John Barton of Chichester, Stoughton and East Leigh 1789-1852 (2001-2) by Ann Stilwell Griffiths in Chichester Local History #17 & #18.

[This excellent biography is reproduced here in its entirety with the permission of the author.]


John Barton was a prominent figure in Chichester during the first half of the nineteenth century. He had a searching and critical mind and as an amateur economist he wrote a number of papers concerning the plight of the poor; his view being that 'political economy should be the science which teaches how to promote the physical well-being of the people'. Barton was a tireless supporter of the Lancastrian Schools, one of the original promoters of the Chichester Savings Bank, and a founder member of the London Mechanics' Institute and its Chichester branch. He was a trustee and committee member of the Chichester Literary and Philosophical Society, to which he initially subscribed £25. As a committee member of the Court of Guardians in Chichester, he helped to draw up a set of bye-laws for better regulation of its business.

John Barton was brought up as a Quaker but in his late thirties he joined the Established Church. By 1825 he was living in Stoughton and in about 1834 he bought East Leigh, in Havant. Finally, just before he died, the twice-widowed Barton returned to live in Chichester.

The Bartons came from Cumbria but in 1783 John's father, John Barton the Elder, moved to London. In 1784 his first wife died, leaving him with three children; Elizabeth, Mary (Maria), and a new-born son, Bernard. In May 1787 a committee for the suppression of the slave trade was formed in London and chaired by Granville Sharp. John Barton the Elder, was one of its twelve members, nine of whom were Quakers. The aim was to collect and publish evidence 'as may tend to the abolition of the Slave Trade', and to direct the application of money received. Thousands of Britons were mobilised to support the cause. At the end of 1787 John Barton settled with his new wife in Hertford, where he was a partner in a malting business. Unfortunately, he died in the prime of life shortly before Elizabeth gave birth to their son, John, at Southwark, on 11th June 1789. The widowed Elizabeth moved to Tottenham, where her parents had a large country house. When he was eight John was sent to a local boarding school, where he suffered 'the rudeness of boys'. He left school at fourteen with 'a very slender stock of learning' but a great love of reading.

In 1800, at Tottenham, John Barton's half- sister, Maria, married Stephen Hack, a Chichester Quaker. (The Chichester Bank was founded in 1809 by James and William Hack, Charles Dendy and James Farendon). Hack imported Irish provisions and corn, and inherited his father's currier and leather cutting business, which by 1803 was situated in Little London. At fourteen John Barton was sent to Chichester to work for his brother-in-law, in the counting house, and at twenty-one he became a partner.
Maria Hack was a prolific writer of books of instruction for children, her view being that 'exact knowledge is too much neglected in female education'. Her letters show that she found it hard to balance her work with the demands of her children. 'Now poor I, from six in the morning till eleven at night cannot secure one little five minutes from the perpetual interruptions of some part of a family of fifteen persons. Whatever I do must be done by snatches.' The WSRO has copies of 'Winter Evenings or Tales of Travellers' and 'Geological Sketches and Glimpses of the Ancient Earth'. Maria also wrote a poem in aid of the local infirmary, whilst John Barton and Hack & Son each subscribed £50 to the building fund. In 1823 John Marsh, a local composer, wrote in his diary, 'Drank tea with the Hacks, as Maria wanted to discuss her new stories from the history of England. Spent a very pleasant evening with them and their young family, who after tea amused themselves with their drawing implements, in which the elders of them seemed to have attained a considerable proficiency.' When Maria was widowed in 1823 she began openly to question some of the Quaker tenets. She died in Southampton in 1844.

