Portland stone headstone, 1865.
Reasons for Designation
The monument to James Barry is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: commemorates Dr James Barry, a leading military doctor. On his death, it was discovered that Barry was biologically female, and had been born as Margaret Ann Bulkley.
* Group value: with nearby listed monuments within the Grade I registered Kensal Green Cemetery.
James Barry (d.1865) was an army medical officer, who was born Margaret Ann Bulkley, and lived the majority of his life as a man. Barry was born to Ann Bulkley of Cork, whose brother was the artist James Barry RA. The date of his birth has been variously placed between 1789 and 1799. A family crisis in 1803 had left the Bulkleys destitute, but an inheritance from Barry’s uncle, and the support of his friend General Francisco Miranda, the Venezuelan revolutionary, allowed him to travel to London to continue his education. In 1809, under the sponsorship of the eleventh earl of Buchan, he enrolled at Edinburgh University as a literary and medical student. He lived from this point as James Barry.
Barry received his MD in 1812 and the following year, after a brief spell as a pupil at St Thomas’s Hospital in London, enlisted in the medical ranks of the British Army. He served in Cape Town, Mauritius, Jamaica, St Helena, the Windward and Leeward Islands, Malta and Corfu, ending his career in Canada as Inspector General of Hospitals. He carried out a caesarean section in Cape Town in 1826, in which both mother and child survived – a feat not performed in Britain until 1833. It was rumoured that Barry may have had a child in 1819, possibly by Lord Charles Somerset, the governor of the Cape. He was noted throughout his career for his kindness and concern for the oppressed, but also for his ferocious temper; at Sebastopol in 1855 he met Florence Nightingale, who described him as ‘the most hardened creature I ever met throughout the army’.
Barry retired due to ill health in 1859, and died in London on 25 July 1865, the year that Elizabeth Garrett Anderson received her medical licence. Barry was one of the most successful and respected military doctors of his time, insisting on rigorous hygiene and adequate living conditions for those in his care long before such demands became commonplace.
The Cemetery of All Souls at Kensal Green was the earliest of the large privately-run cemeteries established on the fringes of London to relieve pressure on overcrowded urban churchyards. Its founder George Frederick Carden intended it as an English counterpart to the great Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris, which he had visited in 1821. In 1830, with the financial backing of the banker Sir John Dean Paul, Carden established the General Cemetery Company, and two years later an Act of Parliament was obtained to develop a 55-acre site at Kensal Green, then among open fields to the west of the metropolis. An architectural competition was held, but the winning entry – a Gothic scheme by HE Kendall – fell foul of Sir John's classicising tastes, and the surveyor John Griffith of Finsbury was eventually employed both to lay out the grounds and to design the Greek Revival chapels, entrance arch and catacombs, built between 1834 and 1837. A sequence of royal burials, beginning in 1843 with that of Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, ensured the cemetery’s popularity. It is still administered by the General Cemetery Company, assisted since 1989 by the Friends of Kensal Green.
Simple Portland stone headstone with curved and slightly moulded profile to the top. The leaded inscription reads: ‘Dr James Barry / Inspector General of Hospitals / Died 25 July 1865 / Aged 70 years’.
This List entry was subject to a Minor Enhancement on 28/06/2017