Charles Barry

Charles Barry

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Charles Barry was born in London in 1795. He was apprenticed to a firm of surveyors before training as a architect in Italy (1817-20). Influenced by the architects of the Italian Renaissance, when Barry returned to England he designed the Travellers Club (1832) that had been founded by Lord Castlereagh in 1814.

In 1834 most of the Old Palace of Westminster was destroyed by fire. Charles Barry and Augustus Welby Pugin were commissioned to design and build a new House of Commons and a House of Lords.

Other buildings designed by Barry include the Athenaeum in Manchester (1836), Trafalgar Square Precinct (1840) and the Cabinet Office (1845). He also designed the new Reform Club, an exclusive gentleman's club formed by leading Whigs to celebrate the passing of the 1832 Reform Act. Sir Charles Barry died in 1860.

The Extraordinary Secret Life of Dr. James Barry

Dr. James Barry was actually born Margaret Ann Bulky around 1789 in County Cork, Ireland, at a time when women were barred from most formal education, and were certainly not allowed to practice medicine. She was the second child of Jeremiah (a grocer) and Mary-Ann Bulky. While still a teenager, it is believed that Margaret was raped by an uncle. She gave birth to a baby, Juliana, who was raised by her mother.

Margaret was interested in pursuing an education, and doing something beyond the realm of what was allowed of her gender. In the 2016 book, James Barry: A Woman Ahead of Her Time, authors Dr. Michael du Preez and Jeremy Dronfield recount a story from when Margaret was 18, where she openly chastised her spendthrift brother saying, “Were I not a girl, I would be a solider!” And a solider she would be.

When her family fell on hard times, Margaret (who was in her late teens) moved with her mother to London, where Mary Ann had a brother—James Barry, a Royal Academician and painter. The two women met Barry’s friends, including the Venezuelan-exile General Francisco de Miranda and David Steuart Erskine, the Earl of Buchan. They were impressed by young Margaret, knowing her intelligence could take her far. They likely played a role in hatching the plan for Margaret to pursue an education, and specifically, a career in medicine. The original James Barry died in 1806, leaving his sister and niece enough money to set them up𠅊nd his name up for grabs.

Dr James Barry (on the left). (Credit: Public Domain)

Three years later, Margaret Bulky no longer existed. Clad in an overcoat (that was worn at all times regardless of the weather), 3-inch high shoe inserts and a distinctive high-pitched voice, Margaret now identified as James Barry. Moving to Edinburgh, the young Barry enrolled in medical school in 1809 and altered his age to match his young, boyish look. Rumors flew, as Barry’s short stature, high voice, slight build and smooth skin caused many people to suspect that he was a child too young to be in medical school𠅋ut Barry never broke. When Barry wasn’t allowed to sit for examinations because they suspected he was too young, Lord Erskine intervened. The soon-to-be doctor received a degree in medicine at the age of 22. Barry enlisted in the army as an assistant surgeon where once again his age was called into question, but he was eventually allowed to serve.

Barry began his military career on July 6, 1813, as a Hospital Assistant in the British Army, and was soon promoted to Assistant Staff Surgeon, equivalent to lieutenant. He then served in Cape Town, South Africa, for 10 years where he befriended the governor, Lord Charles Somerset. Some believe Somerset knew Barry’s secret. The two grew close, and Barry moved into a private apartment at his residence. Rumors circulated about the nature of their relationship and a poster was hung by an anonymous accuser stating that Somerset was 𠇋uggering Dr. Barry.” Commissions were set up to investigate the scandal, but both parties were later exonerated.

Perhaps to take on a more stereotypical, brash masculine personality, or maybe because it was actually his true nature, Barry was known for his short, hot temper. Patients, superiors, army captains and even Florence Nightingale herself were on the receiving end of his anger. He threw medicine bottles and even participated in a duel, where thankfully neither party was seriously injured.

Barry’s medical skills were unprecedented. He was a very skilled surgeon, the first to perform a successful caesarean section were both the mother and child survived. He was also dedicated to social reform, speaking out against the sanitary conditions and mismanagement of barracks, prisons and asylums. During his 10-year stay, he arranged for a better water system for Cape Town. As a doctor, he treated the rich and the poor, the colonists and the slaves.

