Robert Noton Barclay

Sir Robert Noton Barclay (11 May 1872 – 24 November 1957) was an English export shipping merchant, banker and a Liberal Party politician who served as Lord Mayor of Manchester

Robert Noton Barclay, as Lord Mayor of Manchester

Family and educationEdit

Barclay was the son of Robert Barclay, a South America shipping merchant, with strong connections to the Lancashire cotton trade.[1] He attended Uppingham School and the Victoria University of Manchester. In 1898 he married Helena Margaret Bythell and they had two sons, John and Robbie and three daughters, Margaret, Elizabeth and Rosalind.[2] Barclay's sister, Mary Jane (Quita) Barclay (1870–1939), married John Hope Simpson who was Liberal MP for Taunton from 1922 to 1924.[3]


Barclay was an export shipping merchant.[4] He succeeded his father in the family firm, Robert Barclay & Co in Manchester [5] but he also had other extensive business interests. He was director of the District Bank from 1913, being its Deputy Chairman from 1932 and Chairman from 1936 to 1946.[6] He was also a director of the National Boiler Co.[7] and of the Manchester Ship Canal Company.[8]

Public lifeEdit

Barclay served as a Justice of the Peace for Manchester. He played a prominent role in the commercial life of Manchester, being President of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce from 1914 to 1916 and in 1931 he was a member of a British trade delegation to Argentina led by Sir Robert Burton-Chadwick.[9] He served as High Sheriff of Cheshire for 1937–1938.[10] Barclay was active in several branches of social and philanthropic work in Manchester, notably as Chairman of the Manchester YMCA and as a member of the court and council of Manchester University.[11] He was knighted in 1936 for public and philanthropic services in Manchester.[12]

Donations of propertyEdit

In 1929 Barclay purchased land known the Ings and Stable Hills on the shore of Derwent Water in the Lake District and presented them to the National Trust.[13] He later acquired Wray Castle on Windermere near Ambleside and made a gift of the castle and 64 acres (260,000 m2) of the surrounding land to the National Trust.[14]

In 1943 he presented his then home at Mobberley Hall, Cheshire to the Manchester Education Committee for use as a residential school.[15]


Manchester politicsEdit

Barclay was first elected a member of Manchester City Council in 1917 and amongst the committees he served on, he was a member of the Finance Committee.[16] He was later an Alderman of the City [17] and served as Lord Mayor of Manchester for the year 1929–1930.[18] In 1938 he was appointed as Chairman of the city's Air Raid Precautions special committee [19] and the following year he was elected to chair the Emergency committee, an important position while the country was preparing for war. He held the post into the Second World War.[20]

He was High Sheriff of Cheshire for 1937.


Barclay first stood for Parliament at the 1923 general election. In a straight fight in the Manchester Exchange constituency he defeated the sitting Conservative MP, Sir Edwin Stockton by a majority of 1,799 votes.[21]

In 1924 he faced a new Tory opponent Edward Fielden. By 1924 the Conservatives had revived nationally and Fielden regained the seat with a majority of 2,507.[22] Barclay tried to win back Manchester Exchange at the 1929 general election but in a three-cornered contest he again came in second behind the Conservative, with Labour third. He did not stand for election to the House of Commons again.[23]


Barclay died in hospital following an accident on 24 November 1957 aged 85 years.[24] Lady Barclay survived until 27 October 1960 when she died at the family home, Far Hills, Alderley Edge, Cheshire.[25]


  1. ^ The Times, 27 November 1957 p14
  2. ^ Who was Who, OUP 2007
  3. ^ Roger T Stearn, Sir John Hope Simpson in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; OUP 2004-09
  4. ^ The Times House of Commons, 1929; Politico’s Publishing 2003 p4
  5. ^ The Times, 27 November 1957 p14
  6. ^ The Times, 2 September 1936 p16
  7. ^ Who was Who, OUP 2007
  8. ^ The Times, 10 February 1931 p21
  9. ^ The Times, 14 February 1931 p9
  10. ^ The Times, 19 March 1937 p10
  11. ^ The Times, 27 November 1957 p14
  12. ^ The Times, 20 February 1936 p17
  13. ^ The Times, 23 July 1929 p11
  14. ^ The Times, 27 November 1957 p14
  15. ^ The Times, 21 December 1943 p2
  16. ^ Shena Simon, A Century of City Government: Manchester 1838-1938; G. Allen & Unwin, 1938 p403
  17. ^ The Times, 6 April 1935 p10
  18. ^ The Times, 7 April 1939 p11
  19. ^ The Times, 24 September 1938 p7
  20. ^ The Times, 9 January 1941 p2
  21. ^ F W S Craig, British Parliamentary Election Results 1918-1949; Political Reference Publications, Glasgow, 1949 p187
  22. ^ F W S Craig, British Parliamentary Election Results 1918-1949; Political Reference Publications, Glasgow, 1949 p187
  23. ^ F W S Craig, British Parliamentary Election Results 1918-1949; Political Reference Publications, Glasgow, 1949 p187
  24. ^ The Times, 27 November 1957 p1
  25. ^ The Times, 28 October 1960 p17

External linksEdit

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Edwin Stockton
Member of Parliament for Manchester Exchange
Succeeded by
Edward Fielden