Emilio • Link
A well-known leather-seller and preacher from the period surrounding the Civil War. He seems never to have gotten much respect: In the early 1640s he drew large crowds to hear his preaching, but from early on he also drew opposition and ridicule for his extreme views. In 1653 Cromwell appointed him to a short-lived replacement for the Rump Parliament, the much despised 'Barebone's Parliament'; according to Maureen (anno for 10 March, 1659/60, http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1660/03/10/#c2897 ) this was also known as the Bluestocking Parliament for their taste in accessories. Barebones, however, does not seem to have contributed much to the group other than a derisive nickname. He was also a member of the Fifth Monarchy Men, a millenarian group that saw Cromwell's rule as a preparation for the 'fifth monarchy,' which would lead to Christ's thousand-year reign.
At the time of the Restoration, Barbones was a hard-core anti-royalist. On 11 Feb. 1659/60 he presented the Rump with a resolution that would require office-holders to take an oath opposing the Stuarts and make working for a restoration an act of treason. This proposal was not well received by Londoners, who broke the windows in his house repeatedly and likely threatened him. On 31 March he signed an agreement not to disturb the peace. In late 1661 he was arrested on suspicion of being involved with a plot by other Fifth Monarchists and held in the Tower for eight months. After that he seems to have kept a very low profile until he died in 1680.
Source for most of the above: 1911 encyclopedia
1911 encyclopedia entry (from anno by Roger Miller, 11 Feb, 1659/60):
More on Barebone’s Parliament (from anno by Rita, 12 Feb, 1659/60):
Emilio • Link
Pepys had early contact with Barebones and his preaching. This is from Tomalin's biography, p. 13:
"[Pepys and his brothers] grew accustomed to hearing puritan preachers in the street. In 1640 a local leather-seller called Praisegod Barebones set up his Baptist congregation right outside, in Fleet Street [next to St. Bride's Church]. Baptist ministers saw no need for church buildings, supporting themselves by working at other jobs and welcomed women as preachers."
Politically Barebones may have been a joke around London, but his religious views seem to have been admirable in many ways. The quote above shows him taking very seriously the example of the early disciples, and the 1911 encyclopedia says he showed "a spirit of wide religious tolerance."
Emilio • Link
Interestingly, his son Nicholas seems to have done much better than Barebones himself.
Tomalin's biography, citing N.G. Brett-James, The Growth of Stuart London, calls him the "architect" of Will Hewer's house at No. 12, York Buildings, Buckingham Street (p. 421, n. 2). According to the Companion, it seems more likely Nicholas simply arranged for the construction while he was off doing other things: "Nicholas, a physician and property developer, is credited with the introduction of fire insurance."
Oh, what a difference a generation makes . . .
Leo Hollis • Link
Nicholas Barbon was in fact one of the most interesting and colourful characters in post restoration London. The apple had indeed fallen far from is father's tree as he was the first man to profit from the Great Fire of 1666 by setting up The Pheonix, the first fire insurance company. He was one of the leading builder speculators of his day transforming new areas of London's growth including St James Sq, the Strand, Holborn and Soho. In many ways he can be seen as one of the inventors of modern London living, the terraced house.
He was also cited by Karl Marx for his writings: A Builder's Apology and his writing on banking in the 1680s where he went head to head with John Locke in a dispute on the value of commodities. He also was an innovator by creating the first land bank, that failed only with the foundation of the Bank of England and an orphan bank
That being said, he was a total huckster who would rather go into debt than borrow money (the interest was smaller) would bamboozle and strong arm his clients and opponents. As one historian commented: he was a total humbug but his flair for business almost reached the level of genius.
Barebone, who was by occupation a leather-feller, was one of the most active, if not the most able members of the parliament assembled by Cromwell, which took its denomination from his name. When Monck came to London, with a view of restoring the king, and was intent upon the re-admission of the secluded members, this man appeared at the head of a numerous rabble of fanatics, which was alarming even to that intrepid general. A petition was presented by their leader to the parliament, for the exclusion of the king and the royal family. Monck, who knew the popularity of Barebone, was obliged to make a general muster of his army, and wrote a letter to the parliament, in which he expostulated with them for giving too much countenance to that furious zealot and his adherents.
---A Biographical History of England. J. Granger, 1769.
Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.