Barritt, Thomas (DNB00)

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BARRITT, THOMAS (1743–1820), antiquary, was born at Manchester in 1743 and came of Derbyshire yeoman stock, his forefathers having settled at Bolton and Worsley, but his father, John Barritt, was the first of the family resident in Manchester. Of the education of Thomas nothing is known, but he developed a strong taste for archæological research which did not interfere with his success as a man of business. He kept a saddle-maker's shop in Hanging Ditch, and gathered a very curious collection of manuscripts and miscellaneous objects of antiquity. He travelled about the district and made sketches and memoranda which have been of great use to subsequent writers. He was one of the early members of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, and con- tributed several papers to its ‘Memoirs.’ Amongst these are essays on supposed Druidical remains near Halifax, on antiquities found in the river Ribble, and on a Roman inscription found in Campfield. A number of his manuscripts were secured for Chetham's Library, Manchester, and several others are in private hands. He wrote verses also, and several of them have been printed, but they are little better than doggerel rhyme. His correspondence with the leading antiquaries of the time appears to have been extensive. One of the most interesting objects in his collection was a sword which he believed to have been that of Edward the Black Prince. A monograph on the swords, attributed to that warrior, has been printed by J. P. Earwaker, F.S.A., in which the claims of Barritt and others are discussed (Archæological Journal, vol. xxx. 1873). Two portraits of Barritt were engraved, in which he is represented with the famous sword and some other objects of his museum. He died 29 Oct. 1820, aged 77, and was buried in the Manchester parish church. Barritt's claim to remembrance is that with great patience and skill he recorded many facts in the history of the district which would otherwise have been lost. The Chetham Society some years ago announced its intention of issuing a selection from his manuscripts, but it has not yet appeared.

[Harland's Ballads and Songs of Lancashire, and Manchester Collectanea; Stanley's Historical Memorials of Canterbury, 10th edit. 1881, p. 181; a communication from Canon C. D. Wray; Papers of the Manchester Literary Club, ii. 156 (Axon); Reliquary, January 1869 (Thomas Gibbon).]

W. E. A. A.