BARKER, Sir William, 5th Bt. (c.1685-1731), of Ipswich, Suff.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1708 - 1713
1713 - 1715
31 Oct. 1722 - 23 July 1731

Family and Education

b. c.1685, o. s. of Sir John Barker, 4th Bt.*  educ. Ipswich sch.; Pembroke, Camb. 7 Apr. 1702, aged 16.  m. (1) aft. 1713, Mary (d. 1716), da. and h. of John Bence*, 1s.; (2) 9 Feb. 1731, Anne, wid. of Edward Spencer of Rendlesham, Suff., s.p.; ?1s. illegit.  suc. fa. as 5th Bt. 14 Aug. 1696.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Dunwich 1703, Orford 1709.2

Commr. public accts. June–Oct. 1714.


Returned as a Tory at Ipswich in 1708, and classed as such in a list of the new Parliament, Barker acted as a teller on 5 Feb. 1709 in favour of the Tory candidates in the disputed Dunwich election. He voted against the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell. In the ‘Hanover list’ he was classed as a Tory, following his re-election after a contest at Ipswich in 1710. Satisfied with the straightforward rejection of a petition against his return on 3 Feb. 1711, he spoke and told against a motion to condemn the attempt to unseat him as ‘frivolous and vexatious’. A teller on 3 Apr. 1711 on the Tory side in a division on the Cockermouth election, and again on 19 May in favour of the coal trade bill, he was listed among the ‘Tory patriots’ who voted against the continuation of the war and among the ‘worthy patriots’ who in this session laid open the mismanagements of the previous ministry. He was also a member of the October Club. Writing to Lord Treasurer Oxford (Robert Harley*) on 29 May 1711 to request a local office for his uncle, he admitted ‘that at this juncture I ought not to give your lordship another trouble upon so slight an occasion, but really not only my business but want of health will oblige me to quit the town shortly, and if I could obtain an early answer it would double the obligation’.3

A teller on 17 Jan. 1712 against a Whig attempt to adjourn the proceedings against Robert Walpole II before Walpole could be expelled the House, Barker was denied leave of absence on 21 Mar. when a motion to that effect was defeated. On 20 Apr. 1712 he led the October Club in defending the tack to the lottery bill of the inquiry into crown grants since 1689. His speech, prepared beforehand, was described by L’Hermitage as ‘fort étudié . . . mais fort vif et fort échauffé’. In L’Hermitage’s report,

il dit qu’on avoit porté à diverses fois des bills pour rapeller les dons de la couronne, et qu’ils avoient toujours été rejettés, et qu’il n’y avoit pas d’autre moyen de faire passer celui-ci que de le joindre au bill de la lotterie, mais qu’on disoit que les seigneurs ne les passeroient pas ensemble qu’il etoit surprenant qu’on alleguast une telle raison et que si cela étoit à quoi dont il avoit servi à un grand homme d’avoir fait créer 12 pairs, s’il n’estoit pas presentement sur de cette chambre et que son credit ne put pas aller à faire passer une chose si utile et pourquoi on les avoit engagés à joindre ces 2 bills, si on ne vouloit pas les soutenir et si on pretendoit les faire passer et repasser tantôt d’un côté et tantôt de l’autre, qu’on s’étoit plaint de l’ancien ministre, mais que de la manière dont celui-ci agissoit on avoit encore moins lieu de s’en louer et il ajouta divers autres choses semblables.

On 6 May he told against separating the two bills, and after the defeat of the Tack he served as chairman of the committee appointed to supervise the election of commissioners under the now separate land grant bill. Negotiations for his marriage to the daughter of John Bence* revealed considerable financial difficulties. He admitted in January 1713 that his net income amounted to only about £830 and that he was £3,500 in debt, besides which his house and furniture were ‘in so great decay’ that it would ‘cost a good deal of money to make them fit for the reception of a lady’, so that he depended on a generous settlement from Bence: ‘all my friends tell me, money is what I want’. The details of the eventual settlement have not been ascertained.4

Barker told on the Court side on 21 Apr. 1713 on a motion to go into ways and means, and in the 1713 election was chosen at Thetford, probably on the recommendation of (Sir) Thomas Hanmer II* (4th Bt.). He did not, however, follow Hanmer in the new Parliament. He acted as a teller on 18 Mar. 1714 in favour of condemning Richard Steele’s* Crisis and Englishman, having taken part in the debate, in which he said that Steele both ‘insinuates the Q[ueen] has enabled Savoy as her favourite to make his pretensions to this kingdom’ and ‘brings her Majesty into contempt as having broken her word with Parliament’. On 15 Apr. he spoke for the Court against the motion that the succession was in danger under the present ministry. Lord Bolingbroke (Henry St. John II*) recommended Barker strongly to Oxford as a candidate for office. He was elected on 18 June as one of the accounts commissioners and was a teller twice more: on 8 June, on a private bill, and on 21 June, to adjourn the hearing of the report on the bill amending the Woollen Act. He was marked as a Tory in the Worsley list.5

Barker died on 23 July 1731 at his house in East Street, ‘near Red Lion Square’. In his will he left £500 to provide for the upbringing and apprenticeship ‘to some good trade’ of one Charles King, offspring of Mary King, who may have been his illegitimate son.6

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Ipswich Sch. List, comp. Murfey, 6; Copinger, Suff. Manors, ii. 340.
  • 2. Suff. RO (Ipswich), Dunwich bor. recs. EE6/1144/14; W. Suss. RO, Shillinglee mss Ac.454/1083, John Hooke to Sir Edward Turnor*, 28 Sept. 1709.
  • 3. Add. 70210, Barker to Oxford, 29 May 1711.
  • 4. Huntington Lib. Q. xxxiii. 168; Add. 17677 FFF, f. 187; Shillinglee mss Ac. 454/1256, 1258, Barker to Turnor, 20 Dec. 1712, 17 Jan. 1712–13.
  • 5. Douglas diary (Hist. of Parl. trans.), 18 Mar. 1714; NLS, Advocates’ mss, Wodrow pprs. letters Quarto 8, f. 96; HMC Portland, v. 425.
  • 6. Boyer, Pol. State, xlii. 102; PCC 203 Isham.