Barker, Robert snr, at the ‘Sopha Dome Beds’, Petergate, York, u, appraiser and undertaker (b. 1706–d. 1781). Subscribed to Chippendale's Director, 1754. Son of John Barker, u of Petergate, bapt. 9 December 1707 at Holy Trinity (Christ Church), King's Sq. Admitted freeman by patrimony in 1731. Married twice, having, by the first marriage, four children who survived infancy, Robert jnr, his heir, bapt. 30 November 1734; Thomas, who became a clergyman, bapt. 12 March 1737–38; Noblet, who became a surgeon, bapt. 1 June 1742; and Matthew, who took over his father's business, bapt. 22 September 1746. Married secondly Mary Magdalene Devisnie of Escrick, on 10 July 1755, buried 15 March 1796, aged 75.
Took apps for £30 each: Robert Brennand, in 1744; Thomas Barker, in 1753; John Clarke, in 1742; Stephen Sagar, for £40 for 7 years in 1759; Joseph Wilson for 8 years in 1765; and Thomas in 1759.
Advertised on 13 October 1741, selling ass and foal, and on 16 November 1742, two geldings; and with John Barker of the same trade and address, on 12 October 1742, acting as agents for letting a house in Thursday Mkt and selling a house at the corner of Gillygate near Bootham Bar, inhabited by William Plowman, coach maker. They advertised together again on 25 January 1743 as agents selling a dwelling house in Thursday Mkt, and on 22 August 1749 selling ‘all the genuine Household Furniture belonging to Capt. Graydon, at Fulford, near York …’ from 4 September Robert and John both voted in parliamentary elections in 1741 and 1758, and Robert served as Sheriff of York, 1776–77, indicating his respectable status.
On 18 May 1756 Robert Barker submitted a bill totalling £35 14s to Daniel Lascelles for upholstery, beds, etc. and 6 Windsor chairs at 6s each. He is referred to several times in the York Assembly Rooms minute book between 1735–79, on 18 November 1735 concerning ‘four Dozen Chaires according to the Pattern delivered in at 9s per Chaire with S.P. leather Bottom & Brass nailes …’. The Committee also ‘Bargained with Mr Reynoldson and Mr Barker for four Quadrille Tables at £1 17s 6d each, each of them to make two according to this pattern now shown’. On 24 February 1736 the Committee ‘Ordered that Mr. Barker's Bill for four Dozen chairs and 2 Quadrille Tables be discharged, £25 7s’. On 28 November 1739 Barker received a commission for two ‘Mahogany Card Tables … for the use of the Card Assembly at £1 14s each’, two more being supplied by Mr Reynoldson. On 28 January 1764 Barker was ordered to make four new card tables and recover four old ones and ‘Twenty Four of the worst of the chairs with the new leather’. On 12 October 1776, a bill of £50 6s was discharged to Barker, and on 2 May 1779, another of £30 4s.
In 1781 he announced that he was declining business, and he died on 24 July, 1781, aged 75. His will, dated 18 June and proved 31 July, 1781, bequeathed to his wife Mary, a ‘house in Petergate, divided into two tenements held on lease from the Corporation. Also the house part adjoining now or lately inhabited by Slingsby, Griffith & Gledding leased from the Vicars Choral. She to have for life, then to son, Noblet; also to wife her gold watch, 1 pair of silver candlesticks and her own jewels; £300 to his wife, … £100 to his son Robert, £20 to son Matthew, All else to Noblet & his mother.’ His stock in trade was sold after his death, and the business was taken over by his son Matthew. [Surtees Soc. vol. 102, York freemen, p. 234; S of G, app. index; York City archives, D3–4; York Parish Reg. Soc., vol. 1, LXXXV; York Courant, 13 October 1741, 16 November 1742, 12 October 1742, 25 January 1743, 22 August 1749; poll bks; Furn. Hist., 1974; Leeds archives dept, Harewood MS 386; York Assembly Rooms, Directors’ minute bk; York Courant, 6 March 1781, 16 August 1781, 14 August 1781; C. Life, 30 October 1974, pp. 932–33] A.E.