The Dean Barwick Charity was founded by John Barwick DD in 1664 to provide a burial ground, to build a school, and to provide an income for apprenticeships, the "mayds portion", or dowry, and for fuel for the aged and infirm of his native Witherslack. The Charity was augmented by his younger brother Peter Barwick and by grants and bequests from the Trustees.
John Barwick was born in Witherslack in 1612, and was a remarkable man. Both he and his brother Peter were educated at Heversham and Sedbergh Schools and then at St. John College Cambridge where John gained a BA Degree in 1634, became a Fellow in 1636, and was awarded an MA in 1638. Peter gained a BA in 1642, an MA in 1647 and became Dr. of Physic in 1655. Their two elder brothers, Nicholas and William, were "bred up to husbandry" and farmed in Witherslack. The youngest brother, Edward, became an apprentice to an Heraldic Painter in London.
John Barwick was ordained Deacon by the Bishop of Durham and collated to a Prebend in 1642, but was not installed because of the political problems between Church and State during the Civil War. John Barwick was a devout churchman and a staunch loyalist to King Charles I, and to prevent the monies and silver plate of St. Johns College falling into the hands of Oliver Cromwell, he delivered them to the Royalist camp at Nottingham.
Consequently he was deprived of his Fellowship and moved to London to act as a secret agent for Charles I, and communicated to His Majesty "all the Designs and Endeavours of the Rebels betwixt London and Oxford and Conveying back his Royal Orders". After Charles I was executed in 1649 John Barwick and his brother, Edward, were betrayed and arrested. Edward was released shortly afterwards but John was imprisoned in the Tower of London on Good Friday 1650 without trial. On his release in 1652 John Barwick worked tirelessly with his friend, Sir John Otway, for the Restoration of the Monarchy.
In 1660 John Barwick was granted a Doctor of Divinity Degree at Cambridge and appointed Chaplain to King Charles II. At the Kings request, he was appointed Dean of St. Pauls Cathedral in London in 1661, and Peter Barwick was appointed Physician in Ordinary to the King.
John Barwick died of consumption on October 22nd 1664 and was buried in St. Pauls Cathedral. Peter was sole executor of his brother's Will and had previously made provision for the Charity by purchasing the Tithes of Lazonby and Plumpton Hall in 1657. Peter augmented the Charity through the acquisition of the customary rents of the Manor of Haresceugh in the Parish of Kirkoswald, Cumberland, in 1660. He conveyed these lands to seven Trustees in 1666.
The Trustees made further donations and also procured a grant from the Governors of Queen Annes Bounty in 1747. The number of Trustees varied over the years until 1885 when the Charity Commissioners limited the number to seven representative and six co-opted Trustees. Thirteen Trustees residing in the Parish still meet twice a year to administer the Charity, which was so well known in the district that the Vicar noted in the baptismal register in 1869 that "this child had been previously Baptised by a Roman Catholic Priest in Kendal and was brought to this Chapel to be Baptised with the object of securing a portion of the Dean Barwick Charity".
John Barwick's Will bequeathed monies for repairs to the chapel of St. Mary's near to the old Manor House, which was said to be in a "ruinous state". He wished Witherslack to have its own burial ground, because hitherto the dead had been carried on a perilous journey across the treacherous sands of the tidal estuary to the mother church of Beetham for burial.
However, Peter Barwick and the parishioners of Witherslack petitioned the Bishop of Chester for a new church and burial ground, and the present Chapel of St. Paul's was built on land granted by Charles eighth Earl of Derby, and consecrated on June 22nd in 1671. The church was "repair'd and beautified" and a vestry added in 1768, and underwent further extensive restoration in 1861, and was reseated in 1880.
The Will also provided for an annual stipend for a Curate. provided he lived "a pious, sober and peaceable life, and that he keep a schoole within the said hamlet, and teach the children of the inhabitants gratis". The original school was erected in 1678. A separate room for girls was added in 1824. A new boys school was built in 1874 and a new girls school added in 1876. The present Dean Barwick Primary school is for both boys and girls, and the schoolchildren commemorate Founders Day every year with hymns and prayers with parents governors and trustees.
BARWICK Peter(1724) "The Life of Dr. John Barwick DD"
JONES G.P. (1971) "A Short History of the Manor & Parish of Witherslack to 1850" XVIII
THOMPSON B.L.(1965) "Dean Barwick & His Will" CWAAS XVIII p240-278