BARRY, James, 4th Earl of Barrymore [I] (1667-1748).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1710 - 1713
30 Apr. 1714 - 1715
1715 - 1727
1734 - 1747

Family and Education

b. 1667, 1st surv. s. of Richard Barry, 2nd Earl of Barrymore [I], by his 3rd w. Dorothy, da. and h. of John Ferrar of Dromore, co. Down. m. (1) Elizabeth (d. Oct. 1703), sis. of Charles Boyle, 3rd Earl of Cork [I], da. of Charles Boyle, M.P., 3rd Baron Clifford, by Lady Jane Seymour, da. of William, 3rd Duke of Somerset, 1s. (d.v.p.) 2da., (2) June 1706 (unknown to her father), Lady Elizabeth Savage (d. 19 Mar. 1714), da. of Richard Savage, M.P., 4th Earl Rivers, 1da.; (3) 12 July 1716, Lady Anne Chichester, da. of Arthur, 3rd Earl of Donegall [I], by Catherine, da. of Arthur Forbes, 1st Earl of Granard [I], 4s. 2da. suc. half-bro. Laurence as 4th Earl, 17 Apr. 1699.

Offices Held

Capt. Col. Richards’s Ft. May 1689; col. 13 Ft. 1702-15; brig.-gen. 1706; maj.-gen. 1709; lt.-gen. 1710; P.C. [I] 1714-d.

Mayor, Wigan 1725, 1734.


Barrymore’s father sat in James II’s Irish Parliament of May 1689; his elder brother was attainted by that body for remaining in England.1 After succeeding to the title, he himself obtained a pardon for all treasons etc. committed,2 bought a foot regiment,3 served with distinction in Spain,4 and in 1710 entered Parliament as a Tory.

In 1715 Barrymore was returned for Wigan, where he had acquired the Rivers interest through his second marriage. On the outbreak of the rebellion he was among the officers who were dismissed or required to sell their regiments on security grounds.5 He was one of the ten members of the Cheshire Club who decided by a casting vote not to join Thomas Forster and afterwards unanimously agreed to have their portraits painted to commemorate their ‘fortunate decision’.6 Voting consistently with the Opposition, he observed, 27 Apr. 1717:

Nobody has more thorough contempt for ministers and what is called men in great offices than I have. I cannot remember they ever did true service to their country, they minded indeed strengthening themselves to carry on private piques and getting as much money as they could, but I have observed that when such people fall out, now and then some good come on it, so it may prove now; for which reason I would not be absent at this juncture. It may be in a man’s vote at this time to do some good which, perhaps, may never again be in his power.7

Re-elected for Wigan in 1722, he stood down in 1727 but resumed his seat in 1734 to take part in the opposition to Walpole. On a vote for maintaining the army at its existing strength he wrote, 4 Feb. 1738:

We were terribly defeated yesterday, 248 against 164. The question was whether 12,000 or 17,704, which are now part of our constitution. I never knew more said for the reduction, or less against it. Sir Robert had recourse to his old friend, and called loudly on him for his assistance, the Pretender. ... And now I leave you and your neighbours to judge whether we have not a fine prospect, when the army is made a part of the constitution.8

Though mentioned in the Stuart correspondence in 1730,9 Barrymore did not become prominent as a Jacobite till 1740 when, at the age of 73, he was brought in as a military expert to discussions between English Jacobite leaders and an emissary from the Pretender about a projected rising with support from the French Government. Most of the English Jacobites showed themselves ‘timorous and backward’, but on a lead from Barrymore they agreed to send assurances to Cardinal Fleury ‘that they will not fail to join such troops as the King of France should send to their assistance’. Barrymore himself volunteered to go to Paris to confirm this and to ‘assure the Cardinal of such a concurrence as will secure a restoration’.10 From Paris he wrote to the Pretender on 23 May 1740:

Your faithful servants think by many incidents lately happened that the present juncture is much the most favourable that has been for many years, and if anything can be had from this side, I should not fear of success, but to make any attempt, unless a sufficient force was at hand to resort to, would only add strength to your enemies and certain ruin to your Majesty’s friends; what can be expected from hence I fear are only fair words, I wish I may be deceived, but am sure I succeeded in demonstrating the feasibleness of the undertaking.11

At an interview with Fleury he ‘urged the affair with great earnestness and omitted nothing that might encourage him to enter upon it’ but only obtained a promise from the Cardinal to send a personal agent to England to report on the situation there.12 On learning that the agent had reported unfavourably Barrymore wrote

I am sorry the gentleman who was here in July last made a report so different from what he seemed to me to have full satisfaction in. What new lies he acquired afterwards he knows best ... I need not trouble you further on that subject than to repeat that he might easily have seen people of great distinction and have freely conversed with them ... but the occasion is past and I shall mention it no more.

