Barry, George (DNB00)

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BARRY, GEORGE (1748–1805), author of a ‘History of the Orkney Islands,’ was a native of Berwickshire, and was born in 1748. He studied at the university of Edinburgh. After receiving license as a preacher from the Edinburgh presbytery of the church of Scotland, he continued to act as tutor in a gentleman's family until in 1782 he obtained a presentation to the second charge of Kirkwall. The dislike of a portion of the congregation to his preaching resulted before long in the formation of a Secession congregation in the parish. In 1793 he was translated to Shapinshay. He received in 1804 the degree of D.D. from the university of Edinburgh. Shortly before his death at Shapinshay on 11 May 1805 he published a ‘History of the Orkney Islands, including a view of the ancient and modern inhabitants, their monuments of antiquity, their natural history, the present state of their agriculture, manufactures, and commerce, and the means of their improvement.’ A second edition, with additions and improvements by the Rev. James Headrick, appeared in 1808. Barry's ‘History’ displays much diligent research and careful individual observation, notwithstanding the fact that he had access to the valuable manuscripts of Low, who had died without being able to find for them a publisher. Barry never sought to conceal his possession of Low's manuscripts; he refers in his ‘History’ to Low's ‘Tour,’ and possibly would have more fully acknowledged his obligations to him had he not been attacked by his last illness while the ‘History’ was passing through the press.

[Scott's Fasti Ecclesiæ Scoticanæ, iii. 379, 418; Introduction by Dr. William Elford Leach to Low's Fauna Orcadensis (1813), and by Joseph Anderson to Low's Tour through the Islands of Orkney and Shetland in 1774 (1879).]

T. F. H.