A forgotten agent for the Ormonde Estate – John Barwis’s Death Notice in the Gentleman’s Magazine

The Gentleman’s Magazine , March, 1844
Pages 324 and 325

[Obituary of agent to the Ormonde Estate and in effective charge of Kilkenny Castle as agent of the Butler family for 22 years, who died November 17th, 1843]


Nov.17. After a lingering illness, aged 68, John Barwis, Esq. of Langrigg Hall, Cumberland..
This gentleman, descended from an ancient and very respectable family in Cumberland, was a native of Wiltshire, and the only son of Dr. William Barwis, a physician, established at Devises by Miss Lawson, a Cumberland lady. Mr. Barwis was unhappily deprived of both his parents at a very early age, and at a period when his father, though eminent for skill and ability, was still struggling with the pecuniary difficulties which too often beset a first establishment in the medical profession. The son, however, fortunately found a second parent in his uncle the Rev. John Barwis, M.A. of Queen’s College, Oxford, and Rector of Niton in the Isle of Wight, who, being without children himself, and looking on his nephew as the representative of the family, not only obtained for him an excellent classical education at the seminary in Soho Square then conducted with great celebrity by the Rev. Dr. Barrow, but sent him to Queen’s College, Oxford, where he was admitted a scholar Oil Michel’s foundation in May 1793.
Mr. Barwis passed through his academical course with credit, securing the approbation of his seniors, and the affectionate attachment of his contemporaries—an attachment which he retained unabated through life. Above all, be was distinguished for highly honourable sentiments, a firm and zealous friendship, and an unflinching integrity.
He took his B.A. degree, Feb. 23, 1797, and that of M.A. March 14, 1900, and, having chosen the profession of the Law, entered at Greys Inn, May 10, 1797, whence he removed to the Middle Temple, Dec. 1800. Being called to the bar, Nov. 23, 1804, he practised in the common law courts, and went the Western Circuit until the Spring of 1813.
At this time he was appointed by Walter first Marquess of Ormonde agent of his estates in Ireland, which office for a period of twenty-two years be executed with a firmness tempered with such kind forbearance towards the tenantry, as to retain their good will in the midst of the general agitation and disaffection prevailing at the time in the country, together with the greatest seal and fidelity to the interests and wishes of the Marquess.
He resided in Kilkenny, and was an active magistrate of that county and of the adjoining one of Tipperary. He was called to the Irish bar in the same year.
In 1816, Mr. Barwis married Frances the youngest daughter of the Rev. John Gutch, M.A. of All Souls’ College, and registrar of the University of Oxford, by whom he had eight children, namely, four who died young, and two sons and two daughters surviving.
In 1834 he relinquished the Ormonde agency, and removed from Kilkenny to Dublin, where he practised for a short time at the bar; but in the following year returned with his family to England, and took a house at Woodstock, near Oxford, in order to renew his acquaintance with a numerous circle of friends, formed both at college and in after life.
The Rev. John Barwis had died in 1828, leaving to his nephew the family estate at Langrigg, subject to the life interest of the testator’s widow, and, that lady dying in 1840 at the advanced age of 96, the subject of this memoir went to reside at the Hall, the seat of his ancestors. He was shortly afterwards made a magistrate of the county of Cumberland, and took a zealous and active part in selling the disturbances which arose in Wigton in 1842. Here he was enabled, in his private sphere, to make himself generally useful and esteemed ; and from his high principles and honourable feelings was justly beloved as a true friend and Christian gentleman. A strong proof and instance of this strict principle which prompted all his actions, it would be well to mention, as it bears the highest testimony to such a character. It has been intimated above that Dr. William Barwis died under some pecuniary embarrassments. In fact, he was encumbered with debts, which his son from a very early period of life had firmly resolved to discharge whenever his own circumstances should enable him so to obey the divine precept of honouring his father and mother. As soon therefore as be came into possession of his patrimonial estate he set himself to perform a task rendered difficult by the dispersion and number of the representatives of those with whom the debts bad been contracted, and having still a young family to provide for. This honourable conduct was acknowledged in the same high and noble spirit by a handsome presentation of plate from one of the representatives, who felt such an act worthy of the highest esteem and approbation.
It was in his character as a truly Christian benefactor and zealous friend to the Church that the energy and perseverance of Mr. Barwis in a cause still more exalted, will endear his memory to , as well as to those who lived near and around him.
Shortly after the commencement of his residence at Langrigg Hall, he became eyewitness to the lamentable state of destitution of church accommodation in the adjoining parish of Holme Cultram, a perpetual curacy in the archdeaconry and diocese of Carlisle, and in the patronage of the Chancellor, Masters, &c. of the University of Oxford, the impropriators. This parish, situated at the north-west end of the county, extending 13 miles, and including 24,000 acres of land, contains 3500 inhabitants, for which great number since the Reformation there had been only one church, the Abbey, quite at the south end of the parish, preserved in any fit state for divine service, although before that period church accommodation had been much more ample. Feeling that scarcely so lamentable and glaring an instance of spiritual destitution had ever been witnessed, Mr. Barwis undertook the task of laying it before the public, and with such diligence and seal, that a part of the good work is at present in a great state of forwardness. It appeared desirable that three chapels of ease should be erected, and, finding that the remits of a church at Newton Arlosh might be restored at an expense of £750 by his advise the committee determined to been by adopting that plan, and before the occurrence of the lingering illness which occasioned his lamented death he experienced the satisfaction of seeing this portion of his exertions in a state of actual progress. Fresh funds have since been obtained from various sources sufficient to warrant the committee in entertaining the most sanguine hopes of being able to erect two other edifices in the townships of Holme St. Cuthbert and Holme Low, and, with the assistance of the university of Oxford, to provide a sufficient endowment for two additional curates to supply that pastoral superintendence so long needed by this large and hitherto neglected population.
Although Mr. Barwis was not permitted to witness the entire success of his indefatigable exertions in so excellent and holy a cause, yet the knowledge of having been instrumental in affording benefit where it was so much needed must have given him a gratification which a less sacred zeal could not have inspired, and in the cause which be advocated, and the work which he commenced, he has left a name which could not have been engraved on a more pure, and, let us trust, a more lasting monument. Uniting an unflinching sense of honour and duty to high Christian principles of virtue and integrity, together with affectionate warmth rarely equalled towards his numerous relatives and friends, he leaves a character which may be admired and imitated, we cannot say surpassed.
Among his intimate friends Mr. Berwis numbered the late Viscount Sidmouth, Chief Justice Bushe, Lord Gifford, Sir Robert Grant, Dr. Maton, Dr. Jenner, (who first introduced vaccination,) &c. ; and the following still survive him several of whom were his early associates and his lasting and sincere friends Sir, Benjamin Brodie, Sir John Stoddart, Peter Brodie, esq. Robert Wray, esq. J. P. Burrell, esq., the Rev. Dr. Bandinel, Dr. Bliss, &c. &c.

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