Reverend Thomas Burgess Barker (1800 - 1881)

Minister of Mary Wallis' Non-conformist Chapel, Ewell, 1836 to circa 1843,
& principal of The Parade Grammar School, Epsom.

The Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature by John McClintock,1885, records that : -
"Thomas Burgess Barker an English Congregational minister, was born near Sheffield, Jan. 10, 1800. He received the rudiments of his education from the minister of his native place, and afterwards was sent to Hoxton and Highbury colleges, where he studied for the Independent ministry. He was settled at Bere Regis, Christchurch, Tollesbury, Tamworth, and Ewell, and was much beloved by his congregations. On retiring from the ministry, he settled at Stoke Newington, where his best years were devoted to the education of youth in schools, and in connection with the Young Men's Christian Association. He was the founder of Abney House School, one of the largest and most flourishing schools for boys in the north of London. He was for some time chaplain of Abney Park Cemetery, of which place he published a guide. His death occurred April 25, 1881. See (Lond.) Congregational Year-book, 1882, p. 285."
Born at Ecclesall-Bierlow, he was a son of George and Elizabeth Barker baptised at The Cathedral Church of St Peter and St Paul, Sheffield, on 23 January 1800. From Highbury College he became Minister of the Congregational Church at Bere Regis in 1827 and married Jane Hand, 29 April 1828 at St Stephen, Coleman Street, London, before moving on in 1830. His next appointment was to Tollesbury, Essex, where sons came to be baptised -Thomas Barker, 4 March 1832, Frederick Hand Barker, 18 February 1834, and Henry Fanshaw Barker, 6 July 1836.

During 1836, Reverend T B Barker became the Minister at Miss Mary Wallis' chapel in Ewell, which was reported to have a congregation of 60 or more, a Sunday School attended by 28 children and an evening Adult School with 26 customers.

The birth of a daughter, Mira (Myra) Anne Keyes Barker is found registered in Epsom for the March Quarter of 1838. She was followed by siblings - John Theodore, 12/1839, & Fanny Bertha. 12/1841.

A newspaper advertisement in The Patriot of 24 June 1839 announced : -
'THE Rev. T. B. BARKER, EPSOM, SURREY, continues to receive into his Family a limited number of YOUNG GENTLEMEN, to instruct in all the branches of a polite and liberal education. Personal and unremitting attention is paid to the spiritual welfare, and also to the domestic comfort of the Pupils. Referees - Rev. G. Collison, Hackney, Rev. John Harris, D.D., Cheshunt, Thomas Allan, Esq., 8, Frederick's-place, Old Jewry, William Everest, Esq., Solicitor, and Mr. P[eter?]. Young [Nurseryman?], Epsom, from whom satisfactory testimony, and a knowledge of terms, may be obtained'.
The Congregational Magazine, 1841, lists T B Barker at Ewell but his ministry appears to have come to an end at or before 11 June 1843 [Surrey History Centre 2170/1/1/1], whilst he continued to reside and run the school in Epsom.

The Evangelical Magazine and Missionary Chronicle, Volume 21, reported: -
"On Tuesday, 31 October 1843, the Rev. T. Lee, late of Highbury College, was ordained pastor of the church and congregation worshipping in Church-street chapel, Epsom, Surrey. The Rev. S. Percy, of Guildford, opened the morning service by reading the Scriptures and prayer; the Rev. R. Connebee, of Dorking, explained the nature of a Christian church; the Rev. Dr. Hewlett, of Coventry, proposed the usual questions, and received the confession of faith; the Rev. T. Dix, of Bedwith, offered the ordination prayer; the Rev. E.Henderson, D.D.,Ph.D., Theological Tutor of Highbury College, delivered the charge; and the Rev. J. Churchill, of Thames Ditton, concluded the service with prayer. The Rev. J. Waraker, of Tooting, the Rev. F. Perkins, of Leatherhead; and the Rev. T. B. Barker, of Epsom, also took parts of the service.
In the evening, the Rev. James Hill, of Clapham, preached to the people, and thus closed the engagements of the day, which we earnestly hope may be followed with the blessing of God".
It seems that the Rev. Thomas Burgess Barker had founded his educational establishment in Epsom about the time he became Minister of Ewell's little Independent chapel. This academy, which became known as the Parade Grammar School, stood on Plot 893 of the 1843 Tithe Map with Mrs Barker listed as tenant of the property.

