Ann Smith (17) was born in Takeley in 1806 and her story is one of the most compelling I have come across.


Put simply she married a John Barnes (37) on 8th October 1827 in Abbess Roding and died   6th October, 1869 at The Round House, Havering-atte-Bower, near Romford, Essex.



In 1841 Ann was living at the School House, Havering-atte-Bower. Ten years later she was a widowed annuitant living at the Round House.


In 1861 she was simply described as a lady living at the Round House.


         The Round House


                                     An interior of the Round House



Ann and John produced seven children:


Ann Barnes                                     Born 1829 In Blackmore Essex                  

                                                        Died 14th February, 1912


Amelia Elizabeth Barnes               Born 1829 In Blackmore, Essex                 

                                                        Died 9th July, 1909


John Thomas Barnes                      Born 1831                                                    

                                                        Died 25th February, 1835 aged 3 years and 6 months


Cecily Barnes                                 Born 1834                                                    

                                                        Died 26th February, 1835 aged 23 weeks


Robert Smith Barnes                       Born 1834                                                    

                                                        Died 5th March, 1834 aged 13 weeks


Helen Barnes                                  Born 1838 in Havering-atte-Bower            

                                                        Died 1891


Thomas John Barnes                      Born 1840 in Havering-atte-Bower            

                                                        Died 10th October, 1841 aged 2 years



As mentioned above, Ann married a man by the name of John Barnes.


He was the second son of Thomas Barnes, a builder and property speculator who died in 1818. Thomas left annuities to his two daughters, Elizabeth and Susannah. Susannah died before 1843, whilst Elizabeth married John Lawrence who became a Senior Government Official as Under Secretary at the General Post Office.


However, it was the two sons of Thomas who shared the bulk of the estate in equal amounts. Robert was a solicitor while John had had a very different route in life.


In 1820 John had been placed in Whitmore House, an asylum in Hoxton, East London.  This asylum was run privately and several very well connected people spent time there. The fees were in the region £1000 per year. His mental state improved and he was accepted as sane in 1823.


As noted above he married Ann Smith in 1827.


At the time that his elder brother, Robert, died in May 1842 John became the sole inheritor of the family estate.


This was stated to comprise an estate at Havering-atte-Bower, a number of large and small houses – in fact, “whole streets in Stepney and in the neighbourhood of the Mile End Road” The gross income was some £11000.00 a year, which reduced to between £4000 and £5000 after deducting the annuities, repairs and expenses.


John Barnes made a donation of £20.00 to the newly founded school in Havering-atte-Bower in 1837.


As John had difficulty managing his affairs he had several clerks who worked from an office added to his town residence in Mile End.


A Mr Davis, a confidential clerk to John Barnes, was later to say that “in 1827 Mr Barnes married his present wife, who was in every way suitable to him. She was not so wealthy certainly, but she was respectably connected, being the daughter of a respectable farmer in Essex.”


It was the premature death of their eldest son in 1842 that appears to have tipped John Barnes back into mental difficulties. In the September of 1842 he assumed the title “Lord of Stapleford Regis” and had his visiting cards printed showing that title. At about the same time he ordered and wore a plaid dress, a purple velvet cap with a plume of ostrich feathers, a dress sword and other fancy articles of a “singular nature”. It was also about this time that he met a lady on an omnibus “who was very handsome” and it also appeared that he fancied that several ladies were very much attached to him. These matters, and others, came to the attention of Ann who sought advice and decided to call for a hearing into his sanity.


This resulted in a Commission Of Lunacy on Mr John Barnes being convened in April, 1943 where Mr Commissioner Winslow with eighteen freeholders acting as a jury were called upon to inquire into his state of mind.




The Examiner 29th April 1843


My information is taken from a lengthy article in the Essex Standard dated 28th April,1843 which reports the two day hearing in considerable detail.


By the 1840’s the net income from the inherited estate had grown to between £6000 and £7000 a year. John was maintaining three carriages.


The following is a quotation from one of the witnesses at the Inquiry:


“On the 21st September, 1842, Mr Cote, a carpenter, came to me and asked me for god’s sake to come out, as Mr Barnes was making himself very ridiculous. I left the office and found Mr Barnes at the end of Barnard’s Place, Mile End Road, with a carriage and four post horses. He was dressed in a velvet cap with white and blue feathers, and had a dress sword in his hand. I endeavoured to get Mr Barnes home, but he refused to do so, as he said he had been insulted by Colonel Maberley. He insisted upon going back to the Post Office and I accompanied him. He went to the deal letter office where he got Colonel Maberley’s private address, and we went to Manchester Street, Berkeley Square, and I got out of the carriage and I urged him to remain in it while I ascertained whether Colonel Maberley was at home or not. He then gave me a card, on which was ‘Mr Barnes, Havering atte Bower, Essex. Lord Stapleford Regis’. I did not deliver the card but before the door was answered he got out of the carriage, with his cap and feathers and sword in hand, when the servant said his master was dining at Crockfords. Mr Barnes proceeded to Crockfords and walked up and down the hall of Crockfords until Colonel Maberley came out, when he shook his sword at Colonel Maberley and said he would have satisfaction. I told the Colonel that I would get Mr Barnes away as soon as I could, and the Colonel shut the door and went into the club room. Mr Barnes then said he would go to Windsor and see the Queen. He told the post boys to drive to Hounslow, where we got fresh horses and went to Windsor. On our way thither he showed me the pair of rifle pistols with dirks that he carried, also a powder flask and a small looking-glass. We arrived at Windsor at about ten o’clock and proceeded to Mr Merrick’s, and from thence to the White Hart where he ordered beds and passed the night. I remained during the whole of that night and the next morning I took his boots to him and he said he would come out of his room after he had finished reading a passage from the Bible. The next morning he did not mention anything about the Queen and we returned to town by the Great Western Railway.”


There follow other instances of this madness in a similar vein, his ladies, who required payment, taking an increasing amount of his time along with alcohol and freedom with spending money.


After a summing up at the end of the second day of the inquiry the jury found that John Barnes had been of unsound mind since 21st September, 1842. He died in 1849 having never been released back into society and was buried at St Johns, Havering atte Bower on 21st August, 1849.




                                     Chelmsford Chronicle 1st March 1844




                   St John’s Church, Havering-atte-Bower


John Barnes bought the Round House in Havering-atte-Bower in 1833 or 1834. Ann Barnes continued to live there until her death in 1869 when the house passed to Amelia Elizabeth Barnes (59), her second daughter and by then the wife of Joseph Pemberton-Barnes (68). Their son Rev. Joseph Hardwick Pemberton (100), known for his rose growing succeeded as occupier.


John Barnes bought The Bower House in Havering-atte-Bower in 1841. It continued to be occupied by the Robinson family until 1846.The churchwarden, H.H. Toulmin, then occupied the house until 1854.


                                     The London Standard 17th August 1849



South Facade, The Bower House


Mr William Pemberton-Barnes (67) lived in the house for some years before moving to the Old Hall, which he had rebuilt after purchasing the site in 1858 or 1859.


It was the custom of John and, after his death, Ann to give a dinner in the schoolroom on New Year’s Day for both the children and the old people of the parish. That continued into the 20th century.


Given that Ann Barnes née Smith had property worth only £600 at her death it is an interesting question as to where the fortune created by Thomas Barnes went. This will be answered in part when we look at the next generation and note the marriages made by two of the Barnes daughters.


                                     The Morning Post 9th October 1869