Bernard Barton, John's half-brother, went to a Quaker school at Ipswich and spent most of his adult life in Woodbridge, where he worked as a bank clerk to support himself as a poet. In 1808 his wife died, leaving a baby daughter, Lucy. Bernard was a close friend of Edward Fitzgerald, who wrote in 1843, 'On Saturday I give supper to Bernard Barton and (Thomas) Churchyard. We are the chief wits of Woodbridge.' In October 1856 Fitzgerald wrote to George Borrow from London, 'I am on my way to Chichester to be married to Miss Barton (of Quaker memory) and our united ages amount to 96 -a dangerous experiment on both sides. She at least brings a fine head and heart to the bargain -worthy of a better market.' On 4th November 1856 Fitzgerald and Lucy, both in their late forties, were married at All Saints' church, in Chichester. They made a strange couple. Lucy was known by Woodbridge children as 'Step-a-Yard' because of her mannish stride but she was cultured, having just relinquished her position as chaperone to the grandnieces of Hudson Gurney of Keswick Hall, near Norwich. Lucy expected her husband to be socially aware. Fitzgerald, however, had been too long a Bohemian and might be seen walking round Woodbridge wearing an old baggy suit, floral waistcoat, plaid shawl and a battered, black hat tied on with a handkerchief. John Glyde's book on Fitzgerald states that the groom wore an old slouch hat and everyday clothes at his wedding and faced with blancmange at the wedding breakfast exclaimed, 'Ugh! congealed bridesmaid.' The marriage was never consummated and Edward and Lucy parted in less than a year, though Edward made financial provision for his wife at £300 per annum.

Joseph Lancaster, a Quaker, came to Chichester in 1810 to initiate the establishment of a boys' school for the poor, to be run on the monitorial system. One of the 24 shareholders was John Barton, 'merchant', who was a committee member for over 40 years. Half of the original committee was Nonconformist and half from the Established Church. Barton's name can be found throughout all the early records concerning the welfare of both the boys' and girls' schools, having started as its first secretary in 1810. The first president was John Marsh, who said of the setting up of the boys' school, 'The matter was opposed by Mr Archdeacon Webber and a very few others; and by the clergy keeping aloof it was necessarily thrown into the management of the dissenters.' In 1819 John Barton helped John Marsh's brother to start up a National School in Westbourne.

In 1811 John Barton married Anne Woodrouffe Smith, a Quaker. During the marriage he received an income of £2,000 a year via his wealthy father-in-law and about 1814 he gave up his business life. In November John Marsh wrote, 'Mr Barton, a young Quaker, who has lately married a young, handsome and accomplished woman with an immense fortune, having asked me to drink tea with them, to meet Mr Holland, I accordingly went and was much pleased with Mrs Barton, who appeared to be a very sensible woman, as was her sister, Miss Smith, though not as handsome as Mrs Barton.' The following year Elizabeth Fry and her sister Priscilla Gurney, 'valued friends' of the Hacks, visited Chichester and stayed with the Bartons. Fry visited again in 1816, when a family letter describes her apparently campaigning at two 'well attended public meetings'.

John Barton, his sister Maria Hack, and my Unitarian great-great grandfather, Joseph Freeland, were members of an elite debating society and met once a month in each other's houses. In 1824 Joseph named his second son, John Barton (Freeland). I was puzzled as to why he chose this name, until I discovered that Barton lived exactly opposite him, in West St and that they were both Nonconformists and supporters of the Lancastrian schools. Also, in 1824 Joseph Freeland was made a trustee of the Savings Bank founded by Barton. From Barton's point of view Joseph would have been worth cultivating because he was a cousin of James Bennett Freeland, the Duke of Richmond's political agent. Interestingly, whereas both Bernard Barton and Maria Hack made it to the Dictionary of National Biography, John did not.

John Barton inherited his mathematical ability from his father who wrote 'A Treatise of Mensuration' in 1771. Sometimes John would not accept a mathematical formula without working it out for himself. He began by writing the essays, 'Capital and Revenue' and 'Capital and Currency', in 1816, but his best known papers are:
  1. 'Observations on the Circumstances which Influence the Condition of the Labouring Classes of Society.' (1817)
  2. 'An Inquiry into [causes of] the Progressive Depreciation of Agricultural Labour in Modern Times with Suggestions for its Remedy.' (1820)
  3. 'A Statement of the Consequences likely to Ensue from our Growing Excess of Population if not Remedied by Colonisation.' (1830)
  4. ' 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.' (1833). (Short title 'In Defence of the Corn Laws.') Karl Marx must have read these papers, as he refers to John Barton in Das Kapital.

