Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Barker, Thomas Richard

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BARKER, THOMAS RICHARD (1799–1870), independent minister, born in London on 30 Nov. 1799, was entered at Christ's Hospital in 1807, where he remained until his seventeenth year. Having reached the position of deputy Grecian, he was anxious to proceed to Cambridge to prosecute his classical studies, with a view to taking holy orders. His parents, however, who were strict and conscientious nonconformists, refused to give their consent to this scheme, to his bitter, though only temporary, chagrin. After a brief interval he determined to devote himself to the work of the independent ministry, entering Homerton Old College with the view of preparing himself for the duties of that calling in 1821. He married the same or the following year, thereby cutting short his college course. In 1822 he entered upon the active duties of the ministry as the pastor of a village church at Alresford, Hampshire, whence two years later he removed to Harpenden, near St. Albans. Here the next nine years of his life were passed in ministerial and educational labour. In 1833 he removed to Uxbridge, and in 1838 was appointed, at the recommendation of Dr. J. Pye Smith, tutor in classics and Hebrew at the college then being established at Birmingham under the name of the Spring Hill College. Here in the following year he was joined by the Rev. Henry Rogers, distinguished as a writer of christian apologetics. Barker was provided with quarters in the college, and was responsible for the maintenance of its discipline, a duty which he discharged for more than thirty years with signal efficiency. In dealing with men, whether his equals or his inferiors, he always showed good sense, tact, and consideration, and was very highly respected and esteemed both by his colleagues and by ministers of other denominations in Birmingham, and indeed throughout the midland counties. The prospect of death was painful to him, and he manifested throughout life a remarkable aversion to speaking of it. His death, however, was perfectly painless. On 22 Nov. 1870 he found himself too weak to rise, and spent the day in bed. In the evening, shortly before nine o'clock, he fell asleep, and though he woke again after a few minutes, he had already lost the power of speech, and died the next morning. He was buried on the 29th in the Birmingham general cemetery. Barker was married more than once. His first wife died in 1833. He left a wife, two daughters, and three sons, of whom one, the Rev. Philip C. Barker, is now professor of mathematics at Rotherham Congregational College, Sheffield.

[Congregational Year Book, 1871.]

J. M. R.