Admiral Robert Barrie papers, 1765-1953

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Barrie, Robert, Sir, 1774-1841
Admiral Sir Robert Barrie (1774-1841) served in the British Navy and participated in the Vancouver expedition, 1791-1795; the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars; the War of 1812; and served as naval commissioner in Canada, 1819-1834. Collection includes papers relating to Admiral Barrie's experiences in the Vancouver expedition, 1791-1795; the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars; the War of 1812; and his service as naval commissioner in Canada, 1819-1834. Included is a small group of material relating to the 31st Regiment of Foot in Florida and Britain during the 1760s and 1770s when the Admiral's father, Dr. Robert Barrie, was surgeon's mate. Correspondents include Thomas Manby and James Macnamara.
6 Linear Feet
735 Items
Material in English
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

The collection consists primarily of family papers in which some naval correspondence is intermingled. The letters of Sir Robert and Lady Julia Barrie are numerous. There are letters by Admiral Gardner, Dorothy (Gardner) Clayton, and various naval officers and members of the family. There are groups of legal papers, biographical sketches, genealogy, financial accounts, and photographs.

Family relationships and associations are extensive and are represented by comment, legal documents, and genealogies. The families include: Clayton, Cornwall, Cracraft, Cririe, Dixon, Fothergill, Gardner, Humphrys, Ingilby, Lyon, Shuttleworth, and Uppleby. A small group of photographs includes Sir Robert Barrie, William Barrie, John and Olivia (Page) Fothergill, John and Kitty (Leadbetter) Uppleby, Leadbetter and Eliza (Barrie) Uppleby, Charles Clotworthy Wood, Swarthdale House, and others.

The papers were still owned by the family as late as the 1950s. On Feb. 28, 1951, Charles John Ormond Barrie wrote about them to James S. Matthews of the Vancouver City Archives. Ten years earlier (Aug. 19, 1941) he listed several series of letters, some of which are no longer in the collection--correspondence from Lord Aylmer, Sir George Cockburn, Sir John Franklin, and George Vancouver. The covers for a few of these letters remain in the collection. The covers for letters by Admiral Gardner and copies of letters by Barrie indicate other absent manuscripts. Some papers may have been destroyed during Barrie's lifetime.

Biographical / historical:

Admiral Sir Robert Barrie (circa 1774-1841) of the British navy participated in the Vancouver Expedition, 1791-1795, the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, the War of 1812, and served as the naval commissioner in Canada, 1819-1834. Barrie was appointed lieutenant in 1795, commander in 1801, captain in 1802, commodore in 1827, and rear admiral in 1837. He was nominated a Companion of the Bath (1815), a Knight Commander of the Royal Hanoverian Guelphic Order (1834), and a Knight Commander (1840).

Admiral Barrie's father was Dr. Robert Barrie (d.1775) of Sanquhar, Scotland, who was appointed surgeon's mate to the 31st Regiment of Foot in 1765. During the early 1770s Dr. Barrie served with this regiment at Mobile, Pensacola, and St. Augustine, Florida. At St. Augustine in 1772 he married Dorothy Gardner, sister of Admiral Alan, First Baron Gardner. Dr. Barrie's death and the family's return to England occurred in 1775. Dorothy Barrie married secondly George Clayton of Lostock Hall, Lancashire

Young Robert Barrie attended schools at Neston and Dedham, England, during the 1780s and began his naval career at the end of the decade. He and Harry Humphrys (d.1799), a first cousin, were members of the Vancouver Expedition, 1791-1795, of which Admiral Gardner was a patron. Some of Humphry's drawings can be found in the journals of the voyage published in 1798, and his own diary is at the Public Record Office in London. Another member of the expedition was Thomas Pitt, Second Baron Camelford, who later became one of Barrie's closest friends. Camelford was the brother-in-law of William, Baron Grenville, with whom Barrie also became friends

The wars with France and the United States provided steady employment for the young officer. During 1796-1800 he was on board Admiral Gardner's flagship, the Royal Sovereign, and he, Humphrys and Gardner were witnesses to the naval mutiny at Portsmouth in 1797. During the next decade Barrie was an officer or commander of warships that fought the French in the North Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Caribbean. In 1810 he captured Lucien Bonaparte near Sardinia. During the War of 1812 he commanded the Dragon along the American coast where he participated in the blockade of Chesapeake Bay (1813-1814), the capture of Bangor and Hampden, Maine (1814), actions along the Rappahannock River, Virginia, including the battle at Fareham's Church (1814), and the battle at Point Petre, Georgia, with the capture of St. Marys (1815).

After the war ended, Captain Barrie returned to England where he married (1816) Julia Wharton Ingilby, a member of the Ingilby family of Ripley Castle. The couple traveled in Europe during 1817-1818. In 1819 Barrie became commissioner of the navy in Canada, an office he held until the naval establishment was broken up in 1834. The family then returned to England and resided at the estate of Swarthdale in Lancashire.

Captain Barrie unsuccessfully contested the seat for Preston in the House of Commons in 1826. Admiral Gardner was the M.P. for Plymouth, 1790-1796, and for Westminster, 1796-1806. Sir William Amcotts-Ingilby, Second Baronet, the brother of Lady Julia Barrie, was M.P. for East Retford, 1807-1812, and Lincolnshire, 1823-1834.

Acquisition information:
The Admiral Robert Barrie Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library as a purchase between 1966 and 1970.
Processing information:

Processed by RBMBSL Staff

Encoded by Noah Huffman, November 2010

Accessions were merged into one collection, described in this finding aid.

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.

Napoleonic Wars, 1800-1815
Great Britain. Royal Navy -- Officers
Great Britain. Army -- Medical care
Manby, Thomas, 1769-1834
Macnamara, James, 1768-1826
Barrie, Robert, Dr
Canada -- History -- 1791-1841
Florida -- History -- To 1821
United States -- History -- War of 1812


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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Admiral Robert Barrie Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University