John Marsh's diary entry for 23rd September 1812 states, 'I went to a meeting at Mr Barton's house concerning forming a bank for receiving small sums of money from the poor and paying their legal interest.' Also present were Dr Sanden and Mr Walker. In his book, 'The History of Savings Banks', David Home states that the existence of the Chichester Savings Bank 'was made possible by the public spirit of personal guarantors, four in number.' To limit their liability, the deposits of any individual could not exceed £50. The rate of interest was 5%, on sums of £1 and over until June 1817, when it was reduced to 4%. In 1822 the bank was extended under the patronage of the Duke of Richmond. According to John Tidd Pratt's account of Savings Banks, by 1830 there were 928 accounts. They included five small charitable societies and twenty-one Friendly Societies, the total savings amounting to £43,467 16s.

The West Sussex Auxiliary Bible Society was the next organisation to benefit from John Barton's concern for the welfare of the poor. The aim of the British and Foreign Bible Society, founded by the Clapham Sect in 1804, was to place the Scriptures in the hands of every human being and to promote moral improvement and religious instruction. In November 1816 the establishment of the local branch was reported at great length in the Hampshire Telegraph, where it is stated that John Barton, together with Rev. Sargent, Rev. Barbut and Rev. Hunt were chosen as secretaries, and John Marsh as treasurer. The initial meeting, at which the Duke of Sussex agreed to be Patron, was chaired by William Huskisson MP. In July and August John Barton visited Paris, where he was delighted to meet two distinguished economists, Rev. Thomas Malthus and Jean-Baptiste Say, as well as Alexander von Humboldt, the German explorer.

In the 1820 General Election, the Sussex vote was held in Chichester and on 1st March Barton spoke at the Dolphin in support of the Radical, Sir Godfrey Webster. In November Barton was busy procuring a Requisition to the Mayor, for a local public meeting to petition the House of Commons against the Queen's Degradation Bill, which was designed to deprive Queen Caroline of her title and dissolve her marriage to George IV, the Prince Regent. The Bill failed. (The lady was immoral and her husband a fit associate for her.) A general illumination in honour of the overthrowing of the Bill resulted in mob violence with stone! being thrown at unlighted windows and Barton, 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 Barton.

In 1818 John Barton had travelled on the Continent, returning with an idealised picture of Swiss rural society. On 30 Jan 1821 he visited Ricardo, the economist, who read him an extra chapter that he had written for the third edition of his essay on Population. In this, he conceded to the view expressed in Barton's first pamphlet, that the use of machinery might reduce the demand for labour. It is clear from his journal that Barton was thinking of writing a major work on the 'Science of Political Economy at Large', as in February 1821 he wrote, 'This, however, is a distant project. Its execution must be deferred till I have had an opportunity of collecting a stock of facts.' This might have come to fruition had his not wife died the following October. Anne's death also resulted in John losing more than a third of his income, as he would not accept the £100,000 due to him on his wife's death. This money was eventually claimed by his children, who shared their maternal grandfather's estate.

Barton's brother-in-law, Stephen Hack, died in February 1823 after a long illness. He was buried at the Quaker ground next to the Meeting House. At the service that followed, William Allen, the Quaker philanthropist from London, gave a much admired address. In June, John Marsh wrote, 'Mr Bliss was married to Miss (Elizabeth) Hack, a union that had for some time been talked of from the attention he had been paying in that direction since Mr Hack's death.' Rev. Bliss was not a Quaker, but Elizabeth Hack's brother, Thomas, had attended the Grammar school 'conducted by Mr Bliss, an Oxford man, where chiefly Latin was taught'. In 1824 Rev. Bliss was appointed curate of Funtington church and his school in Chichester closed.

In November 1823 Thomas Clarkson 'the indefatigable labourer in behalf of the African slaves', attended a meeting at James Hack's house in East Street. John Marsh was there with about fourteen others, including Rev. Bliss. A committee was formed to assist the Anti-Slavery Society in preparing a petition to Parliament for ameliorating the condition of the slaves in the British Colonies. John Barton, whose father had been on the original committee with Clarkson in London, accepted the office of secretary. In March 1824, at William Hack's house, Mr Barton read over the petition to be presented to Parliament. The mayor, Mr Newland, and his corporation, refused to allow it to be placed in one of the council rooms for signing, lest it be thought that they had sanctioned it. The committee agreed that the petition would be left instead at Mr Mason's, the bookseller.