Dr James Barry, Inspector General of the Army Medical Corp . (Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Barry’s next posting was to Mauritius in 1828 where he butted heads with a fellow army surgeon who had him arrested and court-martialed on a charge of 𠇌onduct unbecoming of the character of an Officer and a Gentleman.” He was found not guilty. Barry moved wherever his service was needed, continuing to climb the ranks as he traveled the world. In 1857, he reached the rank of Inspector General in charge of military hospitals𠅎quivalent to Brigadier General. In that position, he continued his fight for proper sanitation, also arguing for better food and proper medical care for prisoners and lepers, as well as soldiers and their families.

Dr. James Barry died from dysentery on July 25, 1865. They say on his deathbed acquaintances were waiting for a secret to be revealed—some saying they had guessed it all along. Barry’s last wishes were to be buried in the clothes he died in, without his body being washed—wishes that were not followed. When the nurse undressed the body to prepare it for burial, she discovered two things: female anatomy and tell-tale stretch marks from pregnancy.

The secret was made public after an exchange of letters between the General Register Office and Barry’s doctor, Major D. R. McKinnon, were leaked. In these letters, Major McKinnon, who signed the death certificate, said it was “none of my business” whether Dr. James Barry was male or female𠅊 statement Barry himself probably would have agreed with.

Dr. James Barry is buried in Kensal Green cemetery, in north-west London. One thing remains for sure, Dr. James Barry was way ahead of his time𠅊s a doctor and a humanitarian.


BARRY, CHARLES (1795–1860), British architect.

Charles Barry is best known for his design of the Houses of Parliament in London and the introduction of the Renaissance Revival style in the design of commercial buildings. The son of a wealthy London shopkeeper, Barry was apprenticed to Middleton and Bailey, a firm of London surveyors, between 1810 and 1817. After completing his apprenticeship he undertook an architectural tour of Europe and the Middle East. His study of Renaissance buildings in Italy was to become an important influence in his subsequent career. Barry's abilities as a draftsman were soon evident, and he partly funded his trip by the sale of his sketches for publication. The ability to produce attractive and clear drawings was to be a crucial factor in Barry's career. Many of his commissions were to be the result of winning design competitions, and his ability to present a project visually (through plans, elevations, and perspective drawings) was a key element in this success.

Barry returned to London in 1820 and set up an architectural practice. His first projects were churches in London, Manchester, and Brighton, followed by the Royal Institute of Fine Arts in Manchester (1824–1835). These early works showed that Barry was not restricted to a particular style, for the London churches were Gothic and the Manchester Institute was in Greek Revival style. In 1829 Barry won the competition for the Travellers Club in London. Built between 1830 and 1832 on a prestigious site in Pall Mall, the building was neither Greek nor Gothic in style, but took its inspiration from the great city palaces of the Italian Renaissance, particularly those of sixteenth-century Rome. It was an early example of the style that became known as Renaissance Revival.

Barry followed the Travellers with two more clubs in Renaissance Revival style, the Athenaeum in Manchester (1837–1839) and the Reform Club (1838–1840), next door to the Travellers Club. Regarded by some as his best work, the Reform Club was inspired by the Farnese Palace in Rome, with a plain astylar (without columns) facade enlivened by rich moldings around the windows and a deep cornice. The simple elegance of the design relied on symmetry, careful proportions, and the regular placing of windows. Equally important was the clarity and simplicity of Barry's internal planning. As with Renaissance palaces, the Reform Club is designed around a central courtyard. But Barry took advantage of recent technical advances and covered his courtyard with a glazed roof and installed the latest methods of heating and ventilation, creating an elegant and usable central circulation space that was much admired by contemporaries.

Barry's mastery of internal planning was evident in his best-known work, the Houses of Parliament (1840–1870). On 16 October 1834 a fire destroyed much of the ancient Palace of Westminster, which had housed the English parliament since 1547. Given the political and historical associations of the palace and a desire to integrate the surviving fragments, Parliament organized an architectural competition for a new building, requiring the design to be in the "Gothic or Elizabethan" style. Barry's entry was chosen and building began in 1840. His design was a masterpiece of logical planning, with four axes radiating from an octagonal central hall, providing both ceremonial routes and easy circulation through a vast building containing over a thousand rooms. Although on plan the building has an almost classical symmetry, the exterior appearance is given a more picturesque out-line through the use of three asymmetrically placed towers. The decorative details are largely the work of Barry's collaborator, A. W. N. Pugin, whose designs are adaptations of the Perpendicular Gothic style of the fifteenth century. The building was unfinished at the time of Barry's death and was completed by his son, Edward Middleton Barry.

