Close, Barry (DNB00)

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CLOSE, Sir BARRY (d. 1813), major-general, was appointed a cadet of infantry at Madras in 1771 . In 1780 and the two following years he served as a subaltern at Tellicherry during the prolonged siege of that town by Hyder Ali's forces, and shortly afterwards was selected on two occasions to conduct negotiations regarding disputed boundaries with the commissioners of the Mysore chief. From 1790 to 1792 he was deputy adjutant-general with Lord Cornwallis's army, and was present throughout the first siege of Seringapatam. On that occasion he rendered a valuable service by pressing upon the governor-general the importance of insisting upon the immediate completion of the treaty, which Tippoo was endeavouring to delay in the hope of compelling the British forces, which were suffering much from endemic fever, to raise the siege. At the final siege and capture of Seringapatam in 1799 Close, as adjutant-general and practically chief of the staff, was conspicuous for the efficiency with which he directed the several departments under his control. His services during the siege elicited the warm approval of the commander-in-chief, General Harris, and of the governor-general, the Earl of Mornington. In recognition of those services the court presented him with a sword of honour. Close was a member of the commission which sat at Seringapatam to arrange the government of Mysore. In the course of the year he was appointed British resident at Mysore, and, in conjunction with the Diwán Purnayya, conducted the government of that country until 1801, when he was transferred to the Poona residency. The latter appointment Close held during the following ten years, amply confirming his previous reputation by his tact, courage, and excellent judgment, all of which qualities were repeatedly called into play during that critical time. Among his other signal services was that of concluding with the Péshwa the treaty of Bassein, the ultimate consequence of which was the destruction of the Mahratta power. His retirement from the Poona residency in 1811 called forth from the government of India, Lord Minto being then governor-general, a general order couched in language of the most laudatory kind.

Close died in England on 20 April 1813, having been created a baronet after his return from India. He was not less beloved in private life than he was honoured in his public career. Mountstuart Elphinstone wrote in one of his letters, referring to the death of Close: 'I doubt whether such an assembly of manly virtues remains behind him. A strong, erect, and hardy frame, a clear head and vigorous understanding, fixed principles, unshaken courage, contempt for pomp and pleasure, entire devotion to the public service, formed the character of Sir Barry Close a character one would rather think imagined in ancient Rome, than met with in our own age and nation.' Close appears to have been an accomplished Arabic and Persian scholar. Wilks, in his 'History of Mysore,' describes Close as having 'mastered the logic, the ethics, and the metaphysics of Greece through the medium of the Arabic and Persian languages.'

[Marshman's Hist, of India, vol. ii. ; Philippart's East India Military Calendar, ii. 257 ; Ann. Keg. 1813 ; Wilks's Hist, of Mysore, vol. ii. Madras edition, 1869 ; Colebrooke's Life of Mountstuart Elphinstone.]

A. J. A.