without shame or remorse - certainly, if Sir Godfrey Webster was indeed a promoter of blasphemy and sedition, it would ill become any man who loves his religion and his country to support him. But on what foundation does this charge rest? only on this, that Sir Godfrey Webster differed from Ministers as to the best means of restraining the growth of those evils: and surely he had good reason for doing so; for nothing could be more superficial than the view of the subject taken by Ministers and their adherents. The employment of restrictive measures to stay the progress of immoral and seditious principles has indeed an air of speciousness. When dangerous publications are circulated among the people, the most obvious remedy is of course to abridge the freedom of the press: when evil doctrines are disseminated by means of public meetings, the obvious way to guard against them is to put a stop to such meetings. This reasoning is plausible enough when we look no further than the surface.

But if we extend our observations a little wider, we shall see that in those countries where the freedom of the press, and the right of meeting and petitioning are most fully enjoyed, the people are upon the whole far more moral, more well disposed, more attached to their laws and government than in countries where no such privileges exist. Political liberty is the root from which pure religion, sound morals, and genuine patriotism spring: it becomes us therefore to take the utmost care, lest in the attempt to redress an immediate, and perhaps temporary evil, we injure the very source of those blessings.

Now, while he admitted the necessity of adopting some new measures to meet the exigency of the case, he did think that certain parts of the new bills were calculated to infringe, and to infringe unnecessarily, the rights left to us by our ancestors; – and particularly, the extension of the penalty of transportation to common political libels. It is argued, indeed, that these inroads on our liberty are so exceedingly trifling, as to give no reasonable cause for alarm. But in fact nothing ought to be considered as trifling which implies an encroachment on the constitution – for it is the nature of arbitrary power, if once it gain the smallest opening, continually to enlarge itself more and more; like an inundation kept out by a long bank: if the smallest orifice is made by the water, the barrier is soon swept away before it. We have therefore two opposite evils to guard against; we have to defend ourselves against the violent attacks of the deluded populace on one hand; and the more silent but not less dangerous attempts of the partizans of despotism on the other. For we must not deceive ourselves so much as to suppose that the Radicals are the only enemies of the constitution; even among the servants of the crown, he feared, there were such to be found. In proof of this, he would read them a passage from a little book written by a Gentleman holding a high and responsible situation under Government, (Mr. Croker) for the use of his own children, entitled Stories from the History of England:

‘King Charles the First’, the author says, ‘was an excellent man and a good King; but he had the misfortune to live in bad times, and to have wicked and rebellious subjects. These wicked men rose in rebellion against this good King, who had no fault but his unwillingness to punish these wretches’.

Who would believe that this virtuous monarch passed his whole life in a deliberate attempt to overthrow the laws and constitution of England; that he imprisoned members of Parliament for words spoken in their places; that he imposed taxes without consent of the legislature, and impressed for sailors persons who refused to pay them; that he condemned a man for no other crime than writing against stage entertainments, to pay a fine of £5000, to be twice pilloried, to lose both his ears, and to be imprisoned for life; and when the unfortunate culprit had the boldness to publish some reflexions on the injustice of the sentence, this mild and merciful monarch, the object of Mr. Croker’s unbounded admiration, whose only fault was an excessive degree of lenity and forbearance, caused his miserable victim to be dragged forth, and the stumps of his ears sawed out of his head by the executioner. When characters of this description were openly applauded by men of talent, education and fortune, men trusted and employed by the executive Government, was it not plain that our most vigilant attention should be exerted to guard against the encroachments of despotism on the one hand, as well as against the assaults of anarchists on the other? - I entreat you, then, (he continued) not to overlook one danger, in your anxiety to provide against another, but to give your earnest, hearty, undivided support to a man who will protect the rights of the people, as well as guard the prerogatives of the crown.

The Freeholders present then entered into a resolution to support Sir Godfrey Webster by giving him plumpers.



"To the Loyal Freeholders of the City of Chichester and its Vicinity

I have read with considerable surprise, the address which Sir Godfrey Webster has caused to be circulated in this City, and I hasten to express to you my sentiments on this extraordinary document. You will collect from it that the approaching contest is to be one of principles. It will be a struggle between the friends of Radicalism, and the friends and supporters of our glorious Constitution. The Loyal Freeholders of Sussex will have no difficulty in making their choice – they are too sensible of the imminent danger from which the country has been lately rescued, again to confide in Sir Godfrey Webster.

If his conduct be to himself a source of pride and self-gratulation, let us tell him that it is a source of far different sensations to us, and that it deserves, and will receive, our severest censure. It is indeed impossible, as the worthy Baronet states, ‘not to advert to the measures of Government, which were carried in the late short and eventful meeting of Parliament’, because those measures have undoubtedly been the Salvation of the State.

To the supporters of those measures, and them alone, we are indebted for the tranquillity which now prevails, and I hesitate not to say, partly in the words of the worthy Baronet, that ‘a contrary assumption is as false and gratuitous’ as the laws themselves are wise and indispensible, and a most seasonable exercise of the legislative authority.

I envy not Sir G. Webster the feelings with which, he tells us, he reflects on having been one of the minority against the laudable efforts of the Government, to check and put down, Blasphemy, Sedition, and treason, – but I am proud to avow that I derive the utmost satisfaction when I look back to the defeat, humiliation, and disgrace of that very minority, in their unconstitutional endeavours to promote the cause of radicalism, by opposing laws which were imperiously called for by acts little short of open Rebellion, and by the dissemination of principles, dangerous alike to the Throne, –to Religion, –and the true liberties of the subject; –principles which have been aptly described as ‘the raw material out of which murder and assassination are fabricated’.

Let me therefore exhort you to lose no time in ranging yourselves under the banners of Loyalty; and to suffer no inducement whatever to prompt you to support any Candidate who will not pledge himself to oppose those diabolical principles, and zealously support our glorious Constitution, both in Church and State.

AN ENEMY TO RADICALISM
Chichester, March 1, 1820."

John recorded his part in this meeting in his Journal entry for Sunday, March 19th, 1820.

John also recorded on the same day, notes on his speech at the Hall in Little London, Chichester, at the City election on 6th March.


On 21st March 1820 John recorded that he had completed his second pamphlet, of which the last sheet was now printing. This pamphlet was actually published under the title:

"An Inquiry into the Causes of the Progressive Depreciation of Agricultural Labour in Modern Times; with Suggestions for its REMEDY."

It is introduced with the following paragraph written at Chichester, and dated 27th March 1820:

"In some Observations on the Circumstances which influence the Condition of the Labouring Classes of Society the Author attempted, newly three years ago, to point out some important errors in the received opinions on those branches of Political Economy which relate to the conditions of the Poor. The view there taken of the subject was chiefly theoretical. In the following pages, the same principles, with some slight variations, suggested by further inquiry and reflexion, are presented in a more familiar form, and with more immediate reference to practical purposes."

At the end of May 1820 John wrote a letter to the Rev. A. Obins concerning the Abbé Cauvin who was employed teaching children of Nice. The British and Foreign School Society was active after 1815 in trying to establish monitorial schools, operating on undenominational lines, in various parts of France and southern Europe; most of this work, however, declined after about 1825. William Allen was treasurer of the Society, and the leading influence behind these efforts. Robert Forster of Tottenham was a prominent member of the committee. John, as we have seen, was a subscriber to the BFSS from an early age.

Schoolmasters were sent out from the Society’s training institution at Borough Road, Southwark, often after a brief period of learning the Lancasterian system, to schools both at home and abroad.

John’s friend. Joseph Janson was a prominent member of the committee of the BFSS in the early years and was interested in the Kingsland and Newington School and in Robert Forster’s British School at Tottenham. There were many Quaker members of the Society, including four other members of the Janson family, one of whom was also a committee member. William Allen and Robert Forster were also Quakers.

From his Journal entry for 30th April l.20 we find that John was already involved with keeping the Savings Bank accounts.
In his Journal entry for 14th June 1820, John records his views on how to set about framing a satisfactory constitution for a country, after reading Benjamin Constant de Rébeque’s work on the subject entitled Réflexions sur les constitutions, la distribution des pouvoirs, et les garanties dans une monarchie constitutionelle, published in 1814.

In July and August 1820 John made a trip to Paris with Joseph Janson, proceeding via Brighton, Dieppe and Rouen. Of Paris he recorded that none of the sights afforded him so much delight as the meeting with two men of great celebrity, whom he had long wished to see, Mr. Malthus and M. Humboldt. He also called on M. Say.

Before reading the events of early November l820 in John’s life, as recorded in his Journal, we should remind ourselves of our country’s history leading up to these events. The late Arthur Bryant in his The Age of Elegance describes the relevant affairs and occasions as follows:

"On June 6th 1814, six weeks after the last shot was fired, the Czar Alexander and his ally, the King of Prussia, arrived at Boulogne. They were accompanied by the ruling princes, statesmen and generals of the greater part of Europe…They were bound for England – the heart of the coalition which had overthrown the revolutionary dictatorship of Europe. It was a spontaneous act of homage to the nation which, in De Quincy’s words, had for twenty years ‘put a soul into the resistance to Napoleon, wherever and in whatever corner manifested’, and the resources which had enabled her to support the united exertions of Christendom…

And now the greatest Russian of all, the noble magnanimous Czar, was coming to London…

A moment later the Czar was in his sister’s arms. Between this fair-haired, vivacious widow of twenty-six and her impulsive, lonely and secretly unstable brother there was a deep bond. Having lost her husband, Prince George of Oldenburg, during the Moscow campaign, the Grand Duchess had come to England to cement the Anglo-Russian alliance by a second marriage. But though impressed by Britain’s material achievements – particularly the steam-engine – she had not taken to its reigning house. The Dukes of Clarence and Sussex had struck her as uncultured boors, while for their brother, reputed to be the first gentleman in Europe, she had told the Czar, ‘He is a man visibly used up by dissipation. His much-boasted affability is the most licentious, I may even say obscene, strain I ever listened to’. Finding her impervious to his charms, he had not even troubled to flatter her."

Arthur Bryant adds a footnote from Havelock 22:

"With him and his brothers I have often had not only to get stiffly on my stiffs, but not to know what to do with my eyes and ears. A brazen way of looking where eyes should not go!

The Grand Duchess found that many shared her dislike of the Regent. The English Whigs had never forgiven him for keeping his father’s Ministers in office. Discredited during the war by their defeatism, they were now seeking an opportunity for revenge. Nineteen years before, in order to get his debts paid, the object of their hatred, then their ally, had espoused the daughter of the Duke of Brunswick who had failed at Valmy and fallen at Jena. It had been the most unhappy act in his life and deservedly so, for he had long been secretly and morganatically married to a woman who loved him and to whom he afterwards returned. His Princess had retaliated by allowing herself freedoms which, though less heinous than his, had brought her under suspicion of high treason. Her habit of sitting up all night in the company of embarrassed sea-captains, her flippant, rattling and indelicate conversation, and her ostentatious parade of an adopted docker’s child whom she called Wilikin, had caused a public scandal…In the year. after Trafalgar the Whig Government of Fox and Grenville had been compelled by an alarmed royal family to institute an investigation into her conduct. Its findings, opposed by the Tories more out of party feeling than conviction, had exonerated her from the graver charges but stressed her persistent indecorum. Thereafter she had been banished from royal society.

The political wheel had now come full circle. King George III was mad and under restraint, the Princess’s husband was Regent, and his erstwhile friends, the Whigs, had been jilted in favour of the Tories. It had now fallen to the latter as his Ministers to disapprove the Princess’s doings and to support, as best they could, her husband’s. It had become the function of the Whigs to champion the Princess. The Allied sovereigns’ visit gave them their opportunity. For when this stout, grievously-wronged and outrageous lady announced in her comical English her intention of attending the next Drawing Room to meet the Prussian King in whose service her father had died, she was informed by the prim, tyrannical old Queen, her mother-in-law, that she could not be received. Thereupon jubilant Whig gentlemen rose in the House to ask Ministers by whose advice the Princess of Wales was denied her constitutional right of attending the royal Drawing Room. For the first time for years they had the public on their side. Though the Princess’s indiscretions were notorious, everyone knew they had been caused by her husband’s: that he had sent his mistress to receive her on her first landing, that he had spent his wedding night drunk in the fender, that he had left her as soon as her child was born. Her guilt had never been proved, his own was flagrant, and it seemed outrageous that he should insult her. For weeks he had been unable to pass through streets without being hooted and pelted.

On 23rd June 1814 the Czar’s visit finished. Throughout the visit on frequent occasions the public had demonstrated their disdain for the Regent and loyalty to Princess Caroline.

Arthur Bryant listed among the notables accompanying the Czar on this visit

"the snowy-haired Chancellor of Prussia, Prince Hardenberg and his colleague, the famous scholar von Humboldt."

In 1816, writes Arthur Bryant of Princess Caroline, she was:

"gallivanting round the Mediterranean with an amorous Italian courtier and a court of rogues and buffoons.

In January 1820 George III died; in the spring the country prepared to crown its new King, and it became known that agents of the Crown had been making enquiries about the Queen’s life in Italy. Rumours circulated of a green bag full of salacious details and a large sum offered to her to renounce the Crown. What was still more disturbing to those who knew, was that the King was again in love, this time with the buxom daughter of a rich London shopkeeper married to an Irish peer…Now, showering presents on Lady Conyngham and her daughter –, for the lady, a lover of the proprieties, insisted that her family should be honoured with her – the brandy-logged, dropsical monarch was not only insisting that his wife’s name should be excluded from the Litany but was urging his embarrassed Ministers to introduce a Bill of Divorce…

But Queen Caroline was no Josephine. Like her brother who had fallen at Waterloo, she was a fighting Brunswick, with a strong taste for melodrama. Five years before, when, on leaving England, she had felt free to express her personality, she had toured Italy in a blue-lined gilt and mother-of-pearl phaeton, shaped like a sea-shell and driven by a child dressed as an operatic angel in spangles and flesh-coloured tights. Now, leaving behind the Italian courier whom she had promoted to be her chamberlain, she was on her way home, beside herself at her husband’s decision to exclude her name from the Prayer Book, and appropriately clad in a low-cut bodice, short petticoats and Hessian boots. She meant, she said, to secure her rights or blow the King off his throne.

The efforts of the royal emissaries and her own legal advisers to head her off were all in vain. On June 4th 1820, she landed at Dover. All the way to London the church bells rang and cheering crowds lined the way. The people of the capital received her with intense enthusiasm. Their only regret was that she had not brought her lover Bergami: King Bergami they called him. They unhorsed her carriage and dragged it past Carlton House with indescribable din and tumult, smashed the windows of Cabinet Ministers’ houses and let off thousands of squibs; several nervous persons were so frightened that they died. Everyone was forced to illuminate in her honour and doff their hats in the streets. The Duke of Wellington, stopped in Grosvenor Place by road-menders with pickaxes, replied to their request, ‘Well, gentlemen, since you will have it so, God save the Queen – and may all your wives be like her!’

Heartened by the mob Caroline insisted on her name being included in the Prayer Book. Government Ministers then proceeded to introduce a Bill of Pains and Penalties to deprive her of her title and dissolve her marriage. The coronation was postponed. For three weeks the House of Lords debated the measure ‘and one scandalous indecorum after another was retailed by gesticulating Italian witnesses’. ‘The populace chose to believe she was innocent for her oppressors were their own’. There were daily demonstrations in London in favour of the Queen. There was fear of revolution. ‘The King’s Ministers, especially Castlereagh, were greeted with groans and hisses, and the Waterloo heroes, Wellington and Anglesey, had positively to fight their way in and out’ of the precincts of Parliament.

A few days after the beginning of the trial the King left for Cowes, where his yacht passed the ship which was carrying the dying Keats out of England. Thence he withdrew with his stout inamorata to Windsor, had new locks fitted on the park gates and spoke of retiring to Hanover.

Once again the Government made up for the deficiencies that had led to its dilemma by the courage with which it faced it. The streets round the House of Lords were barricaded under the Duke of Wellington’s supervision, constables were enrolled and troops drafted into Westminster…Outside London, except for a skirmish in July between strikers and Yeomanry in western Scotland, the revolutionary fervour of the previous year seemed to have died away. Trade was reviving, the factories filling and the price of labour rising. A radical attempt at Manchester to organise a Peterloo anniversary was a fiasco, for the potential marchers were back in the mills.

Even in London what had begun as a demonstration against the monarchy and ruling class was changing imperceptibly into a faction fight between the supporters of rival royalties and parliamentary parties. The Queen’s Counsel being Whig, and the Opposition peers, including Lord Grey, making speeches on her behalf – not because they thought her innocent but because they thought the King guilty – the Whigs found themselves, not for the first time in history, the heroes of the populace…As anger went out of the proceedings, levity and boredom took their place…Even the Queen dozed during the long formal sessions, giving rise to Lord Holland’s jest that, while formerly she slept with couriers, now she slept with the Lords…
The trial ended in a characteristic British anticlimax. On November 6th the bill affirming the Queen’s guilt was given a second reading by a majority of twenty-eight. But the third reading on the 10th passed the Lords by only nine votes. The Prime Minister thereupon announced that it would be impossible with so small a majority to take the bill to the Commons. Later in the day Parliament was prorogued. The ‘mot’ of the town was that the Queen and the Bill of Pains and Penalties were both ‘abandoned’. It amounted, as a Whig M.P. pointed out, to a decision that the lady was immoral and her husband a fit associate for her…"


In November 1820 John was much occupied in procuring a Requisition to the Mayor of Chichester for a Public Meeting to petition the House of Commons against the Queen’s Degradation Bill (the Bill of Pains and Penalties) and to solicit for an investigation into the proceedings of the Milan Commission.

The Queen’s Degradation Bill was however withdrawn in the House of Lords.

A general illumination then took place in Chichester in honour of the overthrowing of the Bill; this resulted in mob violence, with stones being thrown at windows that were not lighted, and John, who tried to restore order was so hustled by the mob when he shook one fellow by the collar, that he had to withdraw. Next morning the magistrates swore-in a number of special constables, including John.

On 27th November 1820 John visited London to deal with Woodrouffe Smith trust affairs, and visited Dr. Lushington. On 29th November he saw the Queen go in procession to St. Paul’s, which was witnessed by big crowds.

Joseph Janson gave him some useful hints for the speech which he would be called upon to make on 5th December in Chichester, seconding the motion for a vote of thanks to the peers of Sussex who had voted against the Degradation Bill. His notes for this speech are recorded in his Journal, together with his comments on his performance and the attendance at the meeting. On 18th December he went with others to present the address of thanks voted by the inhabitants to Lord Selsey, and the following day to the Dukes of Argyll and Richmond.


On 30th January 1821 John called on Mr. Ricardo, who confessed that he had lately seen reason to accede to his opinion, contained in his first pamphlet, that the employment of machinery may lessen the demand for labour, and read John an additional chapter that he was preparing for the third edition of his Essay explaining the change of his views in this respect. John dined the same evening with Mr. Ricardo when other political economists were present. The party included Col. Torrens and Mill. On the Friday and Saturday of that week he was inspecting farms of the Woodrouffe Smith Trust in Hornchurch and Esher.

On Sunday, 4th February 1821 he called on Joseph Woods and Luke Howard. The following day he called on the Marquis Pucci concerning Abbé Cauvin’s future employment, and on Tuesday he visited Lambeth and had tea with William Foster Reynolds at Carshalton House, and discussed comparative prices at home and abroad.

In his entry for Sunday 11th February 1821, John recorded - ‘Mr. Ricardo talks of the formation of a club of Political Economists’.

The Political Economy Club was actually formed at a meeting on 18th April 1821. It consisted initially of twenty-one members, namely George Browne, John W. Cowell, Hon. K. Douglas, Henry Enthistle, George Grote Junr., S. C. Holland, G.G. de H. Larpent, W. L. Maberley, J. L. Mallet, Rev. T. R. Malthus, F. Mitchell, James Mill, Robert Mushet, George W. Norman, David Ricardo M.P., Charles R. Prinsep, R. Simpson, Thomas Tooke, Colonel Torrens, Henry Warburton, with John W. Cowell as Hon. Sec. and George Grote as Treasurer.

The last publication of the club held by the British Library of Political and Economic Science is dated 1955.
Later members of note included, Zachary MaCaulay (1321), John Abel Smith M.P. (1821), Lord Althorp (Earl Spencer 1834) (1823), William W. Whitmore M.P. (1824), James Ramsay McCulloch (1829), Rt.Hon. Sir R. W. Horton (1829), James Deacon Hume (1834), John Stuart Mill (1836), Marquis of Lansdowne (1836), Rev. Sidney Smith (1841), William Thomas Thornton (1847), Earl Granville (Hon. Member 1851, then Vice-President, Board of Trade) (1850), Walter Bagehot (1864), Rt. Hon. W.E. Gladstone, M.P. (Hon. Member)(1865) and Earl Fortescue (1879).

So John never joined the club. As we shall see, in fact, he drew further away from political economists as time went on. In a letter to the Standard on 4th March 1846 he wrote:

"Political economy is not a science; it has nothing worthy of being called principles; it is an interesting and important subject of inquiry, but still quite in its infancy."

The Royal Economic Society was formed as a separate organisation in 1890.

On 25th March 1821 he visited Clapham, attended a meeting of the executors and when he called at Battersea Rise he found the Inglises and Miss Thornton away on the Continent. On the 5th he visited the Mint, the Armoury and Regalia at the Tower, then to Hampstead, and an exhibition of pictures in the Mall on the following two days, and called on Bate who was making thermometers for him. On the Sunday he attended the meeting of Friends at Wandsworth and on the Monday returned to Chichester with his wife and Elizabeth Reynolds.

Or May 1st 1821 he rode to Arundel for breakfast with relations and after attending a meeting rode home to dinner. The following day he visited Bognor and Petworth in a cavalcade with the relations who had stayed the night with them at Chichester.

On 12th May he visited Clapham and attended the Manor Court at Teddington on 14th and called on Mr. Ricardo on 15th; attended a debate in the House of Commons on the 16th and on 17th attended the annual meeting of B.F.S.S.

On 30th May he attended the House of Commons and on 2nd June visited Hampton Court and Teddington. On 22nd June he returned to Chichester by himself, but returned to Clapham again on Monday. He visited Bate’s shop several times to press him to finish the thermometers which he had ordered to try some experiments on the power of the sun when on an expedition to Wales, planned for July.

After further visits to Bate’s shop including one in the early morning of 12th July, he returned to Clapham and left there with Anne for their journey through the Midlands to North Wales in a carriage. His observations on this journey, including his scientific experiments in North Wales are recorded in detail in his Journal.


In his third pamphlet, published in 1833 John predicted:

"It is more than probable that the channels of commercial industry, at all times liable to the most capricious and inexplicable changes, will one day desert; and this whole kingdom would then become one great decayed manufactory. Of the deplorable consequences of such an event we may form some slight and imperfect notion, from observing the state of those parts of the kingdom where flourishing manufactures once existed."

In view of John’s predictions it is interesting to see the state of Ironbridge, and the reactions of the teenagers from an inner London school who were on the ‘threshold of the world of work and wondering apprehensively what is in store for them’, who were taken there by the Amalgamated Engineering Union, in 1986, as reported by Maurice Weaver in the Daily Telegraph in July of that year. Weaver writes:

"It is a place of crumbling ironworks, silent steam engines, dereliction veiled in summer green. Its museum of industrial archaeology is the graveyard of an era."

Of the teenagers he writes:

"Fifteen year old Thu Ha, shy daughter of a Vietnamese boat family, said she never knew before about Britain’s soaring industrial past. Industrial power she associated with Japan… For Sally Foster, 16, whose parents came from West Africa, it brought a realisation, she declared, that not all Victorian Britons were imperialists in toupees. For some it was an age of toil and squalor… Jason Milson, also 16, of British stock… He gazed at the rusty relics of the age of iron, and the pictures of Ironbridge, as it was, with the skies afire with the reflected glow of the smelting furnaces. ‘I’m glad I wasn’t around then’, he mused… Warwick Park School, AEU Headquarters local comprehensive, has the archetypal South London racial mix. The faces in the party suggested ancestors in India, Pakistan, the West Indies, Africa, Cyprus, China and Vietnam. Most were born here, they know nowhere else. Tariq Ali, a Bradford born sixth former who wants to take up medicine, gazed around him. ‘I think the people who built all this thought it would go on for ever. If you had been in Britain in the sixties and seen all the factories you wouldn’t have guessed about the unemployment now, would you?’ The boys gathered at the pit head to see the great steam winch winding the cage up and down. A hundred years ago people worked 12 hour shifts here, six days a week. ‘Blow that!’, they exclaimed… The union intends to invite the youngsters next to visit its own museum at its Peckham offices, where the old is contrasted with the new. ‘We want to bring home to them something of the great industrial past and at the same time a realisation of the need to grasp the nettle of technological change… The sobering news for the union was that of all the very nice and polite youngsters to whom I chatted, not one saw his or her future in blue-collar industry."

Although John would not have been surprised to see the state of the West Midlands he would, no doubt, have been surprised to see the different races represented by the members of the teenage party visiting the museum.


John and Anne were joined by Joseph Janson in North Wales on 24th July, who remained with them till 29th July, when he had to return to London.


During the period of his life reviewed above, John also carried out intensive studies in many subjects, which are recorded in his Journal and, as we have seen, in March 1820 completed his second pamphlet on Political Economy.

Sadly, John was shortly to lose his first wife; in his letter to his children he explained the circumstances:

"The improvement in my wife’s health which I had witnessed with so much pleasure during our residence in Nice proved only temporary. After our return to England she gradually declined and died in the autumn of 1822 of consumption. After many fears and anxieties, she attained at last to a comfortable assurance of pardon and acceptance. As she left no children I felt doubly desolate."

Elizabeth Barton, in her letter to her brother Bernard, written from Chichester on 3rd March 1823, after Stephen Hack’s funeral, wrote:

"Thou says I give no particular account of our dear J – he does indeed bear his loss as a man and a Christian, and seeks his consolation in study and useful employment, devoting much of his time to improving some of the elder boys in the school, who have profited wonderfully by his instructions, did he know of my writing he would I am sure join the rest of us in dear love to Lucy and thyself."


Chapter 8: Life as a Widower and his Second Marriage


Charles Stewart Parker was an eminent merchant of Liverpool and Glasgow, who was born at Norfolk, Virginia in 1771, the son of Captain James Parker (1729–1815) who was a Glasgow merchant who had emigrated to Virginia. At eighteen years of age he was sent to Granada to work under George Robertson, a merchant, and later joined him in partnership with trading interests in Granada and Demerara.

Subjects covered in Charles Parker’s letters include, trade with Spain, prices for cargoes of Negroes, the effect of the French wars in the West Indies, French privateering, cotton and cotton plants, the British capture of Tobago in 1793, the Martinique Expedition in 1793/4, and underwriting for ships and cargoes.

In 1794 he returned to Scotland, married in 1797 Margaret Rainy, daughter of the minister of Creeches, Sutherland, and niece of George Robertson. They had eight children. The eldest son, Charles Stewart Parker, became an M.P. in the 1860s; the second son, James, became Vice Chancellor and was knighted. Margaret born in 1798 was the eldest child, and Susan born in 1805, their seventh child; Anne, born 1814, was the youngest.

In 1823 Charles Parker had two houses, Blochairn on the outskirts of Glasgow, and Fairlie House in the parish of Largs. Fairlie was originally a fishing hamlet, pleasantly situated under the wooded bank terminating the hills along the coastline, in front of the old castle and about 2½ miles south of Largs. But in the early part of the 19th century the Earl of Glasgow had granted fens, or long leases, at Fairlie to Charles Stewart Parker and two others, who built handsome villas on their properties. The spot was so attractive and retired, that many preferred it to Largs, so that other houses and villas followed, and by 1874 the population was 307.

Charles Parker originally built Fairlie House in 1813 as a summer residence for sea bathing. The house was later enlarged, becoming a summer residence and place of delight to his children.

There were no trains in Fairlie before 1882, and ferry boats went out to meet the steamers and fire a gun to make them stop and let down passengers. At low tide they were carried ashore by the ferryman Will Duff, and, if they complained he threatened to drop them in the sea.

