BARKER, John I (c.1532-89), of Ipswich, Suff.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. c.1532, 1st s. of Robert Barker I by his ?1st w., da. of one King (or Kempe) of Suff. m. (1) Willamina, da. and h. of John Bomart of Brabant, 3s. inc. Robert 2da.; (2) Anne, da. of Henry Herdson, alderman of London, wid. of George Stoddart of London, prob. s.p. suc. fa. 1571.1

Offices Held

Chamberlain, Ipswich 1562-3, coroner 1568-9, bailiff 1576-7, 1581-2, 1587-8; alderman by 1584.2


Of a prominent Ipswich family, several of whom represented the borough in Parliament, Barker was a cloth merchant trading with the Continent. He married a girl from the Spanish Netherlands whose denization was granted 14 May 1572. Barker was several times in trouble for contravening regulations over the export of cloth. In 1560 he was fined and imprisoned for disregarding a town ordinance that cloth, before being sent abroad, should be taken to the Ipswich cloth hall: in the two or three years since the rule had been made he had shipped more than a thousand cloths. In 1575 he was one of the 12 merchants who had to declare on oath before the bailiffs of Ipswich whether they had infringed the Act in Restraint of Trade with the Spanish Netherlands. He replied with a general negative, but made an exception for certain ‘growgraynes and taffetas’ he had received through Hamburg, valued at £3, and some foreign cloth, bought in 1570, costing £8 to £10. In 1586 Dunkirk pirates captured and destroyed one of his ships. It was probably in connexion with this that he and other Ipswich merchants were granted a commission of reprisal to recover losses of £19,000. He or a namesake carried out commercial transactions for the Earl of Leicester, and in 1585 a ‘Mr. Barker of Ipswich’, perhaps one of his sons, was a servant of the Earl in the Netherlands.3

Thrice returned to Parliament for his borough, it is unlikely that Barker took any share in the proceedings of the House, the references to ‘Mr. Barker’ in the journals of the 1584 and 1586 Parliaments being in all probability to Edward Barker. Barker subscribed £50, one of the largest amounts from the Ipswich district, to the Armada fund. He died in the following year and was buried at Ipswich. His will, drawn up on 19 May 1589, with codicils several days later, has a preamble committing his soul to God ‘to place the same among His elect’. His sons inherited property in Ipswich and Essex, and his widow was bequeathed goods and chattels in his London house, where he was apparently living at the time. He left £20 to the poor in Christ’s hospital at Ipswich, and £12 to St. Peter’s church in the town. He was obviously a wealthy man, able to bequeath £100 a year to his two younger sons, and to provide a marriage portion of £1,000 for his daughter Abigail. The executor and residuary legatee was his eldest son Robert, who represented Ipswich in 1593. There was a family dispute over the will, which was not finally proved until 1592.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: J.C.H.


  • 1. Harl. 1560, f. 264; C142/159/52; Vis. London (Harl. Soc. i), 27; PCC 60; Leicester.
  • 2. N. Bacon, Ipswich Annals, 261, 269, 279, 284, 308, 325, 340, 349.
  • 3. G. Unwin, Studies in Econ. Hist. ed. Tawney, 274-6; CPR, 1569-72, p. 412; APC, xi. 414; CSP For. 1586-7, p. 293; Lansd. 115, ff. 196 seq.; Wright, Elizabeth, ii. 83; Cotton, Galba, C. viii. 108.
  • 4. T. C. Noble, Names of Those who Subscribed, 61; Bacon, 284; PCC 60 Leicester.