While working on the Houses of Parliament Barry found time for numerous other commissions. Hefurther developed the Renaissance Revival style at the British Embassy, Istanbul (1842–1848), Bridgewater House, London (1847–1857), Halifax Town Hall (1860–1862 his last work), and in several country houses: Trentham Park, Staffordshire (1834–1849), and Cliveden House, Buckinghamshire (1850–1851). He also produced works in the Elizabethan style—Highclere Castle, Hampshire (1839–1842)—and the Scottish baronial style—Dunrobin Castle, Scotland (1845–1848).

As the chief designer of one of Britain's most recognizable and symbolic buildings, Barry's historical position is assured. Although his willingness to work in any number of styles was frowned upon by some commentators, a greater appreciation of his versatility and mastery of planning has emerged.

Parliaments, Politics and People: Henrik Schoenefeldt, The challenges of designing the House of Lords’ nineteenth-century ventilation system – A study of a political design process, 1840-47.

At the ‘Parliaments, Politics and People’ Seminar on 7 November 2017 Dr Henrik Schoenefeldt (University of Kent) spoke on ‘The challenges of designing the House of Lords’ nineteenth-century ventilation system – A study of a political design process, 1840-47.’ Here he gives us an overview of his paper…

The earliest set of architectural drawings for the House of Lords were produced in Charles Barry’s office between 1836 and 1839. Starting in 1840, however, the plans had to be significantly modified to accommodate a new scheme for ventilation and climate control proposed by the physician David Boswell Reid. As the requirements of this system had not been anticipated in the earlier stages Barry’s team had to adapt their existing architectural plans. This was a complex, often challenging, process that led to serious delays. The delays were not the result of the immediate technical difficulties alone. The challenges of designing a ventilation system were further accentuated by the difficulties with successfully integrating the specialist skills and knowledge of a doctor within a process involving a large team of engineers, architects and draughtsman. Numerous studies have attributed the delays to insufficient cooperation between Barry and Reid and have dismissed the ventilation scheme as a failed endeavour. In his talk Dr. Schoenefeldt challenged this claim by retracing the evolution of their working relationship and its impact on the final design for the House of Lords, completed in 1847.

Combining the study of archival material, (e.g. original letters, drawings, sketches and diaries) with detailed building surveys inside the House of Lords, his research has allowed him to reconstruct the House of Lords’s original ventilation system and to uncover the extent of Barry and Reid’s respective contributions to its development. The original letters reveal that the pressure to reduce the risk of further delays, drove Barry and the Commissioners of Woods and Forests to trial new, more collaborative modes of working. These trials were based on the belief that Reid’s relative inexperience with engineering and architectural design could be compensated through a closer partnership between him and Barry’s team. Members of the House of Lords were also directly involved in the process of resolving the problems. The impact of Reid’s involvement on the design process became the subject of extensive reviews, conducted by several Select Committees and independent expert panels appointed by the Lords between 1843 and 1846. Neither the nature of the practical design challenges of incorporating the system within the architectural plans nor the role of Barry’s team in assisting in its development, have been investigated by historians in any depth before. This, however, is critical to fully understand the inherently political nature of the design process.

Parliamentary Archives PAR/4/24

The talk is based on research conducted in conjunction with his current project within the Palace of Westminster Restoration and Renewal Programme, which is entitled ‘Between Heritage and Sustainability – Restoring the Palace of Westminster’s nineteenth-.century ventilation system‘ and is funded through a grant from the AHRC. Henrik’s recent publications include ‘ The Lost (First) Chamber of the House of Commons’, AA files, 72 (June 2016), pp. 161-173.

Join us tonight for our first seminar of the new term: Sonia Tycko of Harvard University will speak on ‘ The politics of impressment, 1639-41: a Gloucestershire microhistory’. Full details here.

