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Barwick, John (1612-1664) (DNB00)


BARWICK, JOHN (1612–1664), dean of St. Paul's, was born at Wetherslack, in Westmoreland. His parents probably belonged to that yeoman class which is so numerous in the north, for they are described as 'honest people who had a small estate.' John was the third of five sons, and he and his brother Peter [q. v.] were selected by their parents as the two who were to be ' bred scholars.' After having spent a little time unsatisfactorily at two or three small grammar schools in the neighbourhood of his home he was sent to Sedbergh school, in Yorkshire, where he made great progress in his studies. In 1631 he proceeded to St. John's College, Cambridge, where he won so high a reputation that, either before or immediately after taking his B.A. degree (1635), he was deputed by the college to represent its interests in a dispute respecting the election of a new master. Boy though he was, he discharged his important trust most successfully, and was presently elected fellow of the college. Ho received holy orders, and in 1638 took his M.A. degree. But he was not destined to continue long in the peaceable enjoyment of his fellowship. The civil war broke out, and in 1642 the royalists at Cambridge raised a sum of money for the king, and arranged to transmit it to him, together with some college plate. The parliament received information of what was going on, and sent Cromwell with a party of foot to a place called Lower Hedges, between Cambridge and Huntingdon, for the purpose of cutting off the supplies. This fact becoming known, a party of horse was formed, of which Barwick was one, who conveyed the treasure through byroads to Nottingham, where the king had set up his standard. The parliament were so provoked at being out-manoeuvred that they sent Cromwell with a body of troops, who committed great ravages in the university. This called forth two strong remonstrances, in both of which Barwick took a prominent part. The first was entitled 'Certain Disquisitions representing to the Conscience the Unlawfulness of the Solemn League and Covenant,' the first edition of which was immediately seized and burned, so that the earliest edition extant is the second, published in 1644. The second and more famous remonstrance was that entitled 'Querela Cantabrigiensis,' a pamphlet of about thirty pages, which is largely quoted in Walker's' Sufferings of the Clergy.' Barwick, who was well known to have been a chief author of these pieces, was forced to leave Cambridge, and of course lost his fellowship. He found a firm patron in Bishop Morton, who made him his chaplain, and gave him the fourth stall at Durham Cathedral and the rectories of Houghtonle-Spring and Walsingham ; these, however, were but nominal preferments, for the poor bishop was deprived of all substantial patronage. Barwick settled in Loudon, and threw himself heart and soul into the king's cause. He carried on a private correspondence between London and Oxford, which was then the king's head-quarters; he communicated to the king all the designs and attempts of the rebels, and conveyed his majesty's orders to the friends of the royal cause. In order that he might carry on these negotiations with greater safety, he became an inmate of Durham House, the London residence of his patron, the Bishop of Durham. This answered a double purpose. Durham House was so spacious a mansion that he could the more easily hide in it, if necessary, the ciphers relating to the king's business : and he was able, if asked what he was doing in London, to reply that he was acting as chaplain to Bishop Morton. He had, moreover, the opportunity of reclaiming to loyalty some who had been led away by the great speakers of the Long parliament; among others Sir Thomas Middleton and Colonel Roger Pope. The services which Barwick rendered to the royal cause were immense. He had a large share in bringing about the treaty of the Isle of Wight; and after the death of Charles I he at once transferred his allegiance and active services to Charles II. But his health was terribly shattered, partly by over-anxious work, partly by grief at the loss of his royal master; and had not his two brothers, Peter and Edward, come to his assistance, he would have completely broken down. First Peter, and then Edward, helped him by attending the post-office on the days when letters came in or went out; and by this means John's labours were relieved, and 'he, whose interest it was to keep close, was less seen abroad.' The service, however, was a very hazardous one, and the Barwicks were soon betrayed by the treachery of a post-office official named Bostock. John was charged with high treason, and was committed (April 1650), first to the Gatehouse prison at Westminster, and then to the Tower. Neither the threats of torture nor the most magnificent promises could induce him to betray any of the king's secrets; and, with great presence of mind, he managed to burn all his ciphers while the officers were breaking open the doors of his chamber to arrest him, so that his papers disclosed nothing. The history of his life in the Tower is one that might gladden the hearts of vegetarians and total abstainers. He was supposed to be a dying man; indeed his friend, Mr. Otway, had undertaken the care of decently interring him, a task which he expected soon to have to fulfil. But the extreme simplicity