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Isaac Barré (6 November 1726 – 20 July 1802) was an Irish soldier and politician.[1] He earned distinction serving with the British Army during the Seven Years' War and later became a prominent Member of Parliament, in which role he became a vocal supporter of William Pitt. He is known for coining the term "Sons of Liberty" in reference to American colonists who opposed the British government's policies.


Isaac Barré
Col Barre.jpg
Colonel Barré, c. 1765, by Douglas Hamilton
Member of the British Parliament
for Calne (UK Parliament constituency)
In office
1774 – 1790
Member of Parliament
for Chipping Wycombe (UK Parliament constituency)
In office
1761 – 1774
Serving with Robert Waller
Preceded byViscount FitzMaurice
Robert Waller
Succeeded byThomas Fitzmaurice
Robert Waller
Clerk of the Pells
In office
1784–1802
MonarchGeorge III
Prime MinisterWilliam Pitt the Younger
Henry Addington
Preceded byEdward Walpole
Succeeded byHenry Addington Jr.
Paymaster of the Forces
In office
1782–1783
MonarchGeorge III
Prime MinisterThe Earl of Shelburne
Preceded byEdmund Burke
Succeeded byEdmund Burke
Treasurer of the Navy
In office
1782
MonarchGeorge III
Prime MinisterLord Rockingham
Preceded byWelbore Ellis
Succeeded byHenry Dundas
Personal details
Born(1726-11-06)6 November 1726
Dublin, Ireland
Died20 July 1802(1802-07-20) (aged 75)
Mayfair, London, England
Resting placeSt. Mary Churchyard, East Raynham, England
NationalityIrish
Political partyWhig
Alma materTrinity College, Dublin
Military service
Allegiance United Kingdom
Branch/service British Army
Years of service1746-1763
1766-1773
RankLieutenant Colonel
Unit32nd Regiment of Foot
106th Regiment of Foot
CommandsGovernor of Stirling Castle
Battles/warsWar of the Austrian Succession
French and Indian War

Early lifeEdit

Barré was born in Dublin on 6 November 1726, the son of Marie Madelaine (Raboteau) Barré and Peter Barré, Huguenot refugees who escaped to Ireland.[2][3] Peter Barré became a linen dealer and served as High Sheriff of Dublin City.[4] Isaac Barré was educated at Trinity College, and graduated in 1745.[5] His parents hoped he would study law, and David Garrick thought he had potential as an actor and offered to hire and train him, but Barré decided on a military career and entered the British Army in 1746.[5]

Military careerEdit

Barré joined the 32nd Regiment of Foot as an ensign in 1746.[5] The regiment was based in Flanders during the War of the Austrian Succession, and Barré gained his initial army experience prior to the end of the conflict in 1748.[6] He continued to serve, and was promoted to lieutenant in 1755, and captain in 1756. During the French and Indian War, he served under his patron General James Wolfe on the Rochefort expedition of 1757, when he first met Lord Shelburne, and afterwards in Canada where he was appointed adjutant-general, fighting at both Louisbourg (1758) and Quebec (1759).[7] In 1759, he was promoted to major, but the rank applied only during his service in America. In the Quebec expedition, in which Wolfe was killed, Barré was severely wounded by a bullet in the cheek and lost the use of his right eye.[8] He was among the group gathered around the dying Wolfe, which was immortalized in Benjamin West's celebrated picture.[9]

Returning to England in September 1760, despite many years of commendable service, Barré was denied promotion by William Pitt the Elder[10] and turned to Shelburne for help. After undertaking a tour of Shelburne's Irish estates, he was advanced to lieutenant colonel of the 106th Foot, and in 1763 he was appointed to the lucrative posts of adjutant general of the British army and Governor of Stirling Castle.[11]

Political careerEdit

 
Colonel Isaac Barré, 1785, by Gilbert Stuart

Shelburne introduced Barré to Lord Bute and brought him into parliament for his borough of Chipping Wycombe (1761–1774),[8] having selected him as a "bravo" to take on Pitt.[12] In 1774, Barré's constituency switched to Calne, and he served until 1790. One of the few self-made soldiers in parliament, Barré became one of Shelburne's principal supporters in the House of Commons. In his first political speech, he vehemently attacked the absent war minister William Pitt, renewing this assault the next day to Pitt's face.[12] This caused a sensation, and set the tone of a long and colorful parliamentary career in which he acquired a fearsome reputation as an orator.[12] However, he ultimately became a devoted Pitt adherent.[12]

A vigorous opponent of the taxation of America, Barré displayed his mastery of invective in his championship of the American cause, and the name "Sons of Liberty", which he had applied to the colonists in one of his speeches, became a common designation of American organizations directed against the Stamp Act, as well as later patriotic clubs. From 1766 to 1768, Barré was a Vice-Treasurer of Ireland. His 1782 appointment as Treasurer of the Navy, which carried a pension of £3,200 a year at a time when the government was ostensibly advocating stringency, caused great discontent. William Pitt the Younger replied that the pension was compensation for Barré's dismissal from his military offices in 1763; he then appointed Barré to the even more lucrative position of Paymaster General of the forces, with responsibility for England's entire army payroll, which he held from August 1782 to April 1783. In 1784, Barré relinquished his pension in exchange for appointment to the sinecure of Clerk of the Pells. Nominally responsible for maintaining records of all Exchequer income and payments, the Clerk of the Pells was paid on a percentage system, which enabled Barré to accumulate a sizable fortune.[13]

Barré's knowledge of North America (he was one of the few politicians with friendships among the American mercantile classes) made him a champion of the colonists, whom he famously dubbed "Sons of Liberty" while opposing the intended Stamp Act, which nevertheless passed on 6 February 1765. An example of his fiery oratory was his response to Charles Townshend's observation when introducing the Stamp Act resolutions that the colonies should "contribute to the mother country which had planted, nurtured and indulged them", to which he replied:

They planted by your care! No, your oppressions planted them in America. They fled from your tyranny to a then uncultivated, inhospitable country, where they exposed themselves to almost all the hardships to which human nature is liable, and among others to the cruelties of a savage foe and actuated by principles of true English liberties, they met all hardships with pleasure compared with those they suffered in their own country from the hands of those who should be their friends.

