Richard Barnett (politician)

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Sir Richard Barnett
1929 Richard Whieldon Barnett.jpg
Richard Whieldon Barnett in 1929 by Lafayette © National Portrait Gallery
Born(1863-12-06)6 December 1863
Forest Hill, London, England
Died17 October 1930(1930-10-17) (aged 66)
Camden, London, England
Known forMember of parliament, sportsman

Major Sir Richard Whieldon Barnett (6 December 1863 – 17 October 1930) was an Irish barrister, sportsman, volunteer officer and freemason who sat as a member of parliament in the United Kingdom House of Commons.

He was the eldest son of Richard Barnett, a doctor of medicine of Ardmore, Holywood, County Down and his wife Adela née Whieldon. He was educated at Wadham College, Oxford, where he studied classics and law. He graduated with a BA Honours in jurisprudence in 1887 and an MA and Bachelor of Civil Law in 1889.[1][2] In 1889 he moved to London where he was called to the bar at the Middle Temple in 1889 and practiced on the South-Eastern Circuit.[1][2]

While at university he joined the Oxford University Volunteers, a volunteer unit of the Oxfordshire Light Infantry, obtaining the rank of captain.[1][2] From 1889-1897 he held a commission in the 22nd Middlesex Rifle Volunteers (The Rangers), acting as musketry instructor.[1][2]

An expert sport shooter, Barnett represented Ireland in the contest for the Elcho Shield on 37 occasions, and twice made the record score.[1][2] He was one of twelve competitors for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in the 1908 Summer Olympics[1] He finished fourth in the 1000 yard free rifle competition.[3] A member of the council of the National Rifle Association of the United Kingdom, he was the captain of the winning team in the Lords vs Commons shooting team at Bisley in 1921-28.[2]

He was also Irish Chess Champion from 1886 to 1889.[1] At Oxford he was president of the Oxford University Chess Club, competing in a number of varsity matches against Cambridge in the 1880s.[1]

On the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 he was appointed musketry officer of the 41st Infantry Brigade. In November of the same year he became Staff Officer for Musketry for the 36th (Ulster) Division. In October 1915 he moved to the 40th Division, ending the war with the brevet rank of major.[1]

In 1916 he was elected unopposed at a by-election as Conservative & Unionist MP for St Pancras West. Following the war a general election was held in 1918: Barnett was elected as MP for the new seat of St Pancras South West. While in parliament he introduced the Nursing Registration Bill 1919.[1][2] He joined the House of Commons Chess Circle, serving as its president from 1923-1929. He was involved in hosting World Chess Champion José Raúl Capablanca on a visit to the UK in 1919.[2][4][5] Knighted in 1925, Barnett resigned from the House of Commons at the 1929 general election.[1]

Outside of parliament Barnett had a number of business interests, particularly in oil companies. He was vice-president of the Institution of Petroleum Technologists and president of British Controlled Oilfields Limited.[1][2] He was also a prominent freemason and a member of the Court of Assistants of the Worshipful Company of Turners.[1]

In 1892 he married Maud Emmeline Cawsey, of Sidmouth, Devon. She died in 1920.[1][2] He died, aged 66, in 1930 following complications after an operation.[2] Barnett had been churchwarden of Christchurch, Albany Street from 1918, and in June 1931 a tablet to his memory was erected there.[1][6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "BARNETT, Major Sir Richard Whieldon". Who Was Who. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 21 December 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Obituary: Sir Richard Barnett. Varied Interests". The Times. 18 October 1930. p. 14.
  3. ^ "Sports Reference: Richard Barnett". Sports Reference. Retrieved 2014-02-08.
  4. ^ History of the Irish Chess Champion by David McAllister
  5. ^ The Games of Richard Barnett
  6. ^ "Memorial to Sir Richard Barnett" (PDF). British Journal of Nursing. August 1931. Retrieved 21 December 2013.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Felix Cassel
Member of Parliament for St Pancras West
Succeeded by
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for St Pancras South West
Succeeded by
William Carter