Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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BARRINGTON , DAINES ( 1727 - 1800 ), lawyer, antiquary, and naturalist .

The life of the Hon. Daines Barrington (he was the son of John Shute , 1st viscount Barrington ) is described fairly fully in the D.N.B. Although not a Welshman , he influenced, in various ways, certain aspects of the life of Wales , came to acquire a considerable knowledge of the history and antiquities of North Wales and numbered some prominent North Wales antiquaries among his acquaintances or correspondents. His office of judge of Merioneth , Caernarvonshire , and Anglesey circuit ( Court of Great Sessions ), which he held for over twenty years from 1757 , brought him frequently to North Wales . He was subsequently a judge in the Chester circuit ; and it was during his Chester period that he was associated with lord Kenyon to hear the application for the adjournment of the trial of William Davies Shipley , dean of S. Asaph . A younger brother, SHUTE BARRINGTON , was bishop of Llandaff from 1769 until 1782 . Daines Barrington 's varied publications are noted in the D.N.B. article.

It was Barrington who first published Sir John Wynn 's History of the Gwydir Family . This appeared, as an octavo, in London , in 1770 , being followed in 1781 by a version, in quarto, included in Miscellanies by the Honourable Daines Barrington ( London , 1781 ). [He was a member of the Cymmrodorion Society , F.S.A. , and F.R.S. ] Among contributions by him to the Royal Society is a Letter from the Hon. Daines Barrington, F.R.S., … giving an Account of some Experiments made in North Wales [in the Arenig district, near Bala] to ascertain the different Quantities of Rain which fell at the same Time, at different Heights ; this letter (there is a copy in N.L.W. MS. 12416 ) was read at a meeting of the Royal Society held 6 June 1771 . His notes on ‘ The Language of Birds ’ were reprinted in T. Pennant , British Zoology .

There are letters from Barrington to friends in North Wales in N.L.W. MS. 2065 (one dated 19 October 1775 , to Paul Panton , senior ), regarding Inigo Jones , Sir John Wynne of Gwydir and Llanrwst bridge, N.L.W. MS. 3484 (dated 8 March 1770 ), to Paul Panton ; in this he calls Edward Lhuyd ‘…one of the greatest men that ever existed for philological learning … also … a very distinguished fossilist’ ; also, in N.L.W. MS. 12416 , several written to John Lloyd , F.R.S. , of Wigfair , near S. Asaph , in one of these Barrington informs Lloyd that he can arrange for the latter to receive copies from Paul Panton of the correspondence between Sir John Wynne and Sir Hugh Myddelton ; in another he asks Lloyd to return to him the ‘MS. memories of Owen Glendower .’ There are references to Barrington in Morris Letters — see the indexes by Hugh Owen — ‘a great antiquary and lover of British antiquities’ said Lewis Morris of him in one letter (ii, 344); it is obvious also that Barrington was anxious to see the publication of the result of some of the work of Evan Evans ( Ieuan Brydydd Hir ) on early Welsh literature, and it was ( bishop ) Percy and Daines Barrington who brought Ieuan to the notice of Thomas Gray and of Samuel Johnson ( Cymm. , 1951 , 69). He d. 14 March 1800.


  • To the references already given add W. R. Williams , The history of the Great Sessions in Wales, 1542-1830 together with the lives of the Welsh judges, and annotated lists of the chamberlains and chancellors, attorney generals, and prothonotaries of the four circuits of Chester and Wales , Brecknock, 1899 .


Sir William Llewelyn Davies, M.A., LL.D., F.S.A. (1887-1952), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959