BARROW, Charles (1707-89), of Highgrove, Glos.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



19 Nov. 1751 - 10 Jan. 1789

Family and Education

b. 1707 in St. Kitts, o.s. of Charles Barrow, merchant, of St. Kitts by Elizabeth, da. of Lt.-Gov. Harris of the Leeward Islands.  m. c.1728, Mary, da. of Daniel Randall of Gloucester, s.p. cr. Bt. with sp. rem. to Thomas Crawley Boevey of Flaxley Abbey, Glos., husband of his 1st cos. once removed, 22 Jan. 1784.

Offices Held


Barrow was returned unopposed for Gloucester in 1751 and 1754 on the Tory interest. In 1761 he joined a Whig, G. A. Selwyn, against another Tory; and came out head of the poll. He appears in Fox’s list of Members favourable to the peace preliminaries. On 11 Mar. 1763 he made his first reported speech, against the cider tax; and spoke on the same subject on 13 Mar.—‘Barrow attempted wit without shewing much of it’, wrote James Harris. He voted against Administration over general warrants, 15 and 18 Feb. 1764; and was classed by Newcastle on 10 May as a doubtful friend. He was brought into contact with the Rockingham group by William Dowdeswell, his ‘very particular friend’;1 and was described by the Public Ledger in 1779 as ‘a constant attender of the House, and a most uniform zealous Oppositionist’.

Between 1764 and 1771 no speeches by him are recorded, but from 1771 until his death there are over 20. Three only dealt with important political questions: the printers’ case of 1771, the East India Regulating Act of 1773, and Sawbridge’s motion of 15 May 1783 for annual Parliaments.

Barrow had a strong interest at Gloucester, and after 1761 never had to face a poll. George Selwyn wrote of him on the eve of the general election of 1780:2 ‘Mr. Barrow ... has established himself by an indefatigable attention for above thirty years in the goodwill of his constituents.’

Barrow voted for Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783, and was classed by Robinson as a friend of Shelburne; yet he also voted for Fox’s East India bill, 27 Nov. 1783, and was created a baronet on Fox’s recommendation. In Stockdale’s list of 19 Mar. 1784 Barrow was classed as an opponent of Pitt. No vote by him is recorded in the Parliament of 1784, and but one speech, Feb. 1785, on a point of order.

On 16 July 1786 he wrote to the Prince of Wales:3

I have often attempted to be introduced to your Royal Highness to have the honour of kissing your R. Highness’s hand, and flattered myself about six weeks ago with the hopes of seeing you at Windsor and there to have requested that honour.
I am sorry to hear Parliament has not augmented your income to what your rank entitles you to, and what you justly merit. I have the sum of two thousand pounds at present by me, much at your Royal Highness’s service, and if you will condescend to accept of it, I will immediately forward to you a draft on my banker (Child Co.) for that sum.

Barrow died 10 Jan. 1789.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. Dowdeswell to Chas. Yorke, c. 4 Mar. 1767, Add. 35430, f. 49.
  • 2. Selwyn to Chas. Townshend, 31 Aug. 1780, Marsham-Townshend mss.
  • 3. Royal archives, Windsor.