On 30th January 1826 the Anti-Slavery Committee met at James Hack's house, to prepare for a high profile public meeting the next evening. Permission had been obtained to use the Council Chamber and the Duke of Richmond had agreed to preside. Those attending included the local clergy, Lord Lennox and Mr WS Poyntz (the two Members of Parliament) General Widdrington, Drs. Sanden and Forbes, and Mr Fullagar, the Unitarian minister. John Barton had drawn up a new petition lamenting that the regulations debated by Parliament nearly two years ago had not yet been acted upon by the colonial legislatures, and requesting Parliament to use its powers to cause the West Indian authorities to listen to the calls of humanity and justice; not doubting that the people of England would readily agree to any expenses towards any loss the islanders might sustain from gradual abolition. The resolutions and petition were proposed by Mr Poyntz and seconded by Mr Barton. Mr Duer, a West India planter, spoke of 'the comforts of the Negroes' and their superior state to English labourers. Mr Jacobs stated that they were still bought and sold and yoked in teams like cattle under the lash of their drivers. 'It is false!' cried Mr Duer, who left before the vote, at which there was only one objector remaining, a Mr G Murray. The petition was signed by the Dean, the Archdeacon, the Precentor, and most of the gentlemen assembled, the Duke having agreed to present the one part to the House of Lords, and the two Members, Lennox and Poyntz, the counterpart to the House of Commons.

In December 1823 John Barton had been elected a member of the governing committee responsible for setting up the London Mechanics' Institute. This gave him the opportunity of exchanging views with its chief founder, George Birkbeck, and such members as Ricardo, Grote, Bentham and William Cobbett. Its purpose was to promote the education of the working man. In 1824 Barton's name was included on the foundation stone in the entrance hall of Birkbeck College. He attended 51 meetings out of 64, until March 1825 when he turned his attention to the Chichester branch which was then being formed. At a meeting of the friends of the Chichester Mechanics Institute in April, JB Freeland was in the chair. The rules were discussed and about 50 persons subscribed their names. In May, Rev. Fullagar proposed inviting the Duke of Richmond to be president. Freeland and Fullagar were elected vice-presidents. Barton was now in a good position to offer the Duke advice on economic matters. Richmond was an ardent agriculturalist and improved the breed of Southdown sheep. He enabled Barton to make what was a rather unsatisfactory appearance before a House of Lords Committee on the Poor Laws, on 25th February 1831, when Barton stated, 'Nothing can save us from famine or civil war but an equalisation between the amount of our population and the means of our subsistence. Nor do I see any possibility of materially increasing our annual growth ...I am therefore compelled to conclude that emigration is our only resource for guarding against the evils before named.

About 1824. John bought an estate in Stoughton which came with unlimited rights of feed on Stoughton Down. He later wrote to his children, 'My residence in Chichester became painful to me and I longed for solitude.' In a letter to his friend, Dr Thomas Chalmers he talked of wanting 'the friendship of some conscientious and able minister to whom I might look for counsel and sympathy in private as well as in public.' On 5th October 1825 Barton sold his house at 46 West St. Chichester, for £1,400.

In a family letter of 7th September 1825 Barton writes, 'I am making some small additions to my farmhouse to fit it for a permanent residence. I shall have a library 17ft by 20ft with windows looking up the valley (still to be seen). Under the library will be a dairy, wine cellars and entrance hall. The garden will be enlarged by throwing into it the adjoining orchard and will be separated by a low wall from a little meadow which I shall appropriate to my cows, one for my own use and two which I shall let to two of my labourers as an experiment on the effects of a system of which so much has been said.' On the same day he writes, 'I am amused at the lamentations which I hear, or hear of, upon my banishment. People seem to think it very dreadful and anticipate that I shall die of melancholy in the winter... we shall see. I am more afraid of my servants being dull than myself. Poor Mary Ann cried all the way the day we left, at the thought of her cruel fate. She and Sarah expect to be blown away by the winds or washed away by the water before next Monday' .On 15th September a violent thunderstorm caused a quantity of chalk to tumble down Bow Hill, and the new building work at the back of the house was badly damaged. A Hack family letter written in November 1825 states that 'John is living in his ruins at Stoughton. The workmen are so tedious that he is this winter weather often without a room fit to sit down in. I hope that things are getting better now. I don't know anyone who would make so little trouble of it. To be sure it is of his own choosing.'

