Thomas Barker 1722-1809

From Rutland Local History & Record Society Newsletter April 2009

In 1988 the Society published The Weather Journals of a Rutland Squire, edited by John Kington, as the second volume in its Rutland Record Series.

Recently, we were approached with an enquiry as to whether the volume was still available, which it is, and the following note about a current Met Office project has kindly been supplied by David Parker:
Lancing College Library, Sussex, holds a weather diary by Thomas Barker of Lyndon Hall (1722-1809) covering 1748- 1763. These records are being scanned into electronic files by Storm Dunlop and Anne Drewery, Lancing’s Archivist, in collaboration with the Met Office Hadley Centre.

The daily records include temperature, pressure, rainfall and wind. The mean sea level pressure data in particular have potential to support the international ACRE project (see which plans historical analyses of European climate back to the mid-18th century in order to assess climate variability and extremes and their past and future impacts.

The temperatures could be used to improve the Central England temperature record (Manley, 1974) if they have a good outdoor exposure, rather than being taken in an outhouse as was common in the mid- eighteenth century. The existing record of daily Central England temperature begins in 1772 (Parker et al., 1992) and benefits strongly from Thomas Barker’s 1777-1789 record of outdoor observations, held in Met Office archives. So, if we could find Thomas Barker's diaries for 1764-1776, we could refine the 1772-1776 daily Central England temperature record and extend it back into the 1760s or 1750s, depending on the quality of the observations.

Bibliography: Kington, J, (ed), The Weather Journals of a Rutland Squire (RLHRS 1988). Manley, G, 1974. Central England temperatures: monthly means 1659 to 1973. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society 100: 389-405. Parker, D E, Legg, T P, Folland, C K, 1992. A new daily Central England Temperature series. International Journal of Climatology 12, 317-42.
Tim Clough