Biography of Richard Harris Barham

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Richard Harris Barham
Thomas Ingoldsby.png
Born(1788-12-06)6 December 1788
Canterbury, Kent, England
Died17 June 1845(1845-06-17) (aged 56)
London , England
Other namesThomas Ingoldsby
Occupationcleric, novelist, humorous poet
Notable work
Ingoldsby Legends

Richard Harris Barham (6 December 1788 – 17 June 1845) was an English cleric of the Church of England, a novelist and a humorous poet. He was known generally by his pseudonym Thomas Ingoldsby and as the author of The Ingoldsby Legends.


Richard Harris Barham was born in Canterbury. When he was seven years old his father died, leaving him a small estate, part of which was the manor of Tappington, in Denton, Kent, mentioned so frequently in his later publication The Ingoldsby Legends. At the age of nine he was sent to St Paul's School, but his studies were interrupted by an accident which partially crippled his arm for life. Thus deprived of the power of vigorous bodily activity, he became a great reader and diligent student.

During 1807 he entered Brasenose College, Oxford, intending at first to study for the Law. Circumstances, however, induced him to decide on a religious profession. In 1813 he was ordained and accepted a country curacy; he married during the next year, and in 1821 he obtained the appointment of minor canon of St. Paul's Cathedral in London, where he served as a cardinal. Three years later he became one of the priests in ordinary of the King's Chapel Royal.

Illustration by George Cruikshank for the 'Dead Drummer of Salisbury Plain', one of The Ingoldsby Legends.

In 1826 Barham first contributed to Blackwood's Magazine; and in 1837 he began to write for a recently initiated magazine, Bentley's Miscellany, a series of tales (most of them metrical, some in prose) known as The Ingoldsby Legends. These became very popular. They were published in a collected form in three volumes between 1840 and 1847, and have since appeared in numerous editions. They may perhaps be compared to Hudibras. The stories are generally whimsical, but based on antiquarian learning. (There is also a collection of Barham's miscellaneous poems, edited posthumously by his son, called The Ingoldsby Lyrics.)

Barham was a Tory politically; yet he was a lifelong friend of the liberal Sydney Smith. Theodore Hook was one of his most intimate friends. Barham was a contributor to the Edinburgh Review and the Literary Gazette; he wrote articles for John Gorton's Biographical Dictionary; and a novel, My Cousin Nicholas (1834). He died in London on 17 June 1845, after a long and painful illness.


Barham is a character in George MacDonald Fraser's historical novel Flashman's Lady, he meets the main character, Harry Flashman, while watching a public execution.

His last poem As I laye a-thynkynge, was set to music by the English composer Edward Elgar, the song published in 1888. And in 1918 the composer Cyril Rootham set the same poem, for voice and piano.

There is a pub in Burgate, Canterbury, near the cathedral, named The Thomas Ingoldsby.


  1. ^ New Catholic Dictionary

  2. ^ "The Thomas Ingoldsby, Canterbury | Our Pubs". J D Wetherspoon. 1997-04-10. Retrieved cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output .citation q{quotes:"\"""\"""'""'"}.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-free a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-registration a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:block;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{display:block;color:#33aa33;margin-left:0.3em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}

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