Joseph Foster Barham II

1st Jan 1759 - 28th Sep 1832


Son of Joseph Foster Barham I (ne Foster, q.v.) (1729-1789) who had taken the name of Barham on succeeding to the estate of his stepfather Henry Barham (q.v.). MP for Stockbridge with interruptions 1793-1822 (and briefly for Okehampton 1806-1807). He has an entry in the ODNB as 'slave-owner and politician.' He was active in purchasing enslaved people to 'restock' his Jamaica plantations in the face of declining populations.

  1. Inherited Jamaican plantations from his father, a Moravian. 'On doing so, he sent instructions to the West Indies to continue payments to missionaries and to treat his slaves well.' At his marriage in 1792 his plantations were worth c. £2,000 p.a., but by his death brought in about £1,200 p.a. He reportedly inherited a partnership in a West Indies merchant firm, Barham and (Thomas) Plummer (though his brother replaced him as a principal, in 1815). From his mother, Dorothea, he got a Welsh estate and an interest in Pembrokeshire politics. Generally Whig in politics. Although generally opposed the abolition of the slave trade between 1794 and 1798, by 1804-1807 he had come round to supporting Wilberforce’s attempts to secure the immediate abolition of the trade. However, he was also anxious to maintain support for the planters – arguing that they should receive compensation – and claimed that they had not acted inhumanely towards the enslaved. He also argued, from 1805 onwards, that labour should be imported to the West Indies from India. Thus for example, 16 March 1807 he spoke of his hopes for the adoption of his plan to import Chinese or Indian free labourers to the West Indies, arguing that it would enable the slaves to imitate ‘an example of voluntary industry ... without rushing at once into a state of savage liberty’. See also, e.g., a speech of 4 April 1811 urging the introduction of ‘free labourers’ from India, (a plan which Wilberforce did not opposed though he had previously done so). He also maintained the view that the enslaved were better off than the British poor. (E.g. 20 May 1818). Wilberforce described Barham as 'a generous fellow, and he seems to be actuated by a warm spirit of patriotism and philanthropy'.

  2. The second History of Parliament entry for Barham describes him as a 'Welsh landowner and conscience stricken West Indian proprietor.' It should be noted however that Barham's decision to sell his 'interest' in the Stockbridge constituency to the 2nd Earl Grosvenor in 1822 was due to 'a sharp fall in the value of his West Indian estate'. (Grosvenor eventually paid £81,509 between 1823 and 1825 to secure this 'notoriously venal and corrupt borough'. Joseph Foster Barham was replaced as MP by Grosvenor's candidate, Edward George Stanley, later 14th Earl of Derby.)

  3. Will of Joseph Foster Barham of Queen Ann Street Middlesex proved 15/10/1832. In the will he left immediate cash legacies of £500 each to his wife Lady Caroline Barham, sons William Joseph Barham and Charles Henry Barham and daughters Mary Barham and Caroline Gertrude Barham. He recited that under his marriage settlement his wife was entitled to an annuity of £2000 p.a. secured on his Jamaica estates but 'in consequence of the great diminution in the value of West India estates' he secured £800 p.a. of the £2000 p.a. instead on his estates in the County of Pembroke.


Lang, Rachel. 2016 "Barham, Joseph Foster (1759–1832), slave owner and politician." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 1 Nov. 2018.; Richard S. Dunn, A tale of two plantations : slave life and labor in Jamaica and Virginia (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2014) pp. 38-43.

  1. History of Parliament Online 1790-1820: R. G. Thorne/P. A. Symonds, 'Joseph Foster Barham';

  2. History of Parliament Online 1820-1832: Philip Salmon/Howard Spencer, 'Foster Barham, Joseph (1759-1832)'; History of Parliament Online: Stockbridge constituency; Angus Hawkins, ‘Stanley, Edward George Geoffrey Smith, fourteenth earl of Derby (1799–1869)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

  3. PROB 11/1806/171.

Further Information

Lady Caroline Tufton, daughter of Sackville, 8th Earl of Thanet
2 daughters; 3 sons

PROB 11/1806/171 - precis.

