Barford Family

Barford Tree.jpg


Richard Crompe Barford, a butcher moved to Hurst near Wokingham and married Letitia Gale in 1857 and they had four children, Richard Gale, James Gale, Giles Crompe and Elizabeth.

Richard Crompe deserted his family and later in 1856 he was found guilty of passing forged £5 notes and was sentenced to six years penal servitude.

Letitia became head of the family and the Barfords moved to the Market Place, Wokingham to set up in business as a shoemakers in the name of James Gale, her father.

Her sons, Richard and Giles where in 1851 apprentice shoemakers and third son, James, baptized John was apprenticed to a surgeon. Later, in 1852 he entered St. Bartholomew's Hospital to become a senior scholar and house surgeon. In 1859 he was appointed Medical Officer of Wellington College.

On 3rd January 1857 he married Marian Elizabeth Morton Haines and they moved into No. 14 Shute End, owned by the Walter Family of Bearwood. They renamed the house Barford House (now Albany House) which became the family seat for a number of years. He then settled into medical practice from his home.

James and Marian had eight children and two years after Marian's death in 1873, James married Mary Harriet West who bore him another seven children.

James became notorious for exposing Wellington College for its bad sanitation that had lead to much sickness and in one case the death of a boy.

Following a severe attack of influenza and strokes he died on 9th November 1893 and was buried in the family vault in St. Paul's Parish Churchyard.

Mary Barford purchased a painting at a sale in the Rose Inn and sold it to Rev. Charles Penny who had it cleaned which revealed a portrait of the Prince of Denmark of the 17th century. He donated it to the Wokingham Council in 1898 and it can still be seen in the main hall.

James and Mary's first son, Vernon West was a photographer, musician, organist and teacher who moved to Canada in 1895. With the help of Howard Stutchbury he established Canada's first provincial music festival. He conducted the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and the Canadian Air Force Band. He was made an Honorary Fellow of St. John's College, Winnipeg in 1950 and in 1967 the Vernon Barfield Junior School in Edmonton was named posthumously in his memory. He had died in Edmonton on 22nd April 1963.


A Short History of Five Wokingham Families by Jim Bell




“Barford Family,” Wokingham's Virtual Museum, accessed September 20, 2020,