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Bernard Barton Biography | Poet

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Bernard Barton (1784-1849), English poet, was born at Carlisle on the 31st of January 1784. His parents were Quakers, and he was commonly known as the Quaker poet. After some experience of business, he became, in 1809, clerk to Messrs Alexander's bank at Woodbridge, Suffolk, and retained this post till his death. His first volume of verse—Metrical Effusions—was published in 1812. It brought him into correspondence with Southey, and shortly afterwards, through the medium of a set of complimentary verses, he made the acquaintance of Hogg. From this time onwards to 1828 Barton published various volumes of verse. After 1828 his work appeared but rarely in print, but his Household Verses published in 1845 secured him, on the recommendation of Sir Robert Peel, a Civil List pension of £100 a year, £1200 having already been raised for him by some members of the Society of Friends. Barton is chiefly remembered for his friendship with Charles Lamb, which arose, curiously enough, out of a remonstrance addressed by him to the author of Essays of Elia on the freedom with which the Quakers had been handled in that volume. When Barton contemplated resigning his bank clerkship and supporting himself entirely by literature, Lamb strongly dissuaded him. "Keep to your bank," he wrote, "and the bank will keep you." Barton died at Woodbridge on 19th February 1849. His daughter Lucy married Edward FitzGerald.

See Poems and Letters of Bernard Barton, selected by Lucy Barton, with a biographical notice by Edward FitzGerald (1849).


Barton, Bernard, known as the Quaker poet, born at Carlisle 1784, died 1849. In 1806 he removed to Woodbridge, in Suffolk, where he was long clerk in a bank. He published Metrical Effusions (1812); Poems by an Amateur (1818); Poems (1820); Napoleon, and other Poems (1822); Poetic Vigils (1824);Devotional Verses (1826); A New-year's Eve, and other Poems (1828); besides many contributions to the annuals and magazines. His poetry, though deficient in force, is pleasing, fluent, and graceful. Barton is chiefly remembered as the friend of Charles Lamb, with whom he began to correspond in 1822.

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