Eccentrics of the Regency Period Series: Richard Barry, 7th Earl of Barrymore


For today, we’ll take an look at another of the Prince Regent’s inner circle, a man known by one and all as “Hellgate,” Richard Barry, 7th Earl of Barrymore.

Richard Barry, 7th Earl of Barrymore (14 August 1769 – 6 March 1793) was an English nobleman of Ireland, as well as an infamous rake, gambler, sportsman, theatrical   enthusiast and womanizer.

He was known as Hellgate and the Rake of Rakes and died at the age of just 24.

Barrymore was born on 14 August 1769 in Marlebone, Middlesex, to Richard Barry, 6th Earl of Barrymore and Amelia Stanhope, daughter of William Stanhope, 2nd Earl of Harrington  and the Lady Caroline Fitzroy. He succeeded his father as Earl of Barrymore 1 August 1773 when he was only three. His mother placed him under the care of the vicar of Wargrave in Berkshire, where he grew up and later settled.

He was heavily in debt before marrying, but instead of “marrying into money” as was common at the time, he married Charlotte Goulding, niece of the infamous Letty Lade,  and the daughter of a common sedan chairman on 7 June 1792. After his death the next year, she eventually “…passed…to the lowest grade of prostitution.”

His sister Carolina (1768-?) was known as “Billingsgate,” due to her use of foul language. Henry (1770–1823), his younger brother, was “Cripplegate,” due to a physical disfigurement. His youngest brother Augustus (1773–1818) was nicknamed “Newgate,” after Newgate Prison in London.

Barrymore became a well-known sportsman, particularly in cricket, running, horse racing, boxing and swordsmanship. He bred his own race-horses and rode as his own jockey. He was especially famous for placing huge bets on both these sports and other extraordinarily ludicrous challenges.

He patronised his own personal bare-knuckle boxer, and his wife also boxed.

He made two known appearances in first-class cricket matches from 1791 to 1792, playing as a member of the Brighton Cricket Club.  He was listed in the scorecards as Lord Barrymore.

His first love was, however, the theatre, a fine example of which he built and ran in Wargrave. He even acted there himself.

He was also a Member of Parliament for Heytesbury from 1791 until his death.

Barrymore retired to life in the Royal Berkshire Militia, into which he had been commissioned in 1789 and was later promoted Lieutenant,  but was accidentally killed at Folkestone on 6 March 1793. His musket discharged while escorting  French prisoners of war to Dover.

He was buried 17 May 1793 in St Mary’s Church in Wargrave.

Despite fears of bankruptcy,  Barrymore died in unexpected solvency. He had alienated much of his Cork  patrimony in 1792, at which time the Buttevant estate passed to Viscount Doneraile and to a Scottish banker, John Anderson.

About reginajeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and contemporary novels.
This entry was posted in British history, legends and myths, Living in the Regency, real life tales, Regency era, Victorian era and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Eccentrics of the Regency Period Series: Richard Barry, 7th Earl of Barrymore

  1. Lisa S says:

    What a way to die. I was expecting him to have died in a bar-room brawl or a mis-adventure with the Four Horse Club or of some nasty disease based on the build-up and his youth, not due to an accidental rifle discharge. What an interesting trio of misfits you have found to entertain us with Regina. Good job! 🙂
    – Lisa (slapshinyhappy at yahoo dot com)

  2. Definitely not worth the time, was it, Lisa? You know me. I love to look for the unusual.

  3. Monica P says:

    His wife was a boxer?! Oh my gosh, I had no notion that women did that back then.

    He sure did a lot of living in 24 short years. It’s unfortunate that his wife became a prostitute, especially since he didn’t die penniless.

    monicaperry00 at

  4. Yes, some people jam a lifetime in a few short years and others waste their longevity.

  5. Lúthien84 says:

    What an unfortunate end to his life. I feel a little sorry for him.

    • To die so young is always great tragedy. Would Barrymore have changed his ways as he grew older? How often do we see young people who were wild in their youths and productive citizens as they grow older.

Comments are closed.