Diana Barham

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Diana Barham

Diana Barham (1763-1823) was Welsh philanthropist who established schools and churches on the Gower Peninsula and an abolitionist.

Early life[edit]

Born in 1763, her parents were Margaret (née Gambier) and Charles Middleton,[1] a Naval admiral who was created Baron Barham, of Barham Court and Teston in the County of Kent in May 1805.[2][3] They were Calvinist Methodists, whose friends included religious writer and philanthropist Hannah More, cleric George Whitefield, and politician and abolitionist William Wilberforce.[4]


She was married 21 December 1780 to Gerard Edwardes, who was a Cambridge-educator banker and member of Parliament.[1][5] In 1798, he inherited the estates of his uncle, Henry Noel, 6th Earl of Gainsborough, and changed his surname to Noel.[5] They had fifteen[6] or eighteen children,[7] one of whom, Baptist Wriothesley Noel, stated that the his parent's home "combined whig politics, evangelical devotion, aristocratic unconventionality, and strong-mindedness in a potent blend".[7]

Gerard's estates, worth £20,800 a year and consisting of 15,000 acres, were put into trust due to the poor state of financial management by 1816.[7]

Baroness Barham[edit]

Bethesda Chapel in Burry Green was built in 1813 or 1814 by Diana, Baroness Barham

When her father died in 1813, as the only child, she became Baroness Barham and her husband became Baron Barham.[2] That year, having found her husband to be a "profligate and eccentric husband", she moved to Fairy Hill, Gower and began funding the construction of free schools as well as four Independent and two Calvinist Methodist churches.[1][7] She was also an abolitionist and was friends with Samuel Johnson.[2]

Barham died at Fairy Hill on 12 April 1823, and her son Charles became Lord Barham. He had the chapels transferred to trustees.[1] Her correspondence is archived at The National Archives[8] and photographs related to her life are held at the Chipping Campden History Society.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d Gomer Morgan Roberts (1959). "Diana Barham". Dictionary of Welsh Biography. National Library of Wales. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Charles Middleton 1st Lord Barham". More than Nelson. Retrieved 22 July 2017.
  3. ^ John Bernard Burke (1845). A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the British Empire. H. Colburn. p. 421.
  4. ^ Iorworth Hughes Jones (1956). "Lady Barham in Gower". Gower journal of the Gower Society. 9: 2–3 – via Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru – The National Library of Wales.
  5. ^ a b "Edwards (post Noel), Gerald Noel (EDWS776GN)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  6. ^ "Burke's Colonial Gentry". Burke's Peerage. pp. 124–126. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d "Sir Gerard Noel Noel 2nd Bart". Legacies of British Slave-ownership database. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  8. ^ "Middleton, Diana (1762-1823) Baroness Barham, wife of Sir Gerard Noel, 2nd Baronet". The National Archives. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  9. ^ "Lady Barham, Fairy Hill, Gower. Photographs and article". Chipping Campden History Society archive. Retrieved 8 August 2017.