BARKER, Robert I (d.1571), of Ipswich and Bull's Hall, 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

s. of Robert Barker of Ipswich by Anne, da. and coh. of Edward ?Bestard of Cambs. m. by 1532, da. of one King (or Kempe) of Suff., at least 1s. John I; ?(2) by 1561, Katherine, wid of Henry Gooth (or Gooch).1

Offices Held

J.p. Ipswich by 1556, portman 1563, bailiff ?1555-6, 1563-4, 1567-8, commr. subsidy 1568.2


Barker was a typical Ipswich MP, being a substantial merchant, rated for the 1568 subsidy on £140 in goods, the highest assessment in the town. Either he or his father speculated heavily in monastic lands in Yorkshire, Cambridgeshire and Essex as well as in Suffolk, where his inquisition post mortem gives property in Ipswich, Laxfield, Foxall, Stratton and elsewhere. In March 1560 he was paid £31 4s. ‘for money that was borrowed of him at London, and for his meat and drink while he was burgess of the Parliament’.3

He was a truculent person. In September 1560, when ordered by the lord keeper to submit himself to the bailiffs, he ‘came into the court uncalled’, and though promising that he would henceforth keep all the ordinances of the town, spoilt the effect of his submission by the defiant addition, ‘as I have heretofore done, as you all know’. He was pardoned for his unspecified offence, but a year later was disfranchised for refusing to pay his scot and lot assessment, as also £8 which he had been required to provide for the Queen’s entertainment in the town. He was re-admitted on paying the £8, with an additional £6 for redemption of his freedom. Then, early in 1562, he was fined £5 ‘for miscalling and misusing Mr. Bailiffs. and other of the town council’. He demanded remission of the fine presumably on the ground of injustice, but the assembly refused, though eventually they decided that they would recompense him ‘with a greater pleasure than the value of the said fine amounteth unto, as good will and amity requireth to be accomplished’. No reason is given for this change of front: perhaps there had been a re-alignment of factions within the corporation. In the next five years Barker was twice elected bailiff. During the first of these two periods of office he committed a certain Henry Creme to gaol on his own authority for the crime of ‘detaining’ a shilling. ‘The most part of the council’ objected and ordered that Creme should be discharged.4

Few later references to Barker survive. He received 26s. 8d. from the town treasurer in February 1570, apparently in connexion with an Exchequer case in which he had been engaged as bailiff. He was still a member of the corporation in March 1571, dying during the late summer of that year. Bacon gives the date of his burial in St. Lawrence, Ipswich, as 30 Aug., but according to the inquisition post mortem he died 16 Sept. No will has been found. His son and heir John was nearly 40 when he succeeded to the property.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Harl. 1560, f. 264; Ipswich treasurers’ accounts, Mar. 1560; N. Bacon, Ipswich Annals, 252; W. A. Copinger, Suff. Manors, iii. 99; vi. 281.
  • 2. Bacon, 246, 251, 252, 263, 264, 274; Ipswich ass. bk. 6-19 Eliz. pp. 2-11, 58; Suff. Green Bks. xii. 166. The bailiff 1555-6 may have been this Robert’s father.
  • 3. Suff. Green Bks. loc. cit.; C142/159/52; Wards 7/13/86; LP Hen. VIII, xix(2), p. 77; CPR, 1548-9, p. 84; treasurers’ accounts, 2 Eliz.
  • 4. Bacon, 258, 260, 262.
  • 5. Ass. bk. 6-19 Eliz. pp. 2-11, 117, 121; C142/159/52; Bacon, 252 and n.