Wolverhampton BTW

Sophia Barnard

Barnard, Sophia, fl. 1803—1824

by Benjamin Colbert

What is known of Sophia Barnard derives from her scattered statements in the Travels, her only known work. She and her three brothers were born and raised in Norfolk. In 1803, she married a Mr Barnard, merchant, with a son, Davenport, born that or in the following year and taking the name of his godmother, Sophia's childhood friend Marianne Davenport. Following Mr Barnard's mercantile speculations and leaving behind their son with relatives, the couple set off for Algiers in May 1811, reaching Cadiz by 10 June. On the voyage out, they befriended the former Governor of Cape Coast Castle, Archibald Dalzel (1740-1818; ODNB), whom Barnard refers to as 'Governor Archibald' (Archibald presents to Barnard his History of Dahomey [1793], widely considered an apology for the slave trade and which she finds engaging, despite her abolitionist views expressed forcefully elsewhere in the text).

The voyagers arrived in Algiers in July 1811 where they were received by Dalzel's son, the Vice-Consul, and they remained until September, when the Barnards took their leave of the Dalzels, sailing for Gibraltar. Residing there for 3 years, Sophia spent a great deal of time alone or with friends and acquaintances as her husband pursued his business interests abroad. Although her husband remained abroad in Goteborg (Sweden), Sophia journeyed home to England by 24 August 1814. In 1823-24, Sophia's only child Davenport died at the age of 20, an event she claims spurred her to publish her travel notes as a useful task designed to 'chase a sorrow that had taken deep root in her maternal breast' (v). Sophia Barnard's abolitionism and her piety expressed throughout her text chime with the tenets espoused by her publisher, Thomas Goyder, a Minister in the New Church of Jerusalem (Swedenborgian), but whether Sophia herself attended the New Church is unknown.


Barnard, Sophia. Travels in Algeirs [sic], Spain, &c. &c. London: Goyder, [1824]. Print.

Gifra-Adroher, Pere. ‘Witness to the Peninsular War: Sophia Barnard’s Travels in Andalusia’. Cuadernos de Ilustración y Romanticismo 18 (2012): 155-75. Print.


Title Published
Travels in Algeirs [sic], Spain 1824

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