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Forum Home > Beliefs and other Oddities. > George Barrs, Curate of Rowley, 1771-1840.

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

Some of this remarkable mans history, you will find in the topic, " Blackcountry Religion ", but there are a few things missing. He arrived in the Parish of Rowley, in 1800, and, as was his habit, began a journal. He kept this up, for the next 40 years, observing all that went on in the Parish, and detailing his struggle's with the " quaint customs of the region ". There are only 4 of these journals in Dudley Archives. He had a large family, which extended into the Haden Family, and the Basseno's, so it's logical to suppose, that the rest of his journals, were distributed around his descendents. Time will have distroyed some, others will have been lost, but some may well be tucked away, in long forgotten family papers, or indeed, in other archives. If anyone has any knowledge of the whereabouts of any of the Rev George Barrs Journals, or associated papers, please get in touch. Social History is the bedrock of understanding how our ancesters lived, worked, and died.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

July 14, 2012 at 11:41 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Just as an example of what the Reverend gentleman ranted about, and at times he had good cause, is illustrated in this piece. One of his perishioners, on the Monday, following a funeral on the Sunday, came to see him bearing shocking tales. ( It was fairly normal then to conduct burials on the Sabbath ) At the time, the Rev Barrs was trying to convince the locals to build a new Church, before the present Saint Giles, actually fell down. Some of the inhabitants were bitterly opposed to this, mainly I suspect, because the cost would fall on them, and lessen the amount they had to spend on Beer and Gambling. The man responsible for the shocking tale had attended the last public meeting on the matter and had used some profane and abusive language to the Vicar and his supporters. He stated that the Church, and all in it could go to hell for all he cared, just so long as he could a barrel of good ale when he wanted. The meeting broke up in some disaray, and the dessenters repaired to a nearby pub to continue their " discussions ". By the time he arrived home, said the shocked parishioner, this dissolute man had developed a terrible headache, and was heard to remark he felt very unwell. Despite medical attention being called, he got worse over the next two days, and was reported to be unable to leave his bed. Fever and delerium set in, and he began to confess to some really awful things he had done, robberies, burglary, and a great deal of other petty thievery. To those of a kind hearted disposition, who had gathered around his bed, his language was the most shocking, being mainly blasphemous. He continued to yell abuse towards the Vicar, not that it would do any harm, just as it wouldn't do to the devil he kept seeing at his bedside. When someone, seeing that the poor soul wouldn't last long asked " Do you love the Lord Jesus ", all hell broke loose. With a super human effort, he tried to tear open the persons throat with his bare teeth. He refused all liquids, and when the end came, he uttered these last words, " Have mercy on me ". It was no good asking the Rev Barrs for any, for in truth, he sent out the perishioner to spread the word of the mans terrible end, in order to alay the opposition to his new Church. The name of this reprobate by the way, was Benjamin Timmins Jnr, a 26 year old drunken nailer, who was laid to rest, on Sunday, the 8th March, 1812. Quite how one so young, ended up so bitter, is a matter of conjecture, but he was, said the Vicar, one of the wickedest men in Rowley Village. He did get his new church in the end, ( 1841 ) only for it to be burnt down some years later.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

February 1, 2013 at 2:52 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Now George Barrs did his level best, at times, to ensure that that his largely uneducated flock were happy. He took an interest in many of the Rowley Regis paupers, for the poor house was just a few footsteps away from his Church. The poor souls did not, before he came to the Parish, always enjoy the best of attention. He was on hand, in 1825, when one of Rowley Village's oldest residents, finally pegged out. Jonathan Taylor, ( an old name in the village was Taylor ) born in 1740, was a fairly healthy and active 85 year old. Not so active though that he could work, and he lived, in more or less a permanent condition, in the poor house. He was at times a bit of a handfull, as although hale and hearty, his mental state was to say the least, a bit unstable. Well, we all have to get old. Monday afternoon of the 4th April, 1825, he had caused a bit of bother, resulting in him being put into confinement in what was known as, the " Dugeon ".  Far from being what you may be thinking, it was in fact a small room, with wooden floor, and supplied with a plentiful amount of clean straw, on which to sleep. Nor did suffer from lack of food while locked away, his meals were delivered on a regular basis, as witness the meal he had on the next day, Tuesday. Beef, half a loaf of Bread, and Potatoes, which he consumed as normal. It's not known what set the old man off again, but later on that evening, he took all his clothes off, paraded around the room, and refused his Supper. The day began early in the poor house, and Jonathan Taylor was heard coughing about 5.00am. When his breakfast was delivered about 7.00am, he was found lying on his side, his shirt for a pillow, on the straw; He was stone cold dead. The Rev Barrs testimony, as to the conditions in the poor house, were backed up by several of the present inmates. As there were no marks on the otherwise healthy body, all Mr Kenwrick, the Surgeon, could do, was to say that Taylor was in good condition, concidering the extreme age he had reached. The average lifespan in 1825 was just over 40. The Inquest Jury bought in a verdict of Natural Death, and I have no doubt, that the Rev Barrs made good use of Jonathan Taylor's long life. Give up the booze and stop chasing women was one of his popular themes. Well Mr Taylor had.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

November 9, 2013 at 2:18 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

The Rev George Barrs, came from a large family. One of his siblings, Richard Barrs, was a Farmer, first at Caldecote, Warwickshire, and then at Syston Lodge, Leicestershire. It was from the latter, that Richard hit a bit of trouble, in 1836, he couldn't pay his bills. The Rev Barrs now displayed another side of his rather complex character. He paid his brother a visit following Richards call for help, and removed a great deal of property, taking it back to Rowley. Summoned to pay his debts by the County Commissioner, Richard refused, and a warrent was issued, committing him to Leicester Gaol. The debt was a hefty £378.00, a great deal of money in 1836. In a letter to the Commissioners, Richards lawyer, a Mr Cape, explained that the Rev Barrs would attend a meeting and sort it out, so they gave him a date for a hearing, to be discharged from the debts. The hearing on the 13th August, 1825, was a bit of a farce, for the Rev failed to show up. The Commissioners were not amused, for they had a few questions to ask, particulary regards the property that been removed, as in Law, it belonged to Richards Creditors. His lawyer asked for the matter to adjourned, and his client discharged, they refused, which forced Mr Cape to disclose the contents of a letter the Rev gentleman had sent some days earlier. The excuse for non-attendance was pathetic, and further passages led the Commissioner to the conclusion that the Rev Barrs was quite happy to let his brother stay in prison rather than pay up. After expressing his hope that the Creditors would find the means to take proceedings against Rev Barrs, he committed Richard Barrs back to comforting conditions of the Leicester prison." Do not blame us" he said, " for it appears you have will have to remain in prison, at the will of your brother ". The Rev George Barrs eventually paid the debts, but it was later reported that the two barely spoke afterwards.


George Barrs died in 1840, a few days after laying the Cornerstone of the new Church he had been campaigning for. The stone was laid on 24th April, 1840, when he took the silver trowel and put in the last of the morter. Underneath this stone, there were placed silver coins from the present era, and one that the Rev Barrs presented himself. It was a silver coin from the reign of the Roman Emperor, Marcus Antoninus, which itself had been present to him, following the discovery of a stolen coin collection, some years before. George Barrs last duty, was attended by over 2,000 people, and he was ably assisted by the two Church Wardens, Samuel Round, and William Darby. He never saw the finished building.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

November 9, 2013 at 2:51 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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