Joseph Foster Barham of Queen Anne Street, Middlesex, Esquire.

To my dear wife Lady Caroline Barham, all contents of my house at Queen Anne Street. She is already entitled to the house in her own right for her life. Also to her, all my horses and carriages which I am in hte habit of using during my residence in London.

To my wife £500 to be applied by her if she shall think proper but not otherwise for the benefit of my son William Joseph Barham.

To my son Charles Henry Barham £500.

To my daughter Mary Barham £500.

To my daughter Caroline Gertrude Barham £500.

By virtue of my marriage settlement, my wife is entitled to an annuity of £2,000 per annum on my decease charged upon diverse plantations, estates, slaves and other heritaments in Jamaica. In consequence of the great diminution of the value of West Inia estates I am desirous of charging £800 per annum on my estates in Pembrokeshire (with the trusteeship of the Earl of Thanet) for the benefit of my wife to form part of her £2,000.

My estates in, near of adjacent to Stockbridge in Hampshire to the use of Henry Earl of Thanet and my eldest son John Barham upon trust shall apply the rents or profits from the sale or mortgage of these estates in the following manner: to my wife £5,000 to be applied by her as she think proper but not otherwise for the benefit of my son William Joseph Barham; for the benefit of my son Charles Henry Barham £5,000; for the benefit of my daughter Mary Barham £5,000; for the benefit of my daughter Caroline Gertrude Barham £5,000. Interest to be payable on these sums at 5% per annum from the day of my decease.

My estates in Pembrokeshire (subject to a mortgage of £8,000 and the annuity previously mentioned of £800 per annum) to the use of my son John Barham for his lifetime and thereafter to Henry Earl of Thanet and James Leman of Lincolns Inn Fields in trust for the use of the eldest lawfully begotten son of John Barham in entail. In default of such issue to the use of my son William Joseph Barham and his eldest son; in default of these heirs then to my son Charles Henry Barham and his eldest son, then the use of my daughter Mary and her eldest son and heirs, then of my daughter Caroline Gertrude and her eldest son and heirs. Otherwise to the daughters of John Barham as tenants-in-common in tail etc.

All rest and residue both real and personal in trust for my son John Barham.

Executors to be my wife Lady Caroline Barham, my son John Barham, Henry Earl of Thanet.

Signed 22/06/1832.

Proved in London by John Barham the son and Henry Earl of Thanet 15/10/1832.

Politician and landowner

Associated Estates (4)

The dates listed below have different categories as denoted by the letters in the brackets following each date. Here is a key to explain those letter codes:

  • SD - Association Start Date
  • SY - Association Start Year
  • EA - Earliest Known Association
  • ED - Association End Date
  • EY - Association End Year
  • LA - Latest Known Association
1789 [EA] - 1832 [EY] → Owner
1789 [EA] - 1832 [LA] → Owner
1820 [EA] - → Owner
1811 [EA] - 1832 [EY] → Owner

Legacies Summary

Commercial (1)

Plummer & Barham
West India merchant  
notes →
This is asserted by History of Parliament but not yet verified by...

Historical (1)

Considerations on the Abolition of Negro Slavery: And the means of Practically Effecting... 1823 
notes →
Pro-compensated abolition pamphlet calling for state expropriation of the enslaved people for £64MM and of the land and equipment for a further £64MM. Described the enslaved people as unfit for...

Political (1)

Whig / West India interest 
election →
Stockbridge Hampshire
1793 - 1799
election →
Stockbridge Hampshire
1802 - 1806
election →
Okehampton Devon
1806 - 1807
election →
Stockbridge Hampshire
1807 - 1822

Relationships (6)

Son → Father
Father → Son
Father → Son
Beneficiary of Trust → Trustee

Addresses (2)

Trecŵn, Pembrokeshire, South Wales, Wales
Queen Anne Street, London, Middlesex, London, England