He added that it was impracticable to give written pledges, as had been ‘hinted at’ by Fleury, as ‘people can never be brought to run the risk’, but that ‘if a proper support appears they will join heart and hand, draw their swords, and throw away their scabbards’.13

When in the spring of 1742 it was decided to send a British army to Flanders, Barrymore urged that as soon as the troops had sailed the Pretender should land with ‘ten thousand French troops upon the coast of Sussex, Kent or Essex, and march directly to London, where he was persuaded his Majesty would be received with general satisfaction, and joined by such numbers as would determine the rest of the kingdom to follow the example of the capital’.14 He also delivered a letter from the Pretender to the Duke of Argyll, a step which he had recommended in 1740, when he had suggested putting the question to him ‘of what he would do if he was offered foreign assistance to dispose of’ and of representing to him ‘all the consequences of his joining, and how honourable they would be to him’.15 Argyll forwarded the letter to the Government; the whole story was published; and the Pretender’s general, as Barrymore was now known in London, retired to Ireland in discomfiture.16

After Fleury’s death in 1743 the French Government came round to the idea of an invasion and sent an agent to England to discuss plans for a simultaneous rising.17 It was agreed that the French should land 10,000 men at Maldon in Essex in February 1744 with arms and ammunition for the English Jacobite forces; and ‘Lord Barrymore, on whom the English nobles rely to carry out this great scheme, because of his unfailing zeal and his military experience, pledges himself to His Most Christian Majesty to be on the coast to welcome the French troops’. Barrymore was to be sent commissions by the Pretender and to allocate them ‘by the opinion of the Duke of Ormonde’.18 He not only undertook to provide a sum of £12,000 to finance the rising19 but, ‘comme un gage de sa fidélité, qui valait bien au moins les signatures que le roi [Louis XV] avait demandées et que ce seigneur et ses amis n’avaient osé donner’, sent his second son Richard Barry to France in January to accompany the expedition.20

Towards the end of February, when the expedition was about to embark, the Government arrested a Jacobite agent, whose papers implicated Barrymore in the threatened invasion.21 On 27 Feb. he was arrested and examined by the Cabinet, replying to their questions:

I have, my lords, a very good estate in Ireland, and, on that, I believe, fifteen hundred acres of very bad land; now by G-d, I would not risk the loss of the poorest acre of them to defend the title of any king in Europe, provided— it was not my interest.22

Next day the House of Commons was informed of his arrest and legislation was introduced for the suspension of Habeas Corpus. He remained under house arrest till the end of March, when, the French expedition having been abandoned, he was released on bail.23

Throughout the rest of 1744 Barrymore sent messages to France pressing for an invasion. In May 1744 he urged that the situation was extremely favourable, with the country so denuded of troops and the people so exasperated against the Government by the suspension of Habeas Corpus and other emergency measures that, in his own words, ‘it will be over shoes, over boots, once landed’.24 In June he recommended that ‘Mathews’s fleet be attacked without loss of time ... being fully satisfied that if it is done that not one of the English ships will escape’.25 In December 1744, the Pretender was informed that ‘Lord Barrymore and the rest of your Majesty’s English friends in the secret are pressing to know what they may expect this season, in order to take suitable measures as to their attendance and behaviour in Parliament’.26 In August 1745, after the Young Pretender had already landed in Scotland, Barrymore and other leading English Jacobites sent a collective appeal to the French Government to land 10,000 men in Essex, with arms and equipment for 30,000 men and a regiment of cavalry, promising to raise the Pretender’s standard the moment the French disembarked.27 During the rebellion he and other heads of the party were described as ‘languishing for the landing of troops’, without which ‘they dont find it in their power to make a step’, though they would certainly ‘join the Prince if H.R.H. could force his way to them’.28 In November, learning that the French were at last preparing an expedition, Barrymore sent a message to France that ‘Essex is the most convenient place of landing the troops on account of its vicinity to London and the facility of joining them. ... The King’s friends entreat in the most earnest and pressing manner that the troops be sent without delay there being nothing at present to obstruct the expedition, for Admiral Vernon had only two frigates with him, Lord Barrymore desires he may have some warning in order to secure himself and the King’s friends’.29 Seven days later (11 Nov. 1745) the Young Pretender wrote to Barrymore in Cheshire:

