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Robert BARRINGTON / BERRINGTON (c1643-1717), gentleman of Seal, Kent and the Middle Temple

line of descent chart Barrington Kent

Robert Berrington 1 2 (to use the surname spelling in the earliest of the documents in which he appears) was born in the reign of King Charles I in about 1643 at Datchet, Buckinghamshire. His parents were Thomas Berrington, a gentleman of independent means and his wife Margaret, born Margaret Perryman. The baptismal record gives only an approximate date, even though the dates for Robert's older siblings are exact. The reason is almost certainly due to the English Civil War, as registers were poorly kept during that time (1643 - 1647) and in the commonwealth period which followed. Many were abandoned or hidden by the clergy and in some cases were lost completely.

It is interesting to speculate how much the events of the period affected Robert and his family. These events were highly significant in historical terms: the English Civil War; the execution of Charles I (1649); life under Oliver Cromwell in Puritan England; the reinstatement of the monarchy with Charles II (1660); the Great Plague of 1665; and the Great Fire of London in 1666. Perhaps tucked away in Datchet, the family was immune to any effects.

Robert was the youngest of Thomas's and Margaret's children, all of whom were born in Datchet:

Robert's father died when he was only about a year old, but that did not apparently leave the family in poverty. Wealth and influence are implied by Robert becoming a member of the Middle Temple1 3 4. He was admitted on 21 April 1668 as the third son of Thomas Berrington of Datchet, Bucks, a gentleman, deceased. Robert was clearly proud of his membership, as he seems to have used it in the same way that people nowadays might use a title. Incidentally two other Berringtons were on the Admissions Register: Thomas Berrington, admitted 26 October 1580, late of New Inn, gentleman, son and heir of Roger Berrington of Calcott, Salop, esq, and Humfrey Berrington, admitted on the 8 May 1618, gentleman, son and heir of Thomas Berrington of Moate Hall, Salop, esq. [Salop is an abbreviation for Shropshire.] There may have been a family relationship with these Salop Berringtons. Richard Barrington of Essex was admitted sometime around 1792-3.

Various documents1 show that Robert married Anne French of Seal in Kent. However no marriage record has so far come to light. Judging by the baptismal records of the couple's children, the marriage probably took place around 1670. (Research into Anne's French ancestry is in hand.) Anne inherited a significant legacy from her brother, Francis French of Seal in Kent. So the fact that Robert was wealthy is beyond doubt, particularly as women's wealth became their husbands' according to the norms of the time. Robert had property in villages in Buckinghamshire, Sussex and Kent; a home in Seal and a London residence at Southampton Buildings in Holborn, near the Middle Temple.

Robert and Anne had the following known children:

The two uses of the Barrington / Berrington spelling could be due to nothing more than the non-standardised spelling of the time. So far, though, it seems that Robert was the first to use the Barrington version: in various deeds 4 and for the London baptisms of his son Francis, although not the Datchet baptism of his eldest daughter. So it could have been that it suited his purposes in London's Middle Temple to imply a link with the mega-wealthy and influential Barringtons of Hatfield Broad Oak, Essex. It may even be relevant that John Shute Barrington, 1st Viscount Barrington (16781734), English lawyer and theologian, who studied law in the Inner Temple, was married around the same time as Robert's son, Francis. John Barrington Shute's marriage allegation was dated 17 June 1713, whereas that of Francis was dated 14 January 1715, both for St Andrew, Holborn. Francis, who was baptised as Barrington and who baptised his children as Barrington, reverted in later life to the Berrington spelling used by his Datchet ancestors.

Robert lived to about 74 years. He survived Ann by just over six years. Both were buried in Seal: she on 21 Aug 1711 and he on 26 Nov 1717. Considering that they were comparatively well-off, it is surprising that Margaret Stevens' book 'Past Generations of Seal and Kempsing from the Memorials of the Churches' gives no record for them.

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1. Indenture of 9 June 1688 involving Robert Berrington, his wife Anne (formerly French) and providing various relationships and lists of properties. Also notes from Arthur Waring, made in 1912. (Other material from Geoff Copus is on matters not directly related to this page and will form the basis of one or more new pages in due course.)

2. All the genealogy websites relating to Robert seem to be sub-webs of either something totally different sites or of international genealogy sites. The best way to locate them would be a search on Berrington Datchet. They are all in the Berrington rather than the Barrington name.

3. Admission Register of the Middle Temple.

4. A Calendar of Deeds and other Records preserved in the Muniment Room at the Museum, Aylesbury, printed for the Records Branch of the Buckinghamshire Archealogical Society, 1941.

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