Barclay Fox was the son of Robert Were Fox F.R.S. of Falmouth in Cornwall and Maria (born Barclay of Bury Hill, Surrey), his wife. He was the brother of Anna Maria and Caroline Fox and brother-in law  of Edmund Backhouse, M.P. for Darlington, who married the Barclay's cousin, Juliet.
Barclay's courtship of Jane Gurney Backhouse is described in his Journal, published in 1979. The 1979 edition of Barclay's journal runs from 1832 to 1854, with most of the entries dating from before his marriage to Jane, in October 1844, and the birth of their five children: four boys and a girl. In September 2008 a new edition was published with additional journal entries from 1845 to 1854.
A notable diary entry of 26 December 1842 relates one of the earliest English examples of Father Christmas acting as gift-giver: "the venerable effigies of Father Christmas with scarlet coat & cocked hat, stuck all over with presents for the guests, by his side the old year, a most dismal & haggard old beldame in a night cap and spectacles, then 1843 [the new year], a promising baby asleep in a cradle".
Barclay and his siblings played a large part in the naming and establishment of the Cornwall Polytechnic Society (from 1835, the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society). After his death, the RCPS Committee recorded 
"The Society, however, since our last meeting, has been deprived of the services of Mr. R. B. Fox, who, on all occasions, not only aided the institution by his varied and powerful intelligence but practically and laboriously assisted in carrying it on".
Travels in 1843
In his diary for 1843, Barclay gives an entertaining account of his travels in France and Italy.
The family businesses
Before he left for the continent, on 6 February 1843, his family made him a partner in the firm of G.C. Fox (Shipping Brokers). Barclay was also general manager of the Iron Foundry at Perranarworthal from 18 July 1842, when his uncle, Charles Fox, retired.
Barclay's sister, Caroline Fox, also kept a journal, which was published after her death and later republished in 1972. Barclay and Caroline have different views on the same events that they witnessed. They were agreed on the great significance of John Sterling in their lives.
Politics and pleasure
Barclay Fox was one of the leaders of the ultimately unsuccessful campaign to persuade the Government not to shift the servicing of Post Office Packets from Falmouth to Southampton. He was part of a deputation of Cornish worthies who met the Prime Minister on 16 June 1843 (Journal page 345).
Death and after
Barclay Fox died in Egypt on 10 March 1855 from tuberculosis. His wife, Jane Fox died 10 April 1860. Their four sons were brought up by Barclay's unmarried sisters, Anna Maria and Caroline, with Lovell Squire as their tutor. They were Robert Fox (1845 – 1915), George Croker Fox (1847 – 1902), Henry Backhouse Fox (1849 – 1936) and Joseph Gurney Fox (1850 – 1912), known as "Gurney". Robert Fox married Ellen Mary Bassett. Their son, Robert Barclay Fox (24 July 1873 – 22 April 1934), became a Conservative County Councillor and was High Sheriff of Cornwall in 1920.
The daughter of Barclay and Jane Fox, Jane Hannah Fox, was brought up by her mother's brother, Edmund Backhouse (MP) and his wife. Jane Hannah Fox married Horace Pym, who edited Caroline Fox's Journal for publication. She was his second wife. Barclay Fox's own journal was published in 1979.
Notes and references
- "Robert Barclay Fox". The Peerage site. 5 February 2005.
Fox, Robert Barclay (1979). ed. by Raymond Brett, ed. Barclay Fox's journal. London: Bell and Hyman. ISBN 0-7135-1865-0.
and U.S. Fox, Robert Barclay (1979). ed. by Raymond Brett, ed. Barclay Fox's journal. Totowa, N.J.: Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 0-8476-6187-3. (Includes Genealogical Tables of Fox of Falmouth, Barclay of Bury Hill and Gurney, pp.26-31) This edition both a scholarly and readable account of life in 19th Century Falmouth
- See below for names of children.
- Fox, Robert Barclay (2009). ed. by Raymond Brett and Charles Fox, ed. Barclay Fox's Journal, 1832 - 1854: Industrialist, Quaker, Traveller, Cornishman. Fowey, Cornwall: Cornwall Editions. ISBN 978-1-904880-31-8.
- According to his Journal, Barclay attended meetings of the Management Committee of the RCPS on many occasions between May 1835 and September 1843. He helped set up exhibitions, entertain guest speakers and other visiting dignitaries. The annual Reports of the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society indicate that he was formally a member of the Committee from 1839 until 1854.
- Annual Report of the RCPS 1855.
- The counting house of G.C. Fox & Co. was at 48 Arwenack Street, Falmouth TR11 5JH, near the Custom House. The company ceased trading on 30 September 2003. The building was refurbished in 2005 and is now a branch of the Great Atlantic Art Galleries Archived 12 August 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
- However, according to H.A.F. Crewdson,
"The Fox Family established [the Foundry and Wharf] in this valley in 1791, with the object of supplying pumping machinery for the mines. The site had the advantage of ample water power from the stream and of the tidal creek and the sea.
The Foundry was extremely successful. Some very heavy machinery was cast there, particularly the "bobs" or beams for mine pumps. George Fox II . . . was the first manager, in which appointment he continued until 1825, when his cousin Charles superseded him (and took over Tredrea [the large house in Perranarworthal used by George Fox and his family] and continued until 1848.
By that time, Cornish mining was in decline and the works were finally closed in 1879: but long before this event, the Fox family had parted with their interest to the Williams family.
SOURCE: H.A.F. Crewdson George Fox of Tredrea and his three daughters: a century of family history;The Author, 1976.[Crewdson is a grandchild of George Fox II's daughter Eleanor. He bases his statements on extensive family correspondence and his grandmother's privately printed memoir Our childhood at Perran.
George Fox II's father, George was the son of Edward Fox of Wadebridge, who was the step-brother of George Croker Fox. The step brothers married the sisters Anna and Mary Were.
Charles Fox and his brother Robert Were Fox (Barclay's father) were the sons of another Robert Were Fox, who was the son of George Croker Fox (confusingly, their older brother shared their father's name). Edward Fox of Wadebridge also named one of his sons Robert Were Fox. Barclay Fox named one of his sons George Croker Fox
- Barclay mentions his name very frequently in the Journal, from their first meeting on 8 February 1840 until he received notice of his death on 22 September 1844. See Brett's Introduction to the Journal pp 17, 18 for a summary of the relationship.
- Tod, Robert (1978). Caroline Fox, Quaker bluestocking: 1819-1871. York: William Sessions Limited. ISBN 0-900657-54-5. Chapter 10, pages 56-60 and family tree on page viii. Note "George Croker Fox" was a name given to several other earlier children of the Fox family of Falmouth