Edward Thaddeus Barleycorn Barber

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Edward Thaddeus Barleycorn Barber
Born (1865-07-01)1 July 1865
Santa Isabel, Fernando Po
Died January 1948 (aged 82–83)
Aba, Nigeria
Occupation Medical doctor (University of Edinburgh)

Edward Thaddeus Barleycorn Barber (1865–1948) was born on 1 July 1865 in the Spanish colonized capital city of Santa Isabel on the island of Fernando Po in West Africa.

He was one of the first black people in York and is presumably linked with William N Barleycorn, the first native Primitive Methodist minister in Fernando Po. Other leading Creole families in Fernando Po (now Bioko) around this time included the Barber family, as well as Davis, Barleycorn, Vivour, Kinson, Dougan, Balboa, Knox, Coker and Collins,[1] although an ancestral link has been suggested with Francis Barber, Samuel Johnson's man-servant.

Early years and first experience in Britain[edit]

There is little information about the early years of Edward Thaddeus Barleycorn Barber. Elmfield College records show him as entering in September 1886 and leaving in April 1888. He is described as the son of "Mrs Julia A. Barber" of "Calle de Rene, Santa Isabel", born on 25 July 1868.

Records from the University of Edinburgh [2] show that he was educated for 5 years at the C. M. (Church Missionary) Grammar school in Sierra Leone, West Africa. It is estimated that he would have been aged 12–17 during this period. He would have been sent to Sierra Leone to study since Fernando Po only offered minimal education in Spanish and being from the English speaking Creole tribe. Sierra Leone offered English based education, at the time, with such schools as the Church Missionary Grammar School, and the then prestigious Fourah Bay College still in existence today.

The records also showed that he then travelled to Britain to study the equivalent of A Levels at Elmfield College in York aged 18 which would have been in 1886-1887. Elmfield College was opened in 1864 and soon took a foremost place amongst the middle-class schools in England. It was established as a Primitive Methodist boarding school. In October 1887 while at Elmfield, his "interesting recitation" at the Victoria Bar Primitive Methodist Chapel in York, "for which he was enthusiastically applauded", was reported in the local newspaper.[3] After this he became a doctor and barber.

Edinburgh University[edit]

When Barber first enrolled at Edinburgh University in 1887 [4] the records showed that his address was 8 Brighton Terrace, Joppa.

Prior to starting his medical degree at Edinburgh University he studied preliminary courses and examinations which he took at Edinburgh University during 1887-1988 [5] and matriculated in 1888, taking examinations in English language and literature, history and geography, mathematics, Latin, French, natural philosophy and mechanics, in the last of which he passed "with credit."[6] His medical course started in 1888 and covered many subjects including botany, anatomy, surgery, midwifery, pathology and pharmacy. He sat both oral and written exams with his final medical professional exams taking place in June 1892 when he graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Medicine and a Masters in Surgery.[7][8]

Back to Africa[edit]

On his return to Fernando Po, Barber worked at a hospital there for a few years. He also worked as a doctor in Cameroon where it is believed he met and married his wife Edith Barber before returning to Fernando Po once again. In 1919 he travelled to Calabar, in the then Eastern Nigeria where he worked as a doctor at the St Margaret’s Hospital which was the first public (general) hospital in Nigeria. He later arrived at Aba (also in the Eastern Nigeria) in 1924 where he started his own infirmary and surgery whilst also helping at the Aba public hospital.

He trained quite a few nurses and dispensers at his infirmary including two of his daughters. He continued to provide medical services to the people of Aba until his death in 1948.

He was later honoured by the people of Aba where they named a road in the Government Residential Area (GRA) Dr. Barber Avenue.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ African and European cocoa producers on Fernando Poo, 1880s to 1910s; Journal of African History; 1 May 1994; Clarence-Smith, W.G.
  2. ^ University of Edinburgh Record Library
  3. ^ "Victoria Bar Primitive Methodist Chapel". The York Herald. York, England (11361): 2. 29 October 1887. Retrieved 26 January 2013. 
  4. ^ University of Edinburgh Record Library
  5. ^ University of Edinburgh Record Library
  6. ^ "York and Vicinity: Elmfield College – Examinations of the Edinboro’ University". The York Herald. York, England (11487): 6. 24 March 1888. Retrieved 26 January 2013. 
  7. ^ Pentland, Y.J (1893), Edinburgh medical journal, Volume 38, Par 1 (online ed.), Harvard University, retrieved 21 December 2010 
  8. ^ University of Edinburgh (1893). The Edinburgh University Calendar. Retrieved 26 January 2013.