Charles Stewart Parker died suddenly at Fairlie on 17th July 1828. The Scots Times wrote:

"For frank and gentlemanly manners, integrity and friendly feelings as a man, and skill and enterprise as a merchant, Mr. Parker was excelled by none, and equalled by few of his contemporaries in Glasgow. Though a Tory in politics, he was liberal and independent; and though at one period of his life a magistrate of Glasgow, and afterwards more or less connected with its civic interest, he took no pains to conceal the contempt he entertained for the paltry management and truckling servility of late years. He was in short an ornament to our city, and in his person and conduct exemplified the dignified character of a truly eminent Glasgow merchant. By his love of justice, and attention to public interests, he had secured the confidence of his fellow citizens to no ordinary extent. He had scarcely passed the meridian of existence and seemed to be in full possession of health and activity, when the ties of life were suddenly broken, and a melancholy blank was created in a circle in which he had spent and was instrumental in creating to those around him, many happy hours.
He was a man of deep religious feelings, which he desired in his will to testify to the world. At his death he had interests in the Liverpool company of Sanback, Tinne & Co. and the Glasgow company of McInroy, Parker & Co., besides the Demerara company of McInroy, Parker, Sanback & Co."


We can get a glimpse of life in the West Indies in the early 18th century from Life and Letters of Zachary MaCaulay by Viscountess Knutsford.

Zachary Macaulay, who was later to work so hard, as a member of the Clapham Sect, for the abolition of the slave trade wrote in a letter whilst working in the West Indies:

"When health returned my sufferings were soon forgotten; and better prospects opening upon me, and friends rising up daily who shared a willingness to serve me as soon as I was master of my business, I began to like my situation. I even began to be wretch enough to think myself happy.

My outward conduct indeed, for a West Indian planter, was sober and decorous, for I affected superiority to the grossly vulgar manners and practices which disgrace almost every rank of men in the West Indies, but my habits and dispositions were now fundamentally the same. In these I was quite assimilated to my neighbours, and this is a part of my life of which I scarce like either to speak or think. It was a period of most degrading servitude to the worst masters."


From Susan Parker’s letters written to her great friend Mary Babington (1799–1858), daughter of Thomas Babington of Rothley Temple, near Leicester, we learn of John Barton’s intention of visiting Scotland in 1823.

Susan was undoubtedly a very affectionate person, and very intelligent, with a great sense of humour and every inch a Scot, who delighted in living in her own country, particularly at Fairlie, and who loved the Scottish people. She was musical, and was taught to play the piano and sing; the piano she particularly enjoyed, and was obviously a good player. She was educated privately and her education, including musical education, continued both when at home at Fairlie or Blochairn, and when away with her father at Clapham.

Family legend has it that Susan was a great flirt in her youth, and it is said that when driving one cold day with an admirer on each side of her, she contrived to make them hold each other’s hands in her muff, under the impression that they were clasping hers.

Susan came to know Mary Babington through Mary’s father having married in 1787 Jean Macaulay, a daughter of the Rev. John Macaulay, Rector of Cardrose, on the Firth of Clyde opposite Port Glasgow, whom he visited in company with the Rector’s son the Rev. Aulay Macaulay who was a rector in the neighbourhood of Rothley Temple.

Thomas Babington (1758–1837) was educated at St. John’s College, Cambridge at the same time as William Wilberforce and in 1789 was twelfth Wrangler. He became a model landlord of the estate he had been left, and in 1800 M.P. for Leicester, which seat he retained until he resigned from Parliament in 1820.

Thomas Babington’s only sister was married to Rev. Thomas Gisborne, who lived at Yoxall Lodge, Staffordshire, and who had been a Cambridge friend of Wilberforce, and it was while staying at Yoxall that Babington again met Wilberforce, who often stayed there during Parliamentary recesses. Through these meetings Babington decided to work with Wilberforce on the anti-slavery movement.

Thomas Babington was received into the inner circle of the Clapham Sect, and has been described as the ‘Country Member’ of the Sect. When Parliament was sitting he lived in London and so was near to Clapham.

The Clapham Sect was a group of men of great Christian faith and much influence, who took a decisive share in founding the Church Missionary Society in 1799 and the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1804, and were the authors of the movement that brought about the destruction of the slave trade by act of parliament in 1807, which led to the emancipation of slaves in 1833, when an act for the abolition of slavery throughout the British colonies, and further promotion of industry among the manumitted slaves, and for compensation to the persons hitherto entitled to the services of such slaves by the grant from parliament of £20,000,000 was passed.

Slavery came originally from Chaldea into Egypt, Arabia, and all over the East. In Greece, in the time of Homer, all prisoners of war were treated as slaves.

The trade in African slaves, of recent years, had been run largely by Arab merchants, and the slaves were more ill-treated by Arabs than by western employers, many male slaves being castrated by them at birth.

The United States abolished the trade in 1808; the allies in Vienna declared against it in 1815. A treaty between Great Britain and the United States for the abolition of the slave trade was signed and ratified in 1862.

Sir Bartle Frere went to Zanzibar 1872–3 on a mission to suppress the East African slave trade. In August 1873 an act of parliament for consolidating with amendments the acts for carrying into effect treaties for the more effectual oppression of the slave trade was passed.

Several African kings and chiefs, at Cape Coast Castle agreed to give up the slave trade at an interview with governor Strahan in November 1874, and the trade on the Gold Coast was abolished by proclamation of governor Strahan in December of the same year.

Sadly, however, the Anti-Slavery Society reports that 100,000 Africans are still in bondage in Mauritania in 1986.

The Clapham Sect were associated also with the early days of the Religious Tract Society; known later as the United Society for Christian Literature.

They were in fact a company of friends mostly living near to each other in Clapham, which was then a quiet village, whose names are recorded on tablets in the entrance hall of the Bible House, Queen Victoria Street, London, among those who founded the B. & F. B. S. They consisted of William Wilberforce, Lord Teignmouth, Granville Sharp, Zachary Macaulay, Henry Thornton, Charles Grant, James Stephen and Thomas Babington.

In 1792 Henry Thornton had purchased ‘Lubbock’s House’ at Battersea Rise, and William Wilberforce shared it with him and helped to pay the expenses.

Susan Parker wrote to her great friend Mary Babington in November 1820 that the next two years were very important for her education and that ‘we wish to proceed to Clapham without delay’. She was sad at the thought of leaving the Highlands, where she was then staying and quoted Byron:

Oh there is sweetness in the mountain air,
And life that bloated ease can never hope to share.

On December 20th 1820, from Beckenham, where they were staying with the minister for Christmas and the New Year, she expressed her wonder and astonishment at London, where they spent the previous day, and commented that they had a very nice situation at Clapham, from where she expected to commence their studies the second or third of January.

Arthur Bryant in his Age of Elegance wrote:

Of England’s own ten millions, a tenth lived in the capital. Apart from its suburbs of new villas engulfing ancient villages it was really five towns, the mercantile City, the royal West End, the riverside port, the Borough of Southwark, and the slums. These last crowded out of sight – though not always out of smell – of the rich, behind the grander houses, and spread ever further eastwards into Essex and Kentish meadows, leaving a string of low dingy towns on either side of the Thames. They were still what they had been in the Middle Ages, fever-ridden haunts of vice and wretchedness: a maze of alleys and lanes fading into the unwholesome vapour that always overhung them, of dirty, tumbledown houses with windows patched with rags and blackened paper, and airless courts crowded with squabbling women and half-naked children wallowing in pools and kennels. The improvements effected by eighteenth century humanitarians were constantly being counteracted by the influx of newcomers from every part of the kingdom.

In March 1821 from Clapham, Susan wrote that she was growing fonder of music every day, that she was learning shorthand and they were hoping to return to Clapham next winter.

On 7th May 1821 from Clapham; that the Missionary Meeting she had attended was the most interesting she had ever attended and Mr. Charles Grant had made ‘a most noble speech’.

She had visited Oxford and the Miss Smiths at Woodhall Park, Hertfordshire; and wrote:

"We long very much for the Inglis’s to come back as we like them so much. Miss Thornton is remarkably agreeable, they return the first week in June…All the world go now to Somerset House to see the Exhibition of Paintings which I hear are remarkably fine this year, I hope we shall go soon…We are to leave Clapham last week in June or first in July, we feel ourselves quite inhabitants now. Papa has promised we shall return to Clapham next October."

On 18th May 1821:

"James has got a prize in the Natural Philosophy Class. It was the first prize. Papa says he has made a great figure in Mathematics this winter…I have taken lessons in Music all the winter…I have likewise had a master for Thorough bass, I am greatly interested with the study."

19th August 1821 from Fairlie:

"This day last year was the first time I ever saw you; was the day upon which our friendship began."

They had returned to Fairlie from Liverpool by the Superb Steamboat – so many passengers seasick:

"I could not think of going to my rest till I had seen the first glimpse of my dear native land, so Charles and I stood watching and about 3 o’clock I first perceived its ‘sea-beaten shores’ in the blue distance. I cannot describe the very joy I felt…About three we got up to see Ailsa Craig…soon I knew my favourite Arran – then came Bute – then Camrays – and at last I saw our own gig with Papa at the helm coming to meet us."

On 26th October 1821 from Liverpool; they had accepted an invitation to stay at Rothley Temple:

"I cannot express to you my dear dear Mary what delight I am filled with when I think of our meeting so soon but it is still greater when I recollect the delightful prospect you hold out to me of your visiting Scotland what fine long cracks we shall have together when I see you face to face. How your letter frightened me about my writing if I cared what people thought of me I should change it directly as it is I canna be fashed."

On 22nd December 1821 from Clapham; now settled in their old quarters at Clapham:

"very sad at leaving Mary – as we drove along the road I could not help saying ‘the smiles of woe, the tears of woe deceitful shine deceitful flow there’s nothing true but Heaven!’…We met Mrs. Robert Thornton at the Inglis’s…My dear brother James arrived yesterday from Cambridge. I have not yet had time to examine every corner of his mind to discover if he is still Englified. I fear we shall both get into bad habits in laughing too loud indeed there seems to be some particular spell or other which always sets us a-laughing when we get together."

On 15th March 1822 from Clapham:

"I like singing much better than I used to do…SP who is your ain Scotch Lassie."

On 17th April 1822 from Clapham:

"We have been at Mr. Wilberforce’s for a week and just returned yesterday."

She was referring to his summer residence at Marden Park, six miles south of Croydon, which he had taken in 1821.

"We left the Wilberforce’s very well; and we have been much delighted with our visit; what a privilege it is to be in the company of such a man as Mr. W!"

On 8th August 1822 from Fairlie – they had returned, via Liverpool, from a visit to Elmdon Hall (home of Abraham Spooner Lillingston – who had assumed the name and arms of Lillingston when in 1797 he married Elizabeth Mary Agnes, only daughter and heiress of Luke Lillingston of Ferriby Grange, Yorks. William Wilberforce had married on 30th May 1797 Barbara, the eldest daughter of Isaac Spooner, Abraham’s father). They had enjoyed their stay at Elmdon. But on 31st July when they had left Liverpool for Fairlie:

"It was my birthday I could not have spent it in a more agreeable way than by setting off for my dear native country…It is judged best for me to remain at home this winter."

On 30th November from Blochairn - she had left Fairlie at the end of October:

"I was so very sorry to quit that favourite spot for tho’ we have much more accommodation here both within and without yet the country by which we are surrounded there is lovely; nevertheless I could not help rejoicing to behold this old fashioned mansion where I was born and with which I have so many juvenile associations…I could not forbear trembling when I entered the rooms which used to resound with the strokes of the tause and pandies of which I had my full share…I find the greatest difference between the Scotch and English peasantry I never saw anything to equal the filthiness of their miserable huts here; but they make up for it by their superior educations and are so well informed…I draw two days a week and am becoming very fond of it.

We have a great privilege in hearing Dr. Chalmers every Sunday - we dined with him lately when we had much pleasant conversation concerning our English friends he seems quite delighted with his English perambulations and looks forward with much pleasure to another visit."

December 1822 from Blochairn:

"I have just received the intelligence that my dear friend Mrs. Barton is gone and that much do I sorrow to think that I shall see her much loved face no more. However we have all the comfort that one can possibly have in such a case, she died meet and ripe for another world, and meekly depending on the merits of her Saviour for acceptance with God. Much much she suffered, and she begged her husband, to join with her in praying (if it pleased God) for a speedy release from all her sufferings…I am sure you would pity me did you know how much I loved her - but ‘there should not be the shadow of gloom, in ought that reminds me of her’… How I wish you had known my dear departed friend you would have been able to talk with me about her."

On 22nd January 1823 from Blochairn - she expressed their sadness at Dr. Chalmers having resigned the parish of St. Johns and goes to reside at St. Andrews:

"I am convinced he had a great deal too much to do here and finds his health suffers from it… He will also have more time to write up the subjects which are of so much importance and on which his whole mind seems to be bent at present the abolition of the Poor Laws."

On 23rd January 1823 from Blochairn:

"I am happy to tell you that my dear friend Mrs. Barton enjoyed for some time previous to her death the greater peace and comfort and assurance of being accepted."

On 20th June 1823 from Fairlie:

"We left Blochairn a few days ago with great regret on account of the magnet which it now contains. Dr. Chalmers is so fond of the retirement afforded by Blochairn that we have persuaded him to occupy it with his family during the summer months, we enjoyed their society before we left it…He will not leave Glasgow till November so we shall hear him several times again."

She then gave her a little bit of his last sermon and ends with:

"I am struck with confusion to think how little I have profited by them how great a proof it is of our depravity that after the most striking sermons, we remain so dead and cold."

On 25th July 1823 from Fairlie:

"We began to be afraid that we should not see any of our English friends at all this summer when we received a letter from our Quaker friend Mr. Barton saying that he intends visiting Scotland soon; he is very anxious to see Dr. Chalmers, they are labourers on the same great field of civic economy tho’ they take very different views of the subject.

You have no doubt heard that our friend Mr. Brandram has been appointed secretary to the bible society, I am very glad of it for i think it will serve to bring his excellence of worth more into notice – I missed the meetings so much this spring."

On 27th August 1823 from Fairlie:

"Our Quaker friend Mr. Barton has been spending a week with us – we were very glad to see any of our Clapham friends again – he went from this to stay some days with Dr. Chalmers at Blochairn for tho’ they differ much in their views on civic economy they enjoy each other’s society very much indeed. Perhaps you have heard that Dr. C. has got another daughter we are all so disappointed that it is not a son and then if he had inherited his father’s brilliant talents Blochairn would have had the honour of being his birthplace – his little girl is to be called Margret Parker after Maria.

…a few weeks before I left Clapham I began making a collection of sentiments in prose and verse – originals…I have one contribution which I value exceedingly – the delightful author of it is no more – I mean Rev. Mr. Owen – the painful yet pleasing recollection of the happy days we spent in his society recurs often to my mind Mr. Wilberforce, Mr. Dealtry and several others were so kind as to add to my store…"

She gave an account of a trip round Arran and noted:

"I never saw anything so deplorably wretched as the state of the habitations of the poor – miserable huts without chimneys and quite unfit to withstand the inclemency of the weather."

On 13th August 1823 John had written to Dr. Thomas Chalmers from Fairlie House as follows:

"Dear Sir,

Accept my very best thanks for your kind message conveyed through Miss Parker. I am really unable, if I wished to resist the temptation of engaging a little more of your conversation – and therefore gladly accept your kind proposal to give me lodging at Blochairn on my return. I am going today on a little excursion to Inveraray with Mr. Parker – and my hospitable friends have persuaded me to prolong my stay over next week; at least till the end of it. I hope to have the pleasure of seeing you on Friday evening, and to stay over Sunday that I may attend your service at St. John’s. The Misses Parker desire me to present their very kind regards, and believe me; dear Sir

With the sincerest respect and esteem

Your faithful friend
Jno Barton"

Dr. Thomas Chalmers was a native of Anstruther in Fife, born in about 1780. He was a Presbyterian minister until he left the established church in 1843. His ministries in Glasgow were first at Tron Kirk (1815–1820) and then he moved to a parish of 10,000 people, St. John’s, where he was till 1823, and Glasgow will no doubt always remember it.

Susan Parker in a letter written in November 1823 from Blochairn wrote at length concerning Dr. Chalmers’ departure:

"Everything here seems now quite dull and insipid since our great luminary has departed. I feel as if the lamp were gone out which shed such a brightness around me…we were quite afraid he would have sunk under the turmoil and agitation of the last week or two–but he got thro’ it much better than anyone anticipated…we heard his address to the children comprising his different Sunday schools…it was the most melting scene to see the eight hundred children who all look up to him as a father and benefactor assembled to hear him perhaps for the last time…The Sunday upon which he preached his farewell sermon…a great many could not get near the church…there were both police and soldiers stationed at every corner of the church…at last the crowd overcame the police and burst open a door when people came tumbling in, in every posture but upon their legs…it would be impossible to give you any idea of the burst of eloquence which we heard from Dr. C…After the service all the poor people flocked round him begging to get one shake of his hand…I am sure my dear Mary will sympathise with me in the loss of so valuable a friend and pastor…I must tell you something of another great man whom we had the pleasure of seeing again – I mean Mr. Irving."

He had come from London where preaching at the Caledonian Chapel at Hatton Garden soon made him famous, and he founded the Catholic Apostolic Church, a title assumed by his followers in 1832. Susan had written in a letter from Blochairn in October that:

"He was making such a noise in London… he then gave us a most striking prayer, full of piety and feeling – but as usual did not give satisfaction to the Glasgow people who have always under-rated his worth and talents…he spent some time with us at Blochairn and we were delighted to find that administration had not changed him, nor time chilled his feelings towards us…his wife came with him…I was exceedingly pleased with her there is an expression of intelligence and excessive sweetness in her countenance which reminds one that there is a ‘something than beauty dearer’."

The Rev. Edward Irving had assisted Dr. Chalmers at St. Johns from 1819 to 1822 and Susan had written of him earlier:

"I sat under his ministry for two years in St. Johns and always liked him exceedingly – he had never anything exceptionable in his discourses, but certainly in his orations there are some strange paragraphs – we always thought him a man of great talent and said he would be almost as great as Dr. Chalmers altho’ he preached to empty walls whilst in Glasgow – the good people were not at all pleased with his style."


Thomas Chalmers, in a letter to his brother, described the effect on himself of reading William Wilberforce’s book Practical Christianity:

"I remember that somewhere about the year 1811 I had Wilberforce’s View put into my hands, and as I got on in reading it, felt myself on the eve of the greatest resolution in all my opinions about Christianity. I am now most thoroughly of opinion, and it is an opinion founded on experience, that on the system of ‘Do this and live’, no peace, and even no true and worthy obedience can ever be attained. It is ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. When this belief enters the heart, joy and confidence enter along with it’."

He went to St. Andrews as professor of moral philosophy in the United College; in 1828 he became professor of divinity in the University of Edinburgh. He wrote many works on theology, philosophy and political economy, besides other subjects. Chambers’ Literature 1854 records that:

"His knowledge is extensive, including science no less than literature, the learning of the philosopher with the fancy of the poet, and a familiar acquaintance with the habits, feelings and daily life of the Scottish poor and middle classes."


Towards the end of her letter to Mary Babington written from Blochairn in November 1823 Susan observed:

"The people of St. Kilda (Hebrides) tho’ they are so ignorant think themselves the happiest people in the world and look down upon the ‘continent’ as they call the mainland of Scotland with the greatest contempt."

She then related an anecdote which Lady Jersey told against herself:

"Lady Jersey and a large party of fashionables have been staying at Drummond Castle and being idled prowled about into the country houses and cottages and played all sorts of pranks – In the course of these proceedings Lady Jersey laid a bet she would persuade an old woman to send her daughter a very pretty girl to dance at Drummond Castle on Saturday night – first she tried coaxing then she tried gold – the auld wifie stood firm:

‘It was owre near the Sabbath for the feckless lassies to be tempted wi fiddles’.

‘Oh’, said Lady Jersey, ‘I will answer for you to the minister’.

Will yer Liddy ship answer for my bairns at the Day o’ Judgement gin they sae far forget their duty?’

This was an appeal somewhat more solemn than had been expected and occasioned a pause – The wifie coolly added:

‘May be ye think my Liddy ye’ll no hae time that day for your ain concern to ask grace for them. Sae ye had better gang home and tak’ a thought for yersell gin that day comes’.

As a pleasing sequel to the story I must add (tho’ I do not vouch for the authority of it) I have been told that Lady Jersey has become decidedly pious in consequence of hearing your friend Mr. Irving."

So Susan had travelled quite considerably in her early years, and we are reminded that travelling was not always without its dangers even then, as in May 1821 they were very nervous when passing by Hounslow Heath, where there had been trouble with highwaymen recently, and in May 1824, when travelling through Derbyshire, Susan was horror-struck to see a man hang in a gibbet some way from the road; it was the first time she had witnessed such a sight, which haunted her all night.

In June 1824 she wrote, while staying in a house near Liverpool:

"I never spent so long in a Town before, ten days! and cannot bear the bustling life – but I am most thankful to say owing to my being rather delicate I have not been asked to go out anywhere.

We all went to see Mr. Sadler ascend in his balloon - I was in constant fear of any accident befalling him.

We went to Knowsely Lord Derby’s one day and were much pleased with his collection of paintings."

She was very impressed with Belshazzar’s Feast, which she had seen two years previously at the British Gallery.

"We came out to the country two days ago."

Arthur Bryant in his Age of Elegance writes:

"At Knowsley, where from June to November there were never less than forty guests, the princely host restricted the gentlemen to five brace of partridges apiece to ensure their return to drive with the ladies in the afternoon, a concourse of carriages and horses parading after luncheon for the purpose."

Of the dining room at Knowsley he writes:

"Lord Derby’s new dining room, paid for by the rising wealth of Lancashire, measured fifty-three feet by thirty-seven, with an immense Gothic window at one end and two huge church-like doors at the other; ‘Pray’, asked a guest, ‘are those great doors to be opened for every pat of butter that comes into the room?’"


Susan mentioned the Wilberforces several times in her many letters to Mary, and in one written on 17th February 1825 from Blochairn she mentioned that she had heard from Liz Wilberforce recently that her father intended to resign, and comments:

"I hope it will be the means of prolonging his valuable life – oh I never like to think how old he is – what an ethereal being he is."

From the early entries in the third volume of his Journal, it is clear that John fell in love with Susan Parker, and probably while staying at Fairlie he asked for her hand in marriage, and it is clear that though she turned him down he felt he might persuade her to change her mind, and determined to persevere.


On 8th January 1824 John wrote to Thomas Chalmers from Edinburgh as follows:

"My dear Sir

Will you pardon me if I am emboldened by the recollection of your former kindness now to trouble you, and to presume so far as to ask of you a renewal of that kindness. I am just arrived at this city; having by various circumstances, with the detail of which I should fear to trouble you, been induced to form the resolution of leaving Chichester; it seemed to me that I could not spend the interval of the remaining three months anywhere more pleasantly or profitably than at Edinburgh; till I can determine in what part of the world to take up my future residence; particularly if I should be so fortunate as to obtain the friendship of some conscientious and able minister, to whom I might look for counsel and sympathy in private as well as in public; and I have thought that you, my dear Sir, would permit me to ask you for the means of such an introduction, as you are of course well acquainted with the chief minister of the Kirk here. I hope Mrs. and Miss Chalmers are well, present my kind regards to them, if you please, if Miss C. is with you, I send a recent publication of my sister’s, which I hope my little friend Anny will accept as a token of my remembrance.

Believe me, my dear Sir
Your obliged and faithful friend
Jno Barton

May I beg of you to address me at the Post Office, as I have not yet sought for lodgings."

John wrote again to Thomas Chalmers on 15th Jan. 1824 from 19 Prince’s Street, Edinburgh:

"My dear Sir

I received last night your very kind letter, for which I do not know how adequately to thank you, or to express how much pleasure I have felt in the assurance of your continued Regard, which under any circumstances would be truly grateful, but doubly so in my present insulated situation. I have this morning left the letter which you were so good as to enclose at Dr. Gordon’s, and intend to call on him on Monday. My best thanks for your kind invitation to St. Andrews. I fear I must not indulge myself in such a gratification at least at present, though I confess few things would give me more pleasure than the expectation of seeing you again. Perhaps you may have occasion to visit Edinburgh before I leave Scotland. My kind regards to Mrs. Chalmers.

Believe me, dear Sir
Your obliged and faithful friend
Jno Barton"

The Dr. Gordon to whom John was introduced by Thomas Chalmers was no doubt Robert Gordon (1786–1853) a D.D. of Marischal College, Aberdeen in 1823; later minister of the High Church, Edinburgh 1830, moderator of the Church Assembly in 1842 when he had to pronounce deposition of the Strathbogie ministers; he seconded Thomas Chalmers in 1842 and left the established church in 1843, followed by his congregation.

From his Journal entry of 2lst January 1827 it is evident that John in fact spent the rest of the winter at Edinburgh.


In his letter to his children, John continued concerning his life after Anne’s death that:

"My residence at Chichester became painful to me – I longed for solitude – and buying a farm at Stoughton I enlarged the farm house for my residence, and removed there, letting my house at Chichester."

John’s house still stands in Stoughton and is now called ‘Bartons’. A description of the village is included in Chapter XVI.

The removal to Stoughton took place in 1825, and must have occurred sometime before the opening of the fourth volume of his Journal, in which the first entry is dated August 1825.

In June 1825, in the hope that Susan would change her mind, John again visited Blochairn, timing his visit so as to arrive before the end of the month, when Susan was expected to return to Scotland from EImdon Hall, where she had been staying; but after conversing with Mrs. Parker, in what he describes as a painful interview, he received her permission to write to Susan. John, therefore, decided to wait in the Highlands for her reply.

From a letter John wrote to Dr. John Strang in 1826 it is clear that he stayed with him while at the Bridge of Earn, where, from his letter, he appears to have enjoyed a very happy break. But Susan’s letter written on 11th July 1825 from Fairlie conveyed to him the unhappy news that she had not changed her mind.

As will be seen from his Journal, John now suffered a period of great depression, humiliation and loneliness.


Charles Lamb seems to have been envious of John’s freedom, for he wrote to Bernard Barton on 10th February 1825:

"Your gentleman brother sets my mouth a-watering after liberty. Oh, that I were kicked out of Leadenhall with every mark of indignity, and a competence in my job. The birds in the air would not be so free as I should. How I would prance and curvet it, and pick up cowslips, and ramble about purposeless as an idiot."

G. Sotiroff relates in his book that John described himself on his first marriage as a ‘merchant of Chichester’, later on as a ‘yeoman’, and on the occasion of the baptism of one of his children (presumably Anne) in 1831 as a ‘gentleman’, and that later, in one of his letters to the Standard newspaper, as a ‘landowner’.

John wrote as follows to Doctor Strang on 23rd June 1826, giving his address as Chichester:

"My dear Sir

I have not forgotten, nor ever shall forget, the pleasant hours spent last summer at the Brigg of Earn – and the appointment made, half in jest, half in earnest, to meet there again on the 1st of July 1826. Lest however I should appear to have forgotten it, I wish to say that several unsuspected circumstances will inevitably detain me at home this summer – or I should have accepted an invitation from my sister in law to accompany her on an excursion to the lakes of Westmoreland, and gone on from thence to Scotland, and I assure you I relinquish with no small disappointment the thought of meeting you again. I mean yourself with Mr. and Mrs Dixon – whose pleasant society I never remember without regret that so many hundred miles divide us – and I had half flattered myself that Mr. and Mrs Preston would be tempted to join the party – which in no small degree would add to its attractions. I have seldom enjoyed so bright a holiday – we had just a little of everything, a little philosophy, a little wit, a little beauty, a little coquetting, and a good deal of nonsense – and though it would be a sin to waste the bulk of one’s life in that way, yet as a relaxation in the dog days what can be so pleasant? – There were however shades of brilliancy in the different parts of the time we spent there. I think the maximum of splendour was the day I drove Mrs. Cumming home up the hill to meet you – perhaps it was the mountain air that seemed to render Miss Stuart more lively and good tempered than ever, you more witty, and La Belle Isobelle more handsome. We never quite recovered the stroke of Mr. and Mrs. Dixon’s departure. The surrounding country is equal in beauty to almost anything I have seen in my travels – not magnificent but extremely rich and varied.

