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Barton, Thomas (1730?-1780) (DNB00)

BARTON, THOMAS (1730?–1780), divine, was a native of Ireland, but descended from an English family which settled there in the reign of Charles I. After graduating at Dublin University he emigrated to America, and in 1751 opened a school at Norriston, Pennsylvania, being then about twenty-one years of age. He was for some time tutor at the academy (now university) at Philadelphia. In 1753 Barton married Esther Rittenhouse, the daughter of a neighbouring farmer, and sister of Dr. David Rittenhouse, the distinguished mathematician and astronomer, whose close friendship he enjoyed until his death. In 1754 Barton went to England, where he received episcopal orders. He returned to America as a missionary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, with which he remained connected until 1759. He accompanied, as chaplain, the expedition to Fort du Quesne (now Pittsburg), which ended in the defeat and death of its leader, General Braddock. On leaving York county, Pennsylvania, he settled at Lancaster as rector of St. James's. Here he remained nearly twenty years, dividing his time between the duties of his office and the pursuit of natural history. At last his adherence to the royalist party compelled him to quit his post, and he removed to New York, where he died, 25 May 1780, aged 50. His wife seems long to have survived him. Benjamin Smith Barton, the American physician and naturalist, was one of his children.

[Barton's Memoirs of David Rittenhouse, Philadelphia, 1813, pp. 100, 112, 287; Thacher's American Medical Biography, 1828, p. 139 note.]

A. R. B.