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Bernard Barton

The Quaker Poet of Woodbridge, Suffolk

Portrait of Bernard Barton 1784-1849 the Quaker Poet of Woodbridge in Suffolk click for larger image

Born: 31 January 1784 in Carlise and died 19 February, presumably in Woodbridge.
Son of: John Barton (1755-1789) and Mary Barton nee Done (1752-1784).
Brother of:
1. Maria Hack. 
Half brother of
1. John Barton the economist.
Bernard married: in 1807, Lucy Jesup (1781-1808).
He had issue:

1.  Lucy Fitzgerald nee Barton who married the writer Edward Fitzgerald (1808-1883).


Bernard Barton: An Overview

We know about Bernard from the following sources:

1. The book 'With Friends Possessed A Life of Edward Fitzgerald' by Robert Bernard Martin, published 1885.
2. The book 'Thomas Churchyard'  by Stephen Reiss, published in 1998.
3. The book 'Painting the Day: Thomas Churchyard of Woodbridge' by Wallace Morfey, published in 1990.
4. A general search on the internet will also bring up a lot of references to him.

Bernard was born in Carlise and brought up in London.  He was apprenticed at the age of 14 to a shopkeeper in Halstead, Essex, and ended up marrying his daughter Lucy. Sadly his wife died while giving birth to their daughter, who was also named Lucy.  Bernard spent a year as a tutor in Liverpool and then moved to Woodbridge in Suffolk where he was to spend most of his life working for Alexanders Bank.  Part of this time he lodged with Anne Knight who was a writer of children's books. 

Portrait of Lucy Barton who married the author Edward Fitzgerald
Lucy Barton 

He enjoyed writing and was good friends with the painter Thomas Churchyard (1798-1865) and the author Edward Fitzgerald (1808-1883).  They met frequently and talked a lot about books, paintings and the arts.  They also collected paintings and between them owned a considerable number of works by many famous artists.  Bernard also knew the local doctor Richard Jones (1814-1888) who also collected paintings.

Bernard's first book of poetry was 'Metrical Effusions' and was published in 1812.  His most well known works were 'The Convict's Appeal', published in 1818, a protest against the death penalty and general severity of the criminal code, and Household Verses published 1845, which came to the notice of Sir R. Peel, through whom he obtained a pension of £100 a year.  He published a number of other works over the years and also became close friends with Robert Southey and Charles Lamb.  It was Charles Lamb who advised him not to give up his post at the bank and attempt to become a full time author.  Bernard also wrote hyms. 

Bernard's daughter Lucy married Edward Fitzgerald but the union was very much a disaster and they quickly seperated. Lucy remained close friends with the Jones family and when she died she left them money in her will. She made Arthur Helsham-Jones her executor and left him 100 pounds. She also left 500 pounds to Henry Helsham Helsham-Jones, of Redlands Dorking, 50 pounds to Henrietta Elizabeth Helsham-Jones of Vigo Holmwood, and 100 pounds to Constance Mary Helsham Heath-Caldwell . These sums are more than she left to her own relatives, so her relationship with the Jones family must have been a very close one.



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