Barber family, of Leeds

An influential PM family of Leeds, originally associated with Ebenezer PM chapel, Quarry Hill. Robert Barber (1818-1884), born at Nun Monkton, north-west of York, gave invaluable support to establishing PM work on the Bank, York and the building of Bourne chapel (1870).

His son, George Calvert Barber, a local preacher, was the father of Benjamin Aquila Barber (1876-1946; e.m. 1899), born on 12 July 1876 in Leeds. He trained for the ministry at Hartley College and from 1912 to 1920 served as a chaplain to the Forces. His circuit appointments included ten years in Harrogate, 1921-1931. Appointed PM Connexional Editor in 1931, after Methodist Union he was joint Editor with John Telford until 1935. His A Methodist Pageant (1932) was offered as 'a souvenir - a token of remembrance of the consecrated men and women of the Primitive Methodist Church who have sustained a distinctive ministry over a period of one hundred and twenty years'. He also wrote biographies of Robert Louis Stevenson (1910) and Frank O. Salisbury (1936). He died on 4 October 1946.

John Yorke Barber (b.1908; e.m. 1930), the son of B.A. Barber, entered the ministry, but resigned in 1933 to train for the Anglican priesthood at Chichester; his sister Betty (b. c.1910) also became an Anglican, and was associated with the Anglo-Catholic All Saints', Margaret Street, London.

Another son of Robert Barber, Henry Bride Barber (1861-1938; e.m. 1886), served in the Norwich PM Circuit before emigrating to Australia, where he was secretary of the PM Conference in 1901, the year of Methodist Union there, and then of the united Methodist Conference in Victoria and Tasmania. He married a sister of James Pickett.

His son, Professor George Calvert Barber CBE, (1893-1967) became an influential figure in the Australian Methodist Church, was President of the Australian Conference and attended the first meeting of the World Council of Churches. He was Professor of Theology and Principal of Queen's College, Melbourne for 22 years, President of the Victoria and Tasmania Conference in 1948 and President of the General Australian Conference 1951-1954. He was President of the Australian Council of Churches 1952-1953 and played a significant role in drafting the plans for what in 1977 became the Uniting Church in Australia.

  • William Beckworth, A Book of Remembrance: being records of Leeds Primitive Methodism (1910)