Charles Barry - History

On the night of the 16 th of October, 1834 the old Palace of Westminster was destroyed by fire. It is said that Charles Barry, an architect, was returning to London from Brighton, where he had designed a church, saw the glow of the fire in the distance and discovered that the Houses of Parliament were on fire. Following the destruction of the buildings, a competition was launched for design suitable for the new Palace. Charles Barry's design won.

Charles Barry's design incorporated a clock tower. The dials were to be thirty feet in diameter, the quarter chimes were to be struck on eight bells, and the hours were to be struck on a 14 ton bell. Barry invited Benjamin Lewis Vulliamy, a clockmaker of reputation, to submit a design and price for constructing such a clock. No doubt Vulliamy was pleased to be the clockmaker of choice for what was then to be the largest clock in the world, but other enterprising firms were not happy with the manner in which they had no opportunity to compete for the contract. Subsequently, the Astronomer Royal, Sir George Airy, was appointed as referee for the new clock and produced a specification in 1846. A key requirement of the specification was that the clock was to strike the first blow of each hour correct to one second in time. Tenders were invited and were received from three makers, Dent, Vulliamy and Whitehurst.

It was clear that Airy favoured Dent, with whom he had worked on the development of the chronometer. In 1849 the famous horologist, Edmund Beckett Denison (later Lord Grimthorpe) was appointed co-referee with Airy. Denison was in agreement with Airy that Dent was the maker most capable of constructing the clock and they produced a revised specification and drawings, in respect of which Dent was requested to revise his estimate. In 1852 Dent was awarded the contract.

The first of the difficulties occurred when it was discovered that the architect had failed to make the necessary provision for the clock in the tower. Denison certainly had the ability to propel the project forward, but he lacked any diplomatic skill and the tension which existed between him and Barry precluded any compromise by the architect. It was necessary instead for the clock to be modified so that it would fit within the internal walls.

Edward John Dent died in 1853 and the clock mechanism was completed by his stepson Frederick Rippon (who changed his name to Frederick Dent). In 1854 the mechanism was ready to be installed in the tower but this was not possible as the tower was incomplete. Denison was therefore able to spend a number of years testing out different types of escapement on the mechanism as it operated in Dent's workshop. It was during this period that he invented the double three-legged gravity escapement which enables the clock to keep such accurate time.

Denison was also invited to produce a specification for, and referee, the casting of the bells. The contract was let to John Warner and Sons who cast the hour bell in 1856. The tower was not yet ready to receive the bell so upon delivery it was mounted in the New Palace Yard where it was struck regularly for the benefit of the public. This bell weighed about 16 tons, which was two tons heavier than intended. To compensate for this, Denison increased the weight of the ball hammer from 4 to 6 cwt. This was not a wise move, and one year later in 1857, the great bell cracked irreparably while being struck by this hammer. Denison proclaimed the casting as faulty but the manufacturers denied this and claimed it was his fault for using too heavy a hammer. George Mears of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry was given the contract to recast the bell from the metal of the old in 1858 which he did successfully, producing a bell weighing 13.5 tons which is the one in use today. The four quarter bells were cast by Warners.

The name 'Big Ben' was first applied to the original hour bell cast by Warners. There is no firm evidence of the origin of this name, but it may have derived from Sir Benjamin Hall, Commissioner of Works who was involved with the project and who was a man of considerable size. The name was also applied to the recast hour bell and has since come to indicate not just the bell, but also the clock and the clocktower.

When the five bells were installed in the tower in 1858, it was possible to install the clock mechanism in the clockroom beneath the belfry. The next difficulty arose over the hands for the dials of the clock. The original hands were designed and manufactured on behalf of Charles Barry but were too heavy for the clock to be able to operate with them. Denison requested Barry to have the hands remade, but when this was done it was found that the hands installed on the dials were heavier that the previous ones! The clock still could not function correctly, so Denison obtained permission for Dents to construct minute hands to his design. These minute hands are the ones in use today, the hour hands being from Charles Barry's second attempt. With the hands operating satisfactorily it was now possible to commence the chiming and hour striking so the clock became fully operational on the 7 th of September 1859.

