Select Barrett Miscellany



Here are some Barrett stories and accounts over the years:

The Two Barrett Clans of Ireland


There were two Barrett clans in Ireland, the first branch of the clan were the Munster Barretts of county Cork and the other branch the Barrett clan of Connacht, most numerous in the Mayo-Galway mountainous areas.  

The two clans were believed to have been unrelated   But recent research has suggested otherwise. The English pipe rolls of the 13th century have indicated that the overlords of both the Cork and the Mayo Barretts were the same people.  The records further showed that both families came from Wales
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Hercie Barrett and His Descendants in Jamaica

Hercie or Hersey Barrett was said to have been from an old landed family in Cornwall.  He was a Lieutenant in Cromwell's army under Penn and Venables in the West Indies which landed in Jamaica in 1655.  

He had two sons - Hersey born in 1650 in England, and Samuel born in Jamaica in 1662. He also had a property in Vere between Carlisle Bay and Milk River called Withywood.  

Hersey the pioneer died in 1685, his son Hersey in 1726.  The latter was buried in the cathedral in Spanish Town and his tombstone can still be seen there.  The other son Samuel Barrett had died in the French invasion at Carlisle Bay at the age of 32.  But he did leave three children, Richard, Samuel and Anne.



Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Jamaican Heritage


Elizabeth Barrett Browning was born at Coxhoe Hall in Durham in 1806, the first of twelve children to Edward Moulton Barrett, a Jamaican plantation owner, and his wife Mary.

Edward was really a Moulton rather than a Barrett.  His parents were Charles and Elizabeth Moulton who had married in Jamaica.  But his fortune had not come from his father, who soon separated from his wife, but from his maternal grandfather, Edward Barrett, the owner of the Barrett family estates in Jamaica.   By 1798 all three of Edward Barrett’s sons had predeceased him, thereby making his grandsons by Elizabeth Moulton, Edward and Samuel, his principal heirs.  A clause in the will of his son George Barrett had made legacies for the Moulton sons conditional on their taking and bearing ‘the surname of Barrett’ on turning twenty-one.  This they duly died.


George Barrett who died in 1794 had never had a white wife, but had fathered six children by Eliza Peters, a mulatto slave in one of the Barrett properties.  These children were brought to England by their grandfather in 1795 but there were not given the Barrett name and there was no likelihood that they might inherit the Barrett estates.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning herself believed she had African blood through her grandfather Charles Moulton.  After abandoning his wife and children, Moulton - a rather shadowy figure - is thought to have become a slave trader in New York.  Certainly he had a string of mistresses and illegitimate children including his last, a Jamaican woman who bore him a son.


The Barrett-Byram Homestead in Chelmsford, Massachusetts

In 1663 Thomas Barrett and his son, Thomas came to Chelmsford from Braintree, Massachusetts, buying a house and fifty-two acres of land there.

Built around a great central chimney, the house boasted a fireplace in every room.  The ceilings were low for the purpose of conserving heat. The original fireplace structure was probably taken down to the top of its foundation around 1800 to modernize the heating system.

The fireplace in the Keeping Room was the place where the cooking was done.  It may be seen today with its iron crane supporting heavy iron kettles hung on "S" hooks over the fire, iron "spiders" and boiling racks, heavy tin roasting oven, reflector oven, and flip toaster.  The Historical Society's collection of earthenware, woodenware and tin is also displayed in this room.  To the left of the fireplace, is the "beehive oven" where much of the baking was done. It would originally have been located inside a larger walk-in fireplace and far more dangerous for women in their long skirts to use.

In the early days of the old house, there was a "borning room" opening off one end of the Keeping Room where the continuous heat from the big fireplace kept the room fairly comfortable in times of illness or the birth of babies. This room was opened up and made a part of the Keeping Room by the last owners of the property.

The house was substantially put together with beams fastened securely by wooden pegs or trunnels (tree nails).  Gunstocks posts are still visible.  Evidence of the long sloping room of the "saltbox" is seen in the attic where plaster marks show against the chimney.


Reader Feedback - Dominick Barrett in Anson County, North Carolina

Dominick Barrett, born in Cork in 1773, came to Anson county, North Carolina in 1790 as a very young man. Somehow he was able to amass 2-3,000 acres in Anson county.  His brother's name is Thomas.  How can I find out about him in Ireland? 

Laura Barrett (lbarrettoliver"gmail.com)


Thomas Barrett, Engraver and Convict

In 1784 Thomas Barrett appeared at the Old Bailey in London on a charge of being criminally at large. For three years he was kept in appalling conditions on a hulk in the Thames before being sent to Australia in the first batch of convicts on board the Charlotte as a part of the First Fleet.

When the fleet stopped to re-stock at Rio de Janeiro he was involved in passing some forged quarter dollars at Rio de Janeiro, ingeniously made from some pewter spoons and old buttons and buckles belonging to marines.

Dr White the surgeon on board the Charlotte asked Barrett to make a memento of the trip out and Barrett fashioned a medal out of a silver kidney dish. That medal still exists and was sold at auction to the National Maritime Museum in Australia in 2008 for a million dollars.  It is known as the Charlotte medal.

But Thomas Barrett himself had no luck in Australia.  He was accused of stealing food from the Government storehouse and in February 1788 became the first man to be hanged in the new colony.



Matthew Barrett, International Banker

Matthew Barrett was born and raised in Kerry in Ireland, where his father struggled to make a living as a musician playing in local dance halls in the 1950’s. Since the family was relatively poor, Barrett was encouraged by his father to enter the banking business.

In 1962, at the age of 18, he became a clerk at the London headquarters of the Bank of Montreal.  Shortly afterward Barrett's father died of a heart attack and Barrett was left as the sole supporter of his mother and sister.  Barrett recalled: "It aged me overnight. I was the man of the family.  It changed me from being a young man having a good time into a serious career banker."

Over time Barrett steadily rose through the ranks at the Bank of Montreal and was appointed its CEO in 1989.  Ten years later he retired but then accepted the position as CEO at Barclays Bank.





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