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Article by Bridget Keates, nee Barker, 2014
With thanks to Rushden Research, Cambridge Alumni and the Vicar of High Cross
John Thomas Barker

Born: 1827 in Ruswarp, Whitby, Yorkshire. 

His father was Peter Barker of Whitby, a man of independent means by the age of 60.

His mother was Sukey Attree, daughter of prominent lawyer William Attree of Brighton.

He had an older brother, Peter William, and maybe other siblings though John Thomas is the only executor and beneficiary of his father’s will.

His grandfather, Joseph Barker, son of a master mariner, was a ship owner and shipbuilder in Whitby. His main business seems to have been shipping coal from Newcastle and Sunderland to the Thames. He died in 1809, leaving the equivalent of £4-5 million in today’s money.

High Cross Church
High Cross Church

Attended Trinity College, Cambridge from 1844 when he was 17.  

Ordained deacon, 1849, priest (Winchester) 1850.

Curate of Egham, Surrey, 1850-2.

Curate of St Peter's, Pimlico, London, 1852-60.

Chaplain at Dresden, 1861.

Vicar of High Cross, Ware, Herts., 1864-8.

Rector of Rushden, Northants., 1868-90.

Hon. Canon of Peterborough.

Author, Sermons.

High Cross Church list of vicars

Married: Helena  Macnaghten, daughter of Elliot Macnaghten, a director and then chairman of the East India Company until it was taken over by the Crown, on 20 Oct 1863 at the Parish Church of St Peter, Eaton Square, Pimlico, London.

They had 5 children:

1. Isabella Susan who became a nun, based in Truro, died at the age of 54 of ovarian cancer

2. Mary Helena, born 1867 in High Cross, Ware, Herts, died at the age of 23 in Lucerne, Switzerland

3. Peter William (grandfather) born 1868 in High Cross, died 1935 in Epsom. He was an indigo planter in India. He was married 4 times – his fist two wives died young in India and the third, Winifred Louisa Musson had 5 children, the middle one being my father. After she died he married for a fourth time but died within a year.

4. Madeleine Alice, born 1869 in Rushden, married Richard Cecil Thursfield, who became rector of Cranford in Northants. He had been working in Whitby, so presumably that is how they met. They had 4 children. They were both killed in January 1941 when the car he was driving collided with a motor bus.

5. Elliot Francis, born 1871 in Rushden, died 1933 in Middlesex. He was a solicitor in London. He married Margaretha Maria Walker and they had four children including the wonderfully named Lancelot Elliot. He died in 1933 at the age of 62.

John Barker
John Thomas Barker

Portrait in St Mary's Church
After her husband died Helena moved to 24 St Hilda’s Terrace, Ruswarp in Whitby which had been the family home of the Barkers. Died: 10 Jan 1907, aged 72, in Whitby of “Vascular diease of heart several years, bronchitis 12 days”.  In her will she left £78 to Peter William Barker.

From information on the excellent Rushden Research website he spent a lot of money in the village, including improving the church and rectory, building a school and a temperance hotel.

From his obituaries he seems to have been very well respected.

Died: 16 Oct 1890, aged 64, in Doveridge, Derbyshire at home of Canon Charles James Hamilton, husband of Alice Katherine Macnaghten, Helena’s sister, of “Bulbar paralysis, Hypertrophic Cirrhosis of liver, Exhaustion.”

Was buried at Rushden.  All shops and businesses in Rushden were closed on the day of his funeral. Left £18,240 in will.

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