This pleasant situation was short lived. Less than one month later, the great hour bell cracked while being struck by the same 6 cwt. hammer that ruined the original bell. A fierce dispute ensued between Denison and Mears, the bell founder, which culminated with Denison being sued for libel by Mears. The hours were struck on the largest of the quarter bells for two years while the argument was going on. Eventually chemical analysis of the bell metal proved Denison right, but it was not considered feasible to have the bell recast for the second time. Instead, the bell was given a quarter turn to move the crack away from the point of the hammer's strike and a lighter hammer was substituted. Thus in 1862, striking of the hour bell resumed.

The next 114 years of the clock's history were relatively serene and Big Ben soon developed a reputation for great accuracy. In 1906, the gas lighting of the dials was replaced by electric lighting. Electric winding of the clock was introduced in 1912. The mechanism was overhauled in 1934 and 1956.

The first radio broadcast of Big Ben was made by the BBC at midnight on the 31 st of December 1923 to welcome in the new year. Shortly afterwards, a permanent microphone installation enabled regular broadcasts of the chimes and the bell to function effectively as a time signal. The broadcasting of the bells on the BBC World Service assumed particular importance during the Second World War, when the sounds were a source of comfort and hope to those hoping that Britain would not be overcome.

Big Ben is still broadcast today on BBC Radio 4 at certain times.

However, in 1976 a completely unanticipated event occurred which almost caused the complete destruction of the clock. At 3:45am on the 5 th of August 1976 as the clock started to chime, metal fatigue in the shaft connecting the chiming train to its fly fan caused the shaft to break. Without the retarding and braking effect of the fly, the chiming mechanism, propelled by the 1.25 ton weight in the shaft, increased its speed of rotation dramatically. This led to the total destruction of the chiming mechanism, with various components and fragments of others being scattered about the clockroom. Some pieces of machinery were flung at the ceiling with sufficient force to penetrate to the room above. The cast iron frame was fractured and collapsed onto the winding motor below. The flying debris also caused damage to the going and striking trains.

It was necessary for the chiming train to be reconstructed from scratch. The magnitude of this task meant that other options, such as replacement with an electric motor, were considered. The reconstruction took almost one year to complete.

The sounds of Big Ben have traditionally been the focus of the entry of the New Year. In December 1999 they were of particular significance, marking the beginning of the new Millennium. The sounds of the chimes were relayed on television and radio broadcasts and to the crowd assembled in the Millennium Dome. For the first time also, cameras were located in the belfry so that viewers could see as well as hear the chimes and twelve o'clock being struck on the bells.

Fan company rift yields multi-million dollar settlement

After a bruising battle for control of one of the Twin Cities' largest family-owned businesses, the former chief executive of Twin City Fan Cos. has reached a truce with his son and other family members.

Under terms of the deal, longtime chief executive Charles Barry has agreed to sell his 26.6 percent share of the company for $15 million to $20 million, according to an attorney who has been briefed on the terms. His son Michael gains control of the manufacturing company, which employs 1,500 people in five states.

Several ongoing lawsuits were put on hold this month after family members agreed to a term sheet resolving all claims, according to an order filed by Hennepin County Judge Bruce Peterson. The cases have been suspended for a year to give family members time to finalize an agreement.

The family feud erupted in early 2016 after an internal investigation triggered by the pending sale of the company revealed questionable spending by Charles Barry, court documents show. Though the sale later collapsed, family members turned against Barry when they found out he had provided at least $11 million in support to his longtime girlfriend and current wife Kathleen Bryan-Barry, court records show.

Family members accused Barry of misusing corporate resources to support Bryan-Barry, a charge Charles Barry has repeatedly denied. Charles Barry accused his ex-wife and children of using the affair to shove him out of the company.

The pending settlement finalizes the departure of Charles Barry, whom family members fired from his $3.5 million-a-year job this spring. Lawyers continue to hammer out many of the details, including who is going to pay for Charles Barry's multimillion-dollar life insurance policies.

"It's a very detailed term sheet," said one attorney.

With annual sales of $275 million, Twin City Fan is one of the largest makers of industrial fans in the United States. Its products range from small exhaust fans to large blowers that move air in automobile and steel factories.

Charles Barry declined to discuss the terms of the case. But he indicated that family members have agreed not to pursue criminal charges against him, explaining he will no longer need the services of his criminal lawyer, Bill Mauzy.