In the Stamp Act crisis, Barré not only championed repeal but also followed Pitt in opposing the complete right of taxation as stated in the Declaratory Act.

Horace Walpole described Barré as "a black [meaning his hair was black], robust man, of a military figure, rather hard-favoured than not, young, with a peculiar distortion on one side of his face, which it seems was a bullet lodged loosely in his cheek, and which gave a savage glare to one eye".[14]

Barré became blind in 1783 and missed several sessions of Parliament.[15] He later resumed his seat, but was not as effective as he had been previously.[15] He retired in 1790.[15]

Death and burialEdit

Barré died at his home on Stanhope Street in the Mayfair district of London on 20 July 1802.[16] He was buried at St. Mary Churchyard in East Raynham.[17]

Barré's residuary legatee was Anne Townshend, Marchioness Townshend, whom he had known before her marriage to George Townshend, 1st Marquess Townshend.[18] She received approximately £24,000 (equivalent to about £2.3 million in 2018, or $3.2 million).[19]

LegacyEdit

The town of Barre, Massachusetts is named for him, as is the city of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.[20] There are also a town and a city named for Barré in Vermont (Barre City and Barre Town),[21] as well as the towns of Barre, New York and Barre, Wisconsin. In addition, there is a memorial to Barré in New York City,[22] and numerous eastern US cities have named streets for him.[23][24]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Barré, Isaac". The Columbia University (6th ed.). New York: Columbia University Press. December 2007. Archived from the original on 10 February 2006. Retrieved 2 June 2008. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  2. ^ The Publications of the Huguenot Society of London. London, UK: The Huguenot Society of London. 1901. p. 77.
  3. ^ Elliott, Hugh F. (Macmillan's Magazine) (6 January 1877). "Colonel Barre and His Times". Littell's Living Age. Boston, MA: Littell & Gay. p. 22.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  4. ^ Distinguished Huguenot Refugees and Their Descendants
  5. ^ a b c "Colonel Barre and His Times", p. 22.
  6. ^ "Colonel Barre and His Times", pp. 22-23.
  7. ^ "Colonel Barre and His Times", pp. 23-24.
  8. ^ a b "Colonel Barre and His Times", p. 24.
  9. ^ Stacey, C. P. (1986). "Benjamin West and 'The Death of Wolfe'". Gallery.ca. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: National Gallery of Canada.
  10. ^ Petrillo, F. Charles (1988). "Wilkes Naming Wilkes-Barre". John Wilkes and Isaac Barre: Politics and Controversy in Eighteenth Century Graphics. Sordoni Art Gallery, Wilkes University. Archived from the original on 13 May 2008. Retrieved 2 June 2008. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  11. ^ "Colonel Barre and His Times", p. 28.
  12. ^ a b c d Hume, David (2011). Klibansky, Raymond; Mossner, Ernest C. (eds.). New Letters of David Hume. London, England, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. p. 65. ISBN 978-0-1996-9323-8.
  13. ^ Miner, Sidney Roby (1901). Colonel Isaac Barré, 1726-1802: Orator, Soldier, Statesman and Friend of the American Colonies. Wilkes-Barre, PA: Wyoming Historical & Genealogical Society. pp. 20–21.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  14. ^ "Colonel Barre and His Times", p. 27.
  15. ^ a b c "Colonel Barre and His Times", p. 35.
  16. ^ Colonel Isaac Barré, 1726-1802, p. 21.
  17. ^ "Norfolk, England Church of England Baptism, Marriages, and Burials, 1535-1812, entry for Issac Barre". Ancestry.com. Provo, UT: Ancestry.com, LLC. 30 July 1802. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  18. ^ Colonel Isaac Barré, 1726-1802, pp. 21–22.
  19. ^ Colonel Isaac Barré, 1726-1802, p. 22.
  20. ^ Early American Paintings: Catalogue of an Exhibition Held in the Museum of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences. Brooklyn, NY: Museum of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences. 1917. p. 82.
  21. ^ Early American Paintings, p. 82.
  22. ^ Director of Art and Antiquities. "Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Barre Monument". City Hall Park Monuments. New York, NY: New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  23. ^ "Charleston Streets". Scottish Rite California. Sacramento, CA: Orient of California. 2019.
  24. ^ "What's in a name: Barre Street". Baltimore Sun. Baltimore, MD. 2 June 2019.

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Welbore Ellis
Treasurer of the Navy
1782
Succeeded by
Henry Dundas
Preceded by
Edmund Burke
Paymaster of the Forces
1782–1783
Succeeded by
Edmund Burke
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir Edward Walpole
Clerk of the Pells
1784–1802
Succeeded by
Henry Addington
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Viscount FitzMaurice
Robert Waller
Member of Parliament for Wycombe
1761–1774
With: Robert Waller
Succeeded by
Robert Waller
Hon. Thomas FitzMaurice
Preceded by
Hon. Thomas FitzMaurice
John Dunning
Member of Parliament for Calne
1774–1790
With: John Dunning 1774–1782
James Townsend 1782–1787
Joseph Jekyll 1787–1790
Succeeded by
Joseph Jekyll
John Morris