The Ingoldsby Legends
The Dead Drummer of
Barham's Grave Headstone
Dawlish Cemetery, Devon
Was born at 61 Burgate,
Canterbury on 6th December
1788 and educated at St Paul's School
His father, dying in 1795,
bequeathed a moderate estate to his only son, then about five or six
years of age. A
portion of this property consisted of the manor known as Tappington (generally
pronounced Tapton) Wood, so often alluded to in The Ingoldsby Legends.
At nine he was sent to
St. Paul's school, but his studies were interrupted by an accident which
shattered his arm and partially crippled it for life. Thus deprived of
the power of bodily activity, he became a great reader and diligent
In 1807 he entered
Brasenose College, Oxford, intending at first to study for the
profession of the law. Circumstances, however, induced him to change his
mind and to enter the church.
In 1813 he was ordained
and took a country curacy. He married
Caroline, daughter of Captain Smart of the
Royal Engineers in 1814.
He became the Vicar of Warehorne and Snargate in about
1818 and rose to became a minor cannon of the Chapel Royal at St Pauls in 1824.
In 1826 he first
contributed to Blackwood's Magazine; and on the establishment of
Bentley's Miscellany in 1837 he began to furnish the series of grotesque
metrical tales known as The Ingoldsby Legends.
Mr Barham's happiness to form an intimate friendship with the Hughes
family. His duties at
St. Paul's were the means of bringing him under the frequent observation
of Dr. Hughes, who was resident canon of the cathedral. To Mrs. Hughes,
more especially, the correspondent of Sir Walter Scott, Southey, and
others of the age, Barham was indebted, not only for a large proportion
of the legendary lore which forms the groundwork of the Ingoldsby
writings. Inscribed in a copy of The Ingoldsby Legends, presented to the
lady in question, implies no more than the actual fact
Mrs. Hughes who made me do 'em,
Quod placeo est -- si placeo -- tuum.'
In politics he was a Tory
of the old school; yet he was the lifelong friend of the liberal Sydney
Smith, whom in many respects he singularly resembled. Theodore Hook was
one of his most intimate friends.
The Ingoldsby Legends were first published in
book form in 1840. These
became very popular, were published in a collected form and have since
passed through numerous editions.
Also 1840, Barham succeeded, in course of rotation, to the
presidency of Sion College; and in 1842, his long services at St. Paul's
were rewarded with the divinity readership in that Cathedral, and by his
being permitted to exchange his living for the more valuable one of St.
Faith, the duties of which were far less onerous than those he had
fulfilled during well-nigh twenty years. He still continued under the
bishop's licence in his old abode in Amen Corner. This, indeed, he was
enabled to do till his death, although shortly after his induction, the
death of Sidney Smith placed the house in other hands.
His life was grave,
dignified and highly honoured. His sound judgment and his kind heart
made him the trusted councillor, the valued friend and the frequent
peacemaker; and he was intolerant of all that was mean and base and
first indications of Barham's fatal disease exhibited themselves on the
day of the Queen's visit to the City - October 28, 1844 - for the
purpose of opening the Royal Exchange. He had accompanied his wife and
daughters to a friend's house to witness the procession, and had even
remarked, as a cutting east wind whistled through the open windows, that,
in all probability, that day's sight-seeing would cost many of the
imprudent gazers their lives. In
the course of the evening he was attacked with a violent fit of coughing
and severe inflammation in the throat. It was found in the following
June that recovery was impossible.
that be received the intimation with fortitude, would afford a very
inadequate notion of the calmness and contentment with which he regarded
his approaching end. Having arranged all the details of his affairs, he
took holy communion for the last time, in company with all his
household, and set himself, in perfect self-possession, the final
preparation for his passing.
last writings, entitled As I laye a-thynkynge, were written but a
few days before his death and were placed, at his express desire, for
the morning of June 17, 1845, he expired, without a struggle, in faith,
and hope, and in charity with all men.
of any admiration that Barham's wit and talent might excite, there was a
warm heart about him, which rendered him justly dear to many. His
spirits were fresh and buoyant, his constitution vigorous, and his
temperament sanguine. His humour never ranged 'beyond the limits of
becoming mirth,' and was in its essence free from gall. Where irony was
his object, it was commonly just, and always gentle. On his writings
might, in fairness, be inscribed:--
ego mordaci distrinxi carmine quenquam,
Nulla venenato est litera mixta joco.'