"It absolves me of all of the junk the other side has tried to shove down my throat," Charles Barry said in an interview.

This spring, a group of outside attorneys recommended that Twin City Fan take legal steps to recover about $21 million from Charles Barry, finding that he had unilaterally approved millions of dollars in excessive compensation for himself and took other actions that violated his duties as chairman and CEO of the company.

The report was harshly critical of Bryan-Barry's use of a corporate jet, noting that Charles Barry "took affirmative steps to conceal the fact that Ms. Bryan was using the plane." Altogether, Bryan-Barry and her guests used the leased plane on more than 120 trips without Charles Barry at a cost of about $2.8 million, records show.

Charles and Kathleen Barry married in December 2016, 12 days after Charles and his first wife were granted a divorce.

A possible criminal investigation surfaced during a hearing earlier this year when an attorney for Charles Barry accused Michael Barry of using the report to persuade the Internal Revenue Service to launch its own investigation of his father. Chris Madel, an attorney for Michael Barry, acknowledged an ongoing IRS investigation, but he said Michael Barry did not initiate it.

"I have represented several individuals that have settled civil cases where the IRS continued a criminal investigation," Madel said this week. "The IRS is going to do what they want to do."

IRS officials have declined to comment, saying they do not discuss "any open cases."

BARRY Genealogy

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BALDWIN, Charles Barry (?1789-1859), of 6 Parliament Street, Mdx.

Under-sec. to French claims commission 1819, sec. 1821, sole commr. ?1829-30.


Baldwin was a descendant of Richard Baldwin, the wealthy provost of Trinity College, Dublin, 1717-58, and the nephew of Sir Edward Barry of Dublin, an Irish baronet and army officer, but nothing is known of his early life.2 It was presumably through his work on the commission for liquidating British claims on France that he met his wife, the daughter of one of the principal claimants. Called to the bar in November 1824, he was described in the Law List for 1830 as a conveyancer and in 1835 as a parliamentary draftsman and counsel to the French claims commissioners. At the general election of 1826 he offered for Totnes on behalf of the independent freemen, pledging his support for &lsquoour glorious constitution . in church and state&rsquo, but he came bottom of the poll.3 He stood again in 1830 and was returned in second place, having apparently allied himself to one of the sitting Members, Thomas Peregrine Courtenay, a junior minister in the duke of Wellington&rsquos government, in order to oust the other, Lord Darlington.4

Ministers listed him among their &lsquofriends&rsquo and he voted with them in the crucial civil list division, 15 Nov. 1830. He divided against the second reading of the Grey ministry&rsquos reform bill, 22 Mar., presented a hostile petition from Totnes, 24 Mar., and voted for Gascoyne&rsquos wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. At the ensuing general election he was again returned for Totnes ahead of Darlington, after denouncing the bill and being &lsquohissed down&rsquo by the inhabitants.5 He divided against the second reading of the reintroduced measure, 6 July, for use of the 1831 census to determine the disfranchisement schedules, 19 July, and to postpone consideration of Chippenham&rsquos inclusion in schedule B, 27 July. He put the case for removing Totnes from that schedule, 2 Aug., arguing that it was not a nomination borough and that it was &lsquoincreasing in wealth and prosperity&rsquo. He voted against the bill&rsquos passage, 21 Sept. He thought it was &lsquovery unfair to discuss the merits&rsquo of the Dublin election case &lsquoon the present occasion&rsquo, 8 Aug., and obtained a return of the number of registered 40s. freeholders for the county of Dublin, 16 Aug. He gave notice of a bill to authorize the compounding and commuting of charges for charitable purposes on freehold property, 9 Dec., but this was not forthcoming. He was absent from the division on the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, but voted against the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., the third reading, 22 Mar. and the second reading of the Irish bill, 25 May, and paired for an increase in Scotland&rsquos representation, 1 June 1832.6 He divided against the Liverpool disfranchisement bill, 23 May. He obtained returns of the appeals lodged against decisions made by the French claims commissioners, 25 May, the cost of street improvements in Westminster, 1 June, sewerage charges there, 4 Aug., and the number of parishes to which the Metropolitan Police Act had been extended, 10 Aug. He presented a petition against the London and Birmingham railway bill, 30 May. He voted against government on the Russian-Dutch loan, 12 July. He successfully moved for an address to the king to suspend the distribution of Deccan prize money in relation to the claims made by a force serving at Rhyegur, 11 Aug. 1832.

