Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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BARRINGTON , DAINES ( 1727 - 1800 ), lawyer, antiquary, and naturalist .

The life of the Hon. Daines Barrington (he was the son of John Shute , 1st viscount Barrington ) is described fairly fully in the D.N.B. Although not a Welshman , he influenced, in various ways, certain aspects of the life of Wales , came to acquire a considerable knowledge of the history and antiquities of North Wales and numbered some prominent North Wales antiquaries among his acquaintances or correspondents. His office of judge of Merioneth , Caernarvonshire , and Anglesey circuit ( Court of Great Sessions ), which he held for over twenty years from 1757 , brought him frequently to North Wales . He was subsequently a judge in the Chester circuit ; and it was during his Chester period that he was associated with lord Kenyon to hear the application for the adjournment of the trial of William Davies Shipley , dean of S. Asaph . A younger brother, SHUTE BARRINGTON , was bishop of Llandaff from 1769 until 1782 . Daines Barrington 's varied publications are noted in the D.N.B. article.

It was Barrington who first published Sir John Wynn 's History of the Gwydir Family . This appeared, as an octavo, in London , in 1770 , being followed in 1781 by a version, in quarto, included in Miscellanies by the Honourable Daines Barrington ( London , 1781 ). [He was a member of the Cymmrodorion Society , F.S.A. , and F.R.S. ] Among contributions by him to the Royal Society is a Letter from the Hon. Daines Barrington, F.R.S., … giving an Account of some Experiments made in North Wales [in the Arenig district, near Bala] to ascertain the different Quantities of Rain which fell at the same Time, at different Heights ; this letter (there is a copy in N.L.W. MS. 12416 ) was read at a meeting of the Royal Society held 6 June 1771 . His notes on ‘ The Language of Birds ’ were reprinted in T. Pennant , British Zoology .

There are letters from Barrington to friends in North Wales in N.L.W. MS. 2065 (one dated 19 October 1775 , to Paul Panton , senior ), regarding Inigo Jones , Sir John Wynne of Gwydir and Llanrwst bridge, N.L.W. MS. 3484 (dated 8 March 1770 ), to Paul Panton ; in this he calls Edward Lhuyd ‘…one of the greatest men that ever existed for philological learning … also … a very distinguished fossilist’ ; also, in N.L.W. MS. 12416 , several written to John Lloyd , F.R.S. , of Wigfair , near S. Asaph , in one of these Barrington informs Lloyd that he can arrange for the latter to receive copies from Paul Panton of the correspondence between Sir John Wynne and Sir Hugh Myddelton ; in another he asks Lloyd to return to him the ‘MS. memories of Owen Glendower .’ There are references to Barrington in Morris Letters — see the indexes by Hugh Owen — ‘a great antiquary and lover of British antiquities’ said Lewis Morris of him in one letter (ii, 344); it is obvious also that Barrington was anxious to see the publication of the result of some of the work of Evan Evans ( Ieuan Brydydd Hir ) on early Welsh literature, and it was ( bishop ) Percy and Daines Barrington who brought Ieuan to the notice of Thomas Gray and of Samuel Johnson ( Cymm. , 1951 , 69). He d. 14 March 1800.


  • To the references already given add W. R. Williams , The history of the Great Sessions in Wales, 1542-1830 together with the lives of the Welsh judges, and annotated lists of the chamberlains and chancellors, attorney generals, and prothonotaries of the four circuits of Chester and Wales (Brecknock, 1899) .


Sir William Llewelyn Davies, M.A., LL.D., F.S.A. (1887-1952), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959