Present my kindest regards to Mr and Mrs. Dixon, and to Mrs. Preston – and believe me with sincere esteem,

Very truly yours
John Barton"

John Strang (1795–1863) was a wine merchant first of Glasgow, author of Glasgow its Clubs, and then of Germany in 1831. He effected many improvements in Glasgow, became City Chamberlain and the University of Glasgow conferred an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws upon him, after which he was invariably known as Doctor Strang.


During his first three years at Stoughton, John continued to apply himself with great determination to his studies, and strove greatly to improve himself spiritually.

He was very active in the field of education. G. Sotiroff records that on 16th December 1823 John was elected a member of the first Regular Committee of Managers of the London Mechanics’ Institution. The record states that it was three o’clock in the morning when the scrutineers reported the names of Candidates for membership, thirty in number. John, who was present, received 268 votes, the highest number of votes given to any candidate being 335, the lowest 103.

Paul Sturges points out that this placed John amongst such committee-men and subscribers as James Mill, Ricardo, George Grote, William Cobbett, Frances Place, Jeremy Bentham, Robert Torrens and George Birkbeck, the chief founder.

"On the face of it, his involvement with the Institution was a perfect stepping-stone for contact with both the élite and prominent outsiders of political economy, and a potential career as more than an isolated writer of pamphlets."

John’s name appears on the 1824 Foundation Stone in the entrance hall of Birkbeck College, in the list of members of the Committee of the London Mechanics’ Institution.

Between his election and March 7th 1825, when he ceased to be a member, John attended 51 meetings, out of a possible 64, and served in the meantime also on two sub-committees appointed for special purposes.

From 1823 onwards Mechanics’ Institutions, begun in Scotland by Dr. Birkbeck, spread through the industrial part of England. Their success demonstrated that prosperity was coming to the engineers and mechanics from the Industrial Revolution. The annual subscription for membership was one guinea. The movement had sprung from the desire of mechanics for general scientific knowledge, and the willingness of a section of the middle class to help them in their aim to improve their knowledge. In 1824 the London Mechanics’ Institution was subscribed to by 1,500 workmen.

John was very active in helping the work of the Mechanics’ Institution in Chichester, of which he had been, together with the Lancasterian School, one of the original promoters, often lecturing there himself.

John started a little school in one of his cottages at Stoughton for the children of the village, in December 1826. He followed Joseph Janson’s plan of starting gently, choosing a man who wished to improve himself as master, to teach the children a little in the evenings.

He was very impressed with what the young man whom he had chosen had accomplished, ‘by a mild and judicious system of management’, and felt this was an example to others who scolded and beat their children to keep them in order.

He made a habit of having the children of his labourers to family prayers on Sunday evenings, from which he himself derived, in his opinion, some spiritual good.

His other interest was the Lancasterian School in Chichester. The Lancasterian Schools in this country were started by Joseph Lancaster (1778–1838), the son of a Chelsea pensioner who fought in the American wars, who became a Quaker.

He, himself, had been educated in a London Charity School, then he taught in his father’s house, charging no fee except when parents wished to pay a nominal sum. In 1801 he opened a school in the Borough Road, Southwark, and inscribed over the doorway:

"All who will may send their children and have them educated freely and those to whom the above offer may not prove acceptable, may pay at a very moderate price."

Soon the school was teaching a thousand children. Unable to pay assistants Lancaster employed older scholars to teach the younger. The school was divided into small classes, each under the care of a monitor. In 1803, however, Joseph Lancaster became bankrupt when friends paid his obligations, became trustees and organised the Royal Lancasterian Institution, which at the fourth annual general meeting of the Society for Promoting The Royal British or Lancasterian System for the Education of the Poor, held at the Freemasons’ Hall on May 21st, 1814, chaired by H.R.H. The Duke of Sussex, it was resolved that:

"This Institution shall be designated ‘The Institution for Promoting the Education of the Labouring and Manufacturing Classes of Society of every Religious Persuasion’, and that for the purpose of making manifest the extent of its objects, the title of the Society shall be ‘THE BRITISH AND FOREIGN SCHOOL SOCIETY’."


On 5th December 1825 John recorded his distress at the premature death from typhus of his ‘dear nephew Edward Hack, whose almost unequalled gentleness and sweetness of disposition had won him the love of all who knew him’. John as guardian of Maria Hack’s children was particularly concerned with carrying on Edward Hack’s business affairs, for a time involving him in almost daily visits to Chichester for this purpose, until Edward’s younger brother Barton had sufficiently recovered from the same illness to carry on with the work.

In May 1826 he was busy with Halsey Janson, his fellow guardian, in ‘arranging the concerns’ of Maria Hack’s family.

In June 1826 John wrote to Samuel Tuke, a Quaker minister of some note, who had married a Hack, in reply to a letter from him, which had no doubt asked him whether he was still a Quaker. John explained in detail why he was not attending meetings, and gave reasons for not having declared that he was forsaking Quakerism, including the fact that he did not wish to do anything which might bias Maria Hack’s children for he realised that the restraints and peculiarities of Quakerism often induced young people to leave it without adequate consideration or conviction.

In the same month he was again concerned in the election of a member for the county of Sussex, and recorded on 24th June 1826 in his Journal a part of the speech he made on the eve of the day on which the nomination for the county was to take place. He spoke against corruption in politics and the importance of M.P.s conscientiously representing their constituents, to ensure the continuation of the free constitution the people had inherited from their fathers, illustrating with examples the loss of liberty of the subjects of so many other countries.


On 13th July he was off to Carshalton House, spending the next day with William Foster Reynolds at Croydon School, then to London and Tottenham, and on 17th by coach to Norwich, whence he rode to inspect farms of the trust in the area, and on 20th to Barnby and Lowestoft, agreeing to sell his two farms at Barnby. The next day he indulged in his hobby of botany, getting a lift back to Barnby when he had seen some plants in the ditches that were new to him. Next day, Saturday, he spent with his brother Bernard at Woodbridge, attending the Woodbridge Meeting on Sunday. On Monday and Tuesday he was engaged on executors’ business in Clapham and London. On 26th he viewed the exhibition of paintings at the British Gallery and returned home the next day.

Whilst in London he sent a present to Susan Parker of a copy of Emily Taylor’s Poems, writing on the first page:

Susan Parker
August 18th
1823.4..5...6....

During this period he records his reflections, at intervals, on life, of which the following are samples –

That neglect of mental cultivation is a sinful misuse of a valuable faculty. That his times of depression had always been coincident with mental inactivity, and he suspected that a mind, unfurnished with proper occupation, preys upon itself, and seizes upon some imaginary grievance which in some circumstances appears to the imagination of unnatural magnitude.

In December 1826 he felt as much alone as Henry Martyn in the centre of India with regard to spiritual sympathy and society, suspecting that this was perhaps due to his own blameable fastidiousness, but he was disgusted with the views and sentiments of his evangelical acquaintances in the neighbourhood. He had, however, one friend, Rhoda Hack, who shared his views, with whom he was more allied than to those with whom he associated in outward communion.

In February 1827 John had attended a service at the Caledonian Chapel in Hatton Garden with Mr. Hughes to hear Edward Irving preach. He considered his manner too theatrical and found his discourse very fantastical and not very scriptural. Actually Edward Irving, who was a native of Arran, the son of a farmer, was deprived, by the presbytery of Arran for heretical views in a tract he wrote on the Incarnation in 1833.

It is interesting to reflect, however, on Charles Lamb’s opinion of Irving, recorded in a letter to Bernard Barton in March 1825:

"While I can write, let me adjure you to have no doubts of Irving. Let Mr. Mitford drop his disrespect. Irving has prefixed a dedication (of a Missionary Subject, 1st part) to Coleridge, the most beautiful, cordial and sincere. He there acknowledges his obligation to S.T.C . for his knowledge of Gospel truths, the nature of a Christian Church etc., to talk of S.T.C. (at whose Gamaliel feet he sits weekly) (?more) than to that of all the men living. This from him – The great dandled and petted Sectarian – to a religious character so equivocal in the world’s Eye as that of S.T.C., so foreign to the Kirk’s estimate! – Can this man be a Quack? The language is as affecting as the Spirit of the Dedication. Some friend (Mrs. Basil Montague) told him, ‘This dedication will do you no good, i.e. not in the world’s repute, or with your own People’. ‘That is a reason for doing it’ quoth Irving. I am thoroughly pleased with him. He is firm, outspeaking, intrepid – and docile as a pupil of Pythagoras. You must like him."

In July 1827 he felt that an industrious application to philanthropic pursuits or to the improvement of the mind went hand-in-hand with tranquillity and happiness.

On 4th August 1827, a Saturday evening, after considering many items of good news for him, he completed his Journal entry with:

"Enable me Oh Heavenly Father! to turn my heart from all these things and to devote thy Sabbath to the worship of thee uninterruptedly."

G. Sotiroff records in his book that John resigned his membership in the Society of Friends on 2nd September 1827, stating that he did not consider it right to refuse to pay tithes, or to omit participating in the sacraments.

From his Journal it is clear that he was very interested in the running of the church at Stoughton and was anxious that there should be a resident parson.

John considered that non-residence of the clergy was the disgrace to the English Church. How horrified he would be at the prevalence of cases of this disgrace today. The parish of Plaitford (which was then in Wiltshire, but is now in Hampshire) where his eldest son Joseph was rector from 1863-1871 is now linked with both Bramshaw and Landford, the rector living at Bramshaw. There are cases of up to ten parishes being grouped under one parson. This situation will have to be rectified if the decay of rural communities is to be arrested, which indeed is important for the health of our country. Even part time clergy might be better than none, provided the incumbent had the necessary inspiration and determination to serve the community.

The only evidence available of any official part John took in the running of his church is that he was a church-warden of Stoughton in 1831, though he may possibly have taken on this office earlier than this.

Church-wardens (also called questmen), officers of the church, were appointed by the first canon of the synod of London in 1127. Church-wardens, by the canons of 1603, are to be chosen annually by the joint consent of the minister and the parishioners, ‘if it may be, but if they cannot agree, then the minister is to choose one and the parishioners another’. Their duties have been laid down in Statutes of the Realm and in Church Canon Law. Canon Law lays down that their duties are to:

"observe loiterers in the churchyard,
provide bread and wine for Holy Communion,
prevent unworthy people from attending holy communion (e.g. notorious offenders)
observe which of the parishioners come to the communion as often as the law requires,"

and that they shall -

"note strange preachers in a book, provide a book of Prayer and the Homilies, preserve decency in the congregation,
collect the offertory,
with the Minister dispose of the offertory,
take care that all persons resort to the church."

In March 1827 John attended the committee of the Borough Road School, with a view to getting Gilpin, who was still teaching at his little village school, trained as a school master. This was followed by a visit to Lindfield, ten days later, with Gilpin where, after three days, Gilpin was accepted for the appointment of master there.

In July a Mr. Davies had been appointed curate at Stoughton, as a temporary measure, before a son of Mr. Hardy, the Vicar, was to take up the appointment. By Mr. Davies, John sent the following letter , which he wrote on 17th July 1827, to Thomas Chalmers:

"My dear Sir

My friend Mr. Davies, being, as I find, on the point of setting-off on an excursion to Scotland, where he anticipates the pleasure of seeing you, I cannot omit to avail myself of such an opportunity to assure you of the grateful recollection which I entertain of your kindness and hospitality, at St. Andrews and at Blochairn; the remembrance of which has often since returned in moments of much dejection. You have I believe, some knowledge of Mr. D. at least in the way of correspondence. He is at present performing the duties of officiating minister in the parish where I reside; having as you will see from my date, removed from Chichester to a village a few miles distant, whose seclusion I find more acceptable than the hustle of a city. Mr. Davies has only had this office for a short time. I thought it a great Acquisition, as he is a pious worthy man, who has the true interests of his parishioners at heart. He does not however reside here, but comes over to preach once every Sunday, the parish of Stoughton presenting one of those numerous cases of non-residence which are the disgrace of the English Church. It is said that there has not been any clergyman here for a Century, and I see the effects every day of such an arrangement in the grossness and heathen ignorance of the population.

Present my kindest remembrance, if you please, to Mrs. Chalmers, and beg Ann to accept of the inclosed little volume as a token of my friendship.

I remain my dear Sir
Very sincerely yours
Jno Barton"

It is long since I heard of our friends at Blochairn. If not too great an intrusion on your time, I should feel much obliged for a few lines to say if you have heard of them lately, and if they are well. Susan had shown so much delicacy of the lungs during several winters as to cause some uneasiness of her friends, and I am anxious to hear of her.

Susan Parker married Duncan Darroch (1800-1854) in about 1829.

Duncan was grandson of Duncan Darroch (who died in 1823) a prosperous Jamaican merchant and chief of the Sept, or clan Darroch or McIliriach, a branch of the McDonalds, who came from Ross and Cromarty and settled in the island of Jura. In 1784 he purchased the estate and barony of Gourock.

A legend of her family has it that Duncan proposed to her on his knees, as was the custom of the time, in Fairlie glen, and the knees of his white trousers bore the tell-tale marks on his return home!

Duncan became 3rd of Gourock and of Drums, was a Major in the Army, a D.L. and J.P.

Of Duncan and Susan’s children, Duncan b. 1836 became a barrister-at-law, a J.P. and a D.L. of Renfrew and Ross, and 4th Lord of the Barony of Gourock; Charles Stuart Parker b.1843 became a clergyman in the C. of E., George Edward b.1846 became a J.P. in Herts.

Susan Parker’s great friend Mary Babington married, in 1829, Susan’s brother James (1803-1852) who became Vice-Chancellor in 1851, and was knighted. He purchased Rothley Temple from the Babingtons. He gave great promise of a most brilliant judicial career, but died after ten months in office, leaving three sons and two daughters. His second daughter Susan Emma married Archibald Smith of Jordanhill, Co. Renfrew in 1853. Their sixth son Henry Babington Smith (Sir) G.B.E., C.H., K.C.B., C.S.I., M.A. had a distinguished career as an administrator, finishing as Director of the Bank of England, married Lady Elizabeth Mary Bruce in 1898; their eldest child was Michael James Babington Smith, born 20th March 1901, who died in October 1984 aged 83. In his obituary in the Daily Telegraph, he was described as ‘the eldest son of the large and gifted family of Sir Henry Babington Smith by his marriage to Lady Elizabeth Bruce’. A banker, whose skills were used in the 1939–45 war to set in order the currencies and financial affairs of conquered and liberated territories, when he served as a Brigadier and was awarded the C.B.E. Member of the Court of the Bank of England from 1949–1969. In 1965 director of the Bank of International Settlements, and director of several important companies. Till 1982 Chairman of London committee of the Ottoman Bank. He married in 1943 Jean, daughter of Admiral Sir Herbert Meade-Featherstonhaugh of Uppark, Sussex, who survived him, with a son and two daughters.

In June 1827, Joseph Janson spent a few days with John at Stoughton and no doubt discussed many subjects of their studies, including etymology. John recorded a note afterwards on this subject in his Journal on 23rd July 1827, which he intended as part of a paper for the New Monthly Magazine or some other periodical.

In June 1827 his pamphlet on the Geography of Plants was published.

On 27th July 1827 John wrote to the Editors of The Times and the Evening Mail at length on the dangers of the over issue of paper currency, a copy of his letter he recorded in his Journal. On 4th August he found the Evening Mail had published his letter ‘with the flattering addition of an article of some length in the great letters; intimating the Editor’s concurrence in my views and recommending them to the Director of the Bank and to Ministers’. He wrote another letter to the same Editor a few weeks later, observing that although the anticipated crisis had been averted, he was not satisfied that the issues of paper currency had been sufficiently reduced to avoid another crisis. He recorded a copy of his letter in his Journal, but this one was not published – he felt that perhaps the Editor ‘did not like to give currency to anything reflecting on the judgement or abilities of the present Ministers.’

On 4th August he heard from Dr. Chalmers in a note conveyed to him by Mr. Davies on return from Scotland that Susan Parker was in good health at Fairlie, allaying his fears for her as he had heard she was suffering from her chest.

During the last two months of 1827, John records some interesting reflections on life – firstly, that employment must not only be provided in sufficient quantity, but it must have reference to an end. There must be a sensible progress, in which all our pursuits may centre, and, connected with the scheme of employment, there must be an exercise of the affections. Religion, he felt, furnishes a great scheme of action to which all other pursuits may be rendered subordinate, and at the same time gives scope to the greatest exercise of the affections; secondly, how wonderful it is that our Creator has arranged that the direct pursuit of present pleasure should infallibly lead to satiety and nausea, while self-denial leads to tranquillity and joy; and thirdly – reflecting on the past twelve months of his life, that he could not affirm with confidence that he had made any progress in religion, on the other hand he was not conscious of any deterioration in this respect. Sorrow and dejection, he felt, first led him to God and he prayed that tranquillity and joy should never separate him from God.

By November 1827 John felt that he had been gradually recovering, for the last twelve months, from his unhappiness due to Susan Parker’s refusal to marry him, and that a recent visit to Smeeth Hill House, near Ashford, had nearly completed the cure, if it was not to plunge him into ‘such another sea of troubles’. He felt that he was beloved by Fanny (christened Frances), the elder daughter, born in 1807 to Joseph and Sarah Rickman. Joseph, who had been a merchant of Craven Street, London, had died, and Sarah had married Mr. Edward Hughes of Smeeth Hill House.

Edward Hughes (1776-1861) was the eldest son of Edward Hughes of Mersham, Kent, gentleman, and grandson of Edward Hughes of Mersham, farmer. His father, who died in 1825, had undoubtedly left him sufficient properties to make him a man of independent means through the revenues therefrom. In January 1813, when his daughter, Emily, was christened, he was living at Lodge House, Smeeth. From the Poll Book for Knights of the Shire, he represented the Eastern Division of the County of Kent in 1857. He was buried at Mersham on 8th November 1861.

There is a memorial on the wall of Mersham Church, which reads:

"THIS TABLET
IS REVERENTLY ERECTED TO THE MEMORY OF SARAH
THE BELOVED AND AFFECTIONATE WIFE OF
EDWARD HUGHES
OF SMEETH HILL HOUSE
AND FOURTH DAUGHTER OF RICHARD PETERS RICKMAN ESQ.
OF LEWES IN THE COUNTY OF SUSSEX
SHE DIED ON 22ND DECEMBER 1860
AET 84 YEARS
ALSO TO THE MEMORY OF THE ABOVE NAMED
EDWARD HUGHES
WHO DIED ON 2ND NOVEMBER 1861
AET 84 YEARS
HE WAS AN INTELLIGENT, PIOUS AND LIBERAL MINDED
CHRISTIAN GENTLEMAN"

Fanny’s grandfather Joseph Rickman (1741/2–1812) the son of Joseph Rickman (1714–1776) of Chilsham Farm near Hurstmonceaux, Sussex, and Sarah, née Gorham, had moved to London to become a factor and coal dealer, marrying Anne Worster, who was described as a linen draper of Marson Street, Carnaby Market, London, daughter of Thomas and Benjamina Worster. Their marriage took place in Savoy in the Strand on 8th March 1770. Joseph (1779–1808), Fanny’s father, was their fifth child, who married Sarah Rickman, his second cousin, in 1806.

Sarah’s grandfather was John Rickman (1715–1789), younger brother of Fanny great-grandfather Joseph (1714–1776), who married Elizabeth Peters of Lewes, Sussex. Sarah was the daughter of Richard Peters Rickman (1745–1801) and Mary Verrall (1748–1818), who married in 1766.

Late in 1827 Fanny Rickman became ill, and so a visit to John at Stoughton of Mr. and Mrs. Hughes and the two Rickman girls (the younger was named Josephina) and Emily, which had been planned, had to be postponed.

On 14th January 1828 John recorded a copy of a letter he wrote to the Evening Mail on the subject of County Friendly Societies, as there had been a report in the paper of a meeting held at Wells, where the Marquess of Bath presided, for the purpose of establishing a County Friendly Society. He urged that if the nobility wished to help the poor in this way they should instruct the organisers of Friendly Societies in the principles on which they should be safely established, as explained by a report of the Highland Society of Scotland in 1824, and assist Societies by the contribution of pecuniary aid if necessary, but not to interfere in the management of the funds. This letter was published on 21st January 1828.
On 8th March 1828 he suffered an attack of depression, accompanied by an inability to intellectual exertion, but could not establish which was the cause, and which the effect. He reflected that strangers know little of ‘the secret bitterness of the heart’, and that recently Doctor Sanden had said that he should imagine that was a sensation John never experienced. On the following day, Sunday, he reflected that he had a struggle till the evening on a Sunday to keep his attention fixed on spiritual contemplation for long, but when the children assembled for ‘our accustomed devotions’ he seldom failed to have a suitable flow of devotional feeling, which was generally ‘followed by a sweet season of thankfulness and peace’.
From 18th March to April 1st he visited London, where he made notes for a lecture on the Geography of Animals, had two executors’ meetings, appointed an agent for collection of rents and then visited tenants with him at Teddington, Kingston and Esher.

On 6th April he planned to start a series of lectures on Political Economy to the Mechanics’ Institution at Chichester, and to write a letter on emigration to The Times, in the hope of preventing much misery and to assist in stopping the frightful increase in crime. When he gave his first lecture he was pleased with his performance. His letter to The Times was written on 8th April 1828, but was not published; a copy is recorded in John’s Journal entry for 20th April 1828.

On 27th April 1828 he records that when he was in London Samuel Darton had informed him that 500 copies of his lecture on the Geography of Plants had been sold - a third of the edition. He felt rather humiliated that this lecture had been merely a compilation, but that at least much of it was taken from not easily accessible foreign works. He, however, felt that it might help him to gain the public’s attention, because his two pamphlets on Political Economy had not sold well, in spite of being well mentioned in the Monthly and Eclectic Reviews and by Sismondi in his Annales de Economie Politique & de Legislation published in Geneva.

The visit of the Hugheses and Rickmans started on 14th May 1828.

During this visit it became clear to John that Fanny’s ‘heart had been effectually touched by the Holy Spirit’, and on 18th May they mutually declared their love for one another. On 26th May they fixed the day of their marriage for Monday, 23th July.

John then took his guests on an excursion to the Isle of Wight.

Their visit, which is described in some detail in his Journal, was concluded on 26th May.

John recorded that ten years previously, he would have preferred the younger Rickman girl, Josephina, for a wife, but as explained in his Journal entry on 26th May, he was now convinced that it was Fanny who would make him a good wife.

John was happy that his wife to be was truly religious and virtuous, that she loved him tenderly, and that these were the two principal requisites to happiness in marriage. He was impressed with the responsibility of bringing up children, who were souls destined either to eternal happiness or misery, and considered that the character of the young woman chosen as a wife assumes an importance in this respect, superior even to every consideration of his present happiness.

Looking back over the last ten years of his life he considered that it would have been better if he had committed all his concerns to ‘the management of Him who knows what is best. Oh that I could learn to repose this undoubting confidence in Him’.

On 30th June he left for Norfolk to inspect his farms at Fundenhall, and then on to stay with his brother Bernard at Woodbridge. Edward FitzGerald had once written to Bernard that:

"I should much like to see your Platonic Brother. By your account he must have a very perfect mental organisation or, phrenologically speaking, he must be fully and equally furnished with the bumps of ideality and causality: which, as Bacon would say, are the two extreme poles on which the perfect ‘sound and roundabout’ intellect is balanced. A great deficiency of the causality bump causes me to break short in a long discussion which I meant to have favoured you with on this subject. I hope to meet your Brother one of these days: and to learn much from him."

Edward FitzGerald, however, did not meet him on this occasion, but in 1844, when John was again visiting Bernard.

On 25th July John recorded that he had written to Susan Parker condoling with her on the death of her father, and had informed her of his intended connection with the lady who became his second wife. On receiving Susan’s reply he wrote again to her from Stoughton, recording a copy of this letter in his Journal.

John and Fanny were married at Smeeth Church, from Smeeth Hill House on 28th July 1828, and crossed to the Continent from Dover for their honeymoon on 29th July.


Chapter 9: Life with Fanny


With Fanny, John had nine children, Joseph (1829), Elizabeth (1833), Gerard (1834), John (1836), Josephina (1840), Fanny (1841), Emily (1842), and Sarah who died in infancy.

Maria Hack, writing from Lavant on 14th January 1830 to Bernard Barton, wrote:

"Mother is on the whole more feeble and poorly this winter, but has no particularly threatening symptom – John and his wife very well – they have as thou hast doubtless heard a remarkably fine boy."

She was referring to Joseph, their first born. In March 1830 John published his third pamphlet, entitled A Statement of the Consequences Likely to Ensue from our Growing Excess of Population, if not Remedied by Colonization, which was published by Harvey and Darton of Gracechurch Street, London. He had pressed on with the production of this pamphlet greatly encouraged by the flattering manner in which R.G. Wilmot-Horton had spoken of a pamphlet of his in the House of Commons, and he wrote the following letter [from the Catton Collection, Derby City Library] to him:

"Stoughton, Petersfield,
March 13th 1830

Sir

Though I have not the honour of being personally known to you, I take the liberty of addressing you in consequence of the flattering manner in which you were so good as to speak of a pamphlet of mine the other night in the House of Commons. I have been induced by what you said on that occasion to send to the Publisher some Remarks on the Importance of Colonization which have been lying by me more than twelve months, apprehending that if printed they might never attain circulation enough to contribute towards the end I had in view in writing them. But I now see that a work even of very limited circulation, like my former pamphlets, may, by falling into the hands of a few influential persons, operate on public opinion to an extent quite disproportioned to the number sold. I shall have the honour to ask your acceptance of a copy of the tract now printing, as soon as it is completed.

In the meantime I will briefly state the heads of my argument.

I begin by stating that our population exceeds by 3 millions or more, its amount at the close of the war – that in the mean time we have little if any increase of the growth of corn – that in the event of a general failure of crops, as in 1816 and 1800, this must lead to famine. That it would be vain to look for relief from importation in such a case, proved by the very small import of the two years mentioned. That we have no experience of an increase of population like the present since the days of Elizabeth. That such an increase appears then to have taken place, and to have been accompanied, as now, with a decline in real wages, loud complaints of the burden of the poor, and of the increase of crime. That this state of things terminated in pestilence, and that such must be the consequences now, if not met by proper remedies. That the popular objection to Emigration, as being expensive, is founded in misconception. That it is proved the labourer would be able to repay the expense of his removal, by the experiment made in 1823, and by the experience of the United States. That parishes would be willing to defray this expense, if they were relieved from the apprehension of the paupers returning to them. That the State of New South Wales proves the good effect of leaving sufficient room for the spread of Population. That the proposed substitutes of ‘Spade Cultivation’ and ‘‘Colonies at Home’ are fallacious. They have no tendency to increase the supply of food relatively to the Population. That a regulated scheme of Emigration present facilities and advantages to the settlers far greater than they now have, etc. etc.

I have requested the publisher to expedite the printing as much as possible, that the pamphlet may be in circulation by the time of the renewal of the motion, which you have promised to make during the present Session.

I am Sir
Your very ob Servant
Jno Barton"

John undoubtedly influenced some of the Hack children to emigrate for John Barton Hack (1805–1884) emigrated to South Australia in 1836 with his wife and family and his brother Stephen, and played a prominent part in the development of Adelaide. Stephen Hack shared many of his brother’s vicissitudes, and achieved some success as an inland explorer.

John Barton Hack’s fifth son, Theodore (1840–1902) became a local legislator and municipalist, and was mayor of Port Adelaide and Semaphore.

John knew Charles Gordon-Lennox, the 5th Duke of Richmond, who lived at Goodwood, through their mutual interest in local affairs, and advised him on matters of political economy. The Duke had served in the Army, was a Lieutenant-Colonel and had been present at Waterloo, as A.D.C. to the Duke of Wellington. He was hit by a musket ball, which had never been extracted; he had however five sons and two daughters, was P.M.G. from 1830-34, Chairman of the Committee on West Indian Slavery, Lord Lieutenant of Sussex, High Steward of Chichester and Colonel of the Sussex Militia. The Duke assisted John in publicising his opinions on economic affairs.

