BARRY, Richard, 7th Earl of Barrymore [I] (1769-93), of Wargrave-on-Thames, Berks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



8 Mar. 1791 - 6 Mar. 1793

Family and Education

b. 14 Aug. 1769, 1st s. of Richard Barry, 6th Earl of Barrymore [I], by Lady Emily Stanhope, da. of William Stanhope, 2nd Earl of Harrington. educ. by Rev. Tickell, Wargrave 1774-83; Eton 1784-6. m. ?7 June 1792 at Gretna Green, Charlotte, da. of one Goulding, a sedan chairman, by Phillis Smith, sis. of Laetitia, w. of Sir John Lade, 2nd Bt., s.p. suc. fa. as 7th Earl of Barrymore [I] 1 Aug. 1773.

Offices Held

Ensign, Berks. militia 1789, lt. 1790, capt. 1793.


By 1790, this eccentric, orphaned nobleman with an estate of 140,000 acres in Cork, to satisfy his craving for notoriety1 had invested a huge fortune in the Turf and spent £60,000 solely on the erection of a private theatre at Wargrave. He had become anxious to secure a seat in Parliament with a view to evading his creditors. He proposed to offer himself at Oxford, but preferred Reading when Lord Sheffield withdrew there. To win the favour of the venal electors he ordered them a magnificent banquet, the chief attraction of which was a turtle weighing 150 lbs. In spite of his generosity, he was defeated,2 but came in for Heytesbury not long after on a vacancy, presumably as a paying guest of William Pierce Ashe A’Court*.

Barrymore, who joined the Whig Club 4 Nov. 1788, was expected to support the opposition, but there is no evidence of any parliamentary activity, only of his absence, despite his being listed a supporter of repeal of the Test Act in Scotland in 1791. Racing, gambling and theatricals remained his chief occupations; although he accepted a captain’s commission in the Berkshire militia. This was the death of him, as his gun accidentally discharged while he was escorting some French prisoners from Rye to Deal, 6 Mar. 1793.3 His theatre had been demolished and its contents sold in 1792 to pay his debts, but he was buried secretly at Wargrave for fear of his body being seized by creditors. ‘The theatrical peer of Berks’ was one of the Prince of Wales’s set and by him nicknamed ‘Hellgate’, his brother Henry who succeeded him and was the last earl, ‘Cripplegate’ (because of his club foot) and his sister ‘Billingsgate’ (because of her language). ‘Though he was a great rogue’, wrote the Duke of York to his brother the Prince, 19 Mar. 1793, ‘yet to be sure it must be confessed that when he pleased he could be exceedingly good company.’4

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: Arthur Aspinall


  • 1. J. R. Robinson, The Last Earls of Barrymore (1894); N. and Q. (ser. 5), x. 68, 110, 376, 476; xi. 276; Sir H. Croft, Abbey of Kirkhampton (1788), 101; Brydges, Biog. Peerage (1817), iv. 37.
  • 2. Portland mss Pw2F15; Reading Mercury, 21 June 1790.
  • 3. Public Advertiser, 16 Mar.; Morning Chron. 13 Apr. 1791; CJ xlviii. 348; Gent. Mag. (1793), i. 284.
  • 4. Prince of Wales Corresp. ii. 736.