This is to acquaint you with the success we have had since our arrival in Scotland, and how far we are advanced without repulse. We are now a numerous army, and are laying siege to Carlisle this day ... After that we intend to take our route straight to London, and if things answer our expectations we design to be in Cheshire before the 24th inst. Then I hope you and all my friends in the county will be ready to join us. For now is the time or never.

But Barrymore was in London, and the letter was intercepted and handed over to the Cheshire magistrates by his eldest son Lord Buttevant, who was pro-Government.30 A month later Richard Barry arrived at Derby with a message from his father and Wynn offering to join Prince Charles ‘either in the capital or every one to rise in his own county’, only to find that the Prince had left two days before on his way back to Scotland.31

After the collapse of the rebellion, Barrymore’s treasonable conversations in 1743 were disclosed by Murray of Broughton, turning King’s evidence; but the Government took no action apart from allowing the facts to be made public at Lord Lovat’s trial in 1747.32 Barrymore died 5 Jan. 1748, leaving the English Jacobites ‘without a head ... dispirited, frighted out of their wits by what had happened and without any trust in one another’.33

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. A James Barry, probably a namesake, sat in the Irish Parliament for Rathcormuck.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1699-1700, p. 410.
  • 3. Lodge, Peerage of Ireland, i. 307.
  • 4. Luttrell, vi. 442, 473-4.
  • 5. Dalton, Geo. I's Army, i. 188; Pol. State, x. 98.
  • 6. Ormerod, Cheshire, i. 557.
  • 7. Rylands, Crawford mss.
  • 8. HMC 15th Rep. VII, 319.
  • 9. Chas. Shepheard to the Pretender, 25 Jan. 1730, Stuart mss 133/151.
  • 10. Ld. Sempill and Col. Brett to the Pretender, 28 Mar. 1740, Stuart mss 221/107, 109.
  • 11. Stuart mss 222/128.
  • 12. Sempill to John Edgar, 6 June 1740, to the Pretender, 13 June 1740, ibid. 223/67, 124.
  • 13. Enc. in Sempill to the Pretender, 13 Mar. 1741, ibid. 231/110.
  • 14. Murray of Broughton (Sc. Hist. Soc. xxvii), 406-7.
  • 15. Ld. John Drummond to the Pretender, 26 May 1740, Stuart mss 222/141.
  • 16. Walpole to Mann, 30 June 1742; Sempill to the Pretender, 1, 8 Apr. 1742, Stuart mss 248/182.
  • 17. Murray of Broughton, 456-7.
  • 18. Stuart mss 253/51-52.
  • 19. Murray of Broughton, loc. cit.
  • 20. J. Colin, Louis XV et les Jacobites, 49-50.
  • 21. Murray of Broughton, 406-8.
  • 22. J. R. Robinson, Last Earls of Barrymore, 3-4.
  • 23. Add. 33004, f. 82.
  • 24. Stuart mss 257/55.
  • 25. Balhaldy to the Pretender, 29 June 1744, Stuart mss 257/169.
  • 26. Sempill to the Pretender, 7 Dec. 1744, ibid. 260/110.
  • 27. Murray of Broughton, 510.
  • 28. Sempill to the Pretender, 13 Sept., 12 Oct., 1745, Stuart mss 268/5, 269/109.
  • 29. Dr. Barry to Balhaldy, 4 Nov. 1745, Stuart mss 270/105.
  • 30. A. C. Ewald, Life and Times of Prince Chas. Stuart (1904 ed.), 556.
  • 31. Mahon, iii. 277.
  • 32. See WILLIAMS, Watkin.
  • 33. Balhaldy to the Pretender, 26 Oct. 1749, Stuart mss 301/5.