Daines Barrington

Daines Barrington

Daines Barrington, FRS (1727 – 14 March 1800) was an English lawyer, antiquary and naturalist.

Barrington was the fourth son of the first Viscount Barrington. He was educated for the profession of the law, and after filling various posts, was appointed a Welsh judge in 1757 and afterwards second justice of Chester. Though an indifferent judge, his Observations on the Statutes, chiefly the more ancient, from Magna Charta to 21st James I. (1766), had a high reputation among historians and constitutional antiquaries, and ran through five editions down to 1796. In 1773 he published an edition of Orosius, with Alfred's Saxon version, and an English translation with original notes. His Tracts on the Probability of reaching the North Pole (1775) were written in consequence of the northern voyage of discovery undertaken by Captain Constantine John Phipps, afterwards Lord Mulgrave (1744–1792).

Barrington's other writings are chiefly to be found in the publications of the Royal and Antiquarian Societies, of both of which he was long a member, and of the latter vice-president. Many of these were collected by him in a quarto volume entitled Miscellanies on various Subjects (1781). He contributed to the Philosophical Transactions for 1780, Vol. 60 Dec 1770 Page 54, an account of Mozart's visit at eight years of age to London. In his Miscellanies on varied subjects he included this with accounts of four other prodigies, namely, William Crotch, Charles and Samuel Wesley, and Garret Wesley, 1st Earl of Mornington. Among the most curious and ingenious of his papers are his Experiments and Observations on the Singing of Birds, and his Essay on the Language of Birds. He was buried in the Temple Church, London.

Daines Barrington met the Cornish speaker Dolly Pentreath and published a report of the encounter. This is the main source for the claim that Dolly was the last monoglot speaker of the language.

His correspondence with Gilbert White formed part of the basis for White's book The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne.

Notable works


Court offices
Preceded by
William Robinson
Deputy Master of the Great Wardrobe
Succeeded by
Sir William Robinson, Bt

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