John Barber


According to traditional sources, John Barber was born in Langford, Ireland in 1758. With his younger brother, Robert, he emigrated to America and arrived in Albany during the 1780s.

John is said to have been a school teacher while Robert trained under Charles R. Webster and became a printer. In 1788, "Robert Barber & Co." started the Albany Register - a political newspaper formed to oppose ratification of the Federal Constitution. Before long, Robert Barber left the paper and moved to Johnstown. Although not really a printer himself, John assumed ownership and operation of the newspaper.

In 1788, the personal property of the Barber brothers was valued on the second ward assessment roll within another household. Two years later in 1790, John Barber was identified as the head of household that counted a total of five members. By 1800, the Barber residence had grown to twelve members and included the budding family of his sister and brother-in-law, Solomon Southwick.

In 1791, John Barber printed an updated version of the Laws and Ordinances of the city of Albany from his shop at No. 4 Maiden Lane.

In 1793, he was among the founders and the first secretery of the Albany Mechanics Society.

In 1792, he was joined at the newspaper by the journeyman printer Solomon Southwick who married sister Jane Barber and took over the Register following Barber's death.

John Barber died in July 1808 and was buried with his brother in a simple grave in the Episcopal plot. His newspaper obituary noted that he was "publisher of the Albany Register, died of consumption, aged 50. He was printer to the state, and a man very highly respected for his moral and social worth. Before he took charge of the Register, he had been a school teacher under Mr. Merchant." His will passed probate in July.

His younger brother, Robert, died in 1812 at the age of forty-two. He was buried with his brother in a simple grave in the Episcopal plot.

The business account book of Albany artist Ezra Ames for 1809, noted a portrait of "Mr. Barber" commissioned by Solomon Southwick - Barber's brother-in-law.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of John Barber is CAP biography number 7202. This outline sketch is derived chiefly from Internet and community-based resources. We are puzzled by the lack of family-based information uncovered so far. Political observer Jabez Hammond noted Barber's character online and following his death; Gorham Worth.

first posted: 1/30/09