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Barker, Christopher (d.1549) (DNB00)


BARKER, Sir CHRISTOPHER (d. 1549), Garter king of arms, was the son of William Barker of Stokesley, Yorkshire, by Joan, daughter of William Carlille or Carlisle, and a relative of William or Christopher Carlisle, Norroy king of arms, who died in 1511. Barker was originally in the service of Sir Charles Brandon. On his creation as Viscount Lisle, Brandon attached Barker to his household as Lysley pursuivant (15 May 1513), and on the viscount's elevation to the rank of Duke of Suffolk, Barker was admitted by Henry VIII at Eltham into the office of Suffolk herald (1 Feb. 1516–17). Shortly afterwards he abandoned the duke's service for the College of Arms, and filled in succession the chief posts there. He was at first Calais pursuivant extraordinary, and afterwards Rougedragon pursuivant. In April 1522 he became Richmond herald at twenty marks a year. In 1524 he accompanied Sir Richard Wingfield and others on an embassy to Spain. Sir Richard died while abroad, and Barker solemnised the funeral. In 1529 he attended Tunstall, bishop of London, and Sir Thomas More on an embassy to Cambray in Flanders, and in 1530 accompanied the Earl of Wiltshire to Germany. In the capacity of Richmond herald he assisted at the formal creation of Anne Boleyn as Marchioness of Pembroke (1 Sept. 1532) and at her coronation on 29 May 1533. On 26 Nov. 1534 he promised a pension of 10l. to Thomas Tong, Clarencieux king of arms, if he should be promoted Garter king of arms, on the understanding that Tong should not himself apply for the post. In June 1536 Barker became Norroy king of arms, and on 9 July following was created Garter king. In 1544 he attended the Duke of Suffolk in command of the expedition to France (Rymer's Fœdera, xv. 52–3), and was subsequently with Henry VIII at Calais. In 1546 he was present at the trial of the Earl of Surrey, and in February 1547–8 assisted at the coronation of Edward VI. Shortly afterwards Barker was made a knight of the Bath; a special exemption had to be procured to enable him to accept the honour, as the officials of the College of Arms were legally ineligible for such distinctions, and on no other member of the college before or since has a like dignity been conferred.

Sir Christopher died at the close of 1549 or early in January 1549–50. His will bears date 3 Dec. 1549, and was proved on 6 April following. He was buried ‘in the Long Chapple next S. Faith's Church in S. Paul's.’ Sir Christopher possessed large house property in Lime Street, St. Nicholas and Ivy Lanes, London, and land at Wanstead. He owned a house in Paternoster Row. His property in Lime Street was left on the death of his wife to the Company of Vintners and their successors for ever. Sir Christopher was thrice married: first, to May, daughter and coheir of Robert Spacelby of Worcestershire, who died in 1520; secondly, to Alice or Eleanor, daughter of Richard Dalton, by whom he had two sons; and, thirdly, to Edith, daughter of John Boys of Godneston, near Sittingbourne, Kent, who died in September 1550. Sir Christopher's only children, his two sons Justinian and Christopher, by his second wife, both died before him. Justinin was born in 1523, became Rougecroix pursuivant and Rysbank pursuivant extraordinary late in the reign of Henry VIII, and died while in Spain before 1549. Edward Barker, a nephew, ultimately succeeded to Sir Christopher's property.

A portrait of Barker is given in the picture of the procession of Edward VI from the Tower of London to Westminster before his coronation. He is there riding with the lord mayor between the emperor's ambassador and the Duke of Somerset. The picture, formerly at Cowdray House, Sussex, was burnt in 1793, but an engraving was previously prepared by the Society of Antiquaries and was published in 1797. A reduced copy of the engraving appears in the New Shakspere Society's edition of Harrison's ‘England.’ Another portrait of Barker is given in Dallaway's ‘Inquiries into Heraldry.’

[Noble's History of the College of Arms; Carlisle's Family of Carlisle, 1822, pp. 371–2; Anstis's Register of the Garter, i. 376–9; Letters and Papers of the Reign of Henry VIII for the years 1523, 1529, 1530, 1532–3.]

S. L. L.