MOULTON BARRETT, Samuel Barrett (1787-1837), of Carlton Hall, nr. Richmond, Yorks. and 67 Baker Street, Mdx.
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Family and Educationb. 31 Mar. 1787, in Jamaica, 2nd s. of Charles Moulton, merchant, of Hammersmith, Mdx. and New York and Elizabeth, da. of Edward Barrett of Cinnamon Hill, Jamaica. educ. Harrow 1797-8. m. (1) 20 Mar. 1823,1 Mary Clementina (d. 3 June 1831), da. of Rev. Henry Cay Adams of Shrewsbury, Salop, s.p.; (2) 23 Apr. 1833, Anne Eliza, da. of Hon. William Gordon, s.p. Took additional name of Barrett by royal lic. 6 Jan. 1798; suc. fa. 1819. d. 23 Dec. 1837.
Moulton Barrett’s family could trace their origins to Norfolk in the early seventeenth century: one Henry Moulton had established himself as a merchant at Great Yarmouth by 1633. His grandfather Charles Moulton was a captain in the West Indian navy and his maternal grandfather Edward Barrett was the owner of extensive estates in Jamaica, including Cinnamon Hill, where he was born and spent his early years. His family left Jamaica for England when he was eight so that he and his elder brother Edward (1785-1857) could be educated. The brothers inherited the Jamaican estates of Edward Barrett (d. c. 1799) and other property in the island from their uncle George Goodin Barrett, who stipulated that they should assume the name of Barrett. From about 1811 Samuel, being more a man of business than his brother, ‘shuttled to and fro between England and Jamaica’ and became ‘the indispensable custodian of the Moulton Barrett interests’. When their father died in July 1819 Samuel was named as his sole heir, on condition that he paid an annuity to his reputed half-sister Frances Petite.2 Meanwhile, he had purchased Carlton Hall, near Richmond, Yorkshire, where he took up residence in June 1814. He subsequently ‘developed rapidly in the public life of Richmondshire’, becoming fast friends with Thomas Dundas, Member for Richmond and grandson of the borough’s Whig patron Lord Dundas, who nominated him for Brooks’s Club, 18 May 1815. In 1818 he and Thomas Dundas undertook a trip to France together, and by the following year he was hopeful that he would be one of the nominees for Richmond at the next general election. He and his friend were duly returned in 1820.3
He was a silent Member but an assiduous attender, who voted with the opposition to Lord Liverpool’s ministry on all major issues, including parliamentary reform, 9 May 1821, 25 Apr. 1822, 20 Feb., 24 Apr. 1823, 27 Apr. 1826. He divided for Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May 1825. He presided at a Darlington meeting to celebrate the withdrawal of the bill of pains and penalties against Queen Caroline, 14 Nov. 1820, when he ‘entered upon an able, comprehensive and animated retrospect of the circumstances in which Her Majesty had been placed since her alliance with the present king’.4 He briefly kept a parliamentary diary, which he started on 5 Feb. 1822, the opening day of that session, and abandoned in mid-sentence on 18 Apr.5 It chiefly consists of a précis of each day’s main business, listing speakers and the outcome of divisions. Besides commenting on the merits of some speeches, he only occasionally offered any of his own opinions or recorded his reasons for voting as he did. Although he voted against the suspension of habeas corpus, 7 Feb., and the Irish insurrection bill the next day, he noted on the 7th that ‘I did not vote throughout with my party, particularly on the clause "for making imperative a trial by jury"’, as he was ‘of opinion that if the two Acts were necessary any delay that occurred would rather be injurious than beneficial’. He attended ‘a great dinner’ at Brooks’s, given ‘in consequence of the secession of the duke of Buckingham ... from the club’, 6 Mar., and a week later was present at the Middlesex county meeting, where Sir Francis Burdett* delivered a ‘brilliant speech’. On 14 Mar. he recorded that a discussion on public accounts had taken up ‘so much time’, and left him feeling ‘so particularly stupid’, that he ‘went to dinner at Taylor’s’ and missed the whole of Creevey’s speech on the motion for inquiry into the duties of the board of control. He managed to return to vote in the minority for the motion, but confessed that he had
felt much inclined ... to have voted against my friends, 1st upon the ground that even upon the shewing of Tierney (formerly president of the board) ... the office required the number of commissioners complained of, and 2nd that the expenses incurred for the maintenance of the board should not fall upon the country, but upon the East India Company. It was mentioned as one of the inducements for consenting to the motion, that the commissioners having seats in the House were a great source of royal influence. Had a distinct proposition been made to disqualify commissioners from having seats, I could have cheerfully supported it, but worded as the motion was, I regretted to give my assent to it, which I only did because Mr. Tierney voted for it.
He presented a petition against the Edinburgh police bill from the tradesmen of the city, 8 Mar. 1822, a York petition against the Insolvent Debtors Act, 14 Mar. 1823, and one from York comb makers against the combination laws, 16 Mar. 1824.6
Problems with his Jamaican estates consumed an increasing amount of Moulton Barrett’s time. In 1822 he was obliged to take out a mortgage of £30,000 to cover debts on the estates he had inherited from his uncle, and a dispute with his cousins over this inheritance in 1824 cost him a further £20,000. As his position worsened he realized that he needed to take personal charge, and during the recess of 1825-6 he and Edward visited Jamaica.7 He was returned again for Richmond at the general election of 1826, but his only known vote in the new Parliament was in the minority for inquiry into Leicester corporation, 15 Mar. 1827. Further complications forced his return to Jamaica, and in November 1827 he resigned his seat. The dilemma of being a slave-owning Whig never weighed lightly with him, and he reformed the regime under which his estates were run. He abolished the whip, appointed a negro overseer, built decent houses, schools and churches for his 1,100 slaves, and encouraged Nonconformist missions. As a result, his property survived almost intact during the uprisings of 1831-2.8 Throughout his life he maintained a close relationship with his niece Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the poet.9 He died at Cinnamon Hill in December 1837. He left his house at Montego Bay and an annuity to his wife and the remainder of his Jamaican and English estates to his brother. Limited probate was granted on his estate in England, which was sworn under £9,000.10 After his death his friend Peter Duncan wrote that he was ‘a gentleman of great intelligence and liberality, and also a true friend to the religious instruction of the slaves’.11
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Martin Casey
- 1. IGI (Glos.).
- 2. J. Marks, Fam. of Barrett, 224, 238, 282, 308-9, 537.
- 3. Ibid. 346.
- 4. The Times, 20 Nov. 1820.
- 5. HLRO HC/LB/1/89.
- 6. The Times, 9 Mar. 1822, 15 Mar. 1823, 17 Mar. 1824.
- 7. Marks, 347-8.
- 8. Ibid. 60, 309, 355-8, 445.
- 9. Ibid. 283.
- 10. PROB 11/1893/216; IR26/1473/212.
- 11. Marks, 408.