Baldwin did not stand at the general election of December 1832, but he was returned for Totnes at a by-election in 1840, having been involved in a double return the previous year, and sat as a free trade Conservative until his defeat in 1852. He evidently continued his legal practice and was a director of a number of insurance and railway companies. He resided latterly in Paris, where he died in April 1859, &lsquoaged 69&rsquo.7 He revoked a former will favouring his wife, because of &lsquothe persecution and proceedings against me when I was dangerously ill and suffering from severe mental agony arising from the loss of my only son&rsquo. This possibly relates to a case before the consistory court in June 1854 when a Mrs. Baldwin was granted a separation from her husband on the ground of adultery. He divided his estate between various individuals and institutions.8

James Barry: The Girl Who Became a Man, Fought with Florence Nightingale

Today, women openly serve in our armed forces as diligently as the men around them.

However, in the past, women weren’t permitted to serve their country. Some of them found that disguising themselves as a man could open doors that were otherwise shut.

James Miranda Steuart Barry was actually born in Ireland as Margaret Ann Bulkley. His mother was Mary-Ann Bulkley, sister to the noted Irish painter James Barry. The similarity in name is no coincidence since Barry took his uncle’s name when he chose to live as a man and enroll in medical school.

The evidence relating to his early life and his decision to identify as a man is unfortunately scant. Newspapers and even Charles Dickens examined the facts of the case, but all came up with blanks.

The defining piece of evidence seems to have been a letter written by Barry to a solicitor who wrote on the back of the envelope “Miss Bulkley , 14 December.” This indicated to historians that James Barry and Margaret Bulkley were conclusively the same person.

Michael du Preez, a retired surgeon, and Jeremy Dronfield, a biographer, have a decade’s worth of research at their fingertips. They suggest that the decision came about as a conspiracy among Barry, his mother, and some of the family’s influential friends.

Portrait of James Barry, painted circa 1813–1816

Barry wanted to study medicine. It’s unclear whether this desire was for its own sake or because he was unable to get work as Margaret. At the time, Barry’s family did not have a reliable income, so no doubt the salary of a surgeon seemed very appealing.

Whatever the reason, Margaret became James Barry, the nephew to the Irish painter of the same name and managed to get into Edinburgh University. When he started in 1809, he put his short stature, smooth skin, and unbroken voice down to his “young” age.

However, this ploy backfired a little when the University Senate tried to block his entrance to the final exam on the grounds of youth, but the Earl of Buchan (a family friend) intervened. As a result, Barry qualified as a doctor in 1812.

He went on to sign up as an assistant surgeon in the army. He needed Buchan’s help with that as well since his first commanding officer thought him only a boy and too young to be in the army.

James Miranda Steuart Barry

His first posting was to Cape Town, South Africa in 1816. He had a letter of introduction for the governor, Lieutenant Colonel Lord Charles Henry Somerset. After Barry successfully treated one of Somerset’s sick children, the two became firm friends.

Barry went on to effect improvements to sanitation and water systems, as well as to the living conditions of slaves, prisoners, and the mentally ill. He also created a sanctuary for the leper population.

When he criticized local officials for their actions in such matters, it was his close friendship with Somerset that saved him from repercussions. He also shouted at patients and was known to throw bottles of medicine at the wall.

Despite his irascible nature, his skill as a surgeon could not be denied. While in Cape Town, Barry performed the first Caesarean section in Africa in which both the mother and the child survived . The baby boy he delivered was named James Barry Munnik in his honor.

Lord Charles Somerset, Governor of the Cape Colony

On November 22, 1827, Barry became Surgeon to the Forces. He was sent to Mauritius in 1828.

A year later, he was able to repay Somerset for his protection and friendship when the Governor fell ill. Barry returned to his side (without permission from the army, of course) and cared for him until his death in 1831.

Barry’s close friendship with Somerset led to speculation that they might have been more than friends.

According to Du Preez and Dronfield, an accusation was made on a bridge post in 1824 suggesting a homosexual relationship between the two men. Since homosexuality was a crime in that era, there was a court trial and investigation.

