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Robert Barnes (1800-1871)

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Robert Barnes (1800-1871) of Jackson Street Mills, Manchester

See also Jackson Street Spinning Co

1827 'TO BE LET, COLLYHURST MILLS, Oldham Road. The large Mill consists of 6 rooms, 87 feet by 51 feet 9 inches each, capable of containing 20,000 mule spindles, with preparation—The smaller Mill, four rooms, 53 feet by 23 feet 8 inches each, both completely fitted up with Millwright Work on a modern principle, with a 26 Horses Engine, and two 30 Horses Boilers, all nearly new, by Peel —There are spacious reservoirs for condensing water, two dwelling-houses, counting-house, ware-rooms, and every convenience requisite—The above Mills would be suitable either for Silk or Cotton, being in a neighbourhood where hands of both descriptions are plentiful—Apply to Thomas and Robert Barnes, as above; or Jackson-street Mills, London Road.'[1]


At the request of a former resident in Watford, we extract the following from the Manchester Courier of December 26th:

We regret to have to announce that Mr. Robert Barnes, long known and so greatly honoured in Manchester, died at half-past seven yesterday (Christmas) morning, at his residence, Oakley, Fallowfield. On the death of his eldest son, six years ago, his health began to break. Twelve months ago his illness became more serious, and since August last he has been only twice out of his room; it was alone the interests of the Royal Infirmary that induced him to leave home. It was only within the last two weeks that his illness assumed really an alarming character, as three weeks ago he was much better than he had been for some time previously. Within the last fortnight he had suffered from bronchitis, and from that, combined with heart disease, Mr. Barnes died rather suddenly yesterday. He was 71 years of age, having been born in the year 1800.

Mr. Barnes was born in Bloom-street, Manchester. He was orignally intended for the Church; but circumstances occurred which compelled him to commence the business of a cotton spinner. To that occupation he gave his earnest attention all his years, and starting from limited means, he succeeded in acquiring a fortune - a fortune that meant more than anything else to him, the opportunity of alleviating human suffering. He commenced as a cotton spinner first in Miles Platting, and afterwards he carried on his immense business in Jackson-street, London-road, where his mills are now occupied by Messrs. Callender. This business he pursued until ten or twelve years ago, when he retired. During all this time he was well known in Manchester as a leading Conservative, as a benevolent man of great liberality and much activity, and as kindly and generous employer. He was elected as councillor by one of the wards; afterwards he was elected mayor in 1851, and held the office for two years. It was during his mayoralty that Manchester became the seat of a bishopric, and was made a city. On Mr. Barnes retiring from the office of Mayor of Manchester, after having filled it for two years, the following resolution, moved by Alderman C. J. S. Walker, was carried unanimously - “That the thanks of this council be presented to the Worshipful Robert Barnes, Esq., for the willingness with which he responded to the call of the council and accepted office, and for the able and satisfactory manner in which has discharged, during a period of two years, the onerous duties devolving upon the mayor of this city ; for the uniform courtesy and kindness which he has manifested in his intercourse with the members of the council, and for the patience, impartiality, and temper, which was ever displayed when presiding over their meetings; for his unremitting attention the business of the corporation, and for the large amount of time which he has devoted the responsible and varied duties which devolve upon the chief magistrate of this city; for the readiness with which has assisted in promoting the success of all charitable and benevolent institutions, and for his many acts of munificent liberality and charity; for his unbounded and widely-extended hospitality and for the exemplary manner in which has at all times maintained the character and upheld the dignity the office which has filled with so much credit to himself. and in a manner calculated to reflect honour upon the corporation by which was selected.” On retiring from the mayoralty be was elected an alderman for the city, and held that office for some time afterwards. At the time of his death he was a magistrate for the city county, and also deputy-lieutenant, appointments received when the late Lord Derby was in office. He left Manchester about eleven years ago, and up to that time be was also commissioner of income-tax.

As man of untiring benevolence and almost unbounded munificence, his name will long take conspicuous place in the annals of this city. It was only recently that two noble instances of his liberality and the practical philanthropy of his mind were brought before the public. Some time ago the Infirmary trustees felt they must have a convalescent home, and deemed it their duty to endeavour to get one erected. Mr. Barnes heard of the project, and thinking it an excellent scheme, at once made the trustees a present of £10,000 towards the home. Afterwards it became necessary to develope the project, when Mr. Barnes supplemented his first gift with another of £16,000, which made a total of £26,000, the result of which is seen in the Convalescent Home now being erected at Cheadle. He, however, always took a special interest in ragged schools, and assisted all the charities in the city. It was his warm desire to benefit the outcast, and neglected that suggested the industrial training home at Heaton Mersey, which was opened in the summer of this year. It is called Barnes’s Home, and is one of the finest institutions of the kind in the country, and cost about £14,000, all of which was defrayed by the deceased gentleman. In addition to these two great charitable establishments, he also gave £9,000 for the construction of Barnes's House of Recovery at Monsall, an hospital intended specially for small pox and fever cases. The extensive additions and alterations to the Bridgwater-street Wesleyan Chapel were likewise effected by him at the cost of a considerable amount of money: and one of his acts during his mayoralty was the presentation to the town of several drinking fountains. He also gave a scholarship of £100 year to Worcester College, Oxford, twelve months after the death of his eldest son Robert. These are some of his public charities. They became known publicly because he could not prevent it; but large as was the amount, and active and practical as were the efforts of his philanthropy as a public benefactor, they were more than equalled by constant and systematic benevolence in private. A marked instance of this, and a genuine indication of the kindliness of his heart was afforded in his treatment of his numerous employes. It was always said that his employes seemed like huge family; there were few changes in his servants; and he interested himself in their welfare. During severe depressions trade he paid all his hands three days week; and at one of the very worst times, when there was nothing for them to do. He did this for no less than twelve months, and as was a large employer, that fact represented a great sum of money. His death will felt by hundreds of poor people in Manchester, many of whom comprised a list of annuitants on his bounty. Wherever he saw a purpose to which he could apply money usefully, whether publicly or privately, that object invariably enlisted his interest. Privately, he was not only in the habit of administering relief directly, but frequently and systematically and generously, he entrusted funds for charitable employment to persons in whom he had confidence.
He was always a staunch and consistent Conservative. He was twice asked to come forward in the Conservative interest as representative of his native city-first in 1859, when the Hon. Captain Denman was the Conservative candidate; and next at the general election of 1868. He declined both invitations, and the second on the sole ground of delicate health.

It was an indication of the universal esteem in which he was held that in 1859 and 1868 influential Liberals assured him that in the event of his allowing himself to be nominated, there should be no opposition of their part. During the Free-trade agitation he advocated the principles of Free-trade, because he thought bread was dear and the poor suffered from protection as applied to cereals. But he disapproved of the extraordinary development which subsequent years witnessed of the Free-trade theory, and notably as it was represented by the French Treaty. He also strongle disapproved of the party use that was made of the success of the Free-trade agitation.

Mr. Barnes was formerly owner of Harefield Grove, Rickmansworth, where he resided a few years ago.

The remains of the deceased gentleman will be interred this day (Saturday) at Didsbury Church, and it is understood that the funeral will be a private one.'

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Saturday 8 September 1827
  2. Watford Observer - Saturday 30 December 1871
  • Biography of William Romaine Callender, ODNB