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April 30, 2021

B Club when it toyed with a name was Barhams after Richard Harris Barham (1800-07)

While almost all Paulines will know of A Club’s John Milton, fewer will know anything about Richard Barham. He was a cleric, a novelist and a humorous poet. He is probably marginally better known by his pseudonym Thomas Ingoldsby.

Richard Barham was born in Canterbury. When he was seven years old his father died. At eleven he was sent to St Paul’s.

In 1807 he entered Brasenose College, Oxford first reading law, before deciding on a clerical career. In 1813 he was ordained taking on a country curacy. He married the next year and in one of his diary entries describes married life, “my wife goes to bed at ten, to rise at eight and look after the children and other matrimonial duties. I sit up till three in the morning, working at rubbish for Blackwood. She is the slave of the ring, and I of the lamp”. In 1821 he gained a minor canonry at St Paul’s Cathedral. Three years later he became one of the priests in ordinary of the King’s Chapel Royal. He was never a dull clergyman and as a member of the Garrick was known as “agreeable and delightful” by his fellow members including Dickens and Thackeray.

In 1837 he began to contribute to the recently founded Bentley’s Miscellany (edited by Richard Bentley (1805-?)). Writing as Thomas Ingoldsby of Tappington Everard in Kent, Barham pretended to be publishing authentic extracts from hidden family memoranda, discovered in an old oak chest. These are mostly metrical but some are in prose and are known as The Ingoldsby Legends.

Barham’s popularity faded but he appears as a character in the historical novel Flashman’s Lady where he meets the main character Harry Flashman while watching a public execution. There is a pub in Canterbury called The Thomas Ingoldsby. And of course the doyens of B Club did not forget him at naming time.

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