BARRET, Paul (1633-85), of Lee, Ickham, Kent.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679

Family and Education

bap. 24 Mar. 1633, 2nd but o. surv. s. of Paul Barret of Canterbury by Jane, da. and coh. of Richard Ewell of Chislet. educ. Magdalen Hall, Oxf. 1650; G. Inn 1650, called 1659, ancient 1676. m. (1) 17 Apr. 1654, Mary (d.1672), da. and h. of Thomas Stanley of Canterbury, 2s. 3da.; (2) lic. 15 Dec. 1673, Katherine (d. 26 Aug. 1677), da. of John Bell, merchant, of Rotherhithe, Surr., wid. of Nicholas Hurleston, merchant, of Rotherhithe, 2da.; (3) c.1680, Sarah (d. 6 Oct. 1711), da. of Sir George Ent, MD, FRCP, of London, wid. of Francis Head of Rochester, Kent, 1s. 1da. suc. fa. 1676; kntd. 7 Aug. 1683.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Canterbury Sept. 1660, common councilman 1668-d., recorder 1681-4; water bailiff and keeper of the gaol, Dover 1668-?d.; standing counsel, Canterbury 1668-78, Cinque Ports 1670-d.; j.p. Kent 1676-d.; commr. for assessment, Kent 1677-80, Canterbury 1679-80; bencher, G. Inn 1679.2

Serjeant-at-law 1684-d.


Barret’s grandfather and father were both residents of Canterbury. The latter, although sufficiently obscure to avoid involvement in the Civil War, entered a brief pedigree at the heralds’ visitation of 1663. Barret himself, ‘a young green-headed lawyer’, was retained as counsel both by the Cinque Ports and the corporation of Canterbury; but when the latter attempted to promote him to recorder in 1675 at the expense of (Sir) Thomas Hardres, they were sent for in custody for breach of privilege, and he had to wait till Hardres’s death. He was sufficiently prosperous to purchase a small estate in the neighbourhood in the following year. On the dissolution of the Cavalier Parliament he wrote to the New Romney corporation soliciting election on the grounds that ‘no man understands your privileges better than I, having been counsel to the Ports general for many years’. He was returned to the three Exclusion Parliaments, though both the 1679 elections were contested. Marked ‘base’ on Shaftesbury’s list, he was named only to a private bill committee in his first Parliament, and duly voted against exclusion. As a committeeman he was totally inactive thereafter, but in the debate on religious comprehension on 21 Dec. 1680 he said that ‘the artifice of Rome is to divide us that they may make their conquest easy’, and moved for a conference with all the dissenters to discover how unity might be achieved. He was ordered to be sent for as a defaulter in attendance on 4 Jan. 1681, but resumed his seat without penalty four days later. He left no trace on the records of the Oxford Parliament.3

On 16 June 1682 a local rival wrote that Barret had ‘declared his mind in the three last Parliaments’ against the Duke of York, and insinuated that under his drafting the Canterbury address against the ‘Association’ fell far short of the Government’s wishes. His knighthood and elevation to the coif suggest that these allegations were groundless, and he played an active part in the attack on the Kentish borough charters, urging the New Romney corporation to avoid quo warranto proceedings by complying with the lord warden’s claim to nominate one Member. He received £100 from Canterbury for his services in obtaining the new charter, under which he was replaced by the Earl of Thanet (Thomas Tufton), and the new corporation never secured an account from him. He offered himself as candidate for New Romney at the general election of 1685, but he was probably too ill to face a contest. He died on 9 May in his fifty-third year, and was buried at St. Mary Breadman, Canterbury. The next member of the family to enter Parliament was Thomas Barret, who sat briefly for Dover in 1773-4.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Basil Duke Henning


  • 1. Chislet Par. Reg. 36, 38; Le Neve’s Knights (Harl. Soc. viii), 379-80; Mdx. County Recs. ed. J. C. Jeaffreson, iii. 223; Hasted, Kent, xi. 234; Foster, London Mar. Lic. 86; Arch. Cant. xiv. 123; St. Paul’s Canterbury Reg. 237.
  • 2. HMC 9th Rep. pt. 1, p. 165; C. R. Bunce, Decrees of Burghmote, 50, 62, 147; CSP Dom. 1667-8, p. 237; Kent AO, NR/JBf 115.
  • 3. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. lix), 9; CSP Dom. 1675-6, p. 70; CJ, ix. 321; Hasted, Kent, ix. 173; Kent AO, NR/JBf 22; HMC 12th Rep. IX, 101.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1682, p. 250; Kent AO, NE/AEp, ff. 47, 49, NR/JBf 34; Canterbury AO, A/C6, f. 221v, A/C7, f. 15v.