Sir John Barrow Cottage  

Sir John Barrow Cottage

This cottage was the birthplace of Sir John Barrow  1764 - 1848

John Barrow was born at Dragley Beck, Ulverston on 19th of June 1764, the son of a yeoman farmer. He was educated at Town Bank Grammar School.  Before the age of 20, he experienced a variety of important jobs including tutor, surveyor's assistant and head bookkeeper in a Liverpool iron foundry.

His adventurous spirit led him to the whaling grounds of Greenland.  He brought home as a souvenir a whale's jawbone which stood outside his cottage for many years.  After teaching mathematics at Greenwich,  Barrow was appointed tutor to the son of Sir George Staunton and in 1792, was asked to accompany Lord McCartney to Britain's first Embassy in China.  Later he explored the interior of South Africa and was entrusted with the task of reconciling the Boers and Kaffirs. For a while he settled in South Africa, and married Anna Maria Truter, before returning to England in 1803.

The British Government decided to make use of Barrow's extensive knowledge and appointed him Second Secretary to the Admiralty.  He was the guiding hand that brought the Admiralty Board, the Navy Board, plus all the subsidiary authorities into a single department of the state - the greatest improvement in the running of the Royal Navy since the days of Samuel Pepys.

After Britain's great military victories over the French at Trafalgar and Waterloo,  Barrow sealed Napoleon's fate by exiling him to the island of St. Helena.  His literary work continued with the classic report the 'Mutiny of the Bounty,'  made more interesting by the fact that Barrow was a friend of the family of Fletcher Christian,  ringleader of the mutiny.

Barrow organized the expedition commanded by Sir John Franklin, to find the North-West passage.  A  Fellow of the Royal Society, he later founded  the Royal Geographical Society.  Barrow Point on the northern tip of Alaska and Barrow Strait in northern Canada are named after him,  as is the Barrow Monument on Hoad Hill in Ulverston.   The monument, known locally as the "Pepper Pot" was designed by architect Andrew Trimmen and is a replica of the Eddystone Lighthouse. The 'lighthouse' always has a 'keeper' who is appointed by Ulverston Town Council.

Sir Robert Peel conferred a baronetcy on him in 1835. He retired from public life in 1845 and devoted himself to writing a history of the modern Arctic voyages of discovery, as well as his autobiography. He died suddenly on the 23rd of November 1848.

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