In the winter of 1830-31 a select committee of the House of Lords was appointed to consider the State of the Poor Laws. The Duke arranged for John to be called, and he was examined on 25th February 1831. Unfortunately John failed to take full advantage of this opportunity to press his case for emigration to relieve the state of the poor, but simply stated that emigration was the only plan for relieving distress at that moment. In a letter to the Duke written the following day he wrote:

"I do not think I made a strong case. In fact my examination chiefly related to the circumstances of my own neighbourhood, on which I am less competent to speak than many other persons."

R. P. Sturges described the sequel to the above thus:

"Because of his consciousness of having failed before the committee he began to prepare a document in support of his views and within a few days was able to send a draft to his patron…Barton’s statement…clearly grew to become the basis of his fourth major published contribution, In defence of the Corn Laws (1833).

A year later Barton presented a copy of his pamphlet In Defence of the Corn Laws to Richmond and quite clearly it arose from his dialogue with the Duke and his failure to impress the House of Lords Committee. At 128 pages, the book is his longest work; it is also the fullest and most final statement of his beliefs."

In September 1831 John wrote to the Duke asking him for an Order of Admission to the House of Lords for himself and one other (actually Joseph Janson, his friend, the banker of 32 Abchurch Lane, the City) in order to attend the debate on the Reform Bill.

In March 1832, John wrote to J.B. Freeland’ who was acting as the Duke’s political agent, giving more calculations for the Duke, examining the effect of the price of corn on the number of deaths and marriages in different districts.

John was a trustee of the Chichester Literary and Philosophical Society, which was instituted on 12th February 1831.
Patrons were the. Dukes of Norfolk and Richmond, the Earls of Egremont and Arran, the Lord Selsey and the Bishops of Chichester and Worcester. John’s fellow trustees were Dr. John Forbes, J.D. Newland, solicitor, B. Ridge banker and Rev. C. Webber , who was Rector of Felpham (1830–1832).

Officers for the year 1831–32 were: President, the Very Rev. George Chandler, Dean of Chichester (1830–1859); Treasurer, C.C. Dendy; and Secretary J.D. Newland.

Ordinary members of the Committee were John Barton, J. McCarogher M.D., physician at Chichester Infirmary (1826–66), Rev. J. Davies, W. Gruggen surgeon and apothecary, Rev. T.A. Holland of Oving (1827–38), and Thomas Humphry, brewer.

A list of donations when the society was instituted is headed by the Duke of Norfolk with £30, followed by John Barton’s and nine others of £25, one of £21 and eleven others of £10 to £15. The donors included J. Hack, Dr. T. Sanden, J. Godman landowner and prominent Baptist, John Abel Smith (1801–71) M.P. for Chichester, Charles Ridge banker, Rev. Charles Webber , senior, Archdeacon of Chichester (1808–40), J. Smith (1767–1842) M.P. for Chichester, Joseph Baker surgeon, the Recorder of Chichester and the Rev. Thomas Baker, Rector of Eastergate (1829-32).

It was with this society that the Chichester Mechanics Institution merged in about 1849, and continued, often under great difficulties until 1923, when it became the Regnum Club.

On 5th November 1832 John wrote a letter to the Bishop, at his request, on his recommendations for Church Reform. A copy of this letter is recorded as the last entry in the fourth volume of his Journal.

The points he made in this letter were:

  • A commutation of Tithes for a Tax on Rent
  • Compulsory residence for the clergy
  • An extension of the means of education to country parishes, using clergymen as schoolmasters for evening classes.
  • To establish a course of procedure for dealing with clergymen considered to be guilty of misconduct.

In 1836 the Tithe Commutation Act was passed, stopping payment in kind, and tithes being commuted for a rent charge on land.

The situation regarding facilities provided for primary education in England at this time is described by G.M. Trevelyan in his English Social History thus:

"Primary education both lost and gained by the religious and denominational squabbles, characteristic of an age when Dissenters had become numerically formidable, but Churchmen were still unwilling to abate a jot of their privileges. On the one hand public money could not be obtained for educating the people, because the Church claimed that it must be spent under the aegis of the State religion, and the Dissenters would not agree to the use of public funds on such terms. On the other hand the hostile denominations vied with each other in collecting money voluntarily for the erection of Day Schools and Sunday Schools…

The ‘British and Foreign School Society’ under Dissenting and Whig patronage, worked on the basis of undenominational Bible-teaching, while the Churchmen countered by the foundation of the ‘National Society for the Education of the Poor according to the Principles of the Church of England’. The ‘National’ or Church schools became the most usual mode of popular education in the English village.

Though much was lacking in the organised education of that age as compared to our own, very many people of all classes at the time of Waterloo knew the Bible with a real familiarity which raised their imaginations above the level of that insipid vulgarity of mind which the modern multiplicity of printed matter tends rather to increase than diminish."

From 1833 onwards the State made a grant of £20,000 annually towards the school buildings of the various voluntary societies that were then organising schools for both primary and secondary education. G. M. Trevelyan states:

"To distribute this pittance, an Educational Committee of the Privy Council was set up, with a permanent Secretary and a system of inspection of the State-aided schools. Such was the humble origin of the present Board of Education."

It was not until 1870, with the passing of the Elementary Education Act, that the foundations of our modern public education system were laid.

Of late our public education system has been going through troublesome times, chiefly as a result of party political interference. A Socialist government succeeded in abolishing many of the old grammar schools by laying down in 1965–66 that all selective schools should be abolished and replaced by comprehensive schools, which, besides tending to handicap the brighter pupils, have proved too big and complex to run efficiently. Meanwhile the standard of teachers, on average, has deteriorated, classes have grown too big, and in many places teachers have been guilty of attempts at political indoctrination of their pupils.

Surely it would have been wiser to have retained the grammar schools, which had the steadying influence of tradition behind them, rather than create new schools. Our Church, which had always played an important role in our education system, has now unfortunately only responsibility for some of the primary schools and a few secondary schools. The strength of our Army is due largely to the fine tradition of its regiments and its non-involvement in politics, and should have been taken as an example when considering any reorganisation of our education system.

The loss of so many small primary schools (and more now seem to be threatened), involving transporting small children far from their home environment has been a major factor in the deterioration of our educational standards, and a disruptive factor in our local communities.

The so-called Public Schools may contribute to class distinction in our society, but should they be incorporated into our state system their names and establishments, with their fine traditions, should be retained.

Whatever facilities the state may provide for education, those pupils keen enough to improve their knowledge and understanding will endeavour to do so by their own efforts in private study; surely John was a fine example of achievement by this means.

With the great shortage of employment opportunities today, there is no doubt a tendency for many of the young to feel that it is not worth making much effort at education, but how much more would they enjoy life if they determined to improve their understanding; and surely as citizens with the vote in a democratic country it is their duty to achieve knowledge and understanding to help solve the problems of their time.

In March 1833, John published his fourth pamphlet on political economy – An Inquiry into the Expediency of the Existing Restrictions on the Importation of Foreign Corn, with Observations on the Present Social and Political Prospects of Great Britain.


In July 1833, John wrote again to Thomas Chalmers, this time after receiving from him his contribution to the Bridgewater Treatises.

The series of Treatises known as the Bridgewater Treatises were written and published due to the Last Will and Testament of the Right Hon. and Rev. Francis Earl of Bridgewater , who had died in 1829. He had directed that:

"…certain trustees therein named to invest in the public funds the sum of Eight thousand pounds, sterling; this sum, with the accruing dividends thereon, to be held at the disposal of the President, for the time being, of the Royal Society of London, to be paid to the person or persons nominated by him…to write, print and publish one thousand copies of a work On the Power, Wisdom and Goodness of God, as manifested in the Creation; illustrating such work by all reasonable arguments, as for instance the variety and formation of God’s creatures in the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms, the effect of digestion, and thereby of conversion; the construction of the hand of man, and an infinite variety of other arguments; as also by discoveries ancient and modern, in arts, sciences and the whole extent of literature. He desired, moreover, that the profits arising from the sale of the works so published should be paid to the authors of the works."

Eight gentlemen were appointed to write separate treatises on the different branches of the subject.

The Rev. Thomas Chalmers D.D., Professor of Divinity in the University of Edinburgh was nominated to write Treatise I, on the Adaptation of External Nature to the Moral and Intellectual Constitution of Man.

The titles of the other treatises were:

2. On the Adaptation of External Nature to the Physical Condition of Man.
3. On Astronomy and General Physics Considered with Reference to Natural Theology.
4. The Hand: Its Mechanism and Vital Endowments as Evincing Design.
5. On Animal and Vegetable Physiology.
6. On Geology and Mineralogy.
7. On the History Habits and Instincts of Animals.
8. On Chemistry, Meteorology and the Function of Digestion, Considered with Reference to Natural Theology.

Treatise I was published in two volumes of which the contents were as follows:

Vol. I
Introductory chapter
Chap. I On the Supremacy of Conscience
Chap. II On the Inherent Pleasure of the Virtuous, and Misery of the Vicious Affections.
Chap. III The Power and Operation of Habit.
Chap. IV On the General Adaptation of External Nature to the Moral Constitution of Man.
Chap. V On the Special and Subordinate Adaptations of External Nature to the Moral Constitution of Man.
Chap. VI On those Special Affections which conduce to the Civil and Political Well-being of Society
Vol. II
Part I
Chap. VII On those Special Affections which conduce to the Economic Well-being of Society.
Chap. VIII On the Relation in which the Special Affections of our Nature stand to Virtue; and on the Demonstration given forth by it, both to the Character of Man and the Character of God.
Chap. IX Miscellaneous Evidences of Virtuous and Benevolent Design, in the Adaptation of External Nature to the Moral Constitution of Man.
Chap. X On the Capacities of the World for making a Virtuous Species happy; and the Argument deducible from this, both for the Character of God and the Immortality of Man.
Part II
Chap. I Chief Instances of this Adaptation.
Chap. II On the Connection between the Intellect and the Emotions.
Chap. III On the Connection between the Intellect and the Will.
Chap. IV On the Defects and the Uses of Natural Theology.

John’s letter read:

"Stoughton July 29 1835
The Revd. Thos. Chalmers D.D.
Edinburgh

My dear Sir

I fear I may have appeared unthankful in not sooner acknowledging your very kind and acceptable present of books – which was not the less grateful, as I did not even know of the existence of some of the smaller ones. I wished however to take time to read them before returning you my thanks – that I might tell you what I thought of them. The Bridgewater Treatise is I think the greatest work you have yet produced and indeed one of the greatest of modern times. The only things resembling it that I have ever read are some of the works of Burke – which have the same wonderful property of flashing gleams of light occasionally into the most secret recesses of human nature. It serves to confirm a thing which I have for some time entertained that in Moral Philosophy that cannot be sound which is not eloquent. For what is eloquence, in its highest sense, but the power of bringing forth strongly and clearly into view those elevated sentiments and profound convictions of the interior soul, to which the underbred mind naturally responds with an animating sympathy. If a Moral Philosopher is incapable of touching this string, he must be ignorant of the most important Secrets of our mental constitution. What estimate then shall we form of a moralist like Paley who leaves no other feeling on the mind of a reader than this – that on the whole it is more gainful to be virtuous than to be wicked. It is a cruel reflexion that upon this topic there is more of a high minded and sound philosophy to be found in the works of Cicero and Seneca than in many – I fear I might say in most – Christian moralists. You have nobly redeemed this defect – and presented our youthful and generous spirits with an image of virtue calculated to excite their warmest love and most eager aspirations. As particular examples of this, I would refer to your analysis of the immediate happiness of virtuous affections p.172–175 Vol. I, and of the fierce agonies accompanying vice p.178–181 independently of any physical suffering. Something like this had been said by Sir J. Macintosh – but his mind wanted momentum to give effect to his doctrines in his desire for unbounded liberality and to find good in all things, he diluted the truth till it became little better than milk and water. In addition to the above the passages which have given me most peculiar pleasure are the magnificent description of the glorious system of harmony and beauty in the universe, developed by the discoveries of Newton – Vol. 2 p.188–193 – and the last chapter generally which may be considered an expansion of a remark which I remember hearing from you at St. Andrews – and have ever since treasured up as a gem of original and most important truth, that the business of Moral Philosophy is to prepare formulae, which are to be delivered over for solution to the higher calculus of the Professor of Theology. In all doctrines throughout the work I think I may say I cordially agree, excepting the question of pauperism – and it is a riddle which I find myself incapable of solving – how two persons agreeing in the great questions of philosophy so entirely can arrive at such opposite conclusions on a practical question. I have read over again your statements of what has been done at Glasgow, and acknowledge that they are truly marvellous – and astonishingly confirmatory of your views – yet on a general contemplation of the subject and reflecting on what individuals see of the conditions of the poor – I find difficulty amounting I fear to me quite insurmountable in agreeing to your propositions. Some of these days when I can get a frank, I think I must trouble you more at length on this subject. If my objections are good for nothing in themselves, they may at least serve to show you what are the kind of difficulties that present themselves to the minds of Englishmen with regard to this important question, and so enable you to meet their misapprehensions more effectually.

Your reply to the Edinburgh Review is I think most completely satisfactory, and still better – it throws light on a most important and difficult subject – the true state of our manufacturing population. The statement from Paisley is one of the most valuable documents I have seen a long time – and it is to me doubly interesting from the strong confirmation it gives to one of my own doctrines, that an increase of trade is not always accompanied by an increase of happiness, even restricting the word happiness to its lowest signification, as synonymous with physical enjoyment.

I cannot conclude without assuring you, my dear Sir, that I look back to your little visit at Stoughton as one of the pleasantest days of my life. My wife desires to join me in kind remembrance – and I should be glad to present my best regards to Mrs. Chalmers, if she recollects me.

Yours my dear Sir, with greatest esteem
J. Barton"


Extracts from the Bridgewater Treatise (page numbers refer to the first edition)

The parts of the Treatise that John praised highly:

Vol. I Chap. IV (pp.172–175)

"9. But besides the pleasures and pains of conscience, there is, in the very taste and feeling of moral qualities, a pleasure or a pain. This formed our second general argument in favour of God’s righteous administration; and our mental constitution, even when viewed singly, furnishes sufficient materials on which to build it. But the argument is greatly strengthened and enhanced by the adaptation to that constitution of external nature, more especially as exemplified in the reciprocal influences which take place between mind and mind in society: for the effect of this adaptation is to multiply both the pleasures of virtue and the sufferings of vice. The first, the original pleasure, is that which is felt by the virtuous man himself; as, for example, by the benevolent, in the very sense and feeling of that kindness whereby his heart is actuated. The second is felt by him who is the object of this kindness – for merely in the conscious possession of another’s goodwill, there is a great and distinct enjoyment. And then the manifested kindness of the former awakens gratitude in the bosom of the latter; and this, too, is a highly pleasurable emotion. And lastly, gratitude sends back a delicious incense to the benefactor who awakened it. By the purely mental interchange of these affections, there is generated a prodigious amount of happiness; and that, altogether independent of the gratifications which are yielded by the material gifts of liberality on the one hand, or by the material services of gratitude on the other. Insomuch, that we have only to imagine a reign of perfect virtue; and then, in spite of the physical ills which essentially and inevitably attach to our condition, we should feel as if we had approximated very nearly to a state of perfect enjoyment among men – or, in other words, that the bliss of paradise would be almost fully realised upon earth, were but the moral graces and charities of paradise firmly established there, and in full operation. Let there be honest and universal goodwill in every bosom, and this be responded to from all who are the objects of it by an honest gratitude back again; let kindness, in all its various effects and manifestations, pass and repass from one heart and countenance to another; let there be a universal courteousness in our streets, and let fidelity and affection and all the domestic virtues take up their secure and lasting abode in every family; let the succour and sympathy of a willing neighbourhood be ever in readiness to meet and to overpass all the want and wretchedness to which humanity is liable; let truth, and honour, and inviolable friendship between man and man, banish all treachery and injustice from the world; in the walks of merchandise, let an unfailing integrity on the one side, have the homage done to it of unbounded confidence on the other – insomuch, that each man, reposing with conscious safety on the uprightness and attachment of his fellow, and withal rejoicing as much in the prosperity of an acquaintance as he should in his own, there would come to be no place for the harassments and the heart-burnings of mutual suspicion or resentment or envy: who does not see, in the state of a society thus constituted and thus harmonized, the palpable evidence of a nature so framed, that the happiness of the world and the righteousness of the world kept pace the one with the other? And it is all important to remark of this happiness, that, in respect both to quality and amount, it mainly consists of moral elements; so that while every giver who feels as he ought, experiences a delight in the exercise of generosity which rewards him a hundred-fold for all its sacrifices – every receiver who feels as he ought, rejoices infinitely more in the sense of the benefactor’s kindness, than in the physical gratification or fruit of the benefactor’s liberality.

It is saying much for the virtuousness of Him who hath so moulded and so organised the spirit of man, that, apart from sense and from all its satisfactions, but from the ethereal play of the good affections done, the highest felicity of our nature should be generated; that simply by the interchange of cordiality between man and man, and one benevolent emotion re-echoing to another, there should be yielded to human hearts, so much of the truth and substance of real enjoyment – so that did justice, and charity, and holiness descend from heaven to earth, taking full and universal possession of our species, the happiness of heaven would be sure to descend along with them. Could any world be pointed out, where the universality and reign of vice effected the same state of blissful and secure enjoyment that virtue would in ours – we should infer that he was the patron and the friend of vice, who had dominion over it. But when assured, on the experience we have of our actual nature, that in the world we occupy, a perfect mortality would, but for certain physical calamities, be the harbinger of a perfect enjoyment – we regard this as an incontestable evidence for the moral goodness of our own actual Deity."

Vol. I Chap. IV (pp.178–181)

"11. Nothing can be more illustrative of the character of God, or more decisive of the question, whether His preference is for universal virtue or for universal vice in the world, than to consider the effect of each on the well-being of human society – even that society which He did Himself ordain, and whose mechanism is the contrivance of His own intellect, and the work of His own hands. It may not be easy to explain the origin of that moral derangement into which the species has actually fallen; but it affords no obscure or uncertain indication of what the species was principally made for, when we picture to ourselves the difference between a commonwealth of vice and a commonwealth of virtue. We have already said enough on the obvious connection which obtains between the righteousness of a nation and the happiness of its families; and it were superfluous to dilate on the equally obvious connection which obtains between a state of general depravity, and a state of general wretchedness and disorder. And the counterpart observation holds true, that as the beatitudes of the one condition, so the sufferings of the other are chiefly made up of moral elements. If, in the former, there be a more precious and heartfelt enjoyment in the possession of another’s kindness, than in all the material gifts and services to which that kindness has prompted him – so in the latter, may it often happen, that the agony arising from simple consciousness of another’s malignity, will greatly exceed any physical hurt, whether in person or property, that we ever shall sustain from him. A loss that we suffer from the dishonesty of another is far more severely felt than a ten-fold loss occasioned by accident or misfortune – or, in other words, we find the moral provocation to be greatly more pungent and intolerable than the physical calamity. So that beside the material damage, too palpable to be insisted on at any length, which vice and violence inflict upon society, there should be taken into account the soreness of spirit, the purely mental distress and disquietude which follow in their train – of which we have already seen how much is engendered even in the workings of one individual mind; but susceptible of being inflamed to a degree indefinitely higher, by the reciprocal working of minds, all of them hating and all hateful to each other. In this mere antipathy of the heart, more especially when aided by nearness and the opportunities of mutual expression there are sensations of most exquisite bitterness. There is a wretchedness in the mere collision of hostile feelings themselves, though they should break not forth into overt acts of hostility; in the simple demonstrations of malignity, apart from its doings; in the war but of words and looks and fierce gesticulations, though no violence should be inflicted on the one side or sustained upon the other. To make the aggressor in these purely mental conflicts intensely miserable, it is enough that he should experience within him the agitations and the fires of a resentful heart. To make the recipient intensely miserable, it is enough that he should be demoniacally glared upon by a resentful eye. Were this power which resides in the emotions by themselves sufficiently reflected on, it would evince how intimately connected, almost how identified, wickedness and wretchedness are with each other. To realise the miseries of a state of war, it is not necessary that there should be contests of personal strength. The mere contests of personal feeling will suffice. Let there be mutual rage and mutual revilings; let there be the pangs and the outcries of fierce exasperation; let there be the continual droppings of peevishness and discontent; let disdain meet with equal disdain; or even, instead of scorn from the lofty, let there be but the slights and the insults of contempt from men who themselves are of the most contemptible; let there be haughty defiance, and spiteful derision, and the mortifications of affronted and irritated pride – in the tumults of such a scene, though tumults of the mind alone, there were enough to constitute a hell of assembled maniacs or of assembled malefactors. The very presence and operation of these passions would form their own sorest punishment. To have them perpetually in ourselves is to have a hell in the heart. To meet with them perpetually in others is to be compassed about with a society of fiends, to be beset with the miseries of a Pandemonium.

12. Whether we look then to the separate or the social constitution of humanity, we observe abundant evidence for the mind and meaning of the Deity, who both put together the elements of each individual nature, and the elements which enter into the composition of society. We cannot imagine a more decisive indication of His favour being on the side of the moral good, and His displeasure against moral evil, than that, by the working of each of these constitutions, virtue and happiness on the one hand, vice and wretchedness on the other, should be so intimately and inseparably allied. Such sequences or laws of nature as these, speak as distinctly the character of Him who established them, as any laws of jurisprudence would the character of the monarch by whom they were enacted. And to learn this lesson, we do not need to wait for the distant consequences of vice or virtue. We at once feel the distinction put upon them by the hand of the Almighty, in the instant sensations which He hath appended to each of them – implicated as their effects are with the very fountain-head of moral being, and turning the hearts which they respectively occupy, into the seats either of wildest anarchy, or of serene and blissful enjoyment."

Vol. II Chap. II (pp.188–193)

"5. But the analogy between the mental and the corporeal affections does not stop there. The appetite of hunger would, of itself, impel to the use of food – although no additional pleasure had been annexed to the use of it, in the gratifications of the palate. The sense of taste, with its various pleasurable sensations, has ever been regarded as a distinct proof of the benevolence and care of God. And the same is true of the delights which are felt by the mind in the acquisition of knowledge – as when truth discloses her high and hidden beauties to the eye of the enraptured student; and he breathes an ethereal satisfaction, having in it the very substance of enjoyment, though the world at large cannot sympathize with it. The pleasures of the intellect, though calm, are intense; insomuch, that a life of deep philosophy were a life of deep emotion, when the understanding receives of its own proper aliment – having found its way to those harmonies of principle, those goodly classifications of phenomena, which the disciples of science love to gaze upon. And the whole charm does not lie in the ultimate discovery. There is a felt triumph in the march, and along the footsteps of the demonstration which leads to it; in the successive evolutions of the reasoning, as well as its successful conclusion. Like every other enterprise of man, there is a happiness in the current and continuous pursuit, as well as in the final attainment – as every student in geometry can tell, who will remember, not only the delight he felt on his arrival at the landing place, but the delight he felt when guided onwards by the traces and concatenations of the pathway. Even in his remotest abstractions of contemplative truth, there is a glory and a transcendental pleasure, which the world knoweth not; but which becomes more intelligible, because more embodied, when the attention of the inquirer is directed to the realities of substantive nature. And though there be few who comprehend or follow Newton in his gigantic walk, yet all may participate in his triumphant feeling, when he reached that lofty summit, where the whole mystery and magnificence of Nature stood submitted to his gaze – an eminence won by him through the power and the patience of intellect alone; but from which he descried a scene more glorious far than imagination could have formed, or than ever had been pictured and set forth in the sublimest visions of poetry.

6. It is thus that while the love of beauty, operating upon the susceptible imagination of the theorist, is one of those seducing influences which lead men astray from the pursuit of experimental truth – he, in fact, who at the outset resists her fascinations, because of his supreme respect for the lessons of observation, is at length repaid by the discoveries and sights of a surpassing loveliness. The inductive philosophy began its career by a renunciation, painful we have no doubt at first to many of its disciples, of all the systems and harmonies of the schoolmen. But in the assiduous prosecution of its labours, it worked its way to a far nobler and more magnificent harmony at the last – to the real system of the universe, more excellent than all the schemes of human conception – not in the solidity of its evidence alone, but as an object of tasteful contemplation. The self-denial which is laid upon us by Bacon’s philosophy, like all other self-denial, whether in the cause of truth or virtue, hath its reward. In giving ourselves up to its guidance, we have often to quit the fascinations of beautiful theory; but in exchange for these, are at length regaled by the higher and substantial beauties of actual nature. There is a stubbornness in facts before which the specious ingenuity is compelled to give way; and perhaps the mind never suffers more painful laceration, than when, after having vainly attempted to force Nature into a compliance with her own splendid generalizations, she, on the appearance of some rebellious and impracticable phenomenon, has to practise a force upon herself, when she thus finds the goodly speculation superseded by the homely and unwelcome experience. It seemed at the outset a cruel sacrifice, when the world of speculation, with all its manageable and engaging simplicities, had to be abandoned; and, on becoming the pupils of observation, we, amid the varieties of the actual world around us, felt as if bewildered, if not lost, among the perplexities of a chaos. This was the period of greatest sufferance, but it has had a glorious termination. In return for the assiduity wherewith the study of nature had been prosecuted, she hath made a more abundant revelation of her charms. Order hath arisen out of confusion; and, in the ascertained structure of the universe, there are now found to be a state and a sublimity, beyond all that was ever pictured by the mind, in the days of her adventurous and unfettered imagination. Even viewed in the light of a noble and engaging spectacle for the fancy to dwell upon, who would ever think of comparing with the system of Newton, either that celestial machinery of Des Cartes, which was impelled by whirlpools of ether, or that still more cumbrous machinery of cycles and epicycles which was the progeny of a remoter age! It is thus that at the commencement of this observational process, there is an abjuration of beauty. But it soon reappears in another form, and brightens as we advance; and there at length arises, on solid foundation, a fairer and goodlier system, than ever floated in airy romance before the eye of genius.

[Footnote to p.102 of the Treatise]

In the Essays of John Sheppard, – a work very recently published, and alike characterized by the depth of its Christian intelligence and feeling, and the beauty of its thoughts – there occurs the following passage, founded on the Manuscript Notes, taken by the author, of Playfair’s Lectures. ‘It was impressively stated in a preliminary lecture by a late eminent Scottish Professor of Natural Philosophy, that the actual physical wonders of creation far transcend the boldest and most hyperbolical imaginings of poetic minds; “that the reason Newton and Galileo took a sublimer flight than the fancy of Milton and Ariosto”. That this is quite true I need only to refer you to a few astronomical facts glanced at in subsequent pages of this volume in order to evince’. Sheppard’s Essays, p.69.

Nor is it difficult to perceive the reason of this. What we discover by observation, is the product of the divine imagination – bodied forth by creative power, into a stable and enduring universe. What we devise by our own ingenuity is but the product of human imagination. The one is the solid archetype of those conceptions which are in the mind of God. The other is the shadowy representation of those conceptions which are in the mind of man. It is even as with the labourer, who, by excavating the rubbish which hides and besets some noble architecture, does more for the gratification of our taste, than if, with his unpractised hand, he should attempt to regale us by plans and sketches of his own. And so the drudgery of experimental science, in exchange for that beauty, whose fascinations it resisted at the outset of its career, has evolved a surpassing beauty from among the realities of truth and nature. The pain of the initial sacrifice is nobly compensated at the last. The views contemplated through the medium of observation, are found, not only to have a justness in them, but to have a grace and a grandeur in them, far above all the visions which are contemplated through the medium of fancy, or which ever regaled the fondest enthusiast in the enraptured walks of speculation and poetry. But the toils of investigation must be endured first, that the grace and the grandeur might be enjoyed afterwards. The same is true of science in all its departments, not of simple and sublime astronomy alone, but throughout of terrestrial physics; and most of all in chemistry, where the internal processes of actual and ascertained Nature are found to possess a beauty, which far surpasses the crude though specious plausibilities of other days. We perceive in this too, a fine adaptation of the external world to the faculties of man; a happy ordination of Nature by which the labour of the spirit is made to precede the luxury of the spirit, or every disciple of science must strenuously labour in the investigation of its truth ere he can luxuriate in the contemplation of its beauties. It is by the patient seeking of truth first; that the pleasures of taste and imagination are superadded to him. For, in these days of stern and philosophic hardihood, nothing but evidence, strict and scrutinized and thoroughly sifted evidence, will secure acceptance for any opinion. Whatever its authority, whatever its engaging likelihood may be, it must first be made to undergo the freest treatment from human eyes and human hands. It is at one time stretched on the rack of an experiment. At another it has to pass through fiery trial in the bottom of a crucible. At another, it has to undergo a long questionary process, among the fumes, and the filtrations, and the intense heat of a laboratory; and, not till it has been subjected to all this inquisitorial torture and survived it, is it preferred to a place in the temple of truth, or admitted among the laws and the lessons of a sound philosophy."

