He was the son of James Barkley (1789–1843) and Margaret (MacDougall) Barkley (1795–1857).
At the New York state election, 1868, he ran for Canal Commissioner on the Republican ticket but was defeated by Democrat Oliver Bascom. At the New York state election, 1870, he ran again but was again defeated, this time by the incumbent Democrat George W. Chapman. At the New York state election, 1871, he ran again and was elected, being in office from 1872 to 1874. At the New York state election, 1874, he was defeated for re-election by Democrat Adin Thayer. During the investigation of the Canal Ring, Barkley was indicted by a grand jury in Buffalo, New York for conspiracy.
He was buried at the Prospect Hill Cemetery in Argyle, NY.
-  Barkley genealogy at RootsWeb
- Annual Report of the Canal Commissioners (1862) [gives name as "Barckley"]
- THE STATE TICKET in NYT on July 11, 1868
- THE NOVEMBER ELECTION in NYT on October 30, 1870
- THE CANAL FRAUDS in NYT on October 3, 1875
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