Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Barrow, William

BARROW, WILLIAM (1754–1836), archdeacon of Nottingham, sprang from a Westmoreland family, and proceeded in due time to Queen's College, Oxford, where in 1778 he gained the chancellor's English essay on academical education. This essay was afterwards considerably enlarged and published as ‘An Essay on Education; in which are particularly considered the Merits and the Defects of the Discipline and Instruction in our Academies,’ 2 vols., 1802 (and again in 1804). In 1799 he took the degree of D.C.L., and preached as the Bampton lectures before the university, ‘Answers to some Popular Objections against the Necessity or the Credibility of the Christian Revelation.’ He was much indebted to Paley's writings for the argument here pursued, and the motto of the lectures, ‘Neque se ab doctissimis neque ab indoctissimis legi velle,’ showed (to use his own words) that they were ‘rather sermons for general perusal than lectures for a learned society.’ In them he popularises the arguments for the necessity and probability of a divine revelation to man, shows that the doctrines and precepts of the christian religion are favourable to the enjoyments of the present life (‘not Christianity but intemperance being hostile to felicity’), and, with regard to prayer, deems it probable that ‘the Almighty in consequence of our prayers interferes with the laws of nature.’ He further shows that the course of nature is regular, but our conduct irregular, and that ‘reason is not degraded by revelation but assisted and exalted, her prerogative not being taken from her but limited and ascertained.’ His brother Richard was already vicar-choral of Southwell (a post which he held for the long period of sixty-four years), and in 1815 Barrow himself became prebendary of Eaton in the collegiate church of that place. In 1821 he was vicar-general of the same church, and was appointed on 3 April 1830 archdeacon of Nottingham. This dignity was not separated at that time from the province of York, and was held by Barrow for two years, until age and infirmity caused him to resign it to Dr. G. Wilkins in 1832. Barrow married Mrs. E. A. Williams, who died childless in 1823. He died 19 April 1836, aged 82. There is a tablet to his memory in the nave of Southwell Collegiate Church. His nephew, W. H. Barrow, was for many years M.P. for South Notts.

Barrow was a F.S.A., and, in addition to what has been named, published two sermons which had been preached at Southwell before the loyal volunteers of that place during the panic of 1803–4, and another on ‘Pecuniary Contributions for the Diffusion of Religious Knowledge;’ a treatise on the ‘Expediency of translating our Scriptures into several of the Oriental Languages and the means of rendering those Translations useful’ (1808), ‘Familiar Dissertations on Theological and Moral Subjects’ (1819), and three volumes of ‘Familiar Sermons’ (1818–21).

[Barrow's writings and private information.]

M. G. W.