James Barham (1721 – 1786)

Soldier, Cordwainer and Master of the Workhouse

Origins and early life

James was born in about 1721 although the exact date is not known. On this page the various options for his birth, parents and early life are discussed. For other aspects of his life see the following links:

The date of 1721 for James' birth is calculated from his stated age of 65 at his death in 1786. This presents several potential sources of error - most notably the fact that this is reported by someone else (probably his son) and also the calendar changes in the mid 18th century which made it difficult for anyone to know their exact age. No definitive record has yet been found of his birth or christening, so the identity of his parents and his place of birth are still unknown.

There are however several clues that we can follow. He had a son, born in about 1748, so he must have married in the mid 1740s. A James Barham of the 3rd Regiment of Foot (The "Buffs) married Ann Garnham, widow, of Whitechapel in London on 18th April 1747.  The Buffs were raised in East Kent, making this a possible area for his origin.

Another clue is his later trade as a cordwainer which might point us to apprenticeship or family links with shoemaking. A shoemaker called James Barham married Elizabeth Cock at Chislet in Kent in 1751 so this could well be the same individual, as discussed in the section dealing with his marriages.

Chislet is a small village on the road from Canterbury to Herne Bay. Yet another clue comes from Herne, as a shoemaker called James Barham (a widower) married Martha Young at St Dunstans in the East on 7th August 1732. Both were described as coming from Herne in Kent.  This therefore could be James' father remarrying after the death of his mother.

There is an entry in IGI for the baptism of a James Barham, son of James Barham, at Herne on 21st July 1718. Given the uncertainty surrounding the year of James' birth this is a definite possibility. However the death of a James Barham is recorded two weeks later although no further detail is given.

There is one further piece of evidence that may be relevant to the story of James' early life. On 28th August 1745 an advertisement appeared in the Kentish Post announcing the availability of transport from Canterbury to Whitstable and hence to London.

This is to give Notice to all Persons who have Occasion to go, or send any Thing to Whitstable, to go by the Hoys to London, that JAMES BARHAM''s Caravan gives attendance at the Flower-de Luce in Canterbury, every Saturday; and likewise attends the Hoys coming from London, in order to bring Passengers or Goods from Whitstable to Canterbury.

"Hoys" were small craft used for transport around the coast. So it could be postulated that James Barham (possibly the father) who was in the business of making shoes, was sending them to London

For the next chapter in James' life see The Buffs