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The Later Barrons



Hampton, like all the seaports of Virginia, suffered very much from the results of American Independence. Its trade with the West Indies was cut off and the town made little advance for many years after the Revolution. It remained, however, the headquarters of the pilots of James River, who disbursed considerable money. It continued to give naval heroes to History, and among them may be mentioned the two sons of James Barron of the Revolution - James, the younger and Samuel, who both became commodores in the United States Navy and were conspicuous for their bravery and executive ability.

Samuel Barron, the oldest son, was born in the town of Hampton, September 25, 1765. He studied at a grammar school in Petersburg and at the Grammar school at William and Mary College. At fifteen years of age he went as midshipman on Board the frigate Dragon commanded by Captain Markham, and during the rest of the war, shared in both sea and land duty and was raised to the rank of captain. After the peace he was in the revenue service of the State until the adoption of the Federal constitution in 1788. He then engaged in the merchant service, but was soon employed by the government and in 1804 had command of the Mediterranean fleet sent to the relief of commodore Bainbridge and his companion then prisoners in Tripoli. He was taken ill, and was compelled to turn over his command to Commodore Rogers and returned to Virginia. He was put in command of the navy yard at Gosport, where he died Nov. 10, 1810.' His son, Samuel Barron, was born in 1802, and served also with great distinction in the United States Navy in all grades to captain; but, when the war broke out in 1861, he joined the Confederates, and was made Commodore, in which position he gave a good account of himself till the war was over and he returned to his home.

His brother, James Barron, was born in Hampton in the year 1768. He was too young to take any part in the Revolution, but after the peace was employed like his brother and father in the revenue service of the State. He



' Commodore Samuel Barron, Virginia Historical Register III, 198.

Page forty-four



subsequently followed the merchant line until the organization of the United States Navy when he entered the public service as lieutenant. In this grade he served with credit under Commodore Barry in the short war with the French Republic, on board the frigate United States, in which Stephen Decatur was midshipman. On account of his efficiency, he was raised to the rank of captain and given the command of that war ship. During Mr. Jefferson's administration the navy was placed on a peace establishment and most of the officers were discharged, but James Barron and his brother, Samuel, were two of the few retained. In 1804 he commanded the frigate Essex, one of the squadron of ten vessels sent to Tripoli under the command of his elder brother. Commodore Samuel Barron. In this service and various other commands he won much honor till a shadow was cast over his career by the affair, in 1808, of the Leopard and Chesapeake, when he was courtmartialed and relieved from command for five years for '^neglecting on the probability of an engagement to clear his ship for action." This decision was a most unjust one, as the fault was not with Barron, but with the Navy department.

After the war of 1812 he was restored to the navy, over the protest of Stephen Decatur, who spoke of him in disparaging terms, which led, in 1820, to a challenge resulting in the death of Decatur and the wounding of Barron. After this Barron was in command of the Philadelphia Navy Yard and had the honor of receiving General La Fayette when he visited that place in 1824. He held command next at the Gosport Navy Yard and the naval asylum at Philadelphia, but at last on account of old age resigned and retired to Norfolk, where he died April 21, 1851, in the 83rd year of his age. His eldest daughter, Jane, married Wilton Hope and was mother of James Barron Hope, a distinguished Virginia poet and literateur.

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