J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Lt. Henry Barry: “sappy looking chap” or “calm, worthy man”?

The British army officer who asked Henry Knox to publish a political pamphlet in January 1775, as discussed yesterday, was Lt. Henry Barry (1750-1822), shown here as J. S. Copley painted him about ten years later.

We know about Barry’s authorship because John Andrews mentioned him again in a letter on 29 January:
a pamphlet…wrote in answer to General [Charles] Lee’s by one Barrey, an officer in the 52nd Regiment, whose performance is pretty much like himself, being an awkward sappy looking chap, the more so I think than any officer I have seen among all that’s here.
Others were more complimentary about Barry, and he did manage to get his pamphlet published by the end of that month. The title was The Strictures on the Friendly Address Examined, and a Refutation of its Principles Attempted, and the first edition named no publisher or printer.

On 31 January, the young painter Henry Pelham sent a copy to Charles Startin, a brother-in-law. (To be exact, Startin was Pelham’s half-brother Copley’s wife’s sister’s husband.)
I also inclose you a pamphlet wrote by a young Gentleman, a Lieutenant in the Army here. I believe it will please you as a sensible dispassionate and polite answer to another filled with invective attributed to Gen’l Lee.
Of course, Pelham had become a decided Loyalist after the Boston Tea Party.

Another admirer of Barry was John Eliot, who leaned toward the Whigs. He sent the lieutenant’s pamphlet to the Rev. Jeremy Belknap on 30 January and followed up on 18 February to say:
The author of the “Strictures Examined” is a young gentleman of my acquaintance, an officer in the fiftysecond, now station’d with us, an ingenuous, calm, worthy man. The enclosed is another production of his, which asks your acceptance.
Lt. Barry’s second pamphlet was The Advantages which America Derives from Her Commerce, Connexion, and Dependence on Britain. It doesn’t have a printer listed, either. Some bibliographers guess it was printed in New York, but Barry probably went to the same Boston print shop as before. He also wrote a reply to a Patriot sermon by the Rev. William Gordon of Roxbury.

James Rivington, the New York printer who had first published the Friendly Address and started the back-and-forth, reprinted Barry’s response to Lee’s response under the title The General Attacked by a Subaltern—i.e., a junior officer had answered the (Polish) general. We can assess Barry’s argument here.

(The portrait of Lt. Barry above is now at the Saint Louis Art Museum.)

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