Septimus Moulton-Barrett

Septimus James Barrett Moulton-Barrett (1822–70)

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 1, 294–295.

Born at Hope End on 11 February 1822, he was the eleventh child and seventh son of Edward and Mary Moulton-Barrett. Nicknames included “Sette,” “Seppy,” and “Set.” Septimus was a special favourite of his father, with whom he slept as a child. In a birthday letter to “Papa” dated 28 May 1827 (SD625), he wrote: “You are a very funny old fellow.” In a letter to Julia Martin dated 28 August 1832, concerning the family’s departure from Hope End, EBB tells that her father, staying behind to clear up final details, could not bear to part with Sette, and kept the boy with him. When the family was in London, Septimus studied at the University of London and at the Middle Temple. He is cited in the diary of Surtees Cook (Reconstruction, L4) as having been “a barrister at law.” He performed an important service for EBB in 1846 by ransoming Flush from the notorious London dog-stealers. This was just before EBB’s marriage, of which Septimus, like the other brothers, disapproved. He sent her an unfriendly letter in 1847, but met with her during the Brownings’ visit to London in 1851. Septimus spent the last part of his life in Jamaica. In a letter to brother George dated 12 October 1860, EBB wrote of his going there and said: “I hope he may be qualified to manage the estates.” Evidence indicates that he wasn’t. He did serve there, however, as Custos Rotulorum (principal Justice of the Peace), and as a member of the colonial Legislative Council. Whatever may have been his activity in political affairs, his extravagances and mismanagement are blamed for the final loss of the Moulton-Barrett estates in Jamaica. This loss did not occur, however, until after his death. His last days were spent at Cinnamon Hill, where he died on 17 March 1870, and where he was buried.

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