Vol. II Chap. X (last chapter regarding Moral Philosophy)

"10. ...Without affirming aught that is positive, surely the air we breathe, and the beautiful light in which we expatiate, these elements of sight and sound so exquisitely fitted to the organs of the human framework, may have been provided by one who did benevolently consult in them our special accommodation. The graces innumerable that lie widely spread over the face of our world, the glorious concave of heaven that is placed over us, the grateful variety of seasons that like Nature’s shifting panorama ever brings new entertainment and delight to the eye of spectators – these may, fop aught we know, be the emanations of a creative mind, that originated our family and devised such a universe for their habitation. Regarding these, not as proofs, but in the humble light of presumptions for a God, they are truly enough to convict us of foulest ingratitude – if we go not forth in quest of a yet unknown, but at least possible or likely benefactor. They may not resolve the question of a God. But they may bring the heaviest reproach on our listlessness to the question; and show that, anterior to our assured belief in His existence, there lies upon us a most imperious obligation to ‘stir ourselves up that we may lay hold of him’.

27. …It is not that natural religion is the premises, and Christianity the conclusion; but it is that natural religion creates an appetite which it cannot quell; and he who is urged thereby, seeks for a rest and a satisfaction which he can only obtain in the fullness of the Gospel. Natural theology has been called the basis of Christianity. It would accord better with our own views of the place which it occupies, and of the high purpose which it undoubtedly serves – if it were called the basis of Christianization

28. The most important exemplification of the way in which natural religion bears upon Christianity, is furnished by the question of a sinner’s acceptance with God. Natural religion can suggest to man the apprehension of his guilt; for however dim her objective view of the Deity, there is no such dimness in her ethical notion of what is due even to an uncertain God. Without having seriously resolved the question, we may stand convicted to our own minds of a hardened and habitual carelessness to the question. If our whole lives long have been spent in the midst of created things, without any serious or sustained effort of our spirits in quest of a Creator – if, as our consciences can tell, the whole drift and practical earnestness of our thoughts are towards the gifts, with but a rare and occasional anxiety towards the Giver – if the sense of Him touch but lightly on our spirits, and we, by our perpetual lapses from the sacred to the secular, prove that our gravitation is to earth, and that in truth our best-loved element is atheism – if the notices of a God, however indistinct, wherewith we are surrounded, instead of fastening our regards on this high contemplation, do but disturb without at all influencing the general tenor of our engagements – these are things of which the light of Nature can take cognizance; and these are things because of which, and of their felt unworthiness, nature is visited by the misgivings both of remorse and of terror. She has data enough on which to found the demonstration and the sense of her own unworthiness; and hence a general feeling of insecurity among all spirits, a secret but strong apprehension that all is not right between them and God.

36. …that whereas Nature, as being the original system, abounds with those fitnesses which harmonize with the mental constitution in a state of health – Christianity, as being a restorative system, abounds in fitnesses to the same constitution in a state of disease. We are not sure but that in the latter, from its very design, we shall meet with still more delicate and decisive tests of a designer, than have yet been noticed in the former; and certain it is, that the wisdom and goodness and even power of a moral architect, may be as strikingly evinced in the reparation, as in the primary establishment of a Moral Nature."

The following is the part of the Treatise with which John could not agree:

Vol. II Chap. I (regarding pauperism)

"3. Our next very flagrant example of a mischievous collision between the legal and the possessory, is the English system of poor laws. By law each man who can make good his plea of necessity, has a claim for the relief of it, from the owners or occupiers of the soil, or from the owners and occupiers of houses; and never, till the end of time, will all the authority, and all the enactments of the statute-book, be able to divest them of the feeling that their property is invaded. Law never can so counterwork the strong possessory feeling, as to reconcile the proprietors of England to this legalized enormity, or rid them of the sensation of a perpetual violence. It is this mal-adjustment between the voice that nature gives forth on the right of property, and the voice that arbitrary law gives forth upon it – it is this which begets something more than a painful insecurity as to the stability of their possessions. There is, besides, a positive, and what we should call a most natural irritation. That strong possessory feeling, by which each is wedded to his own domain in the relation of its rightful proprietor; and which they can no more help, because as much a part of their original constitution, than the parental feeling by which each is wedded to his own family in the relation of its natural protector – this strong possessory feeling, we say, is, under their existing economy, subject all over England to a perpetual and most painful annoyance. And accordingly we do find the utmost acerbity of tone and temper, among the upper classes of England, in reference to their poor. We are not sure, indeed, if there be any great difference, with many of them, between the feeling which they have towards the poor, and the feeling which they have towards poachers. It is true that the law is on the side of the one, and against the other. Yet it goes most strikingly to prove, how impossible it is for law to carry the acquiescence of the heart, when it contravenes the primary and urgent affections of nature – that paupers are in any degree assimilated to poachers in the public imagination; and that the inroads of both upon property should be resented, as if both alike were a sort of trespass or invasion.

4. And it is further interesting to observe the effect of this unnatural state of things on the paupers themselves. Even in their deportment we might read an unconscious homage to the possessory right. And whereas, it has been argued in behalf of a poor-rate, that, so far from degrading, it sustains an independence of spirit among the peasantry, by turning that which would have been a matter of beggary into a matter of rightful and manly assertion – there is none who has attended the meetings of a parish vestry, that will not readily admit, the total dissimilarity which obtains between the assertion to a right of maintenance there, and the assertion of any other right whatever, whether on the field of war or of patriotism. There may be much of the insolence of beggary; but along with this, there is a most discernible mixture of its mean and crouching and ignoble sordidness. There is no common quality whatever between the clamorous onset of this worthless and dissipated crew, and the generous battle-cry Pro avis et focis, in which the humblest of our population will join – when paternal acres, or the rights of any actually holden property are invaded. In the mind of the pauper, with all his challenging and all his boisterousness, there is still the latent impression, that, after all, there is a certain want of firmness about his plea. He is not altogether sure of the ground upon which he is standing; and, in spite of all that law has done to pervert his imagination, the possessory right of those against whom he prefers his demand, stares him in the face, and disturbs him not a little out of that confidence wherewith a man represents and urges the demands of unquestionable justice. In spite of himself, he cannot avoid having somewhat the look and the consciousness of a poacher. And so the effect of England’s most unfortunate blunder, has been, to alienate on the one hand her rich from her poor; and on the other to debase into the very spirit and sordidness of beggary, a large and ever-increasing mass of her population. There is but one way, we can never cease to affirm, by which this grievous distemper of the body politic can be removed. And that is, by causing the law of property to harmonize with the strong and universal instincts of nature in regard to it; by making the possessory right to be at least as inviolable as the common sense of mankind would make it; and as to the poor, by utterly recalling the blunder that England made, when she turned into a matter of legal constraint, that which should ever be a matter of love and liberty, when she aggravated tenfold the dependence and misery of the lower classes, by divorcing the cause of humanity from the willing generosities, the spontaneous and unforced sympathies of nature.

5. But this brings into view another of our special affections – our compassion for the distress, including, as one of its most prominent and frequently recurring objects, our compassion for the destitution of others. We have already seen, how nature hath provided, by one of its implanted affections, for the establishment of property; and for the respect in which, amid all its inequalities, it is held by society. But helpless destitution forms one extreme of this inequality, which a mere system of property appears to leave out; and which, if not otherwise provided for by the wisdom of nature in the constitution of the human mind, would perhaps justify an attempt by the wisdom of man to provide for it in the constitution of human law. We do not instance, at present, certain other securities which have been instituted by the hand of nature, and which, if not traversed and enfeebled by a legislation wholly uncalled for, would of themselves prevent the extensive prevalence of want in society. These are the urgent law of self-preservation, prompting to industry on the one hand and to economy on the other; and the strong law of relative affection – which laws, if not tampered with and undermined in their force and efficacy by the law of pauperism, would not have relieved, but greatly better, would have prevented the vast majority of those cases which fill the workhouses, and swarm around the vestries of England. Still these, however, would not have prevented all poverty. A few instances, like those which are so quietly and manageably, but withal effectually, met in the country parishes of Scotland, would still occur in every little community, however virtuous or well regulated. And in regard to these, there is another law of the mental constitution, by which nature hath made special provision for them – even the beautiful law of compassion, in virtue of which the sight of another in agony (and most of all perhaps in the agony of pining hunger), would, if unrelieved, create a sensation of discomfort in the heart of the observer, scarcely inferior to what he should have felt had the suffering and the agony been his own.

6. But in England, the state, regardless of all the indices which nature had planted in the human constitution, hath taken the regulation of this matter into its own hands. By its law of pauperism, it hath, in the first instance, ordained for the poor a legal property in the soil; and thereby, running counter to the strong possessory affection, it hath done violence to the natural and original distribution of the land, and loosened the secure hold of each separate owner on the portion which belongs to him. And in the second instance, distrustful of the efficacy of compassion, it, by way of helping forward its languid energies, hath applied the strong hand of power to it. Now it so happens, that nothing more effectually stifles compassion, or puts it to flight, than to be thus meddled with. The spirit of kindness utterly refuses the constraints of authority; and law in England, by taking the business of charity upon itself, instead of supplementing, hath well nigh destroyed the anterior provision made for it by nature – thus leaving it to be chiefly provided for by methods and by a machinery of its own. The proper function of law is to enforce the rights of justice, or to defend against the violation of them; and never does it make a more flagrant or a more hurtful invasion, beyond the confines of its own legitimate territory – than when, confounding humanity with justice, it would apply the same enforcements to the one virtue as to the other. It should have taken a lesson from the strong and evident distinction which nature hath made between these two virtues, in her construction of our moral system; and should have observed a corresponding distinction in its own treatment of them – resenting the violation of the one; but leaving the other to the free interchanges of good-will on the side of the dispenser, and of gratitude on the side of the recipient. When law, distrustful of the compassion that is in all hearts, enacted a system of compulsory relief, lest, in our neglect of others, the indigent should starve – it did incomparably worse, than if, distrustful of the appetite of hunger, it had enacted for the use of food a certain regimen of times and quantities, lest, neglectful of ourselves, our bodies might have perished. Nature has made a better provision than this for both these interests; but law has done more mischief by interference with the one, than it could ever have done by interference with the other. It could not have quelled the appetite of hunger, which still, in spite of all the law’s officiousness, would have remained the great practical impellent to the use of food, for the well-being of our physical economy. But it has done much to quell and to overbear the affection of compassion – that never-failing impellent, in a free and natural state of things, to deeds of charity, for the well-being of the social economy. The evils which have ensued are of too potent and pressing a character to require description. They have placed England in a grievous dilemma, from which she can only be extricated, by the new modelling of this part of her statute-book, and a nearer conformity of its provisions to the principles of natural jurisprudence. Meanwhile they afford an emphatic demonstration for the superior wisdom of nature, which is never so decisively or so triumphantly attested, as by the mischief that is done, when her processes are contravened or her principles are violated.

J. M. Reid in Glasgow , 1956 states of Thomas Chalmers’ work in Glasgow:

"Now, the spring of 1820, industry was drawing in streams of country people who had no experience of town life and no resources of their own to carry them through years of depression. Slums were beginning to appear. They were not quite so bad in the first quarter of the new century as they were to become soon afterwards, when Irish Highlanders from turf cabins and ‘black houses’ were packed more and more closely into the old wynds of the city. But conditions were already shocking enough. The first serious attempt to deal with them was made by one of the most remarkable men in the city’s history. Thomas Chalmers, whose influence on Glasgow’s way of thinking was almost as deep as Adam Smith’s had been.

This pale-eyed, pale-haired minister with awkward gestures and a strong Fife accent was an orator of extraordinary power…In post-war Glasgow he packed the Tron Kirk and electrified a generation which was already inclined to be more serious-minded than the men of 1800. He spoke and wrote about economics, about astronomy, about the organisation of the Church – all these things were linked to his evangelism. His ideas on Social questions were as far from those of our day as they could be. Though he was (on the whole) a Conservative in politics, he had the deepest distrust of the State’s powers – in the end he was to tear the Church of Scotland in two rather than accept the decisions of Governments which had no understanding of Scottish Presbyterianism. He was horrified by the pauperisation which wholesale grants of parish relief had produced in England, and he had a plan for Glasgow – in effect he aimed at dealing with poverty by private enterprise.

He got himself transferred to a new parish of 10,000 people – St. Johns. It was the most depressed in the City, but he undertook that his church would deal with its poor, financing the work from part of his Sunday collections. He appointed twenty five deacons, each of whom had a district of his own. These men were to study each case of poverty, to try to find work for the distressed, or friends or relatives who would help them, before they gave relief. Under Chalmers, the system seemed to work. But it was strongly opposed. Other parishes in the city and out of it refused to adopt his programme. He left St. Johns for a professorship, and in 1837 the experiment he had started was abandoned. To the end, he was convinced that he had shown Scotland the proper way of dealing with its poor.

‘If England’, he wrote, ‘will so idolise her own institutions as be unwilling to part with even the most vicious she must be let alone, since she will have it so. But let her not inoculate with the virus of her own gangrene those countries which have the misfortune to border on her territory and be subject to her sway; and, more especially, let not the simple and venerated parochial system of our land lie open to the crudities, or be placed at the disposal of a few cockney legislators.’"

Thomas Chalmers wrote articles for the Edinburgh Review, in February 1818 and March 1819 on the causes and cure of pauperism, and in the Edinburgh Review of May 1820 he wrote a review of James Cleland’s work The Rise and Progress of the City of Glasgow , which appears to be ‘the statement from Paisley’ to which John referred in his letter to Thomas Chalmers. In this article he stated:

"There is one point, however, which at this moment engrosses all that we can spare of our attention.

So late as the end. of last August, when the wages for weaving were at the lowest, Mr. Cleland made a survey of the employed and unemployed hand-looms of Glasgow and its immediate neighbourhood. Taking a radius of about five miles from the centre of the city, thus excluding Paisley, but embracing the whole suburbs, and many very populous villages, – and he found 18,537 looms altogether, within the limits which we have now specified; of which 13,281 were still working, and 5,256 were, for the time, abandoned. It is to be observed, however, that in many instances, several looms belong to one proprietor, which are wrought, in conjunction with himself, either by journeymen, or the members of his own family; and that this, of course, reduces both the number of weaving families upon the whole, and also that number of them who had resigned their wonted employment.

It is satisfying to have such a correct statement of an evil connected with the severest commercial distress that ever perhaps our country was involved in, – and in a quarter, too, where that distress was understood to be greatest. When the arithmetic of its actual dimensions is thus laid before us, it brings both the cause and the remedy more within the management of one’s understanding. But it will still require a little consideration, to enable us to calculate the true amount, and understand the true character of this great calamity.

In the first place, then, it ought to be kept in mind, that there are particular lines of employment, where a given excess of workmen is sure to create a much greater proportional reduction in the rate of their wages. Should twenty thousand labourers, in a given branch of industry, so meet the demand for their services, as to afford to each of them a fair remuneration, then an additional thousand coming into competition with those who are already at work, may very possibly lower, by much more than a twentieth part, the price of their labour. In other words, the consequent deficiency of wages might go greatly beyond the fractional addition that had thus been made to the number of labourers.

It is thus that, in certain kinds of work, a very small excess of hands may bring a very heavy distress and depression upon a whole body of operatives. The urgency of a few more than are wanted, soliciting for employment, and satisfied with any terms rather than be kept out of it, may bring down the terms, to the whole profession, in a ratio so large, that the entire maintenance of these additional applicants for work would not nearly cost so much as is lost, upon the whole, by the body of their fellow workmen in the shape of reduced wages. For example, should two shillings a day be a fair remuneration for labour, and should it be the actual remuneration earned by twenty thousand workmen at some particular kind of it, an additional thousand might be maintained at this rate daily for an hundred pounds. But we should not be surprised to find that the effect of their appearance and of their competition was to bring down the daily wages to eighteenpence. Now, this would degrade beneath the average of comfort, twenty-one thousand workmen, by sixpence a day to each, or by five hundred and twenty-five pounds a day to them all, taken collectively. In other words, a certain redundancy of men might entail a calamity upon their profession, which, when measured arithmetically, will be found to exceed, by upwards of five times the whole expense, either of maintaining them in idleness, or of giving them full and adequate wages at another employment...

We have always been of the opinion, that the main use of a Savings Bank was not to elevate labourers into the class of capitalists, but to equalize and improve their condition as labourers. We should like them to have each a small capital, not wherewith to become manufacturers, but wherewith to control manufacturers. It is in this way (and we can see no other) that they will be enabled to weather all the fluctuations to which trade is liable. It is the cruel necessity of overworking which feeds the mischief of superabundant stock, and which renders so very large a transference of hands necessary ere the market can be relieved of the load under which it groans and languishes. Now, this is a necessity that can only be felt by men on the brink of starvation, who live from hand to mouth, and have scarcely more than the day’s earnings for the subsistence of the day. Let these men only be enabled, on the produce of former accumulations, to live through a season of depression while they work moderately, or, if any of them should so choose it, while they do not work at all, – and they would not only lighten such a period of its wretchedness, but they would inconceivably shorten its duration. The overplus of manufactured goods, which is the cause of miserable wages, would soon clear away under that restriction of work which would naturally follow on the part of men who did not choose, because they did not need, to work for miserable wages. What is now a protracted season of suffering and discontent to the lower orders, would, in these circumstances, become to them a short but brilliant career of holiday enjoyment. The report of a heavy downfall of wages, instead of sounding like a knell of despair in. their ears, would be their signal for rising up to play. We have heard, that there does not exist in our empire a more intellectual and accomplished order of workmen than the weavers of Paisley. It was their habit, we understand, to abandon their looms through the half or nearly the whole of each Saturday and to spend its time in gardening, or in the enjoyment of a country walk. It is true, that such time might sometimes be viciously spent; but still we should rejoice in such a degree of sufficiency among our operatives, as that they could afford a lawful day of every week for their amusement, and still more, that they could afford whole months of relaxed and diminished industry, when industry was underpaid. This is the dignified posture which they might attain; but only after the return of better times, and through the medium of their own sober and determined economy. Every shilling laid up in store, and kept in reserve for the evil day, would strengthen the barrier against such a visitation of distress and difficulty as that from which we are scarcely yet emerging. The very habits too, which helped them to accumulate in the season of well paid work, would form our best guarantee against the vicious or immoral abuse of this accumulation, in the season either of entire or comparative inactivity. We would expect an increase of reading, and the growth of literary cultivation, and the steady advancement of virtuous and religious habits, – and, altogether, a greater weight of character and influence among the labouring classes, as the permanent results of such a system. Instead of being the victims of every adverse movement in trade, they would become its most effective regulators.

This is the eminence that the labourers of our nation are fully capable of reaching and of maintaining. But it is neither the Poor-rate of England, nor the Law of Parochial Aid in Scotland, that will help them on to it. These have only deceived them away from the path which leads to independence; and, amid all the complaints which have been raised against the system of a compulsory provision for the poor, nothing is more certain than that our poor, because underpaid operatives, are the principal sufferers by it. Every other class in society has its compensation. It is paid back again to the manufacturer in the shape of a reduction in the wages of his workmen, and to the landholder by a reduction in the price of all manufactured articles. It is only the operative himself, who appears to be pensioned by it, that is really impoverished. It has deadened all those incitements to accumulation which would have raised him and his fellow-labourers to a footing of permanent security in the State – And, not till their eyes have been opened to the whole mischief and cruelty of this delusion – not till they see where it is that their most powerful and malignant enemy is lying in ambush – not till they have learned that, under the guise of charity, there has been an influence at work for many years, which has arrested the march of the lower orders to the elevation that naturally and rightfully belongs to them, and till they come to understand that it is by their own exertion and self-denial alone that they can win their way to it – not, in short, till the popular cry is for the abolition, rather than the extension of pauperism, will our labouring classes have attained their full share of comfort and importance to the commonwealth."

A review of Thomas Chalmers’s work On Political Economy, in Connexion with the Moral State and Moral .Prospects of Society , published in 8 volumes in 1832, appeared in the Edinburgh Review of October 1832 (pages 52-72). The reviewer states:

"Though apparently desultory, one leading idea pervades Dr. Chalmers’s work. He lays it broadly down in the first chapter, that all the miseries that afflict the labouring classes are the result of their own errors and misconduct; that ‘there is no possible help for them if they will not help themselves’; that ‘it is to a rise and reformation in the habits of our peasantry, that we should look for deliverance, and not to the impotent crudities of a speculative legislation’.

Dr. Chalmers never, for an instant, loses sight of this principle. It is, in his estimation, the ‘one thing needful’. With it, all will be right; without it, all will be wrong. Amendment, he contends, can come from no other source; and he endeavours to show that it is idle to seek in national economy, in a repeal of taxes or of restrictions on trade, in emigration, or in any such ‘futile’ devices, for that real and permanent improvement which can originate in the ‘diffusion of sound Christian education’.

Of the importance of education, none can be more deeply impressed than we are. We have over and over again attempted to show, that good education is at once the best security for the public tranquillity, and for the permanent improvement of the mass of the people. We, therefore, cordially concur with all that Dr. Chalmers has said in its favour; and we hope that the day is not far distant when a system of parochial education will be established in England; when knowledge will be brought home to the door of the poor man; and when, besides being instructed in the arts of reading, writing and arithmetic, every man, how humble soever his situation, will be acquainted with the duties enjoined by religion and morality, and the circumstances which determine his condition in society. It is a disgrace to England, that, in a matter of such deep importance as the instruction of the people, she should be so very far behind. In this respect she is not only inferior to Scotland, but to Prussia, Bavaria, the United States, and many other countries. And yet, considering the great and growing influence which the people of Britain exercise over the legislature, it is of the last consequence, both with a view to the good government of the country, and the private interests of individuals, that the mass of people should be well instructed – that they should be trained to distinguish between appearances and realities, and to submit to a temporary inconvenience for the sake of an ultimate good."

Our educationists have of recent years lost sight of the supreme importance of education covering religion and morality besides the three Rs. However in June 1986 the Daily Telegraph reported that the Education Minister had said that ‘self-restraint, self-respect, respect for others and the value of stable family life should be regular features of sex education lessons’. So perhaps the authorities are beginning to realise the grave shortcomings from which the state system has been suffering.


However, although the reviewer agreed that education was of superior importance he did not agree that it is the only means by which the condition of society can be improved. He went on:

"...Exclusive altogether of the state of education, there are many circumstances that powerfully influence the condition of society; that may, on the one hand, render the situation of the labouring classes tolerably prosperous, even though education be in a great measure neglected; and that may, on the other hand, reduce the best educated people to a very depressed condition."

He then went on to criticise Dr. Chalmers’ views on the improvement of the condition of society. The reviewer concludes, however, with praise:

"This work displays so much genius and eloquence, the fame of its author is so deservedly high, and the subjects of which it treats are so important, that we have considered it a duty to caution the reader as to the hollowness of some of the doctrines to which Dr. Chalmers has lent his support. It would have been more grateful to us to have directed the public attention to the many sound and beautiful passages that abound in all parts of the work; this, however, would have been quite superfluous; there is no reason to fear that these will be overlooked; our only apprehension is, lest the reader, captivated by them, should incautiously assent to doctrines that seem both dangerous and erroneous."

Unfortunately I have failed to find Dr. Chalmers’s reply to this review which John mentioned in his letter to Dr. Chalmers.

So the big disagreement between John and Thomas Chalmers was over whether the state should assist the poor, as England was doing with its Poor Laws. The ideas of Thomas Chalmers would have worked in a truly Christian community, but unfortunately England’s community was not fully Christian, and likewise, it appears neither was Scotland’s.

The trouble with introducing State assistance for the poor is to know how far to go. In the U.K. we now have progressed to a Welfare State, thereby encouraging the people to look to the state for the amelioration of all their difficulties, breeding irresponsibility and destroying self-resourcefulness, which together with the lack of true Christian and moral education is bringing about the decadence of our race.

If the State undertakes comprehensive aid for the unemployed it must establish an administration sufficiently sound to combat ‘fiddling’. The Harris poll which was held in 1986 found that some 350,000 people are drawing benefit and working for cash; another 600,000 prefer unemployment benefit to lower paid jobs; that, in fact, a third of those registered as unemployed are not actively seeking work. Meanwhile there are, no doubt, a large number of citizens who are drawing social security benefit to which they are not entitled. As long as human nature remains what it is, a tight net must be cast to control abuse of the welfare system.

Before leaving Dr. Chalmers’s contribution to the Bridgewater Treatises the following extract is worthy of note and much consideration:

Vol. 1 Part II Chap. IV

"7. In the utter destitution, for the present, of any argument, or even semblance of argument, that a God is – there is, perhaps, a certain duteous movement which the mind ought to take, on the bare suggestion that a God may be. The certainty of an actual God binds over to certain distinct and most undoubted proprieties. But so also may the imagination of a possible God – in which case, the very idea of a God, even in its most hypothetical form, might lay a responsibility, even upon atheists.

8. To make this palpable, we might imagine a family suffering under extreme destitution, and translated all at once into sufficiency or affluence by an anonymous donation. Had the benefactor been known, the gratitude that were due to him becomes abundantly obvious; and in the estimation of every conscience, nothing could exceed the turpitude of him who should regale himself on the bounties wherewith he had been enriched, and yet pass unheedingly by the giver of them all. Yet does not a proportion of this very guilt rest upon him, who knows not the hand that relieved him, yet cares not to inquire? It does not exonerate him from the burden of all obligation, that he knows not the hand which sustains him. He incurs a guilt, if he do not want to know. It is enough to convict him of a great moral delinquency, if he have gladly seized upon the liberalities which were brought in secret to his door, yet seeks not after the quarter whence they have come – willing that the hand of the dispenser should remain for ever unknown, and not wanting any such disclosures as would lay a distinct claim or obligation upon himself. He altogether lives by the bounty of another; yet would rather continue to live without the burden of those services or acknowledgments that are due to him. His ignorance of the benefactor might alleviate the charge of ingratitude; but it plainly awakens the charge again; if he choose to remain in ignorance, and would shun the information that might dispel it. In reference then to this still undiscovered patron of his family, it is possible for him to evince ingratitude; to make full exhibition of a nature that is unmoved by kindness and withholds the moral responses which are due to it, that can riot with utmost selfishness and satisfaction upon the gifts while in total indifference about the giver – an indifference which might be quite as clearly and characteristically shown, by the man who seeks not after his unknown friend, as by the man who slights him after that he has found him."


It was probably in 1833 that John had his first four pamphlets on political economy bound together in one volume; in the copy which he retained for his own use he wrote in pencil the following list of those to whom he distributed copies:

Lord Grey
H. Curteis
Lord Althorp
Sir G. Staunton
Sir R. Peel
Sir F. Burdett
Mr. Rickman
Whitmore
Duke of Richmond
Poyntz
Lord G. Lennox
Macaulay
S. A. Smith
Lord Surrey
Mr. Jones King’s College
Dr. Saunden
G. Long
J.B. Freeland
Lord Western
Joseph Freeland
Mr. Hume
Dr. Forbes
Warburton
Bishop of Chichester
Bulwer
Dean of Chichester

and also to the Library Society, Chichester, and Mechanic’s Institute, Chichester.