On 5th December John Barton recorded his sadness at the death of his nephew Edward Hack from typhus. As guardian of the Hack children he was obliged to make frequent trips to Chichester to carry on the family business until Edward's brother, James Barton Hack, finally recovered from the same illness.

The following year Barton sold his two farms near Lowestoft for £6,500. He also started a school in one of his cottages for the village children, choosing a man who wished to improve himself, as master, to teach the children a little in the evenings. On Sundays the children of Barton's labourers were invited to family prayers. 'It is clear from his journals that John Barton was somewhat depressed at this time, as he longed for children of his own but had been turned down by a prospective second wife. However, Barton was again involved in the Sussex election and, according to his diary entry for 24th June, he spoke against corruption in politics and the importance of MPs representing their constituents conscientiously, to ensure the continuation of the free constitution the people had inherited from their fathers.

In 1827 John Barton gave a talk to the Mechanics' Institute on the Lancastrian system. He praised the admirable way in which the 200 boys in Chichester were kept in order and commented on the unity subsisting between religious and scientific study, the latter being conductive to showing the power and goodness of God. At this time Barton published 'A Lecture on The Geography of Plants', first given to the Mechanics' Institute which now had some 140 members. The WSRO has a copy of this account of plants of the world, in which Barton describes the Sussex Plain around Chichester as abounding in elms 'which refuse to grow on any but the best soil.'

It was in September 1827 that John Barton finally resigned from the Society of Friends to become a member of the Established Church. He supported the Quaker campaign against slavery but felt that it was wrong not to participate in the sacraments and to refuse to pay tithes. Five years later Barton, by now a churchwarden at Stoughton, wrote to the Bishop of Chichester in response to a request for recommendations for Church Reform. He expressed his disgust that places like Stoughton had been without a resident parson for very many years. He favoured commutation of tithes for a tax on rent; an extension of education in country parishes, with clergymen teaching evening classes, and the establishment of a procedure for dealing with clergymen believed to be guilty of misconduct. In 1836 an Act was passed which resulted in all tithes being paid in money; based on the average market value of wheat, barley and oats over a seven-year period. Disputes were to be settled by a board of tithe commissioners. The judicial committee of the Privy Council was to be the final court of appeal in matters of Church discipline.

A family letter states that 'Fanny Rickman is likely to add to John's happiness by making her the mistress of Stoughton. Her relatives are all of the Society. She is considered a serious young woman, very unaffected in her manners. His mother thinks the connexion will not throw John any more from Friends.’ Fanny and John were engaged on 18th May 1828 and married on 23rd July at Smeeth, from Smeeth Hill House, near Ashford. On 29th July they left Dover for a honeymoon on the Continent. Fanny's guardian, James Rickman, was concemed as to whether John could provide Fanny with 'those comforts the wife of a person of such property should have', as her own income would only amount to about £110 per annum and Barton apparently had a reputation for living very simply; although in 1827 he estimated his income and outgoings to be £770 and £600 respectively. Fanny was some 18 years younger than her husband and she produced nine children between 1829 and 1842.

In 1830 a circular concerning the organisation of local Constabulary Forces for suppressing the agricultural riots was distributed. West Sussex was divided into sections, with the head of the Stoughton/Racton/Westbourne and East Marden section being John Barton. It was the duty of each Head of Section ‘in case of any riotous or tumultuous assembly to communicate with the Magistracy at Chichester and the heads of the surrounding sections, by which means a considerable body of Constables may in a few hours be brought to a point.’

About 1833 John Barton had his first four pamphlets bound in one volume. Those to whom he gave copies included Lord Grey who steered the Reform Bill through Parliament, Sir Robert Peel, the Duke of Richmond, Lord G. Lennox, Sir George Staunton FRS and Lord Althorp. His local friends, Dr Sanden, JB Freeland and my great-great-grandfather also received copies, as did W. Poyntz, the former MP for Chichester.

