The name is a syncopated form of Bernersbury (1274), being so called after the Berners family: powerful medieval manorial lords who gained ownership of a large part of Islington after the Norman Conquest. The area of Barnsbury was predominantly rural until the early nineteenth century.
By the end of the 18th century, however, Barnsbury, like other parts of Islington, was being regarded as attractive part-rural suburbs by the comparatively wealthy people wanting to move out of the cramped City of London and industrial Clerkenwell. The area is close to the City, and had strong local trade in its position as the first staging post for travellers making the journey from London to the north, and with considerable agricultural traffic and cattle driving to the nearby Smithfield cattle market in the City.
Pentonville Prison (built 1842) is located within Barnsbury.
- Michael Faraday (1791–1867) chemist
- Emily Thornberry (born 1960) Labour Party MP for Islington South and Finsbury
- Gillian Anderson (born 1968) actress, activist and writer 
- Grayson Perry artist
- Owen Jones Labour activist
- Caledonian Road & Barnsbury railway station
- Angel tube station
- Caledonian Road tube station
- Highbury and Islington station
- Mills, D., Oxford Dictionary of London Place Names, (2000)
- IMDb Database retrieved 2 May 2019