Barnardiston, Sir Samuel 1620-1707, whig politician and deputy governor of the East India Company, born 23 June 1620, was the third son of Sir Nathaniel Barnardiston [qv.]. Like other members of his family, he showed himself early in life strongly opposed to Charles I's arbitrary government, and he joined the London apprentices in 1640 in the rioting that took place at Westminster on the appointment of Colonel Lumsford as constable of the Tower. According to Rapin, Barnardiston's prominence in the crowd on this occasion gave rise to the political use of the word Roundhead. The apprentices, it seems, wore the hair of their head cut round, and the queen, observing out of a window Samuel Barnardiston among them, cryed out: See what a handsome young Roundhead is there! And the name came from thence (Rapin's History, ed. Tindal, iv. 403). Barnardiston appears to have become while still young a Levant merchant, and in 1649 and 1650 he was residing at Smyrna as agent for the Levant company, in whose service he laid the foundations of a very gigantic fortune. He took no active part in the civil wars, and passed much time during the protectorate in Suffolk, with which his family was intimately connected. At Brightwell, near Ipswich, he purchased a large estate, which he carefully improved, and built upon it a large house known as Brightwell Hall (Brayley, Beauties of England, xiv. 265). One of its characteristics, which gave it a wide local fame, was the erection on the top of it of a reservoir of water which not only might supply the domestic purposes for which it was wanted, but which was so large as to serve as a stew for fish which were always kept in it ready for consumption. Barnardiston's household was a strictly puritan one, and a puritan chaplain usually lived with him. In 1663 he engaged in this capacity the services of Robert Franklyn, who had experienced an unusual share of persecution (Nonconform. Memor. iii. 293). He endeavoured to repress the influence of the high-church party in his neighbourhood, and in June 1667 reported to the council that Captain Nathaniel Daryll, commanding a regiment stationed at Ipswich, was a suspected papist (Cal. State Papers, 1667, p. 246).
In 1660 Barnardiston welcomed the return of Charles II, and was rewarded for his acquiescence at first by a knighthood, and in 1663 by a baronetcy, the patent of which described him as a person of irreproachable loyalty. Soon afterwards he entered into active political life. In 1661 he was on the committee of the East India Company; from 1668 to 1670 he was deputy-governor, and in that office came prominently before the public. The company had been forced into a serious struggle with the House of Lords. Thomas Skinner, an independent English merchant, had had his ships confiscated by the company's agents for infringing its trading monopolies in India. Skinner had straightway appealed for redress to the House of Lords, which had awarded him 5,000l. damages against the company. Sir Samuel, on behalf of the East India corporation, thereupon presented a petition to the House of Commons against the action of the lords, and the lower house voted (2 May 1668) Skinner's complaint and the proceedings of the lords illegal. On 8 May Barnardiston was summoned to the bar of the upper house and invited to admit himself guilty of having contrived a scandalous libel against the house. In a short dignified speech Sir Samuel declined to own his fault, and, in the result, was ordered upon his knees, and sentenced to a fine of 300l., and to be imprisoned till the money was paid. Parliament was adjourned the same day. Sir Samuel refused to comply with the judgment, and was straightway committed to the custody of the usher of the black rod, in whose hands he remained until 10 Aug, following, when he was suddenly released without any explanation of the step being given. On 19 Oct. 1669, at the first meeting of a new session of parliament, Barnardiston was called to the bar of the House of Commons, and there invited to describe the indignities which the lords had put upon him. At the conclusion of his speech the commons voted the proceedings against him subversive of their rights and privileges. The lords refused at first to vacate their action in the matter, and the quarrel between the houses continued till December; but finally both houses yielded to the suggestion of the king to expunge from their journals the entries relating to the incident.
From the date of these proceedings Sir Samuel enjoyed all the popularity that comes of apparent persecution. In 1672 the death of Sir Henry North created a vacancy in the representation of Suffolk, and Barnardiston was the candidate chosen by the whigs, with whom his religious opinions and his fear of arbitrary government caused him to heartily sympathise. The election was viewed as a trial of strength between the church and loyal party and the country party. Dissenters and the commercial classes faithfully supported Sir Samuel, and he gained seventy-eight votes more than his opponent, Lord Huntingtower. But the contest did not cease there. Sir William Soame, the sheriff of Suffolk, was well-disposed to the losing candidate, and on the ground that Sir Samuel's supporters comprised many of the rabble, about whose right to vote he was in doubt, he sent up to the commons a double return announcing the names of the two candidates, and leaving the house to decide their rights to the seat. Each candidate petitioned the house to amend the return in his interest; and after both petitions had been referred to a committee, Sir Samuel was declared duly elected, and took his seat (Commons' Journal, ix. 260-2, 291, 312-3). But these proceedings did not satisfy Barnardiston. He brought an action in the King's Bench against the sheriff, Soame, to recover damages for malicious behaviour towards him, and Soame was placed under arrest. The case was heard before Lord Chief Justice Hale on 13 Nov. 1674, and judgment, with 800l. damages, was given in favour of the plaintiff. By a writ of error the proceedings were afterwards transferred to the Exchequer Chamber, and there, by the verdict of six judges out of eight, the result of the first trial was reversed. In 1689 Sir Samuel, after renewing his complaint in the commons, carried the action to the House of Lords. In the interval Soame had died, and his widow was now made the defendant. The lords heard the arguments of both parties in the middle of June, but they finally resolved to affirm the judgment of the Exchequer Chamber. The whole action is one of the utmost constitutional importance, and the final judgment gave the House of Commons an exclusive right to determine the legality of the returns to their chamber, and of the conduct of returning officers. The two most elaborate judgments delivered in the case—that of Sir Robert Atkyns, one of the two judges who supported Sir Samuel in the Exchequer Chamber, and that of Lord North on the other side in the House of Lords, who, as attorney-general Sir Francis North, had been counsel for the defendant in the lower court—were published in 1689, and have since been frequently reprinted. The case was popularly viewed at the time as a political trial, and is elaborately commented on with much party feeling by Roger North, the tory historian, in his Examen. North declares that Barnardiston throughout the proceedings sought the support of the rabble, and pursued Soame with unnecessary vindictiveness, in the first instance by making him bankrupt after the trial in the King's Bench, and in the second by sending the case to the House of Lords after his death (pp. 516 et seq.).