In the winter John and Fanny Barton with Fanny's two sisters embarked on a six-month tour of France and Italy. They left behind the Bartons’ infant children, who were greatly missed by Fanny. Whilst away John spent the evenings teaching himself Italian, so that he could be understood. On their return John and Fanny moved to a larger home, East Leigh, at Havant. This was a 300 acre estate incorporating a 'handsome modern built residence' , in what is now called Barton's Road. (My ancestor, Joseph Freeland, as an executor of the previous owner, Joseph Holloway, was charged with selling the property). Barton was going to let the land but being unable to find a suitable tenant he decided to farm it himself, which although it was unprofitable he greatly enjoyed. In March 1837 Barton was unanimously elected Churchwarden for the parishioners of St. Faith's church and served as such for three years. He was also made one of the two way wardens.

Barton maintained his links with Chichester. His letter in the Chichester Magazine (1838) exhorted the editor to maintain a standard that the taste of the educated man would approve of. ‘Be as gay and comic as you will but do not descend to farce. Raise the taste of your readers by maintaining a tone somewhat above theirs otherwise they will soon cease to respect and soon after to read you…. Contributors will scarcely submit to see their communications printed side by side with others of an inferior class.’ In this edition two articles by Barton are included. The first, 'Summer's Evening at Stoughton', tells of his method of growing orchids using flint for drainage and of the several types of orchid to be found locally. He also discusses ‘fairy rings’. ‘A Winter's Evening at Stoughton’ is a discussion on the merits of some writers and thinkers.

It was in February 1837 that Maria's son, John Barton Hack, arrived in Holdfast Bay, Australia, with his family and his brother Stephen. (See DNB for Australia), no doubt encouraged to emigrate by John Barton. In a letter to her son Maria Hack wrote, 'Uncle John says that Quakerism is dead; this is not quite the case but a house divided cannot stand.' At this time John's sister, Lizzy, and three other relatives at Chichester, abandoned Quakerism and joined the Established Church. This was ‘about a fourth or fifth of their Lilliputian Congregation there’ according to Bernard Barton, who wrote of his brother, 'Dear John's change to Churchanity never 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 Chichester. But he is as much a Quaker in the essence and spirit of our creed as I ever remember him.’

Tragedy struck in November 1842 when John Barton's four-year-old daughter, Sarah, died of Scarlet Fever. A few days later her mother succumbed to a complication of the same illness, leaving John Barton a widower for the second time, with eight young children. That year John was one of eight men to be appointed a constable of the parish of Havant. He was near the upper age limit and was not re-elected in 1843.

In September 1844 Fitzgerald stayed with the Bartons and wrote afterwards to his host, 'I think with great satisfaction of Leigh and its wise, polite and agreeable household.' In the same year Barton published a paper entitled The Influence of the Price of Corn on the Rate of Mortality. This was issued by the Agricultural Protection Society, whose president the following year was the Duke of Richmond. The Society aimed to counteract the Anti-Corn Law League. In 1846-7 Barton wrote twenty-five letters to the Standard newspaper, mostly in support of the Corn Laws. As a landowner himself he was promoting the encouragement of small proprietors and he continued to advise the Duke, who was a charitable landlord. Barton was against free trade, as he felt this would lead to investment in machines and buildings and thus to financial crisis and loss of rural employment. In December 1847 Barton was elected a Fellow of the London Statistical Society but his paper linking the price of corn with the rate of mortality was not accepted. However, his paper, The Influence of the Subdivision of the Soil on the Moral and Physical Well-Being of the People of England and Wales, was approved.

One of Barton's last actions was to seek funds for new premises for the Girls' Lancastrian School. In April 1849 the school reopened in Little London but due to some form of paralysis Barton, now sixty, resigned from the committee the following year. He moved his family back to Chichester, where he appears on the 1851 census, living in New Town. In July 1851 he withdrew from the Statistical Society.