In November 1833 John took Fanny, her sister Josephina, and Emily Hughes for a tour of France and Italy, chiefly on account of Josephina’s health. Letters written to their family left behind in England have been preserved. Joseph was left at Stoughton with John’s sister Elizabeth, and Anne and Gerard at Smeeth Hill House with Fanny’s mother, Mrs. Hughes.
On 7th December Fanny wrote from Avallon to Elizabeth that she was miserable at leaving them behind and going further away from them. She told Joseph that they would be back next summer, and said that perhaps Aunt Lizzy will bring him to Smeeth to meet her; they would most likely go to Smeeth first to collect Anne and ‘little baby’.

On 13th December she wrote from Chalons, saying that they were proceeding to Lyons by steamer. Whilst at Chalons, they had visited the Convent of St. Laurent:

"John held conversations with les soeurs de la Charité on the subject of the miraculous conception of the Virgin. They were very anxious to correct us all assuring us there is ‘point de salut hors de l’église et sans croyance dans les saintes mystères’ – this among the rest. John offered to become a Catholic at once if they would show him this doctrine in the scriptures, upon which one of them, a fine animated girl, produce: a book containing the words – ‘La postérité du serpent brisera le talon de la postérité de la femme, et elle brisera sa tête .’ ‘Yes’, he replied, ‘but elle refers to postérité’ – she would not give up the point. John said he could refer to his bible and visit them perhaps again this evening. We are sorry we have no bible in the vulgate with us – there were only 8 such interesting people – it was with la mère and two of les soeurs that we held a conversation – the others here being attending to a large school of quite the poorest children – which with the whole establishment seemed nice and clean and very well managed."


On 31st December Fanny wrote from Nice, posting it on 15th January 1834 from Italy, saying that l’Abbé Cauvin (who is referred to in John’s journal and whom in one of her letters Fanny described as ‘a very interesting person a little too much of French merriment for a priest’) had visited them at Nice and that he was now living in Monaco. John and Aunt Phena had gone on mules to look for flowers. Phena was suffering from ericepulus after getting very hot riding and had been treated with leeches.

In a letter written at St. Remo on 7th January, posted from Geneva on 20th January, Fanny said they had stayed at Savona where the inn was very dirty and at Alassio, where it was indescribably filthy.

In a letter to Joseph, started at Genoa on 11th January, and eventually posted from Pisa on 29th January, Fanny said that letters took 9 days from London. She said that ‘1’Abbé Cauvin was taught to speak English by your Papa’. They attended Sunday service in the British Consul’s chapel. There were many beggars and there was ‘no one to look after the poor people out here like in England’. They had mules in front of the horses to help their carriage over a high mountain. She wrote in this letter on 16th January that she had been so busy travelling ever since leaving Genoa that she had been too tired to write. They had four horses engaged to take them from Genoa to Florence, but the horses were very tired and their shoulders red and sore. They had slept at Sestri di Levante, Spezia and Fictrasanta crossing the Apennines, and expected to reach Pisa by Friday. They had crossed the river Magia in a ferryboat which was so dirty they had sat in the carriage. John was busy learning Italian in the evenings, ‘that he makes himself quite understood’.

In a letter posted at Rome on 28th January Fanny said that the post takes 12 days to London from Florence. The works of art at Florence would not tempt her to return. The country from Florence was not particularly striking, though mountainous; the Apennines are barren and rounded there and nothing to be compared with those between Nice and Genoa, and Genoa and Pisa, and ‘Oh! the misery and dirt and filth of those inns’. At la Scala they had rooms over stables where she could hardly sleep for the fleas, and the smell was intense.

"We have had hedges today and really very often I would fancy myself in England which was very pleasant. It will be long, if ever, before I leave it again, except some urgent necessity or duty calls me – pleasure it is none to endure so many miseries."

There were good footbaths in France and Italy, ‘about the size of our dirty plate basket – would like one made of copper or strong tin, painted or japanned for Joseph’.

They arrived at Rome on 26th and planned to reach Naples by noon on Saturday 1st February. ‘It is cheering to think of coming to the end of our travels, because then it will be to look towards returning home. I can hardly believe that I may hope to come back safely again, it seems so many miles to travel’. She did not like Naples with too many English and high prices, where they stayed at L’Hôtel de le Victoire.

On 4th February she wrote, ‘Josephina is but poorly, with swelled face, and a little threatening of ericepulus, deferring sight-seeing until she is able to get about more comfortably. Naples is not the least fit for ladies to walk in, or by the sea either’. John wrote, attached to this letter, that he had visited Vesuvius in eruption and that they planned to spend a month in Ischia and Capri; and at Sorrento on the southern side of the Gulph, where there was good botanizing. They were thinking of returning home by 1st May instead of 1st June, as it had cost them more than they had calculated. ‘The Neapolitans are such cheats’. Their plan was now to leave Naples 4th March, arrive Rome 8th March, leave Rome 17th March, arriving Florence 28th March, leaving 1st April for Venice, then to Turin.

John in a letter to Elizabeth posted 1st February at Naples said, ‘We manage tolerably well to get along with these greedy Italians, shameless as they are in both begging and cheating. I dare say I pay more by 50 per cent than a native would notwithstanding’. They had called on Edward Horne in Florence, who was very surprised to see them not knowing they were on the Continent. Fanny added a few lines – ‘I am but poorly, still suffering from Malaria and the fatigue and cold and misery of travelling’.

In a letter to Joseph, written at Co-cumella on 13th February 1834 Fanny mentions Emily with them drawing rocks and sea, and Josephina. She said she was thinking of Aunt Lizzy and little Joseph and Mr. Smith (Vicar of Stoughton) and Stoughton and the Sunday School, and expected this letter to reach him 16th or 18th March, asking for his next letter to be directed to Turin, and the next after that to Geneva.

They were away altogether for about six months. After returning to England, John found the house at Stoughton too small for his increasing family, and after making many enquiries for another residence he bought a house called East Leigh, near Havant, which had three hundred acres with it, and then moved there in the autumn of 1834. It was his intention to let the land, but not meeting at this time with a suitable tenant he decided to farm it himself, and became so fond of this occupation that he continued to farm it from preference, although it turned out not to be a profitable employment.
In March 1834 he pasted in his book containing his pamphlets a cutting from the Evening Mail of 7th March 1834, giving the List of the Minority who voted for Mr. Hume’s motion for a Committee to inquire into the present state of the Corn Laws, with a view to establishing a fixed duty in lieu of the present graduated Scale. The list was of 157 members (the Tellers, J. Hume and Colonel Torrens included). In his own handwriting John noted that 312 voted against the motion.

On 14th April 1836 John wrote to the Duke of Richmond as a Patron of the Savings Bank of Chichester on the subject of a proposition for enabling the depositors to purchase Government Annuities, pursuant to a late Act of Parliament, and asking him to take the chair at a meeting of the Trustees to establish Rules for the Bank, required by the act, and asking him to suggest a convenient date. The Duke having agreed, and named two alternative dates, John wrote to him again on 18th April giving the date fixed for the meeting, being the more distant one suggested, to allow time for the Governors living in the country to be informed of the meeting. John wrote again to the Duke on 29th June 1836 in his capacity as ‘Trustee in Attendance at the Savings Bank’, concerning a problem with regard to a customer’s account.


We have seen that in December 1825 Edward Hack, who was then running the Hack’s business in Chichester, died from typhus, and that his younger brother John Barton Hack was to take over the running of the business when he himself had recovered from typhus.

When dealing with Maria Hack’s life we learned that John Barton Hack and his brother Stephen emigrated to Australia in 1836; John Barton Hack had been running the family business in Chichester and in September he embarked with his wife and six children in the Isabella, accompanied Stephen, and reached Holdfast Bay on 11th February l837. They took with them an assortment of livestock, including some of the first working bullocks to arrive in the colony. In May 1837 the Isabella was wrecked with the loss of some of their goods; however they lost nothing by the shipwreck, except the profit they would have made from the goods should they have arrived safely, the order for the goods having been given as a commission to Captain Hart to be paid for at a certain rate on their being delivered safe and sound.

In January 1837 Maria must have been somewhat apprehensive over John Barton Hack’s intentions regarding investment in Australia, because in a letter to Thomas Gates Darton, dated 31st, she wrote:

"Does dear Barton mean to have all his property sent out before he has tried his bearings a little? In America those who have not done so well [are those] who had a great deal at command – it tempts to speculation, which is always hazardous."

Stephen had stated to his mother before he decided to go with his brother to Australia, that he would have preferred America, and so was not certain that Australia would be his final abode. Maria received a letter from John Barton Hack in August 1837, telling her that they had arrived and landed in the new colony, and slept one night on shore in the little wooden cottage which they had taken out. They were all well, and Stephen was very happy and taken to his bush life contentedly.

Maria then received in September, via Gates Barton, a letter written between 19th March 1837 and 24th April 1837 from Glenelg, and later Adelaide:

"They were the only people in their colony with a wooden house, all the others were in rush huts and tents. They were very pleased with the society, and had good food, eating parrots, kangaroos, emus, fish, wild duck, quail and pigeons. On the second day they had arrived at Adelaide, finding the country and climate superior to what they had expected, and indeed they had been disappointed in nothing and when once settled and their business established they expected to be very comfortable. They had no fear of the natives, who were very useful, bringing wood and water, and were very honest indeed."

In a letter received via Gates Darton in October 1837, Maria learned that John Barton Hack’s health had much improved, but that they had all had an attack of opthalmia.

John Barton Hack expanded his business quickly, dealing in town and country property, importing stock and merchandise to the colony, with his brother-in-law Henry Watson establishing a mercantile firm and investing in a whale fishery at Encounter Bay. Later he acquired a 3,200 acre estate where he expanded greatly his herds of sheep and cattle, opened a dairy, grew various crops and cultivated vine cuttings. By 1840 his speculative commercial and pastoral ventures showed a credit balance of £30,000, and he had become an influential member of almost all the colony’s early commercial and social institutions. He became the first public works contractor, undertaking to dig a canal at Port Adelaide for the government.
But perhaps he spread his interests too rapidly and. widely, because with the onset of the depression in the colony’s economy in 1841 his businesses started to fail, and by 1843 he was declared bankrupt and for a time he and his family were forced to live in relative poverty.

However, in 1845 John Barton Hack began hauling copper ore by bullock team from the newly opened Burra mines, then three years later he became a timber merchant at North Adelaide. In 1852 he went to the Victorian goldfields at Bendigo, returning to Adelaide in September to start a business as a loan broker and accountant. After one more enterprise, and then two paid appointments, he became controller of Railway accounts and revenue in 1879 until he retired in 1883.
Meanwhile from correspondence between members of the Hack family, including Thomas Gates Darton, and their guardians, it is evident that there was some considerable difficulty at home regarding the winding-up of John Barton Hack’s business affairs in Chichester, and later in meeting his requests for further funds to finance his activities in South Australia. John, as a guardian and trustee of the Hack’s trust, was considerably involved in these affairs, and Thomas Gates Darton did much to meet John Barton Hack’s demands for finance, sometimes to his own considerable disadvantage. However, in spite of dealing with what must have been a very complicated family trust, covering the ten children of Stephen and Maria Hack, four of whom had already died, and the complications caused by John Barton Hack’s demands for finance, John, according to Elizabeth Barton Bliss (the eldest Hack child) in a letter to Margaret Barton in April 1846 wrote that he ‘takes it as easy as an old shoe’.

The following letters give some indication of John’s involvement in these affairs:

"To: Thomas Gates Darton of 55 Gracechurch St., London
East Leigh September 22 1836

My dear Gates

There is certainly much truth in thy remarks respecting the result of the late Stocktaking of H. & S. It is difficult to believe that the last fifteen months business yielded no profit – yet as the Stock was taken jointly by the two partners, I do not know what we can say against it – Barton was cognizant of the valuation of the debts – & the prices attached to the Stock the only thing I believe to which he did not attend was the weighing of the leather – which, even if unfairly down, could not make £50 difference in the total result – Thomas Smith has power, by the deed which both parties signed before Barton left England, to terminate the partnership at any time, by paying off Barton’s share of the Capital – & by this deed the concern is then to be wound up on the terms specified in the articles of Partnership – viz the Stock to be valued by indifferent persons – & the debts collected for the benefit of both partners – This would (provide?) an opening for heavy loss to Barton, which I do not see how we could check or guard against – T.S. might say to his customers – You shall pay me ready money for the goods I now supply you with on condition of my not pressing for payment of the old debt – in this way the final settlement of the concern might be postponed I cannot tell how long – What alternative then have we? to offer T.S. to transfer the whole business to him for a certain sum, greater than the £1500 which appeared forthcoming to Barton by the late Stock taking – I have no objection to such an offer being made – but I think he will naturally urge in reply that the whole question of profit and loss having been arranged between himself and Barton – and even a notice of dissolution signed by both parties on the footing of that arrangement – (though it was indeed afterwards put aside) – he is not now open to go into the question afresh – We have indeed an indirect remedy, as suggested by thee, viz. – that we may say if our proposition is not acceded to – we shall enforce payment of the £6000 immediately – but I doubt if we can honourably employ such a measure of compulsion – I do regret exceedingly that Barton’s little property should meet so serious a reduction as the proposal of T.S. would involve – but I fear there is no way of escaping it – I hope thou wilt come down as early as possible – I am sure it will be necessary before the matter can be brought to a termination – We shall be glad to have thee for our guest – and I will send to meet thee (?at) Horndean (?or) Garning (?) the day of thy arrival – I need hardly say it will be right for thee to consult my cousin Halsey Janson again before leaving London – so that we may be in full possession of his opinions on the subject – I consider his judgment very valuable.

I am glad to hear continued good accounts of my sister – She will I hope return with Elizabeth next week.

I remain very sincerely thine
Jno Barton

I shall be obliged if thou wilt procure and bring down for me a copy of the Evidence taken before the late Agricultural Committee, printed by Order of the House of Commons – There is a shop in Parliament St. – where I think such things are sold."


"To: Thomas Gates Darton of Gloucester
East Leigh 24.3.1844

My dear Gates

Thanks for the sight of Barton’s letter, which I hope to take or send to Elizabeth tomorrow – I have received from her this morning one from Stephen to his Mother – very painful as respects Barton’s conduct. I am glad to find that Mr Bliss has sent £50 to Ellen, to be laid out for Barton’s [illegible]. This will keep them from want for the present.

I am rejoiced to hear an improved report of thy business – Let us trust in the promises – ‘I have been young & now am old, yet never saw I the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging their bread’ – Never mind the little amount of interest due to me – let it wait thy convenience.

We have taken Counsel’s opinion & find we may with safety pay those Claimants which are not involved in difficulties – & we are desirous to do it as soon as possible – In the meantime an obstacle has arisen – my dear friend and colleague H. Janson has I lament to say been visited with a paralytic stroke which at present incapacitates him from attending to business – but I am glad to say that a letter from his daughter Emma this morning mentions that he is going on well, his medical adviser is sanguine as to his eventual recovery –

Josephina desires to join me in love to Margaret and thyself – Believe me my dear Gates

Very affectionately thine
Jno Barton"


"To: Thomas Gates Darton of Gloucester
East Leigh 4.7.1844

My dear Gates

I am truly rejoiced to hear so successful a report of thy concerns – let us accept it as a proof of fulfilment of the promise made to those who endeavour to perform their duty faithfully: – & an encouragement to future efforts.
Thomas has been with me several times – He is much grieved by the fear that he has lost the good opinion of those mainly connected with him – & expresses a desire to do everything that is right and honourable – I told him that I am not at present sufficiently acquainted with all the facts of the case to give him advice in the matter – Also there are some points that I should be glad to see Mr. R. Wilton about – I recommended him therefore to defer any settlement for the present – When Stephen returns I hope we shall have a meeting of all parties interested – And I entertain little doubt that the difficulties which have arisen will in good degree disappear – In the meantime I would entreat you to remember that Charity which hopeth all things, believeth all things – Not that I mean to intimate there has been a want of this feeling on your part – quite the reverse –

I am sorry to hear that my dear Niece has experienced an increase of indisposition of late. – Our united love to her – Josephina has enjoyed tolerable health of late, though not robust, & easily overdone.

Believe me dear Gates
Very affectionately thine
Jno Barton"


"To: Margaret Emily Darton of Gloucester
East Leigh 3.7.1845

My dear Margaret

I do not exactly know what is the Statement that you have seen – as to the division of the property – but I believe no final one has yet been drawn out – I will take care that it shall be made right & that Gates shall see it before anything in settled – I am in hopes we are making progress towards that end, but it requires patience and attention – I returned from London on Monday & am going again tomorrow on the same business – Watts(?) seems to begin to feel that he has acted unwisely in filing a bill against us – The only danger is lest the Accounts of the trust should be opened up –And I am going to meet Mr. Hann (?) the Agent for the Official Assignees at Adelaide & lay the Accounts before him to satisfy him of the correctness of the sum that we have stated as due to the two Insolvents – it is then proposed that he should sign a memorandum agreeing that this sum should be taken as the amount due to him – the question how this shall be divided between him and Watts (?) will then be of little or no importance to us –

Mr Knott is what he himself calls rather bouncible (?) at present – but I do not fear bringing him to reason.

Your note says nothing of your own health or that of your children – but I trust I may conclude you are pretty well – my kindest remembrance to Gates – I address this agreeably to the date of your letter – but it seems to me rather a scanty direction -

Believe me
Very affectionately yours
Jno Barton"


"To: Thomas Gates Darton of Gloucester
East Leigh 5.9.1845

My dear Gates

I hope we are approaching to a wind up of our Trust – A release is preparing – Knott has agreed to leave £1000 in W. Gruggan’s hands for Ellen’s account – which is all I can get for her – & I am afraid all she will ever see of the property -

The most we have been offered for the reversion of Stringer’s house is £30 which is so low a price that I think we are hardly justified in taking it without the express assent of the parties interested – May I consider thee as an assenting party?

I shall be glad to hear of dear Margaret & the Children – and of thy own business prospects – in all which I take a great interest – I am thankful to say that we are all well – I have been laid up by the lumbago the last few days, but am nearly recovered.

With love to Margaret, I remain
Very affectionately thine
Jno Barton"


"To: Thomas Gates Darton of Gloucester
East Leigh, Emsworth, Hants l.11.1845

My dear Gates

No apology is needed for thy request – which I willingly comply with, & inclose herewith a cheque for £300 – I do not know offhand the Amount forthcoming to thee – but if less than this, it can be repaid – At the same time let me tell thee an anecdote.

Latter, the father of our Sarah, some time since took a little farm at West Bourn – soon after he came to me & said he had a favour to ask – which was to lend him some money – He said he had enough to stock his farm, if he could get it in – but the parties to whom he had lent it could not repay him at present – No, Latter, said I, I will not do you such an unkindness – Go to those parties, tell them how you are circumstanced, & say that you absolutely must have the money by a certain day – He did so – and meeting me some time afterwards, he said he should always be obliged to me for refusing to lend him that money – He had already lost one sum, & he verily believed he should have lost others if he had not been compelled to press for payment.

I infer from thy letter that (my) dear niece is better again – though not expressly mentioned – I cannot doubt thou wouldst have said so had it been otherwise – Please tell me more particularly in acknowledging this – I found in my bank book an entry on Sep 11 – Barton in London £20 – which I translated Darton – I am thankful to say we are all well – Josephina joins in love to Margaret.

Ever affectionately thine
Jno Barton"


"To: Thomas Gates Barton of Gloucester
East Leigh, Emsworth, Hants 6.11.1845

My dear Gates

I suspect that you dug too deep for the moral of my tale – It was simply that if the £300 which I remitted to thee should be the means of inducing thee to look less closely into thy ledger and examine what accounts are in arrear – I might be injuring rather than serving thee by my facility in granting thy request – This remark is perhaps more especially applicable to the present time – for we are, I think, on the eve of a dreadful crisis – To say when the storm will burst with accuracy is beyond my power – but of its coming I have no doubt – Many persons comfort themselves with the belief that the coming crisis (?) will fall only on the speculators – but this is I think a mistaken view of the matter – many honest, steady industrious tradesmen will be victims – thanks to our vile systems of Political Economy.

I have proposed to Mr. Bliss & to my colleague H.J. to sell out the Trust property from the funds, & invest it in E Bills – which cannot fall very seriously – I anticipate a much greater depression in the Funds than has hitherto taken place.
Love to dear Margaret – I wish I could hear better accounts of her – but let us be thankful for such blessings as we have

Ever affectionately thine
Jno Barton"


Bernard Barton wrote to Gates Barton on 2 October 1837 of a visit that John had paid to him:

"We have had my Brother Jno with us from 7th day evening about 6 o’clock till this (second day) Morning at the same hour when he took his leave – he seemed to enjoy his visit very much – and we did the same with a little grumbling at its being so short an one – First day is a good day and a bad one, to visit in – good, insofar as I am on that day desk-free; bad because the hours not one’s own in it cut a monstrous cantle out of it – which seems the bigger from dear John and Lucy pairing off to Church, and leaving me to go to Meeting solo – But we made the most of time while we were together by almost incessant talk, finding an ample theme in the marvellous changes these latter days have made in so many of those we love – Dear John’s change to Churchanity never either perplexed or surprised me – with his argumentation and mathematically demonstrative turn of mind, thrown early in life almost out of the pale of Society for associates and friends, for the Quaker population is scanty and ever was in my memory at C- I should have been more surprised at his having continued a friend, than his ceasing to remain one – But he is as much a Quaker in the essence and spirit of our creed as I ever remember him, and I was glad to find he thinks pretty much as I do of the conduct pursued by I.C. and some others of the Seceders in the pains taken by them to make proselytes from the ranks of their old associates – John has much too enlarged a mind to love Sectarianism in any form or modification..."



In 1833 John published two short articles in the Chichester Magazine entitled A Summer's Evening at Stoughton and A Winter's Evening at Stoughton.

The first contains a vivid description of the flora and fauna of the South of England, a commentary on the origin of fairy rings, and a statement of his own method of raising orchids. The second relates a light-hearted discussion between three friends on the merits of a number of famous authors. These articles are reproduced in Appendix III of this volume.

John visited Bernard in 1833 and of this visit Bernard wrote on 30th May:

Uncle John may have told thee he left us both well – we much enjoyed his short visit. Its brevity was its only fault.
The last letter surviving, written by Fanny at Smeeth Hill in 1842 to Anne at East Leigh, included the following passage:
The rail road men are such very sad people. Abraham Tutt is working with them as a bricklayer and his mother told me that his master who saw he was a quiet person and heard him use no bad language said to him – ‘Young man, you have not been accustomed I see to work with such people as these’ – we often meet the men as we are talking and they look almost like savages, so I do not like rail roads any better, when I see all the misery in the making of them and the poor horses are sadly used, too.

On 14th November 1842 Fanny died, having just been confined when she caught scarlet fever from her daughter Sarah. The disease appeared very slight, and the medical man who attended her thought so favourably of her that he had taken his leave of her, regarding her as convalescent, when she was attacked by inflammation of the lungs, which very rapidly proved fatal; a few days before, Sarah had died of the fever. John wrote to his children:

This however did not appear to distress her mother as much as might have been feared. She had, or it seemed, resigned all thought of earthly care, looking forward to her approaching end with calmness and peace. On the morning of her death she expressed a wish to receive the sacrament. Mr. Martin came accordingly, and she followed every part of the service, though unable to speak above a whisper – within an hour after she peacefully breathed her last, without a struggle, having taken leave of us all, kissed her infant daughter and sent a message of love to her absent children.

Josephina, who had been living with her mother at Smeeth, thenceforward looked after the children and ran the home. Josephina was beautiful, charming and much beloved by all the children. The Rev. John Barton’s wife Emily Eugenia wrote of her:

"She died in May 1892 aged 84 years. She had ‘mothered’ eight of the Barton family, and ‘grand-mothered’ 44 of the rising generation. This rushing 20th century will see no more of her calm and dignified life we fear. You always felt in a cultured presence when with her, and she was one whose chief life was lived in an atmosphere above this passing world; although she had no religious phraseology. Her sound judgment, unswayed by her heart, was such that every member of the family was guided by her more or less. She united a firm hand over her household with her gentlest manner, which made her truly an ideal Lady ‘Mother’. Her servants adored her, and it was said they never left her but to marry or die..."


Chapter 10: His Life as a Widower again and his death


East Leigh


East Leigh was undoubtedly such a very pleasant property, with the house having beautiful views to the south coast, that someone in 1854 was inspired to write the following poem:

East Leigh
Romantic spot, transporting scene,
How much of Nature here is seen;
The trees, the fields, the silent sod
Remind us too of Nature’s God.
From east to west the scene extends,
Where Phoebus rises, where descends,
He all his course revolving shows,
And all his glory here bestows.
How sweet in Spring-time does the sound
Of merry songsters here rebound,
How sweet to listen to their lay,
As they proclaim the lengthening day.
How sweet in Summer this to view
Thy glowing landscape’s wide-spread hue,
Where all around in beauty’s clad,
Sure thou wouldst make the heart-sick glad.
Here Autumn too with smiles so sweet
Doth with surrounding beauties greet
Thy favoured spot, for now are crown’d
The fields with Harvest all around.
And Winter too doth here appear
Not dismal, gloomily, nor drear,
E’en though the cold wind whistles keen
Still lovely glows the sylvan scene.
The trees, now leafless, thus increase
Th’already broad expansive space;
And as we gaze on sea and land,
We see the wise Almighty’s hand.
Hail lovely spot, hail smiling scene,
Ecstatic, gay and yet serene;
What spot to man more fit is given,
To raise his thoughts from earth to Heaven?

Of John’s life as a widower at East Leigh we have glimpses from letters, which he wrote to his daughter Ann, between October 1844 and June 1849, when he wrote the last one that is still in the possession of the family.

In some of these he refers to his farming activities; in June 1846 he says with regard to her coming home for a holiday:
You may still perhaps be in time for the hay making, as I have not yet cut the meadow grass. I have cut and carried a field of Trefoil, which has not received a drop of rain as you may suppose.

In April 1846 he wrote that:

"I am pretty well off as to spring crops, having only 4 acres of Wheat and 2 of Barley unsown and the sheep are not yet off the ground intended for the Barley. Last night and this morning we had a great deal of rain again. I had hoped the weather was clearing up."

In June 1849 he wrote:

"I have been much engaged—Mr. Ellenborough left us this morning, he came to give me his advice about letting my land.
So it was probably the start of the paralysis that made him decide to give up the farming himself."

George Sotiroff, in his book, records that Edward FitzGerald, soon after meeting John at Woodbridge in 1844, visited East Leigh and was impressed by its ‘wise, polite and agreeable household’.

Soon after his visit Edward FitzGerald wrote to John, in a letter dated 17th September, from the Tavistock Hotel, Covent Garden, as follows:

"Dear Sir

My friend John Allen, goes school inspecting in Hampshire next week; beginning with Havant next Tuesday—I am sure you would like him and I am sure he would like you: and therefore I write to ask if you would choose to entertain him for an afternoon—namely, that of Tuesday. Now mind, I can only do this out of one motive: that I think it may do pleasure to you both; but if you do not anticipate this, or should you have your house full, or any other just impediment: you will of course, say so. I will also admit, that Allen is very apt (as who would not) to be much wearied with his day's school work, and not to show to much advantage in company afterwards. Indeed he is generally glad to get to his ease at an Inn—But as you found out the beauty of Spedding's portrait (which you saw at Woodbridge) so will you see (I am sure) the Humour, Wonder, and Observation, that lies in John Allen’s eyes and eyebrows, though he should not say a word. Indeed those faculties are most of all compatible with Silence.

I came here yesterday: and will get out of the nasty place as soon as I can. Will you give me one line by return of post? Do, please. I think with great satisfaction of Leigh, and its wise, polite and agreeable household.

Carlyle did not find us out after all, though he came in a grand nobleman’s carriage to see Winchester Cathedral. There’s a pretty fellow to write democratic books for you.

Well, believe me yours very truly
E. FitzGerald"

This letter was published in Francis R. Barton’s ‘Some New Letters of Edward Fitzgerald’ in 1923. John Allen was one of FitzGerald’s earliest friends and correspondents, and became Archdeacon of Salop.