Tithe Extract for plot 893.
Tithe Extract for plot 893.

The school was advertised in The Era on 2 February 1845.

Parade Grammar School advert
A newspaper advert for the Parade Grammar School.
Image Source The Era 02 Feb 1845

In 1846 the Independent Chapel (known as the Old Chapel) in Church Street, Epsom, had been extensively renovated, but a rift developed between "the rather eccentric Minister, the Rev. Thomas Lee" and elements in his congregation which may well have included Rev. Thomas Burgess Barker.

Evidently, however, Mr Barker ran into financial difficulties because The London Gazette in 1847 contains a reference to
'The Reverend Thomas Burgess Barker, formerly of the Parade, Epsom, in the county of Surrey, Schoolmaster, keeping the School there called the Parade Grammar School and late of High Street Epsom, out of business' - insolvent debtor.
For the 1851 Census the family was enumerated at Jewin Crescent, St Giles, Cripplegate. Thomas B Barker declared himself to be an Independent Minister and School Master - apparently at The Jewin Crescent School, supported by Dissenters of the three denominations, for 80 males and 47 female pupils (during 1835, the master and mistress had been allowed 50 and 30 emoluments respectively).

The Lancet London: A Journal of British and Foreign Medicine …, Volume 2, 15 September 1855, contained an advertisement: -
'Medical Classics - To Gentlemen qualifying for the Matriculation Examination of the London University, Aberdeen, and Apothecaries Hall, &c., the Rev.T. B. BARKER, Professor of Languages and Mathematics engages soundly to prepare them in the Medical Classics, &c, either in class or privately.
References to medical gentlemen of high standing can be given.For terms, &c. apply personally or by letter, at 21, Crescent, Jewin-street City.'
The Lancet, 1857,
'The Rev. T. B. BARKER, of Brunswick House, Barnsbury Park, continues to assist medical students in their preparations for examinations in medical classics'.
For the 1861 Census, the Barker family are to be found at Roman Road, Islington with a number of pupils.

The Lancet, 1863,
'T. B. BARKER prepares medical students for public and competitive examinations, Brunswick House, Roman-road,Barnsbury-park.'
By 1864, however, Thomas Burgess Barker had become the chaplain of Abney Park cemetery and lessee of Abney House, Stoke Newington, at no. 36 (later no. 106), on the north side of Church Street where with George Ingram he opened a boys' boarding school in 1869.

Barker's book Abney Park Cemetery: A Complete Descriptive Guide To Every Part of This Beautiful Depository Of The Dead, contained their advertisement: -

PUPILS are carefully prepared for the Universities, the Learned Professions, and the Civil Service. Special attention is given in this School to every branch of Study calculated to fit boys for Mercantile pursuits.
The Boarders are treated as members of the family. Their health and comfort, as also the formation of good habits and proper manners, are constantly attended to.
The principals are particularly anxious that the pupils should thoroughly understand what they do and why they do it, and to this end the course of study is carefully adapted.
REMEMBER, - The proper training and harmonious instruction of youth are the foundation on which rest good morals, real usefulness, and it may be true happiness, and this is the work of the school as well as of the parental home. For Testimonials, Terms, &c, apply at 36 Church Street.'
For the 1871 Census, Thomas Burgess Barker, Minister, and his wife, Jane, were enumerated in St Mary, Stoke Newington, London, Middlesex, England, with an 'Attendant'. The death of Mrs Jane Barker occurred in April 1873 and was registered at Islington.

Thomas B Barker appeared in the 1881 Census at 2 Victoria Place, Kilmarnock Road , Eastwood, Renfrewshire, Scotland, living with his son in law, Augustus H Clark, and married daughter Fanny Bertha. His demise is reported to have taken place on 25 April 1881, aged 81.

Brian Bouchard © June, 2017