John Barton died on 10th March 1852 and was buried in the churchyard of St. John the Baptist at Rowland's Castle. His obituary in the Hampshire Telegraph ran as follows:

'The late John Barton of Chichester, though not a public figure, 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 married a lady with a considerable property he devoted his attention to scientific and literary 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 much coincided in the speculations of the author (Malthus) on Population. He enjoyed the friendship of Dr Sanden, whose literary attainments and professional skills as a physician are well-known and in conjunction with him and a Mr Marsh and a Mr Wood, 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. The children were often benefited by the instruction addresses and lectures with which they were favoured by him. In the same way he frequently edified the members of the Mechanics’ Institute 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 Barton rather inclined, it is thought, to Conservative principles… In politics he was decidedly Liberal and in company advocated Reform in Parliament ...but 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 Barton had travelled abroad but he 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 Barton's sphere of action was a place affording very little support to those who would ‘devise liberal things’ he was a very active and honourable member of society On theological topics he seldom entered but free from bigotry, he was ready to join the worthy of every denomination in any plans which he deemed calculated to raise the moral tone and to increase the comfort of the public body.’

The members of the British Schools committee, in Chichester, announced that they wished to record the great loss of ‘the enlightened and assiduous supporter of these Institutions from their first establishment’ A subscription was opened to provide annually to the most deserving boy, a book or books to be called the Barton Testimonial. By October 1852 the subscription was sufficient to offer a Bible to both the best boy and the best girl. There is a photograph in Chichester Paper 26 of the prize presented to Eliza Halsted in 1856, and the surviving 1886 Bible and the boy prizewinners' notice boards are currently with the Chichester High School for boys.
Barton left his freehold and copyhold property in Havant and Warblington to his 22-year-old son, Joseph. His Norfolk farms were inherited by his two younger sons, Rev. Gerard Barton and Rev. John Barton. He also left 140 acres of farmland at Stoughton, occupied by William Hipkin and Rupert Holland, a house and 200-acre farm in Pagham, and a leasehold garden and premises in Chichester. At the time of his death all Barton's properties and investments, except East Leigh, were bringing in £1,139 per annum. East Leigh house and farm were let separately at a total of £196 a year. (When Rev. Joseph Barton died in 1905 this estate was sold for £10,000).
John Barton appointed his sister-in-law, Josephina Rickman, as his children's Guardian. In 1842 she had replaced his second wife as a devoted mother figure to his children. In his will he charged his children to ‘maintain a spirit of brotherly love one towards another’ and to take care not to allow the terms of his will to become a source of disagreement, ‘remembering that it is better to give than to receive’ Barton also warned his daughters against any unworthy men who might be motivated to introduce dissension into the family and begged them to listen to the advice of their older and more experienced friends before they entered into any engagement of marriage, ‘as young women from ignorance of the world are often bad judges of the Characters of Men’

In the summer of 1858 the Barton children moved with their Guardian from Chichester to Brighton. According to John Barton's son, John, 'Chichester was well enough in its way but the atmosphere of a cathedral town is never very lively or stimulating to either mind or spirit and I was very glad when they decided to migrate to Brighton, with its many interests and wide circle of friends.’ In 1896 the Barton family formed 'Our Cousins' Prayer Union'. Members were asked to pray on Sundays for the cousins abroad and for those in Holy Orders, and on each of the other six days of the week for a different branch of the family. At this time there were fourteen family members in Holy Orders or working as missionaries, and six abroad in other professions.

Sources
  • Major RGL Barton, great-grandson of J. Barton, who kindly provided me with family pictures, letters and notes and showed me Barton's original journals (1819-21 and 1825-31)
  • The Career of JB, Economist and Statistician, R.Sturges,
  • Hist. of Political Economy, Duke UP
  • JB's Economic Writings, ed.G. Sotiroff, Lyn Pub. Co. Regina, Sask. WSRO MP1376.
  • The Chichester Bank 1809-1900 WSRO MP 714
  • Hack family letters WSRO MSS 49715-9
  • Chichester Paper No.26 The Lancastrian Girl's School and No.29 The Chichester Lit. and Phil. Society and Mechanics' Institute
  • East Leigh estate papers; llM64/ T51-89, HCRO
  • St. Faith's Vestry Minutes, Portsmouth Museums and Records Services
  • Bernard Barton and his Friends by EV Lucas
  • Some New Letters of Edward Fitzgerald edited by FR Barton (1923)