On 19th October 1844 John wrote to Ann:

"My dear Anny

I willingly comply with your request that I would write to you, repeated in your little note received this morning, containing as usual a good report of your health and happiness for which I desire to be thankful. I have no fresh news from Australia to send you, the only event that has taken place in our little circle of late is a visit from Uncle Bernard, who left us on Monday last, after staying here rather less than a week. I met him on the Monday before at Farnham, he having received a very kind invitation from the Bishop of Winchester, in which I was included—We dined and slept that day at the Castle, and were most agreeably, as well as kindly entertained. I took the opportunity of calling on Mrs. Lefroy, at Crookham, four or five miles from Farnham. She was at home and quite surprised to see me so unexpectedly.
We did not see Mr. L, who was about among his parishioners. They live in a little Parsonage House close by the Church (also new built) of which he is Minister—in a remote part of the parish of Crondall, something like the situation of Red Hill: being on the edge of an extensive waste—but rather healthy and sandy than covered with trees like our thicket. In returning home on Tuesday we came by way of Selbourn—in which my brother took great interest, on account of White, the naturalist. We found the house in which White lived now occupied by a gentleman by the name of Bell, also a naturalist, who has lately bought it. He knew well my brother by name, though not personally, and seemed delighted to see him. We also found that I had once dined with him at the Athenaeum Club at London, so that we claimed a sort of acquaintance also. After looking over the house and grounds we dined at the little inn in the village, and there my Brother met with an old walking stick, said to have belonged formerly to White, which he bought for half a crown.

I send you a newspaper, containing an account of the late visit of the French King which you may forward to Joseph after you have read it.

I am glad to hear you are going on with German. I hope you will improve so much that if we all go into Germany some day, you may act as interpreter. Aunt Phina is well and desires her love, also the children. My kind regards to Mrs. Batt and believe me

Very affectionately your
Jn Barton
East Leigh"

In a letter Bernard Barton wrote to Gates Darton in October 1837 which he had written sending him a work which he wished to give to his Bishop –

"...for Quaker as I am I have a pet Bishop and Marquis of my own to show my unsectarian toleration of Lords Spiritual and Temporal— Perhaps you can learn by enquiry if the B. of W. be at his Town House, I think in St. James’s Sq.—or at Farnham Castle..."

So Ann was away living with Mr. and Mrs. Batt (probably at Newport I.O.W. where they then lived) where she was learning German, and from a letter John wrote to her in June 1846, also French.

In February 1845 he wrote:

"I feel much for Mrs. Batt in her present affliction, added to all the anxiety and trouble she has of late experienced. What a picture does it give of her affectionate disposition and pious mind that she should come to thank you for being quiet and ask you to pray for her. I hope it will prove a new bond of attachment between you and her, and that the affection which you felt for Harriet will be transferred to the survivors—you will I trust do all in your power to lessen Mrs. B’s trouble by showing her by your gentleness and affectionate manner that you sincerely sympathise with her."

On 6th November 1846, John wrote as follows to Ann:

"We have now quite a small party at home, only three children out of eight and shall be glad to see the table filled up again at Christmas. I hope you now feel interest enough in the improvement of your understanding to pursue it for your own pleasure, and that you will also consider it an indispensable duty. I am persuaded that the idle life which many young ladies lead after leaving school is very unfavourable to health of mind and consequently to happiness. I think the happiest state of society is that when a parent is able to keep his children round him, and yet not to exempt them from the necessity of active industry, all of them being engaged together in an object of common interest – viz. – the management of house and land, so as to supply them with the necessaries and comforts of life—in rustic abundance, but without display and ostentation.

I saw Mr. Batt for a few minutes on Wednesday, at Mr. Paull’s, and was pleased to see him looking so much improved in health, also that he gave a good report of you. I trust you will leave a pleasant impression on Mr. Batt’s mind. You will always rejoice in it in after life if that is happily the case.

I am glad to say that we are all well and have good reports from Joseph as well as Gerard and Johnny, the latter is quite well again."

All three boys were now at school at Bishops Waltham, under a Mr. Scard.

In a letter written in February 1845 John mentioned that Ann’s cousin, Stephen Hack, had returned from Australia with his wife and two children, and that his wife had been confined in the ship with a third child. Stephen, he said, was intending to go for some time to Southampton, to assist his brother Thomas, in his business as an architect. He said Mr. Philcox, (one of Maria Hack’s sons-in-law) had come back in the same ship and called with Stephen and brought with him his little girl.

Stephen Hack achieved some success as an inland explorer, and his son, Wilton, became notable when in 1873 he was one of the first Christian missionaries to visit Japan. Later with the assent of the South Australian government he attempted unsuccessfully to negotiate a scheme with the Japanese authorities for settling immigrants in the Northern Territory. Stephen had evidently been of a more prudent disposition than his brother John Barton Hack because his mother, when writing to Gates in January 1837, had asked whether Stephen had distinctly explained that only £1,000 of his capital was to be risked or sent out to Australia before his return, and that the remainder was to be invested here.

From these letters it appears that John did a certain amount of entertaining at East Leigh, with the help of Josephina. She, however, was away in Kent for some weeks in 1845, when it appears Emily Hughes came and looked after the children and household.


Norfolk


In 1846 John had taken Josephina and Joseph for an excursion to Norfolk and had left Joseph at Starston—perhaps for some farming experience.

In his letter of 7th June 1849, John describes a visit he made to the boys’ school at Bishops Waltham, when in addition to the usual festivities a present of plate was made to Mr. Scard by his old scholars...

"...of whom you may suppose Joseph was one. The plate was presented after dinner by Mr. Child a clergyman who was, I think, the oldest of Mr. Scard’s pupils — in a very affectionate, simple and admirable address. I was so glad the office fell to this gentleman, for I was not captivated with the air of the ‘Old Boys’ generally. Gerard and Johnny had each a part to enact, in fact two parts, Johnny had to personate Lord Beaumont and Gerard Lord Ellenborough, in reciting a Parliamentary Debate, in addition to which they had each a speech.

Mr. Scard has kindly consented to go with me to Oxford about the middle of July, that we may select a college for Joseph and enter his name, at present we think Wadham College."

Joseph did in fact go up to Wadham College, where he obtained a degree.


Pamphlets published and letters to the Standard


Although occupied with farming and bringing up a family, with the aid of Aunt Rick, John still found time to give advice on economic affairs, and to deal with local affairs, including those connected with the schools in Chichester.

Fifth pamphlet 1844


In 1844 the Agricultural Protection Society issued John’s fifth pamphlet entitled ‘The Influence of the Price of Corn on the Rate of Mortality’, as one of a series of tracts.

Of this pamphlet R.P. Sturges wrote:

"This topic had been extensively discussed in his 1833 In Defence of the Corn Laws, and the relevant tables had appeared in an appendix to that volume. Now the ideas were presented in compact and more persuasive form, with the tables expanded to cover the period 1821-1841."

The Duke of Richmond became President of the Agricultural Protection Society in 1845. During 1846 and 1847 John wrote 25 letters to the Standard newspaper, mostly in favour of the Corn Laws. In February 1846 the debates on the repeal of the Corn Laws in Parliament were strong and numerous. Meanwhile John wrote at intervals to the Duke of Richmond.

Letter to the Standard 7 Feb. 1846


John’s letter of 7th February 1846 was the first of his series to the Standard, and read as follows:

"It should appear that Sir Robert Peel has formed no distinct opinion respecting the consequences of his new measures; for in the debate on the late ministerial resignations, he tells us that a reduction of protecting duties does not tend to lower prices; and brought forward various comparative statements of the prices of agricultural produce in support of that conclusion. On the other hand, in subsequent debate, when he explained the nature of the changes which he proposes to make in our commercial system, he said that those changes would insure the prosperity of our manufactures by causing an abundance and cheapness of provisions. These two statements are evidently contradictory.

It is impossible to avoid asking oneself, what new facts or new arguments have presented themselves within the last three years, to justify us in abandoning that system of protection to British industry which has been in force since the memory of man? The only ground laid by Sir Robert Peel for so momentous a change, so far as I can discover, is this—that the country has improved in prosperity since the last reduction of the import duties. Now, supposing the fact granted, does it follow that because a moderate dose of a certain remedy has operated beneficially, a double or triple dose of the same remedy would operate still more beneficially? Surely this is not a safe conclusion in politics any more than in medicine. But I must doubt the existence of this boasted prosperity, if by prosperity is meant such a healthful activity as is calculated to be lasting and beneficial. It appears to me that Sir Robert Peel, in common with many other persons, confounds prosperity with excitement, a fatal error, which led to the calamities of 1825 and 1837. Then, as now, the minister of the day boasted of the flourishing state of the finances, the increase of exports, the general employment and well-being of the people, and deluded himself into a belief that all these benefits were the result of his own wise administration. But the lapse of a few months showed how much he was mistaken in supposing that state of things could be lasting. The prosperity of which he boasted was no more than the first symptom of the disease, which soon after manifested itself with such dreadful violence. It was the result of over-speculation. Then as now, all sorts of projects were afloat, each promising a high rate of profit to all who would consent to engage in them; then, as now, enormous sums were invested in undertakings, both private and public—the labouring population was generally employed at good wages, and consequently able to consume largely of all sorts of commodities. Hence a gradual rise of prices, good profits made by the shop-keeper, the merchant, the manufacturer, and the farmer. Everybody was delighted; and when the minister delivered his triumphant speech in the House of Commons, not one in a thousand of the community, perhaps, foresaw or expected the approaching ruin. Not one in a thousand perceived that the then existing state of things contained within itself the seeds of destruction; that the balance of payments would be turned against this country – that the exchange would fall – that the Bank of England would be drained of gold – that the directors would become alarmed, and contract their advances – that universal panic would ensue – that half the bankers of England would suspend their payments, and ruin and misery spread themselves over the whole trading community.

Not one in a thousand, perhaps, foresaw these calamities in 1825 or 1837. But shall we never learn wisdom by experience? Have we suffered all this in vain? Is it possible that Sir Robert Peel, with his sagacity and experience, can fail to see that another such catastrophe is impending over us at this moment? And will he precipitate us into the gulf of ruin with doubled swiftness by measures which are just calculated to exasperate the evil?

What was the ultimate cause of the disasters of 1825 and 1837? Over-speculation—the attempt to carry into effect schemes too mighty, or too many, for the means of the community. That conversion of circulating into fixed capital which, when confined within due limits, is most beneficial and salutary, becomes fatal when it is carried beyond a certain point. If the sum so invested within the year exceed the surplus of national income over national expenditure—the inevitable consequence is a financial crisis. This is the simple explanation of the cause of those terrible convulsions which have agitated the commercial world at intervals every few years since the termination of the last war.

And we shall have before long another such convulsion, if Sir Robert Peel’s proposed measures are carried into effect. Already, he tells us twenty-five millions a year will be wanted for the next three years to complete the railways sanctioned by parliament during the last two sessions, to say nothing of those which are to be sanctioned in the session just commencing. At this juncture he brings forward measures which, if carried, will just excite a spirit of boundless speculation among the manufacturers and other classes of commercial men. Sums beyond all precedent will be expended in buildings and machinery. The workmen employed in. these and other enterprises, public and private, being in the receipt of good wages, will consume largely of food and clothing, as well as of all other articles of luxury or convenience. A general rise of prices will ensue, and the advocates of free trade will say exultingly to the agriculturalists: ‘See how much you were mistaken in supposing that the change would hurt you?’ In the meantime, however, the rise of prices will cause an increase of our imports, a diminution of exports – the exchanges will turn against us – uneasiness will creep in among commercial men, gradually arising to panic, and all the horrors of 1825 will be renewed.

There is, indeed, an impression in the minds of many persons, even intelligent persons, and those who have paid attention to this subject, that excessive speculation, though it may prove ruinous to the speculators individually, can never bring about a financial crisis, so long as the money is employed at home: foreign loans, foreign investments of any kind, they admit have this dangerous tendency, because they derange the balance of payments between England and other countries. But how, they ask, can this balance of payments be disturbed by domestic speculations, where the money merely passes from hand to hand at home? A full answer to this question will be found in the Bullion Report of 1810, or in the pamphlets of Mr. Huskisson and Mr. Ricardo, published about the same time. Domestic speculations affect the balance of payments less directly. The manner in which they produce this effect is by their influence on prices. But if anyone entertains a doubt on this matter, let him look to the late history of the United States of America. The pressure of commercial distress in 1837 and the following years was even greater among the Americans than among ourselves, yet so far from lending to foreigners, they were borrowers."

Letter to the Duke of Richmond 12 Feb. 1846


On 12th February 1846 John wrote to Richmond at length, discussing the current situation regarding the debate on the repeal of the Corn Laws. He feared that Peel’s free trade measures would cause another monetary crisis like those of 1825 and 1837.

R. P. Sturges wrote regarding this letter that:

"Barton’s argument on this occasion was not concerned with the corn trade, but reverted to his preoccupation with fixed capital in the form of machinery and buildings and its dangers. He quoted Peel as saying that £23 million a year was needed for three years to complete railway schemes already registered. Barton realised that not all these schemes would materialise, but feared a spirit of speculation fuelled by the enthusiasm for railways which would turn to other channels of investment such as foreign railways. Furthermore he feared free trade would encourage manufacturers to lay out heavily on buildings and machinery, all of which would contribute to a South Sea Bubble mentality. Listing six monetary crises, in his lifetime – those of 1793, 1797, 1810, 1816, 1825 and 1837 – Barton suggested that all had differing features but all resembled each other in the course they took. To Barton this meant that their consequences were avoidable, but the language and conduct of Peel was like those of a ‘physician who should prescribe a bottle of brandy to a patient showing symptoms of brain fever’. He then offered his services to Richmond and the Committee of the Agricultural Protection Society to inquire further into this should they require."

Letter to the Duke of Richmond 24 Feb. 1846


On 24th February 1846 John wrote as follows to the Duke of Richmond:

"My Lord

Your Grace having been good enough to permit me to offer any suggestions to you respecting the subject at present before Parliament, I gladly avail myself of that permission to say a few words on what appears to me to be the chief practical difficulty in the way of those who advocate the maintenance of protecting duties – the State of Ireland – I fear it is too true that there is imminent danger of famine in that Country—though there may be some exaggeration as to the extent of the disease in the Potato—in fact Ireland is always on the brink of famine and even a small decrease in the customary supply of food must be considered alarming. The remedy proposed by the Advocates of Free Trade is an immediate suspension or abolition of protecting duties over the United Kingdom. I apprehend this would do comparatively little for Ireland, because most of the foreign supplies will be brought to England, where they are not wanted, both as England is at all times the richer Country, and therefore able to pay a better price, and particularly at this time, when the enormous sums about to be expended in railways, which sums are chiefly paid in labour, will cause a larger demand than usual for food. It appears to me that the way to relieve Ireland would be: 1st To open the Irish ports alone to foreign corn, 2nd To make some arrangement with the Railway Companies in Ireland for enabling them to expend such a sum within the present year as would enable the population to purchase that foreign corn. Sir Geo. Graham said the other day that the Irish Railways now in progress would cost 9 millions. He added that unfortunately railways do not meet the emergency of the case, since they only employ able bodied men within a few miles distance. I cannot conceive this. We know that Irishmen constantly migrate to England at harvest time to seek employment, much even from one county to another in Ireland. He added further that in the peculiar circumstances of the present year, probably not more than 2 millions out of 9 would be expended on the railways. Surely the peculiar circumstances of the present year should be a reason for increasing, not lessening that expenditure. It would of course be necessary to guard against the foreign corn being brought into this Country through Ireland. Perhaps this might be done by putting Ireland on the footing of a foreign Country, for a limited period, as to duties.

It strikes me as important that the Advocates of Protecting duties should be provided with a specific plan for the relief of Ireland, while they object to the plan brought forward by Sir Robt. Peel. And surely the plan of an entire suspension of all import duty in the Irish ports would do far more for the relief of the Irish population than the plan of impartial reduction of duty over the ports of the United Kingdom. I can hardly imagine even that the Irish landed proprietors would object to this suggestion, in fact I am persuaded it would, in present circumstances, be the greatest boon that could be conferred upon them.

Parliament might offer to lend to the Irish Railway Companies such a sum at a low rate of interest, as would enable them to lay out 4 to 5 millions during the current year. This would be a most advantageous proposal for them.

I have the honour to be Your Grace’s very Obed’t Servant
Jno Barton"

See Sturges’s note:

"In Ireland when the potato was introduced it ousted the cereals they had previously grown, and became the main ingredient of the diet of the population; all kinds of good dishes were made with potatoes. The potato blight of 1848 therefore caused famine conditions, with great loss of life."

Letter to the Standard 26 Feb. 1846


On 26th February 1846 John wrote the following letter to the Standard:

"What are Socialism and Chartism but impersonations of the indistinct feeling of uneasiness and half-smothered indignation excited in the minds of the labouring population by the galling sense of their own miseries, contrasted with the increasing opulence of the rich, and especially of their own employers. The existence of this evil – of a tendency to growing indigence at one end of the scale, with increasing wealth at the other – is, I think, admitted and deplored by all parties, however they may differ as to the causes of the evil, or the remedies by which it may be most effectually met.
We hear nothing at present of Socialism or Chartism, because the labouring classes are generally employed at tolerably good wages - but if there is reason to apprehend that a monetary crisis is impending, we must look to a renewal of these or some other form of disaffection, which will cause Sir James Graham, if he remains in office, as much anxiety as the events of 1842. Still more serious does the question become if we must expect a periodic recurrence of these paroxysms, progressively increasing in violence as the labouring population becomes more numerous and more distressed. Have we then any reasonable ground for hoping that we shall henceforth be free from such visitations? Has not the spirit of excessive speculation gone even greater lengths during the last twelve months than at any former period? And that in spite of Sir Robert Peel’s bill for limiting the paper circulation, which was devised expressly for the purpose of preventing the recurrence of such evils? What is to save us from revolution? Do we not see that each returning wave dashes higher up the shore, while we stand like Canute, hoping to control the advance of the tide by idle words?

And yet, perhaps, I ought not to say this; for great efforts have undoubtedly been made, of late years, in certain ways, to promote the moral and physical well-being of the poor— schools have been founded, churches built, allotments of ground given to the labourers in agricultural districts, places of recreation both for their bodies and their minds provided in towns. But in spite of all these efforts the giant evil has gone on increasing with frightful, I fear even with accelerated velocity. The truth is, all the remedies, good in themselves, are no more than palliatives. They do not touch the root of the disease which lies in the nature of our social and economic system. It is a disease not peculiar to our own times and our own country, but one that prevails in all great, rich, and luxurious communities, and has, in almost every case, terminated in national ruin.

The poor grow more miserable as the rich grow more wealthy. That, in few words, is the nature of the disease; the other symptoms of the case are merely accessory, and would disappear if their exciting cause were removed. The misery of the poor is not, however, exactly measurable by a comparison of the ordinary wages of labour with the price of provisions and other necessaries. Estimated by this standard, England appears to stand nearly as high as any part of Europe. It is the uncertainty of the demand, the fluctuating nature of their employment, which causes their severe distress. At times they are on the brink of famine; at other times they are earning liberal wages. This uncertainty is eminently unfavourable to the formation of sober, prudent, and industrious habits; it generates a reckless improvidence, accompanied by intemperance and other profligate habits, of which Mr. Alison, Dr. Cowan, and Mr. Symonds have given a melancholy picture in their descriptions of the Glasgow population. The average earnings of a manufacturing labourer are probably higher than those of a labourer in husbandry, but he enjoys a far smaller share of the real comforts and conveniences of life.

This uncertainty in the demand for manufacturing labour arises in part from the capricious changes in fashion, but in a much greater degree from alternations of speculative prosperity with monetary crises, followed by long intervals of depression. Several such crises occurred during the war — in 1797 for instance, when the Bank of England suspended its payments – in 1810, when a large amount of goods, belonging to British merchants, was seized by Bonaparte in the ports of the Continent – in 1815 and 1816, on the change from war to peace, and the reduction of the paper currency. In all these cases the disaster appeared to arise from unavoidable circumstances, against which no prudence could avail. But since the conclusion of peace, we have had two such events – in 1825 and 1837 – which cannot possibly be explained excepting by some capital defect in our system of political economy, or in our practical system of government built on the former. And this defect, whatever it be, exists to an equal extent in the government of the United States of America, where monetary crises have occurred even more violent than in this country. Now I do not remember to have met with any attempt to point out the nature of this defect, any attempt to show the true cause of these frightful convulsions, unless, indeed, a suggestion put forth in 1825 by Mr. Robinson, and again in 1837 by Sir Robert Peel, that these commercial storms arise from an excess of paper currency. This theory, such as it is, will be very shortly brought to the test of experience. We have no excess of paper currency at this moment. And if a new storm of terrific violence should break over our heads before long, then statesmen will, I think, be compelled to acknowledge that they have taken a very inadequate view of the causes of such convulsions."

Sixth pamphlet 1847


On 24th March and 8th April 1846 John wrote the following two letters to the Standard, which were reprinted in his sixth pamphlet, entitled ‘The Monetary Crisis of 1847 - Prediction and Counter Prediction’, which he published with this foreword, dated 27th October 1847 from East Leigh:

"It will not perhaps be deemed an act of presumption in the humblest individual to throw light on the causes of the present alarming state of commercial affairs. It is with this view that I reprint the two following letters, which I addressed to the Editor of the Standard Newspaper more than twelve months ago. It seems to me that the predictions contained in these letters have been so far verified as to show that my conclusions were well founded. I add some predictions of those who took an opposite view of the question at issue, that they may also be compared with the result.

JOHN BARTON"

Letter to the Standard 24 Mar. 1846


"March 24th, 1846

Adam Smith has observed, that ‘the capital employed in agriculture not only puts into motion a greater quantity of productive labour than any equal capital employed in manufactures, but, in proportion too to the quantity of productive labour which it employs it adds a much greater value to the annual produce of the land and labour of the country, to the real wealth and revenue of its inhabitants. Of all the ways in which a capital can be employed, it is by far the most advantageous to the society’.

In another place he observes, that ‘merchants and master manufacturers, as during their whole lives they are engaged in plans and projects, they have frequently more acuteness of understanding than the greater part of country gentlemen. As their thoughts, however, are commonly exercised rather about the interest of their own particular branch of business than about that of the society, their judgment, even when given with the greatest candour (which it has not been upon every occasion), is much more to be depended upon with regard to the former of these two objects, than with regard to the latter. Their superiority over the country gentleman is not so much in their knowledge of the public interest, as in their having a better knowledge of their own interest than he has of his. It is by this superior knowledge of their own interest that they have frequently imposed upon his generosity, and persuaded him to give up both his own interest and that of the public, from a very simple but honest conviction, that their interest, and not his, was the interest of the public. The interest of the dealers, however, in any particular branch of trade or manufactures, is always, in some respects, different from, and even opposite to, that of the public. To widen the market and to narrow the competition, is always the interest of the dealers. To widen the market may frequently be agreeable enough to the interest of the public, but to narrow the competition must always be against it, and can serve only to enable the dealers, by raising their profits above what naturally would be, to levy for their own benefit an absurd tax upon the rest of their fellow citizens. The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted, till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it’. (Wealth of Nations, Third Edition, vol. I, p.396-398.)

These observations of the great master of political economy will perhaps be thought not inapplicable to the present time. The proposed object of the measures which the merchants and manufacturers are now recommending to our adoption is to promote the welfare of the labouring population. I have endeavoured to show that the condition of that labouring population is deteriorated, not improved, by the extension of manufactures: that crime and misery have frightfully increased in our great manufacturing towns of late years; that crime as measured by the records of our courts of justice, has tripled within forty years; that crime is also three times more prevalent in these towns than in other districts, where a more antique and simple form of society prevails; that the rate of mortality among the manufacturing population is three times greater than among the agricultural population, and still rapidly increasing; in short to use the words of Mr. Symonds, that ‘the lowest districts of other places, here or on the Continent, never presented anything one-half so bad in intensity of pestilence, physical or moral’.

Where must this end? In what situation shall we be at the end -of another 20 years, if vice and misery go on increasing at the same rate? Can any man steadily contemplate the termination of such a progression? Where is the wisdom or the prudence of turning away our eyes from the question, and congratulating one another upon our extension of commerce, our steam engines, our railroads, our triumphs in science and in art, while such a canker as this is eating into our root? What avails our wealth, if the comforts which that wealth should procure are not participated in by the great bulk of the community? Is there any one lesson more certainly to be drawn from history than this - that progressively increasing misery and demoralisation is the sure forerunner of national ruin?

It is related, I think, that during the censorship of Scipio, when the accustomed sacrifices at the celebration of the Lustrum were about to be offered, and the officer appointed for that purpose was about to utter the usual hymn of intercession, praying that the gods would extend and perpetuate the prosperity and greatness of the Roman people, the Censor interfered, saying that ‘Rome was already rich and prosperous enough. Seek rather, therefore’, said he, ‘that the gods will preserve the blessings we already enjoy’.

Surely there was as much wisdom as moderation in these words. Might not we, with great propriety, adopt them in this day? Is there no danger of our losing all in our eager pursuit of more? We are told, on high authority, that those who ‘make haste to be rich fall into temptation and snare’. Is this less applicable to nations than to individuals?"

Letter to the Standard 8 Apr. 1846


"April 8th 1846

I must say that Sir Robert Peel deals out hard measure to the speculators in railroads. ‘So far as the individuals themselves are concerned’, says he, ‘I cannot say that I have great pity for them. You will never correct this disposition to embark in extravagant speculations, except by the personal sufferings of the parties speculating’. Until Monday night last I do not recollect anything said by him of the dangerous consequences of such undertakings - much of an opposite character. He did indeed say, at the opening of the Session, that the railway projects for the present year, amounting to the enormous sum of £750,000,000, could not safely be carried into operation at once; but at a subsequent period he informed the House that as a considerable number, one half or more, of the companies engaged in these projects had failed to comply with the preliminary conditions, ministers thought it no longer needful to interfere. Was not this a direct encouragement addressed to those companies who had fulfilled the conditions required?

If I see a man walking towards a precipice in the dark, shall I stand by unmoved, declaring it to be no concern of mine? Such conduct would surely be unjustifiable, even from one stranger to another. But Sir Robert Peel cannot be regarded in the light of a stranger towards any of the Queen’s subjects. As Prime Minister of the Crown he is surely bound to provide for the general welfare, not merely by legislative enactment, but by his public counsel and warning where it may be necessary or useful. He says truly that it is difficult safely to interfere with the course of private speculation; but advice and warning are not interference, nor are railways strictly private undertakings, since they cannot be carried into effect without the sanction of Parliament.

Might not the projectors or supporters of these undertakings very pardonably say that they looked only to the probability of a reasonable profit, as connected with the localities of their own districts; that they did not know what other parties might be doing in other parts of the Kingdom; that they did not profess to be judges what sum might be safely laid out in one year for such purposes; that they trusted to the able minister at the head of the finances to warn them, if the spirit of speculation appeared to be rising to too great a height, - that as he expressed nothing of this kind, they naturally thought themselves safe. Above all might they not justly say - the language of actions, which speaks louder than that of words, proves with certainty that Sir Robert Peel has no apprehension of a monetary crisis; for is he not contemplating an entire change of our whole system of commercial policy?—the greatest financial revolution that was ever undertaken in this country?—and assuredly he is too prudent a man to think of ‘repairing his house in the hurricane season’. His line of conduct assures us of his firm persuasion that we are about to enter upon a season of quiet and growing prosperity. All this the railroad projectors probably said to themselves; and it is rather hard now to turn round on them, and hold them up to public opprobrium. Besides, let it be remembered that much of that prosperity of which Sir Robert Peel boasted at the opening of the session was the result of these very speculations which he now condemns. This will never do. He has taken credit to himself for the prosperity of 1845; he must submit to bear the discredit of the reverses of 1846. He must not ride off on the backs of the unfortunate railway speculators, as Lord Goderich did on the backs of the country bankers in 1825; we must fix him to the consequences of his own measures, by showing the way in which one necessarily springs out of the other.