of Barwick's diet in the Tower (he lived on herbs and fruit or thin water gruel, and drank nothing but spring water), combined, no doubt, with the necessary abstention from all business—for he was forbidden the use of pen, ink, and paper, and of all books except the Bible—wrought so wonderful a change in his health, that when Mr. Otway, by permission of President Bradshaw, visited him, he could not believe that the hale, stout man who received him was the Dr. Barwick whom he expected to find a living skeleton. For two years and four months Barwick was kept in durance. Mr. Browne, the deputy-lieutenant of the Tower, was so struck with his christian demeanour that he was won over to the religion of his prisoner, and had his child baptised by Barwick according to the rites of the church of England. Mr. West, lieutenant of the Tower, was so attracted by Barwick, that he soon relaxed the rigour with which the prisoner had at first been treated. Barwick was released, without any trial, in August 1652, and repaired first to his old friend and patron, Bishop Morton, who received him with the utmost cordiality; he next visited his aged parents, and then resided for some months in the house of Sir T. Eversfield in Sussex. He finally took up his abode in his brother Peter's house in St. Paul's Churchyard, and renewed his management of the king's correspondence with as much care, secresy, and success as ever. He visited Dr. Hewitt, preacher at St. Gregory's, when he was imprisoned for conspiring against Cromwell, and attended him at the last scene on the scaffold (June 1658), when he received from him a ring with the motto 'Alter Aristides,' which he wore until his death. He was also with Bishop Morton in his last moments (22 Sept. 1659), preached his funeral sermon, and wrote his life (1660). Barwick took as important a part in the affairs of the church as in those of the state, receiving valuable aid in this department from Dr. Allestree. As the old bishops were, one by one, dying off, and no new ones were consecrated in their place, apprehensions were entertained lest the episcopal succession should be lost. In 1659 Barwick was employed to ride about among the surviving bishops, and gather their opinions about preserving the succession. He was then sent over by the bishops to report the state of church affairs to the king at Breda. There he preached before the king, and was immediately appointed one of the royal chaplains; he presented to Charles many petitions on behalf of his friends, but none on his own behalf. He showed the same unselfishness at the Restoration; he relinquished his right to his fellowship at St. John's, because the intruder had the character of being 'a hopeful young man of learning and probity.' He showed his gratitude to his old tutor at St. John's, Mr. Fothergill, by procuring for him a prebend at York; but for himself he was quite content to be reinstated in his old preferments. But his services to church and king were too great to be overlooked. It was first proposed to make him bishop of Man; but the see, which, under any circumstances, he would have refused, could not be offered to him, as the Countess of Derby required it for her own chaplain. The king then desired to make him bishop of Carlisle; but he absolutely declined to accept a mitre at all, lest people should imagine that his zeal to maintain the episcopal succession arose from a hope that he should some day be a bishop. He accepted, however, the deanery of Durham, to which he was appointed on All Saints' Day 1660; and in the following October he was transferred to the deanery of St. Paul's, a post of more anxiety and less emolument. Both at Durham and St. Paul's he used his utmost energies to restore the fabrics and the services after their long neglect, and in London especially he made his mark by reviving the old choral services. He was prominent also in other ways. In conjunction with Dr. (afterwards Archbishop) Dolben, he visited Hugh Peters, in order to extract from him some account of the person who actually cut off the head of Charles I; but the attempt failed. He was one of the nine assistants of the bishops at the Savoy conference, and he was unanimously elected prolocutor of the lower house of convocation of the province of Canterbury. In 1662 his health began to fail, and he purposed giving up all his appointments and retiring to a country living; but he did not live to carry out this purpose. He died in London from an attack of pleurisy, which carried him off in three days. In his last moments he was attended by his old friend, Peter Gunning, who preached his funeral sermon, Henchman, Bishop of London, performing the obsequies. He was buried in St. Paul's, 'depositing,' as his epitaph says, 'his last remains among those ruinous ones, being confident of the resurrection both of the one and the other.' Beyond the writings already mentioned Dr. Barwick published nothing except a sermon in 1661; but though he has not immortalised himself by his pen, he has, by his deeds, left behind him a name which will always be venerated by English churchmen. He is said to have furnished Lord Clarendon with materials for writing his history, but this does not appear to be certain.

[Vita Joannis Barwick by Peter Barwick, and English translation by Hilkiah Bedford; Walker's Sufferings of the Clergy, pt. ii. p. 20; Granger's History of England; John Barwick's Works.]

J. H. O.