These lengthy proceedings had made Sir Samuel's seat in parliament secure for many years. He was again returned for Suffolk to the parliaments of 1678, 1679, and 1680, and to William III's parliaments of 1690, 1695, 1698, and 1701. Throughout his career he steadily supported the whigs. In 1681 he was foreman of the grand jury of Middlesex which threw out the bill of high treason against the Earl of Shaftesbury. In 1688 he openly expressed his dissatisfaction with the proceedings that had followed the discovery of the Rye House Plot, but too much weight was attached to his opinions by the opponents of the court to allow this expression of them to go unpunished. On 28 Feb. 1683-4 he was summoned to take his trial for libel as being of a factious, seditious, and disaffected temper, and having caused several letters to be written and published reflecting on the king and officers of state. No more flagrant instance of the extravagant cruelty of the law courts at the close of Charles II's reign has been adduced than these proceedings against Barnardiston (cf. Stephen, Hist. of Criminal Law, ii. 313-4). Two of the four letters which formed the basis of the charge were privately addressed to a Suffolk friend, Sir Philip Skippon, and the others to a linendraper of Ipswich and to a gentleman of Brightwell, with both of whom Sir Samuel was intimate. They contained sentences favouring Russell and Sydney, and stating that the papists and high tories are quite down in the mouth, and that Sir George [Jeffreys] is grown very humble; and upon these words the accusation was founded. Jeffreys, who had a personal concern in the matter, tried the case, and directed the jury to return a verdict of guilty on the ground that the act of sending the letters was itself seditious, and that there was no occasion to adduce evidence to prove a seditious intent. An arrest of judgment was moved for, and it was not till 19 April 1684 that Jeffreys pronounced sentence. A fine of 10,000l. was imposed. Barnardiston resisted payment, and was imprisoned until June 1688, when he paid 6,000l., and was released on giving a bond for the residue. The whole case was debated in the House of Lords, 16 May 1689, and Jeffreys judgment reversed. It was stated at the time that during his long imprisonment Sir Samuel's private affairs had become much disordered, and that he lost far more money than the amount of the fine. An account of the trial was published in 1684.
Barnardiston took no forward part in parliament as a speaker, but his financial ability was fully recognised. In 1690 he was nominated a member of the important commission appointed to audit and control the public accounts, which discovered many scandalous frauds and embezzlements, and first effectively supervised the expenditure of the public money. In 1691 a quarrel with Sir Josiah Child, governor of the East India Company, who had been originally brought into its direction by the influence of Barnardiston and his friends, caused him to retire from the management, and afterwards to withdraw the money he had invested in its stocks. The dispute was one of party politics, Child being an adherent of the tories, who were at the time in a majority on the board of directors, while Barnardiston continued in his whig principles. In 1697 Sir Samuel narrowly escaped imprisonment for a third time on disobeying the instructions of the House of Commons when deputed by them to attend a conference with the House of Lords for the purpose of regulating the importation of East India silk. Little is known of Barnardiston's career after this date. He retired from parliament in 1702, at the age of eighty-two, and died, 8 Nov. 1707, at his house in Bloomsbury Square, London. He was twice married, (1) to Thomasine, daughter of Joseph Brand of Edwardstone, Suffolk, and (2) to Mary, daughter of Sir Abraham Reynardson, lord mayor of London. He had no children, and his nephew, Samuel, son of his eldest brother Nathaniel, succeeded to his title and estate, and died on 3 Jan. 1709-10. Another nephew, Pelatiah, brother of the second baronet, was third baronet for little more than two years, dying on 4 May 1712. On the death a few months later (21 Sept. 1712) of the fourth baronet, Nathaniel, son of Pelatiah Barnardiston, the first baronet's youngest brother, the baronetcy became extinct. Sir Samuel's house, Brightwell Hall, was pulled down in 1753.
Davy's MS. Suffolk Collections, vol. xl. (Addit. MS. 19117 ff.)
State Trials, vi. 1063-92, 1117, ix. 1333-72
Pepys's Diary, ed. Bright, iv. 438-9
Mill's India, i. 103
Parl. Hist. iv. 422-3, 431-4
Commons' Journal, x. 13
May's Parliamentary Practice, 19, 172
Luttrell's Brief Relation, passim
Calendar State Papers, 1649-50, 1661-3
Bluebook of Members of Parliament
Granger's Biographical History
Macaulay's History, iii. 297
Hallam's History, iii. 23-4.
Contributor: S. L. [Sidney Lee]