In a former letter I observed that a repeal or reduction of protecting duties, unaccompanied by a corresponding relaxation of the duties imposed by foreigners on our goods, naturally tends to cause an unfavourable balance of trade; which, in its turn, leads to an export of gold, a diminution of the circulating medium, and a monetary crisis. These conclusions appear so obvious that in attempting to offer any proof of them I almost fear to be accused of wasting words; but it is better to be tedious than inconclusive. I propose therefore to show by reference to the official returns–

lst. That since the reduction of protecting duties by Sir Robert Peel in 1842, there has been a large increase of imports, without any equivalent increase of exports; consequently that the balance of trade, which had been generally in favour of this country down to 1842, so far as it can be ascertained by the Custom House returns, turned against us from that time, and has been unfavourable ever since.

2nd. That a similar disproportionate and sudden increase of imports took place immediately before the monetary crises of 1825 and 1836-7.

3rd. That no such disproportionate and sudden increase of imports ever yet took place without being followed by a monetary crisis.

YEAR
British Produce Exported, declared value
Foreign Produce Exported
IMPORTS
Balance in favour of England
Balance against England
£
£
£
£
£
1837
42,069,245
13,233,622
54,737,201
563,566

1838
50,060,970
12,711,318
61,268,320
1,303,968

1839
53,233,580
12,795,990
62,004,000
4,023,270

1840
51,406,430
13,774,306
67,432,964

2,232,228
1841
51,634,623
14,723,151
64,377,962
1,979,812

1842
47,381,023
13,584,158
65,204,729

4,230,548
1843
52,278,449
13,936,113
70,093,353

3,858,791
1844
58,584,292
14,397,346
75,441,555

2,460,017
1845
60,111,081
16,280,870
85,281,958

8,990,817

I have next to show that a similar excessive and sudden increase of imports took place immediately before the crisis of 1825 and 1836-7.

Year
Imports
Year
Imports
1820
32,438,650
1831
49,713,880
1821
30,792,760
1832
44,586,741
1822
30,500,094
1833
45,952,551
1823
35,798,707
1834
49,362,811
1824
37,552,935
1835
48,911,542
1825
44,137,482
1836
57,023,867

The last point that I proposed to establish— that no such disproportionate and sudden increase of imports ever took place without being followed by a monetary crisis— being of a negative character, cannot, of course, be proved affirmatively. I can only ask of anyone who wishes to satisfy himself about it to look at the statements in Mr. Porter’s ‘Progress of the Nation’, or in Mr. Marshall’s Tables, and he will find the fact to be such as I have stated.

Under these circumstances, I fear that a monetary crisis is inevitable, whether Sir Robert Peel’s new measures are carried or not. But those measures, if carried, will certainly render the convulsion more violent and ruinous. If the partial and limited reduction of protecting duties in 1842 has so deranged the balance of trade, how much more the sweeping measures now in contemplation.

April 8, 1846"

This letter was incorporated in his ‘Monetary Crisis of 1847’, and the remarks that follow were entered after it.
The unfavourable balance of the year 1840 arose from the failure of the crop of the preceding year. It was a year of great pressure and inconvenience, but no crisis took place.

"The last year has been supplied since the letter was written. The sums here given are the real or declared values, so far as the Custom House returns give those real values; the imports are of necessity stated at their official value, no other being given.

I leave to those best qualified to judge how far the predictions contained in these letters have been verified. I now subjoin some predictions of an opposite character."

(The examples were of predictions by Sir Robert Peel, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Mr. Goulburn.)

Elected Fellow of the London Statistical Scociety


On 20th December 1847 John was elected fellow of the London Statistical Society. R.P. Sturges comments in his article:

"Barton, with his sympathy by then turned wholly against deductive political economy, had joined the Statistical Society in 1847. He was not the only thinker concerned with economic problems to move in this direction in reaction against the vigorously deductive Ricardian approach, and he had some reason to expect a good hearing from the Society."

John had already aired his opinions on political economists as a group back in 1830, accusing them of being more concerned with wealth than happiness, at the end of his pamphlet in which he advocated colonization.

Perhaps John was beginning to feel in much the same way as Sir Richard Phillips about Political Economy, who in his ‘A Million of Facts’ Stereotyped Edition - being enlarged and carefully revised and improved, pub. London 1859 wrote:

"It seems agreed, that no assumption of pretended knowledge ever wrought such frightful evils as the abstractions called Political Economy. It is an assumed science of society, in the hands of persons utterly ignorant of the details and workings of society; and it consists of specious theories, always practically false, relative to the pursuits and fortunes of men, imagined by closet speculators, who know nothing of the real business of life. In general, too, the basest servility to wealth and power distinguishes the school, and, to assist the rich in oppressing the poor, with effect and plausibility, appears to be the main object of its dogmas."

The paper which John offered to read to the Society on ‘The Influence of the Price of Corn on the Rate of Mortality’ was not accepted. George Sotiroff noted that:

"The Committee of Two which was appointed to report on the readability of the paper included Dr. John Bowring, one of the promoters of the Anti-Corn Law League."

In his book George Sotiroff wrote that another reference to John’s thesis, that when the price of corn fell and made it unprofitable for land-owners to raise any more of it, agricultural labourers were laid off and, remaining without means of subsistence, showed a higher rate of mortality, is found in a paper which was read to the London Statistical Society on February 16th 1846:

"Its author, William Farr, tried to prove Barton wrong, a circumstance which makes all the more significant the subsequent rejection, by the Board of the Society, of Barton’s offer to read a paper on the same subject."

Letter to the Duke of Richmond 17 Feb. 1848


On 17th February 1848 John wrote the following letter on the distribution of crime to the Duke of Richmond:

"My Lord

I have the honour to inclose the statement which I mentioned to your Grace yesterday, of the proportion of Crime in our manufacturing and agricultural Classes, when distributed into Classes–with relation to the character of the Agricultural Population. Your Grace will see that the chief seats of manufacture are in the north and west of the Kingdom, where the soil is chiefly cultivated by yeomen, little capitalists whose superior respectability corrects and conversely the enormous amount of crime in the great manufacturing towns. Many of the yeomen appear formerly to have united the business of weaving with the cultivation of small portions of land—receiving their yarn weekly from the Master Manufacturers, and making it up at home with the help of their wives and children—But since the introduction of machinery, the process of weaving has been done so much cheaper in large factories, that the hand loom weavers have been ruined. The Political Economists tell us that the change is a national benefit, because the price of fabrics is reduced, but the result has been to bring the labourer to poverty, while his master has accumulated immense wealth.

I have the honour to be My Lord with the greatest respect,
Your Grace's obliged and very obedient Servant
Jno Barton
East Leigh
Emsworth
17 February 1848"

Paul Sturges, in his article, wrote concerning this letter:

"This was occasioned by Barton’s completion of one of the most elaborate of his statistical tables, which he enclosed with his letter. It claimed to plot the ‘Proportion of Crime in each Class of the Population of England and Wales’ and is of particular interest as the first appearance of a substantial part of his major work. Some discussion of it is important, for it clearly shows the flaws of his statistical work. The table is a deployment of population statistics from the 1831 census and figures from the period 1829-1834 for commitments to trial for alleged offences. It is divided into two parts, one concerned with agricultural counties and the other with manufacturing counties. Earlier tables such as those linking the price of corn and the rate of mortality took groups of ten agricultural and seven manufacturing counties. This table divided up all the counties of England and Wales. The agricultural group consisted of 10 Welsh counties and 22 English; the manufacturing group of 2 Welsh counties and 12 English counties, 2 partially manufacturing counties (Somerset and Norfolk), 2 mining counties (Cornwall and Durham) and 2 metropolitan counties (Surrey and Middlesex). There were necessarily problems of grouping the counties, since few were either completely dominated by agriculture or manufacturing, but Barton nevertheless placed each county in one category or the other. Further problems occurred with the material of the tables. For each county Barton calculated the proportion of occupiers of land in 1831 to agricultural labourers. He then produced an annual figure of commitments for trial on criminal charges per 100,000 of population. What the tables indicate is that where the proportion of agricultural labourers to occupiers of land was low, i.e. in the range of 1 to 1 or 2 to 1, the number of commitments per 100,000 was low, in the order of 30-50 per annum on average. Where the proportion was high, from 3 to 1 to as high as 7 to 1, the average number of commitments was higher, i.e. between 140 and 200. Such a relationship occurs in both manufacturing and agricultural counties. However, the rate of commitments for trial, whilst high in an agricultural county with a high proportion of agricultural labourers to occupiers of land, tended to be even higher in a similar manufacturing county. In counties where there was a high proportion of small landowners, Barton felt, this indicated a secure and respectable community, as evidenced by the low rate of commitments in such counties. In counties where the proportion of agricultural labourers, in Barton’s view an insecure group often driven to crime by lack of legitimate employment, was high, the rate of crime was high."

Paul Sturges concludes on this letter with:

"Presumably the poverty stricken labourers had migrated to the industrial towns, where they formed a precariously employed and alienated class easily drawn to crime.

Barton’s reasoning here is unclear, and the whole statistical exercise is not convincing. The best one can say of it is that it represented a groping after causes and a willingness to try different ways of using the statistical data that were becoming increasingly available during his lifetime."

Paper to the London Statistical Society 16 Apr. 1849


On 16th April 1849, John read his paper entitled – ‘The Influence of Subdivision of the Soil on the Moral and Physical Well-Being of the People of England and Wales’ before the London Statistical Society. His opening remarks to this paper were:

"There can scarcely be any subject of statistical inquiry more important and interesting than that of the influence of industrial occupations on the general character of the people. The extension of commerce and manufacture, the amelioration of the soil, the improvement of machinery, even the increase of national wealth and prosperity, rightly considered, are valuable only as means to an end; that end being the promotion of general happiness and virtue. We have at this day facilities for conducting this inquiry more directly and satisfactorily than existed in the days of the earlier political economists. At no period have there existed such treasures of authentic facts for this purpose, as we now possess in the Population Returns, the Reports of the Registrar General, and the Tables of Mr. Porter. The rapid increase of crime since 1805, when the returns from the different Courts of Criminal Justice were first collected and published has naturally attracted the attention of those engaged in statistical researches. But it is admitted, I think, and by none more than those who have laboured most diligently and successfully in the inquiry, that the causes of this painful and alarming change in our social position are not yet thoroughly understood. I propose in this communication to advert to one element of the question, which has not yet, so far as I know, been taken into consideration, though it appears to me well calculated to throw light on the subject. This is the greater or less sub-division of the soil."

This was John’s last published work.

Letter to the Duke of Richmond 26 Apr. 1849


On 26th April 1849 John wrote the following letter to the Duke of Richmond:

"My Lord

I am always reluctant to intrude on Your Grace’s time, but I fear if I should omit to do at present I should appear forgetful of your kind permission to submit to the Agricultural Protection Society the facts which I have collected respecting the influence of Manufacturers on the well-being of the Poor. I have, since I spoke to Your Grace, obtained permission to read my paper to the Statistical Society, by leaving out my conclusions and confining myself to a bare detail of facts I am glad I attained that permission, because my figures will now be scrutinised by gentlemen acquainted with the subject, and if I have fallen into any mistakes, they will be pointed out, but I will be very glad to enlarge my paper, and point out the conclusions to which my facts lead, after a little time has elapsed, to enable me to know whether the members of the Statistical Society can say anything against my figures. I have found some particulars respecting the amount of deaths in agricultural and manufacturing districts, which appear to me to show that the manufacturing population is as miserable as it is vicious.

Mr. Newdigate has been kind enough to send me one of his late pamphlets, which contains some very interesting information on the Balance of Trade. The last news from America seems to indicate that Mr. Newdigate’s views respecting the effect of a large import of Corn causing to a monetary crisis are likely to receive a speedy confirmation.

I have the honour to be my Lord your much obliged and very obt. servant
Jno Barton"

Letter to the Duke of Richmond 4 May 1849


On 4th May 1849 John wrote again to the Duke, as follows:

"My Lord

Permit me to express my thanks for Your Grace’s kindness, in sending me a copy of the Report of the Fowler Commissioners, as well as a copy of Lord March’s speech. I had read the Report of the latter in the Times, but so badly was it done that it gave me a very imperfect idea of it, and I have had much pleasure in reading it under a more complete form.
The effects of Free Trade seem to be likely soon to make themselves felt in a way that the manufacturers little expected. They have killed the goose that laid the golden eggs, they have ruined the small farmers, and will now perhaps find out how much more important the farm trade is than that fringe trade of which they think so much. I gather last reports from Manchester are very dull, and particularly for those articles intended for consumption in this country.

I believe it may be affirmed that England has not enjoyed so high a degree of manufacturing prosperity as when Sir Rob Peel brought forward his Free Trade propositions. But then they told us that it is the war on the Continent which now spoils Home Trade. Now I remember that during the war with Bonaparte, manufacturers were exceptionally flourishing— so much so that when peace came they said they should never be well off again till they had war again, and yet this was a war paid for by ourselves. Surely a war paid for by foreigners must be more advantageous to us than one which cost us fifty millions a year. Indeed those gentlemen have now been at a loss to find some excuse for the failure of their predictions—first, while Sir R. Peel’s measures were founding, it was the delay of the great restoration remedy—then the failure of the potato crop, now the war. But I hope and believe that a reaction is taking place in the public mind gradually.
Pardon me My Lord, for troubling you with these remarks and believe me to be

Your Grace’s much obliged and very humble servt
Jno Barton"

Chichester Girls’ School


John was concerned over the problem of finding new accommodation for the Chichester Girls’ School which had been established in 1812, in a building on East Walls, but which had now become unsatisfactory and the district unsalubrious after a period of thirty years.

The ‘Promoters’ of the school had addressed a letter in September 1847 to the Privy Council, which had been appointed to supervise the spending of a grant of £20,000 made by the Whig government in 1833 to the British and Foreign School Society and the National Society for promoting the education of the Poor, for a grant towards building a new school house. The list of names of the chief promoters was headed by John Barton, and the East Walls School was described as
having been conducted respectably and faithfully for more than 30 years, it is believed with moral and religious benefit.
In February 1848, the Committee of the Girls’ Schools, East Walls, Chichester announced that they had received an offer of a house and garden in Little London (Chichester) as a suitable site for them to build a school room, which they had been wanting for some time. In spite of the offer of a grant from the Committee of Council on Education they would require liberal assistance from the Friends and Supporters of the Institution, and therefore asked for further donations. The Committee published a list of the donations already received, which was headed by the Duke of Richmond with £25, followed by three of £20 (including one from John), one of £15 and two of £10, besides twenty others of smaller sums.

On 5th April 1848 John wrote to the Duke of Richmond informing him that the Lands Committee of Council had kindly consented to make a grant of £198 towards the erection of a school room, and that this with the donations already collected would enable the room to be built. He asked the Duke whether the Committee might have the honour of placing the name of the Duchess at the head of the list of subscribers, as was originally the case when the school was established, but that the Ladies Committee had omitted to make any application to the present Duchess, after the Duke had succeeded to the title.

The new building was to cost £635 and an adjoining house was to be made habitable for the mistress.

On 23rd April 1849 the Little London School was opened and some imaginative member of the committee suggested that the inscription ‘Girls’ School established 1812’ be placed above the doorway. This new school, provided for largely on a voluntary basis, was to be in use for more than 60 years.

The new school had been working for less than a year when John resigned from the committee on which he had served for 40 years. His name may be traced through all the early records of the meetings concerning the welfare of both the boys’ and the girls’ schools. It makes one long, continuous and strong thread through the years and doubtless did much to earn his commendation from Mr. Fletcher, H.M.I., in his report to the British and Foreign School Society:

"These (British) schools have had, and still enjoy, liberal friends and an intelligent committee."

Ill health and death


When just turned sixty John was attacked with paralysis which deprived him first of the power of his hand to write intelligibly. On account of his ill health the family eventually removed to a house on the walls S.E. of Chichester where he died on 10th March 1852.

John wrote no autobiography because he could not bear to make known even to his children, in his own words, all his past sins and follies; and to give a partial view would be in his estimation ‘something like the want of veracity’. In 1850 with regard to his anticipated demise he wrote in his letter to his children:

"Almost all that I possess of religious feelings or principles I owe to the sorrowful events of my life. In health, prosperity and unclouded days of happiness I have always found myself growing arrogant and forgetful of God, but in times of trouble I have been as it were driven to him for comfort, and the impressions made at such times have more or less remained uneffaced in after years. Indeed a large proportion of my life has been passed in anxiety, or trouble from one Cause or other, and in looking back, I find reason to bless God it has been so. This may seem a strange avowal from one who would be regarded by strangers, I suppose, as a happy and prosperous man, with ample fortune, and eight dear children all I have reason to hope well disposed and agreeable and with a very kind and affectionate Sister-in-law, who performs the part of a mother towards them. But nevertheless the fact is as I have stated, and I am inclined to believe this is consonant with the experience of most men. I am now therefore willing to receive whatever painful dispensations it may please God to send, not only with submission, but with cheerfulness, as needful corrections, sent in mercy by a gracious parent for my true welfare."

Personal tributes to John


John’s sister Maria Hack wrote of him in 1836 that he had ‘a cold manner at times, but he has a very kind heart - I shall ever remember with gratitude his behaviour in a time of very deep affliction’. His brother Bernard said that he had a ‘mathematically demonstrative turn of mind’.

Bernard, his brother, addressed several of his poems to John, and ‘A Widow’s Tale and other Poems’, written in 1827, was affectionately inscribed to him with this quatrain:

Thou hear’st our father’s name: in thee
His worth and talents live;
Canst thou need more - to claim from me
The little I can give?

In his book ‘Some New Letters of Edward FitzGerald’, published in 1923, F. R. Barton quotes from a letter from Charles Lamb written to Bernard Barton on 10th February 1825 – "Your gentleman brother sets my mouth a-watering after liberty".

In his book on the life of the Rev. John Barton, Cecil (one of his sons) wrote concerning John, Senior:

"The children all seem to have stood rather in awe of their studious and silent father, although his whispered ‘God bless you’, as he laid his hand on their heads at bed time, would often awaken a tender response in their hearts."

His reflections on life and ideas for further work


We have already noted some of John’s reflections on life, and the following are also worthy of note.

Regarding happiness, he recorded in his Journal on 11th November 1827:

"Life is never thoroughly enjoyed unless there is a sensible progress, an object in which all our pursuits may centre. This is one principal ingredient of happiness … To complete our felicity, there must be an exercise of the affections—connected with this great scheme of employment … Now Religion furnishes a great scheme of action to which all other pursuits may be rendered subordinate, and at the same time gives scope to the highest and widest exercise of affections."

Of America, he recorded in January 1820, that he began to think the inhabitants may in process of time become a civilized nation. In the second world war Germany, a country that had been considered a civilized nation shocked the world with its treatment of Jews. Viewing the state of the world today, I wonder whether there is yet any truly civilized nation? With so much resort to violence for political ends, and in the exercise of crimes of robbery, such lack of morals, so much corruption, such great and ever-spreading addiction to drugs, such great disregard for the sanctity of marriage and the importance of the family as the basis of society, and such disregard for the human needs of the less fortunate members of society or for those who cannot accept political repression, it is indeed difficult to find one. Surely no nation can be truly civilized unless it constitutes a really Christian community?

When considering embarking on a possible future work in March 1820, John recorded in his Journal:

"the proposition of my intended work would be that all national greatness springs from a certain moral temperament in the people; that temperament which assumes the various forms of dignity of sentiment, refinement of taste, simplicity of manners, purity of morals, and elevation of genius; to show that all these are no more than different forms of the same thing as modified by circumstances - and to elucidate the interior mechanism of the mind whence these all of them rise."

In June 1820 when considering the problem of framing suitable constitutions he felt:

"The great error of manufacturers of Constitutions seems to be in supposing that the difficulty of constructing a good government lies in the discovering its abstract principles, whereas the true difficulty lies, I apprehend, in determining the preliminary data. Given the habits, circumstances and character of the people, it requires no great skill or labour to provide them with an appropriate constitution."

In August of the same year he was contrasting the less happy state of the South American republics with that of their elder brothers of the North. He wrote:

"The everlasting fluctuation of constitutions of S. American countries, while it continued, was attended with very serious evils, and presented something peculiarly offensive to the taste of Englishmen. To be continually trying-on new constitutions affects their minds with similar disgust to the thought of trying every now and then a new wife."

Unfortunately this disgust does not now seem so prevalent amongst our own countrymen! With regard to South American nations, however, he added:

"We ought therefore to avoid hastily and contemptuously pronouncing our neighbours incapable of liberty, because they have displayed an apparently childish fickleness and instability in the formation of their improved social institutions."

Alas, the South American nations seem little more stable today.

We can see now that the ultimate in socialism is Marxism which preaches a spurious religion, attempts to stifle true religion and breeds a new hierarchy that can only retain its authority by repressive means. Having already succeeded in dividing Europe into two camps, it has now embarked on a similar course in South East Asia, thereby scattering refugees throughout the western world, and causing endless unrest throughout the world leading to an unprecedented build-up of armaments and the reliance on the horror of nuclear war as a deterrent to major conflict. The best remedy for combating communism would seem to be helping to create circumstances where people do not feel that they must resort to socialism in the hope of creating more satisfactory living and working conditions, rather than resorting to armed pressure in an attempt to arrest its advance in countries already threatened with, or actually turning to communism.

Those in favour of socialism should ponder the views of J. B. Priestley (the novelist and playwright) expressed in writing on the subject, as reported in a letter from the Earl of Kimberley to the Daily Telegraph:

"When authority is guided by common sense touched with compassion, it takes trouble to discover what people in general want or do not want. This is real democracy. What is false democracy comes from ideology, the fanatical worship of a theory and a system far more important than people."

In a letter to his friend Joseph Janson in October 1819, John stressed the importance of employers looking after their employed, and that the lack of this principle was now the cause of unrest in manufacturing communities. He wrote:

"The bond of personal attachment thus broken seems to be that which principally holds society together."

Today we seen to be beginning to realise that loss of this personal attachment in unmanageably large manufacturing companies and nationalised industries has been one of the great causes of industrial unrest.

Burial


John was buried in the cemetery of St. John the Baptist at Red Hill, Rowlands Castle, about three miles north of Havant.

The inscription on the headstone reads:

"John Barton
of East Leigh, Hants
died 10th March 1852, aged 62
also Fanny his wife
died 11 Novr 1842 aged 35
and Sarah her daughter
died 9th Nov 1842
I heard a voice from Heaven saying unto me write
Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord
Yea said the Spirit for they rest from
Their labour, and their works will follow them"

This verse has obviously been adapted from the Bible, Rev. Chap 14 v 13, which reads:

"And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them."

Obituaries


The following obituaries were published.

In the Gentleman’s Magazine of 1852:

"March 10. At Chichester aged 62, John Barton Esq., one of the original promoters of the Chichester Savings Bank, the Lancasterian School, and the Mechanics’ Institution, of which he was treasurer until its union with the Philosophical Society. For many years he lectured within its walls in an able and popular manner."

On 20th March 1852, in the Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle:

"The late John Barton, of Chichester, whose death was noticed in our last journal, though not a public character, was a gentleman too much inclined to assist in mental progress to be permitted to pass from the present state with merely a common obituary notice. Mr. Barton was half-brother to Mrs. Maria Hack, the well-known selector of Grecian and English stories, for the instruction of the young, and, with his brother-in-law, he was for a short time connected in business; but having relinquished this, and having married a lady with a considerable property, he devoted his attention to literary and scientific pursuits. The subject of Political Economy, then recently brought before the public by Malthus and Bentham, greatly occupied his thoughts, and he is generally considered as having very much coincided in the speculations of the Author on Population. He enjoyed the friendship of Dr. Sanden, whose literary attainments, and professional skill as a physician, are well known, and in conjunction with him and a Mr. Marsh and a Mr. Woods, he established the Savings Bank in Chichester, and sedulously attended to its management till laid aside by what, from his age, may be called premature debility. When Joseph Lancaster unfolded his plan for extensive and cheap pauper instruction, Mr. Barton entered warmly into it; and though the Chichester Lancasterian School owes much of its excellence to its first master, Mr. Green, and for many years to the indefatigable attention of its present master, Mr. Paul, the children were often benefited by the instructive addresses and lectures with which they were favoured by Mr. Barton. In the same way he frequently edified the members of the Mechanics’ Institution, of which he was Treasurer, and in which he took a very considerable interest. So far as the all-engrossing subject of Free Trade was concerned, Mr. B. rather inclined, it is thought, to Conservative principles, as one of the League lecturers was induced, when at Chichester, in consequence of something published by Mr. Barton, to challenge him to a public argument, which, however, the subject of this memoir declined to accept. In politics Mr. Barton was decidedly Liberal, and in company advocated Reform in Parliament; but whether from the influence of early Whig associations, or from constitutional timidity, or from a fear that the human mind when set on rolling might roll too far, and in its flight from experienced evils might ‘flee to evils which we know not of’, he took no very active part in promoting it, and disappointed some of the more determined and energetic reformers in Chichester and its environs. Mr. B. had travelled abroad, but he had breathed too habitually the apathetic air of the Cathedral city, the influence of which is very mentally depressing, to have been a bold asserter of the rights of man. Considering, however, that Mr. B’s sphere of action was a place affording very little excitement or support to those who would ‘devise liberal things’, he was a very active and honourable member of society, and his memory, when any event brings it before our mind, merits the most respectful feeling. Mr. Barton’s connections were, by birth, of the Society of Friends, but latterly he belonged to the Established Church. On theological topics he seldom entered, and it may be doubted whether he was much acquainted with those biblical criticisms on which the several Christian sects found their distinctive tenets; but, free from bigotry, he was ready to join the worthy of any denomination in any plans which he deemed calculated to raise the moral tone and to increase the comfort of the public body."

At a Meeting of the Committee of the Tower Street School (Chichester) held on 1st April 1852, the following Resolution was unanimously agreed and adopted:

"That this Committee desire to record the sense they entertain of the great loss sustained by the British Schools of this City, by the decease of the late JOHN BARTON Esq., the enlightened and assiduous supporter of these Institutions from their first establishment to the period of his lamented departure. While they cannot but regard that departure as a merciful translation from a state of much trial and infirmity to one of rest and peace, they must feel and lament at the same time the loss of one so devoted to the cause of education, and so competent from his peculiar qualifications to promote its interests.

The Committee trust that the valuable example bequeathed to them by their lamented friend will not be lost on those who now desire to offer this tribute to his memory.

It is desirable that some testimonial to the memory of Mr. Barton should be perpetuated in the School. And it is now proposed that a subscription be opened for the purpose of enabling the Committee to give Annually to the most deserving boy, a book or books to be called the ‘Barton Testimonial’."

At a meeting in October 1852 it was recorded that:

"the contribution of friends having supplied a sufficient sum for that purpose, it was resolved, that the interest of such sum be applied annually in the purchase of a Bible to be presented to the most deserving Boy in the Tower Street School, and of another Bible to be presented to the most deserving Girl in the Little London School."

After the Tower Street School had been absorbed in and known as the Chichester High School for Boys Lancasterian Wing, and the Little London School absorbed in and known as the Chichester High School for Girls Lancasterian Wing, it was agreed that for the better administration of the Trust the Head Teachers of the respective Schools should be the new trustees. To this effect a Deed of Appointment was made on 12th December 1977. The funds available in the Trust for distribution to these schools amounted to £30 for each School.

In the case of the Boys’ School the capital sum was used with monies from the Governing Body to purchase a House Challenge Cup for Sport and Academic Work.

In the case of the Girls’ School, the prize awarded as the Barton Testimonial is still considered to be a major prize, and is presented each year to a girl who has just completed the Fifth Year, who has given the greatest service to the School during her time there. It is seen as an important means of rewarding a girl who, whilst not necessarily of high academic calibre, nonetheless shows resourceful dependability and a sense of community.

The prize is a Bible of the girl’s own choice, up to the value of £6, and the presentation is made at Fifth Form Certificate Evening when ‘O’ Level and C.S.E. certificates are presented to the girls who took their public examinations in the previous June, on an evening in early December.

The Deputy Head of the Chichester High School for Girls kindly informed me in a letter in November 1985 that Emma Elliott was to be the recipient of the Barton Testimonial for 1985, and that she had worked very hard in all her studies and also took a keen interest in the Combined Cadet Force, representing the School on many occasions.


Chapter 11: