Wednesday 31 July 2019

(385) Barker of Albrighton Hall

Barker of Albrighton
This family was established for several generations as farmers on the borderline between yeomen and gentry at Horton Hall in the parish of Tilston (Cheshire). They may conceivably have a common ancestry with the Barkers of Haughmond Abbey, whose earliest origins were not far away in north Shropshire, although no such connection has to my knowledge been suggested. They took as their coat of arms, however, that of the Raymond-Barker family of Fairford, who were descendants of the Haughmond family, and not that of the Haughmond family itself. The reason for this is obscure, and it may lie in a simple misunderstanding, although it is an error of a kind which the College of Arms did not often miss. 

Thomas Barker (1762-1823), with whom the genealogy below begins, only took over Horton Hall farm from his father in his later years, and earlier rented Erbistock Hall in Denbighshire, a substantial early 18th century brick mansion which formed part of the Wynnstay estate. It was here that his two sons, Thomas and John, were born in the 1790s. Thomas Barker (1794-1862), as the elder son, inherited the family farm, while John Barker (1795-1852) was apprenticed to a draper in Wrexham and while there is said to have joined the Congregational church. After completing his articles he moved to work in a drapery business in Wolverhampton, where he quickly became a leading figure in the Congregational church and superintendent of the Sunday Schools. As a young man he obviously exhibited the energetic application to business which the Victorians so much admired, and one of those he impressed was George Jones of Shackerley Hall, Donington (Shrops.), a local ironmaster. In 1822 he married Jones's daughter Theodosia (1801-82), and soon afterwards he formed a partnership with his father in law and James Foster of Stourton Castle (Staffs) which traded as the Chillington Ironworks Co. of Wolverhampton. John Barker became the managing partner of the firm, which quickly grew in size and profitability thanks to his energetic direction, and by 1842 he could afford to build himself a dignified late Georgian villa in Wolverhampton called Cleveland House, which stood close to the hospital (and which was only demolished about 2014, although it had long since ceased to be a private house). 

John Barker was High Sheriff of Staffordshire in 1851 but died soon after the completion of his term of office. Management of the Chillington Ironworks passed to his eldest sons, George Jones Barker (1825-92) and Thomas Barker (1827-1908), and in 1859 George purchased Albrighton Hall by his mother, who had purchased it in 1853. The earliest photograph of the house that I have traced shows it in 1899, when it had several robustly Italianate features which seem very likely to be additions made by George in the 1860s, and the lodge at the end of the drive is also of this date. In the 1870s, the Chillington Ironworks operated at a loss for several years in difficult trading conditions, and the directors took the bold decision to move into the production of edge tools, which quickly allowed a return to profitability. However, Thomas Barker had no sons and George Jones Barker's only son, John Raymond Barker (1869-1945) did not wish to enter the firm and instead became a barrister in London. The company therefore passed into other hands in the 1890s, and in 1891 George also sold Albrighton Hall, although there is some evidence that it was reacquired by the family in the 1930s, although they never lived there again. Although J.R. Barker never occupied Albrighton, he did rent a number of country houses (including Wroughton Hall (Wilts)) for short periods, but in his later years he settled at Budleigh Salterton in Devon, to which his son, George Theodosius Barker (1903-96) also retired.

Albrighton Hall, Shropshire

The first visual record of this house seems to be a photograph of 1899, which shows an Italianate five bay three-storey block with the end bays broken forward, a hipped roof with wide eaves, and bay windows on the end bays that have rather pretty ironwork verandas with swept roofs. The ground floor of the central three bays was also brought forward to form a sort of extended porch with an off-centre entrance. The house could be all of one build, but this feature in particular feels very much like an alteration, and it is possible that all the Italianate features of the building, including the oversailing roof and the bay windows on the end bays, date from a makeover in about 1860, and that the house as first built was a plain five bay three storey late Classical house with projecting end bays.

Albrighton Hall: the house in 1899. Image: Shropshire Archives PH/A/11/2/66

There was a house here, perhaps just a farmhouse, in the late 18th century. It was sold in 1806 to Thomas Oatley (d. 1834) and by the time it was advertised to let after his death, there was clearly a gentleman's house here. In 1835 it had an entrance hall, dining room 23' x 17'; drawing room 21' x 17'; study 12' x 12' and eight best bedrooms. It was let to the Parry family, who were still in occupation at the time of the census in the spring of 1851, but it was sold in 1853 to Theodosia Barker (1801-82), who sold it six years later to her elder son, George Jones Barker (1825-92). It was probably soon afterwards that he either rebuilt the house or made Italianate alterations to the building. He also constructed a new lodge in the same style.

Albrighton Hall: lodge, probably of c.1860 for George Jones Barker.
In 1891 George Barker sold Albrighton Hall to Colonel Lyon. It then contained 'a large entrance hall, four good reception rooms, ten bedrooms, three dressing rooms, a bathroom and a muniment room, in addition to the service accommodation. In 1923, he sold the house to a rather raffish Anglo-American couple called Jenks (he was English; she was American). In 1926 they were divorced, and the house may have stood empty for a while before being taken on by George Alan Thompson, a Wolverhampton brewer, who was resident by 1932. It would seem that the freehold may have been reacquired by the Barker family, for in 1941, J.R. Barker put it up for auction with a reserve of £13,000. It failed to sell, and soon afterwards was sold to Thompson by private treaty for £10,000. It was presumably Thompson who undertook a further remodelling of the house which completely removed its Victorian Italianate character.  The character of this work suggests it was done after the Second World War, but exactly when is obscure: a date in the late 40s or early 50s seems unlikely in view of the difficulty of getting building licences and materials at that time. The late 1950s or early 1960s seems more plausible, but the style of work would by then have been rather old-fashioned.

Descent: William Tenant of Little Aston (who let to Joseph Owen (d. 1789)); sold 1806 to Thomas Oatley (d. 1834); to son, Joseph Oatley (d. 1867), who let the house to James Parry (d. 1839) and later to his sister Anne Parry; sold 1853 to Theodosia Barker (1801-82); sold 1859 to son, George Jones Barker (1825-92), who sold 1891 to Alfred Charles Lyon (d. 1928); sold 1923 to Harry M. and Martha Washington Jenks (fl. 1923-31)... leased by 1932 and sold 1941 to George Alan Thompson (1893-1971); to son, Edwin John Thompson (1922-97); to son, David George Fossett Thompson (b. 1954).

Barker family of Horton and Albrighton Hall

Barker, Thomas (1762-1823). Son of Thomas Barker (1731-1820) of Cuddington, Tilston (Ches.) and his wife Catherine Rowland, born 1762 and baptised at Malpas (Ches.), 10 January 1763. Farmer at Erbistock Hall (Denbighs.) and later at Horton Hall, Tilston. He married, 14 February 1794 at Erbistock, Elizabeth (1766-1833), daughter and heiress of Richard Barnett of Elson, Ellesmere (Shrops.), and had issue:
(1) Thomas Barker (1794-1862), born 18 April and baptised at Erbistock, 19 April 1794; farmer at Horton Hall, Tilston; died without issue, and was buried at Tilston, 16 April 1862;
(2) John Barker (1795-1852) (q.v.). 
He inherited Horton Hall Farm, Tilston from his father in 1820 and rented Erbistock Hall (Denbighs.)
He was buried at Tilston, 28 November 1823. His widow was buried at Tilston, 1 February 1833.

Barker, John (1795-1852). Younger son of Thomas Barker (1762-1823) and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Barnett of Elson, Ellesmere (Shrops.), born 7 October and baptised at Erbistock (Denbighs.), 11 October 1795. Educated at Malpas (Ches.) and was apprenticed to a draper at Wrexham (Denbighs.); after completing his term he moved to work for a draper in Wolverhampton. In 1826 he went into partnership with his father-in-law and James Foster of Stourton Castle (Staffs) in the Chillington Ironworks Co, of which he became the managing partner. High Sheriff of Staffordshire in 1851; JP (from 1840) and DL (from 1852) for Staffordshire; JP and Alderman of Wolverhampton; Chairman of the Wolverhampton Board of Guardians. A Congregationalist in religion, he attended the Queen St. chapel in Wolverhampton, where he was for many years Superintendent of the Sunday Schools; in 1845 he helped to establish the Snow Hill Chapel, becoming a major contributor to the building fund. He was well-liked in Wolverhampton, and his swearing-in as High Sheriff in 1851 was attended by unusually large and enthusiastic crowds. He married, 4 December 1822 at Wolverhampton, Theodosia (1801-82), only daughter of George Jones of Shackerley Hall, Donnington (Shrops.) and had issue:
(1) Ellen Barker (1823-61), born 9 November and baptised at Queen St. Congregational Church, Wolverhampton, 18 December 1823; married 1st, 10 April 1849, Percival Foster (1816-54) of Clent House (Worcs), second son of William Foster of Wordsley House (Staffs), and had issue three sons; married 2nd, 4 December 1860, at Clent (Worcs), John Russell Cookes JP DL (1814-92) of Woodhampton House, Shrawley (Worcs), Master of the Worcestershire Hunt, 1847-49 and 1857-64, and had issue one daughter; died 25 September 1861; administration of goods granted to her husband, 26 April 1862 (effects under £10,000);
(2) George Jones Barker (1825-92) (q.v.);
(3) Thomas Barker (1827-1908), born 24 July and baptised at Queen St. Congregational Church, 26 September 1827; lived at Womborne Woodhouse and later at Tong Lodge (Salop); partner with his brother George in Chillington Ironworks, Wolverhampton. JP and DL for Staffordshire; married, 7 July 1857, Laura Emily (c.1838-99), daughter of Thomas Moss Phillips of Earlswood, Penn (Staffs), and had issue four daughters; died 13 September 1908; will proved 30 October 1908 (estate £32,745);
(4) Barnett Barker (1831-32), born 31 August and baptised at Queen St. Congregational Church, Wolverhampton, 5 December 1831; died in infancy and was buried at Wolverhampton, 2 May 1832;
(5) Mary Barnett Barker (1833-46), born 28 July and baptised at Queen St. Congregational Church, Wolverhampton, 28 November 1833; died young and was buried at Wolverhampton, 1 June 1846;
(6) Catherine Barker (1834-1927), born 31 August and baptised at Queen St. Congregational Church, Wolverhampton, 1 March 1835; married, 20 October 1858 at Leamington Priors (Warks), Capt. Henry Thomas Hickman (1833-1917) of Leamington Spa, second son of Rev. Henry Hickman of Bell Hall, Belbroughton (Worcs) and had issue two sons and one daughter; died aged 92 at Leamington Spa (Warks), 27 March 1927; will proved 23 May 1927 (estate £24,978);
(7) Maj. John Barnett Barker (1836-1905), born 4 October and baptised at Queen St. Congregational Church, Wolverhampton, 25 December 1836; an officer in the army (Ensign, 1855; Lt., 1857; Capt., 1858 (when he became the youngest Capt. in the army); retired as Maj., 1868), who served in the Indian Mutiny and was recommended for the VC; he was later adjutant of Royal Denbigh Militia and Chief Constable of Birkenhead (Ches.); he was physically extremely fit and once swam across the Solent 'for a trifling wager'; he lived latterly at Frant (Sussex); married, 12 June 1867 at Cashel (Co. Tipperary), Mary Elizabeth (d. 1886), daughter of Capt. Jacob Hierom Sankey RN of Coolmore (Co. Tipperary), and had issue three sons and four daughters; died in Sidmouth (Devon), 19 October 1905; will proved 18 November 1905 (estate £7,800);
(8) Esther Bennett Barker (1837-1914), born Oct-Dec 1837; died unmarried in Eastbourne, 21 May 1914, and was buried at Merridale Cemetery, Wolverhampton; will proved 20 June 1914 (estate £9,763);
(9) Alfred Barker (b. 1840), born Oct-Dec 1840; unmarried and living with his mother in 1861; his death has not been traced;
(10) Henry Theodosius Barker (1841-1917) of Broad St., Ludlow (Shrops.); an officer in the Staffordshire Yeomanry Cavalry (Cornet, 1862; Lt., 1864; retired 1879); timber merchant in partnership with William Beddows (retired 1883); married, 12 April 1871 at Ludlow, Mary, only child of Henry Hodges of Ludlow, surgeon, but had no issue; died suddenly, 18 July 1917 and was buried at Wolverhampton; will proved 28 September 1917 (estate £20,083);
(11) Alice Rosa Barker (1843-87), born Jul-Sept 1843; an accomplished rider to hounds; died unmarried, apparently of exhaustion, while walking in the Swiss alps near Pronemtogno, 13 October 1887, and was buried at Wolverhampton; will proved 15 February 1888 (estate £8,084);
(12) Rev. Rowland Vectis Barker (1846-1926); born 4 August 1846; educated at Shrewsbury Sch. and Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1865; BA 1869; MA 1872); ordained deacon, 1871 and priest, 1872; vicar of St Paul, Preston, 1879-85, Lakenham (Norfk), 1885-94 and Arminghall, 1890-94; vicar of Bramford, 1894-1904; rector of Henstead (Suffk), 1904-18, and honorary canon of Norwich Cathedral, 1910-14 and St Edmundsbury, 1914-26; proctor in convocation for Archdeaconry of Suffolk, 1906-19; married, 6 November 1883, Elizabeth (1860-1946), only child of Sir Robert Harry Inglis Palgrave FRS and had issue four sons and one daughter; died 8 November 1926; will proved 22 January 1927 (estate £24,639);
(13) Lucy Ann Barker (1844-45), born 28 December 1844; died in infancy, 15 December 1845. 
He lived at Cleveland House, Wolverhampton. After his death his widow lived at Brewood (Staffs). She purchased Albrighton Hall in 1853 and sold it to her eldest son in 1859.
He died 5 November 1852; his will was proved in the PCC, 25 April 1853. His widow died at Leamington Spa, 19 February 1882; her will was proved 27 April 1882 (estate £14,062).

Barker, George Jones (1825-92). Eldest son of John Barker (1797-1852) and his wife Theodosia, only daughter of George Jones of Shackerley Hall, Donnington (Shrops.), born 17 September and baptised 10 November 1825. Ironmaster; Chairman of Chillington Iron Works Co., Wolverhampton; Chairman of South Staffordshire Ironmasters Association. JP and DL (from 1857) for Staffordshire and JP for Shropshire. He was a Liberal in politics and efforts were made to get him to stand for Parliament in 1859, but he declined. He married, 11 December 1855 at St James, Paddington (Middx), Sarah (1834-77), younger daughter of James Cunliffe of London, banker, and had issue:
(1) John Raymond Barker  (1869-1945) (q.v.).
He purchased Albrighton Hall from his mother in 1859, and was probably responsible for the Italianate remodelling. He sold it in 1891.
He died 27 April 1892; will proved 1 June 1892 (effects £23,463). His wife was buried at Albrighton, 13 April 1877.

Barker, John Raymond (1869-1945). Only son of George Jones Barker (1825-92) and his wife Sarah, younger daughter of James Cunliffe of London, banker, born 18 November and baptised at Albrighton, 6 December 1869. Educated at Shrewsbury School, Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1888; BA 1891) and Lincolns Inn (called 1894). Barrister-at-law. A freemason from 1921. He married, 29 November 1900 at St. Gabriel, Warwick Sq., London, Laura Alice (1880-1960), eldest daughter of Major Philip F. Tallents of Brynllithrig Hall, St. Asaph (Denbighs.) and had issue:
(1) Christine Laura Barker (1901-67), born 4 October 1901; married, 4 October 1922 at St Stephen, Kensington, Brig. Reginald Alfred Boxshall, son of Col. Henry Edwin Boxshall of Woking (Surrey) and had issue one daughter; died 24 February 1967; will proved 5 April 1967 (estate £3,118);
(2) George Theodosius Barker (1903-96) (q.v.).
He lived in London and at Wroughton Hall near Swindon (Wilts), and later at Budleigh Salterton (Devon).
He died 24 or 26 November 1945; his will was proved 26 March 1946 (estate £7,268). His widow died 2 February 1960; her will was proved 29 April 1960 (estate £2,076).

Barker, George Theodosius (1903-96). Only son of John Raymond Barker (1869-1945) and his wife Laura Alice, eldest daughter of Maj. P.F. Tallents of Nythfa, St. Asaph (Denbighs.), born 23 July 1903. Educated at Eton. Brewer. He married, 7 August 1937, Sylvia Burnaby (1904-98), chartered physiotherapist, daughter of Dr. Arthur William James MD of London W2 and had issue:
(1) Penelope Anne Barker (b. 1938), born 25 August 1938; trained as a nurse at University College Hospital, London, 1960;
(2) Leslie Margot Barker (b. 1940), born 23 August 1940; trained as a nurse at Hammersmith Hospital, London, 1962; married, Jul-Sept 1963, Paul Davenport; now living.
He lived at The Beeches, Barton-under-Needwood (Staffs) and latterly at Budleigh Salterton (Devon).
He died aged 92 on 7 April 1996; his will was proved 19 June 1996. His wife died 16 January 1988; her will was proved 18 March 1988 (estate under £70,000).


Burke's Landed Gentry, 1952, pp. 112-13.

Location of archives

No significant accumulation is known to survive.

Coat of arms

Azure, five escallops in cross or

Can you help?

  • If anyone can provide firm information about the ownership and building development of Albrighton Hall, or additional photographs of the house, I should be very pleased to hear from them.
  • I should be most grateful if anyone can provide photographs or portraits of people whose names appear in bold above, and who are not already illustrated.
  • As always, any additions or corrections to the account given above will be gratefully received and incorporated.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 31 July 2019 and updated 10-16 February, 22-25 September, 8 and 17 October 2020 and 28 July 2021. I am grateful to Liz Bowsher for corrections and additions.


  1. Hello, My great grandmother Mary Monk was ladies maid to Sarah and is shown on 1861 census as such. I have a picture of the Hall, black and white which looks nothing like the picture here.

    1. Thank you for getting in touch. The house looked very different before it was remodelled in the 20th century. I would be very interested to see your picture and - should you be willing for me to do so - perhaps to include it in my piece above, as the only view I have of the house at this time I cannot use for copyright reasons. If you would be happy for me to use your picture, please use the contact form in the right-hand side bar on this page to contact me privately and I will send you my email address. Nick Kingsley.

  2. The last photo is not the halli can say that 100% because I've worked for the Thompson family for over 35 years

  3. Dear Sir/Madam, I have a Rigby percussion target rifle first owned by Major John Barnett Barker. He bought it new from Rigby's in early 1865. Does a picture exist of this gentleman.

    1. I am afraid I do not know of one, although it seems very likely that one exists. Perhaps a reader of this article can oblige?


Please leave a comment if you have any additional information or corrections to offer, or if you are able to help with additional images of the people or buildings in this post.