Whether true or not, this aspect to Barry and Somerset’s relationship formed a central part of a play about Barry’s life, Becoming Doctor Barry.

Barry was sent all across the British Empire – from Jamaica to Malta and Corfu. But wherever he went, two things were certain: that he would ensure improvements to the health and living standards of minorities would be prioritized, and that he would clash with his superiors over such matters.

Barry (left) with John, a servant, and Barry’s dog Psyche, c. 1862, Jamaica

He found himself both arrested and demoted because of his behavior and no-nonsense attitude. He even had an altercation with Florence Nightingale when he visited the Crimea.

After she heard of his death, Nightingale wrote about her encounter with him: “I never had such a blackguard rating in all my life… I should say that [Barry] was the most hardened creature I ever met.”

In 1857, Barry became Inspector General of Hospitals in Canada. This position enabled him to make even more headway with his revolutionary approach to healthcare not only for soldiers and their families but also for prisoners and lepers too.

Against Barry’s protests, he was forcefully retired by the army on July 19, 1859, on the grounds of ill health. He lost his life to dysentery in 1865.

Florence Nightingale c.a 1854

The woman responsible for preparing his body for burial discovered the truth that Barry had successfully hidden for so many decades.

Furthermore, this woman reported that Barry had stretchmarks, suggesting that he’d had a child at one time. This led to speculation that Barry’s sister, Juliana Bulkley, was in fact his daughter.

George Graham of the General Register Office wrote to Dr. McKinnon, who had been Barry’s doctor, to query the facts surrounding Barry’s death. In a wonderfully enlightened reply, McKinnon states: “it was none of my business whether Dr. Barry was a male or a female.”

However, he did go on to give an opinion that “I thought that he might be neither…and that my impression was that Dr. Barry was a Hermaphrodite.”

Florence Nightingale (middle) in 1886 with her graduating class of nurses from St Thomas’ outside Claydon House, Buckinghamshire.Photo: FormerBBC CC BY-SA 4.0

To avoid scandal, Barry’s army files were locked down for 100 years. They were only opened again in the 1950s when the historian Isobel Rae decided to look into the matter. She went on to write the first biography of this remarkable surgeon.

Rae had access to Barry’s army files, but it was du Preez’s diligent research that uncovered far more about his amazing life. Even so, much about Barry’s life and career still remains a mystery.

When he was eighteen and still living as Margaret, he once exclaimed to his brother: “Were I not a girl, I would be a soldier!” As James Barry, he went on to do just that and so much more.

Charles Barry - Art History bibliographies - in Harvard style

Your Bibliography: 2020. Harewood Garden. [image] Available at: <> [Accessed 2 April 2020].

Harewood House and Italianate Terrace . Part One

In-text: (Harewood House and Italianate Terrace . Part One, 2020)

Your Bibliography: 2020. Harewood House and Italianate Terrace . Part One. [image] Available at: <> [Accessed 29 March 2020].


In-text: (, 2020)

Your Bibliography: 2020. [image].

Shrubland Park

In-text: (Shrubland Park, 2020)

Your Bibliography: 2020. Shrubland Park. [image] Available at: <> [Accessed 1 April 2020].

Trentham Gardens

In-text: (Trentham Gardens, 2020)

Your Bibliography: 2020. Trentham Gardens. [image] Available at: <> [Accessed 1 April 2020].

Bradney, J.


2014 - JSTOR

In-text: (Bradney, 2014)

Your Bibliography: Bradney, J., 2014. THE GARDENS OF SIR CHARLES BARRY: 'ONLY A HANDMAID TO ARCHITECTURE'. [online] JSTOR. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 March 2020].

Capability Brown at Trentham Gardens

In-text: (Capability Brown at Trentham Gardens, 2020)

Your Bibliography: 2020. Capability Brown at Trentham Gardens. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 2 April 2020].



Your Bibliography: E. ADVENO BROOKE (FL. 1844-1864), THE PARTERRE HAREWOOD HOUSE, 2020. [image] Available at: <> [Accessed 2 April 2020].

Garden and landscape design - 19th century

In-text: (Garden and landscape design - 19th century, 2020)

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