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BARRINGTON as a given name

I have almost lost count of the number of today's descendants of the BEST family who bear the given name of Barrington. Neil himself is Neil Barrington Cryer. The only information that the older members of the family were able to provide about the name was that it was a family one. Yet the earliest use they knew was comparatively recent, with Neil's grandfather, Frederick Barrington Best who was born in 1873.

This anomaly provided the impetus for my research into Neil's Barrington ancestry which led back several generations to Mary Barrington, then to her father Francis, then to his father Robert and then to his father and grandfather, both Thomas and so on. Mary was baptised and married as a Barrington, although her grandfather, Robert, spelt the name as Berrington with an E as well as Barrington with an A. The E spelling was used by Robert's ancestors, and Mary's father and brothers reverted to it in later life.

Mary was born in 1731. So why wait four generations before perpetuating the name as a given one? My first thought came when I discovered the earliest (at that time) confirmed holder of the given Barrington name, a George Barrington Kemp, baptised 1792. I assumed that his parents, Thomas and his wife, Ann of Bexley, might have seen the chance of an inheritance from the wealthy, related but but childless Thomas Berrington by the perpetuation of his name as he drew close to the end of his life (will proved 1801). However, I had to discard that idea once I discovered that the Barrington/Berrington name change was a concerted act among the family, rather than mere non-uniformity of spelling. So to honour Thomas Berrington, the given name would have been Berrington not Barrington.

So it would seem more likely that Barrington was used as a given name, simply to perpetuate it, since Francis Barrington and his male children had chosen to let the surname drop by becoming Berringtons. Incidentally George Barrington Kemp valued the name enough to give it to his own son, the second George Barrington Kemp, and Thomas Kemp's other children were not given any second given name, Barrington or otherwise.

My best guess at the moment for the use of the Barrington given name in the Best family relates to the Barrington baronetcy and lies in an event of 1836. By then there were no longer any males left who claimed descent from Sir Francis Barrington through the male line - and the baronetcy and the surname became extinct. It would seem reasonable therefore for anyone of (or with a nominal link to) that descent through the female line, to take an interest in perpetuating the name as a given one.So probably, over the years, Ann Kemp, by then Ann Best, began to wish that her Best family were perpetuating her grandmother's Barrington name. It was too late for her own children, but she may have made her wish known in the family, so that the name was eventually given to her last grandchild, Frederick Barrington Best. He clearly instilled in his his own children their paramount responsibility to continue to perpetuate the name.

As for the A/E spelling, it could have suited the purpose of Robert in London at the Middle Temple to imply a link with the noble, mega-wealthy and influential Barringtons of Hatfield Broad Oak, Essex, even though his own family was far from poor. He was admitted to the Middle Temple as on 21st April 1668 as "The third son of Thomas Berrington of Datchet Bucks, a gentleman, deceased" which was of course was at a time when expensive educations had to be paid for privately.

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