Charles John Moulton-Barrett

Charles John Barrett Moulton-Barrett (1814–1905)

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 1, 292.

Nicknamed “Stormie” or “Storm” because of his arrival in the midst of one, he was born at Hope End, 28 December 1814, the seventh child and third son of Edward and Mary Moulton-Barrett. He was named after his paternal grandfather upon whose death he was left £1,000 because of this. With a timid and nervous disposition and with a frequently-mentioned speech impediment, he nevertheless is characterized as gentle, loving, honest, and generous—perhaps overly so. RB, in a letter to Isabella Blagden dated 19 December 1863, told how Charles John offered “to make an immense sacrifice” to pay a cousin a supposed debt which was not legally valid. As to Stormie’s relationship with EBB, she always wrote endearingly of him, though she never won his total acceptance of her marriage to RB. To some extent, he shared in her poetic ability. Along with his brother George, Charles John matriculated at Glasgow University, but, on account of his speech impediment, he did not take a degree. In 1844, he and his brother Henry left on a sea voyage to Egypt. By then, Stormie had also begun shuttling back and forth between England and Jamaica, and Jamaican plantation interests were to take up most of his attention for the remainder of his life. Upon the 1857 death of his father, as oldest surviving son, he was the principal inheritor of the Moulton-Barrett fortunes, acquiring from his father’s estate all the vast Jamaican properties and the family portraits. From his inheritance he gave £5,000 each to his sisters EBB and Henrietta. After his father’s death, Stormie returned to Britain for the first time in ten and a half years. In 1858 he leased from cousins (the Williamses) an estate called Bryngwyn, near Oswestry, Shropshire, to be used when he was on that side of the Atlantic. Charles John was the last family member to reside on the estates in Jamaica. When the decline in Moulton-Barrett fortunes took away the last one, Retreat Penn, he continued to live in Jamaica—at Clifton, near Falmouth. Charles John married Anne Margaret (née Young) in Jamaica in 1865, where he died on 21 January 1905, survived by a daughter, Arabella. He was buried at Retreat Penn.

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