Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Barnard, Thomas

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BARNARD, THOMAS, D.D. (1728–1806), bishop of Limerick, was the eldest son of Dr. William Barnard, bishop of Derry [q. v.], and was born in or about 1728. He was educated at Westminster School, and admitted a king's scholar in 1741, being then thirteen years of age (Welch, Alumni Westmon. ed. Phillimore, 324). He graduated M.A. at Cambridge in 1749; was collated to the archdeaconry of Derry on 3 June 1761, when he was created D.D. by the university of Dublin; was instituted to the deanery of Derry on 2 June 1769; was consecrated bishop of Killaloe and Kilfenora on 20 Feb. 1780; was translated to the united sees of Limerick, Ardfert, and Aghadoe by patent dated 12 Sept. 1794; and died on 7 June 1806 at Wimbledon, in the house of his only son, Andrew Barnard, husband of Lady Anne [q. v.]

He married first the daughter of William Browne, Esq., of Browne's Hill, county Carlow; secondly, in 1803, Jane, daughter of John Ross-Lewin, Esq., of Fort Fergus, county Clare.

Dr. Barnard was elected a fellow of the Royal Society on 29 May 1783, and was a member of most of the literary societies in the United Kingdom, particularly of the famous club to which Garrick, Johnson, Burke, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Cumberland, and Goldsmith also belonged. Goldsmith, in the ‘Retaliation,’ describes him as

Ven'son just fresh from the plains;

and in the same poem thus writes his epitaph:—

Here lies the good dean, reunited to earth,
Who mix'd reason with pleasure, and wisdom with mirth;
If he had any faults, he has left us in doubt;
At least in six weeks I could not find them out;
Yet some have declar'd, and it can't be denied 'em,
That Slyboots was cursedly cunning to hide 'em.

The famous encounter with Johnson, who illustrated his favourite position that a man could improve in late life by telling Barnard that there was plenty of room for improvement in him, is told by Richard Burke (letter of 6 Jan. 1773 in Burke's Correspondence (1844), i. 403–7), and by Miss Reynolds (appendix to Croker's Boswell), and is noticed by Boswell (under 1781), who says that the two were afterwards good friends. Miss Reynolds tells the story to show how handsomely Johnson could apologise. Walpole refers to it characteristically in a letter to the Countess of Ossory, on 27 Dec. 1775, after referring to Barnard's well-known verses, which conclude:—

Johnson shall teach me how to place
In fairest light each borrow'd grace;
From him I'll learn to write,—
Copy his clear, familiar style,
And, by the roughness of his file,
Grow, like himself, polite.

[Boswell's Johnson, ed. Croker (1876), ix. 215; Burke's Correspondence, ii. 463; Cantabrigienses Graduati (1787), 23; Cat. of Dublin Graduates (1869), 28; Cotton's Fasti Eccl. Hibern. i. 332, 407, iv. 334, 338; Gent. Mag. lxxvi. (i.), 588; Thomson's Hist. of the Royal Society, append. p. lix; Walpole's Letters (Cunningham), vi. 302; Welch's Alumni Westmon. (Phillimore) 325.]

T. C.