Barlow, Edward (1639-1719) (DNB00)

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BARLOW, alias Booth, EDWARD (1639–1719), priest and mechanician, was son of Edward Booth, of Warrington, in Lancashire, where he was baptised 15 Dec. 1639. He took the name of Barlow from his uncle, Father Edward (Ambrose) Booth [q. v.], the Benedictine monk, who suffered martyrdom on account of his priestly character. At the age of twenty he entered the English college at Lisbon (1659), and after being ordained priest he was sent on the English mission. He first resided with Lord Langdale in Yorkshire, and afterwards removed to Parkhall, in Lancashire, a seat belonging to Mr. Houghton, but his chief employment was attending the poor in the neighbourhood, ‘to whom he conformed himself both in dress and diet.’ He died in 1719 at the age of eighty.

Barlow invented repeating clocks about the year 1676, and repeating watches towards the close of the reign of James II. By means of the mechanism of repetition, clocks were made to indicate, on a string being pulled, the hour or quarter which was last struck. This invention was afterwards applied to watches. We are informed by Derham (Artificial Clock-maker, 4th edit., 117) that Barlow, who was supported in his efforts by the judge, Sir Richard Allibone, endeavoured to get a patent for his invention: ‘And in order to it he set Mr. Tompion, the famous artist, to work upon it, who accordingly made a piece according to his directions. Mr. Quare, an ingenious watchmaker in London, had, some years before, been thinking of the like invention, but, not bringing it to perfection, he laid by the thoughts of it till the talk of Mr. Barlow's patent revived his former thoughts; which he then brought to effect. This being known among the watchmakers, they all pressed him to endeavour to hinder Mr. Barlow's patent. And accordingly applications were made at court, and a watch of each invention produced before the king and council. The king, upon tryal of each of them, was pleased to give the preference to Mr. Quare's, of which notice was given soon after in the “Gazette.” The difference between these two inventions was, Mr. Barlow's was made to repeat by pushing in two pieces on each side of the watch-box, one of which repeated the hour, the other the quarter. Mr. Quare's was made to repeat by a pin that stuck out near the pendant; which being thrust in (as now 'tis done by thrusting in the pendant) did repeat both the hour and quarter with the same thrust.’

Dodd, the church historian, who was personally acquainted with Barlow, observes that ‘he was master of the Latin and Greek languages, and had a competent knowledge of the Hebrew before he went abroad, and 'tis thought the age he lived in could not show a person better qualified by nature for the mathematical sciences; tho' he read not many books of that kind, the whole system of natural causes seeming to be lodged within him from his first use of reason. He has often told me that at his first perusing of Euclid, that author was as easy to him as a newspaper. His name and fame are perpetuated for being the inventor of the pendulum watches; but according to the usual fate of most projectors, while others were great gainers by his ingenuity, Mr. Barlow had never been considered on that occasion, had not Mr. Tompion (accidentally made acquainted with the inventor's name) made him a present of 200l.’

He was the author of: 1. ‘Meteorological Essays concerning the Origin of Springs, Generation of Rain, and Production of Wind; with an account of the Tide,’ Lond. 1715, 8vo. 2. ‘An exact Survey of the Tide; explicating its production and propagation, variety and anomaly, in all parts of the world, especially near the coasts of Great Britain and Ireland; with a preliminary Treatise concerning the Origin of Springs, Generation of Rain, and Production of Wind. With twelve curious maps,’ Lond. 1717, 8vo; 2nd edition, 1722. 3. ‘A Treatise of the Eucharist,’ 3 vols. 4to, MS.

[Catholic Magazine and Review (Birmingham, 1835), vi. 107; Dodd's Church History, iii. 480; Notes and Queries, 1st series, vi. 147, 392, 439; Rees's Cyclopædia; Watt's Bibl. Brit.; Sutton's Lancashire Authors, 8; Reid's Treatise on Clock and Watch Making, 2nd edit., 328, 329; Derham's Artificial Clock-maker (1759), 116–18.]

T. C.