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Priest, descended from a family of stanch Catholic yeomen, b. 13 May, 1735, at Westby-in-the-Fylde, Lancashire; d. 12 February, 1811, at Claughton, Lancashire. His uncle, Father Edward Barrow, S. J., had been serving the mission at Wesby Hall in 1717 when he was outlawed as a popish priest and his goods forfeited. John Barrow, after a course of seven years at the English College in Rome, was impressed at Portsmouth and served five years in the navy. Deserting at Dunkirk, he was acquitted by the court-martial through pretending successfully to understand no language but Italian. In 1761, after escorting two young women from London to the Convent of the Poor Clares at Gravelines, where his sister was a nun, he resumed his studies at Douai, and was ordained there 17 June, 1766. After a short stay in London at the house in Red Lion Square occupied by the parents of Bishop Milner, he set out on horseback for Claughton in Lancashire. At this mission, which had been formerly attached to the Hall, the seat of the ancient family of Brockholes, he remained from the time of his arrival, in July, 1766, until his death. He was buried at the adjoining mission of New House.
Father Barrow was a man of notable courage, will and industry. He ws a master of French and Italian, wrote elegant Latin and forceful English. "He may sometimes have shown but scant courtesy to the wishes or commands of his own bishop, but he insisted that everybody else should be obedient and deferential to ecclesiastical authority" (Gillow). He enlarged the parish church of Claughton, in 1794, improved the roads as township overseer, made wise reinvestments of the fund for the secular clergy, and negotiated with Sir Edward Smythe for the acquirement by exchange of the land for Ushaw College. Though his name is on the list of Douai writers, no description of his writing is recorded. It is likely that he contributed to the Catholic Committee controversy. Gillow's quotations from unpublished letters would imply that Barrow was no gentle opponent. In a letter preserved at Claughton the Cardinal Secretary of State praises warmly Father Barrow's Catholic loyalty and his zeal for the cause of the Holy See.
GILLOW, Bibl. Dict. Eng. Cath., I, 145; GRADWELL, Historical Sketch of the Mission of Claughton in the Liverpool Catholic Almanac, 1885.
J. V. Crowne.