“Mr. J. H. Barber passed away at Broomhall Park on Christmas Day, 1902, and curiously enough was born on New Year’s Day 83 years before. He was one of the foremost figures in the city, and beloved by everyone for his sterling worth. He was spoken of as “one of the most upright, honourable and worthy of Sheffield’s citizens.” Singularly undemonstrative, he was unsparing in his unselfishness and a true friend of any deserving call upon him. Born in London on January 1st, 1820, he came quite unknown to Sheffield. His father was apprenticed to Richard Sutcliffe, who then had a pharmacy in Shalesmoor. Then he migrated to Scarborough, and then to Canada, where he manifested considerable ability as scientist, and was a well known and fine speaker.
In the meantime James Henry, the son, lived with an aunt at Kirkstall, and was educated at Ackworth, the Friends School and Leeds Grammar School. His first business appointment was with the Yorkshire District Bank in Leeds, a bank which quickly became the most popular in the country, but one whose business was so quaintly conducted that, in the brief space of five years, it lost over half a million of money, and on an average it make a bad debt of ￡700 every week. Its total losses were declared as representing five-sixths of its paid-up capital. Two priceless years young Barber spent on its bad debt department, one says priceless because of the experience gained, and then for three months in 1843 he was in the United States winding up his consignment accounts there.
In the year named he came back to Sheffield and joined the Sheffield Banking Company as its second officer. In Samuel Bailey and Edward Smith that bank had rigid, splendid men of business, and the bank prospered greatly under them, whilst the new-comer benefited equally through the experience he gained. Five years after joining the staff he was made manager, and on January 1st, 1874, was appointed managing director. He was with that bank altogether for 50 years, a time of which it was then said that is so similar period of years since Queen Elizabeth’s days, when the poor cutlers came here from the Netherlands had Sheffield’s population so increased or the town so prospered or broadened.”
Taken from the book, The Making of Sheffield 1865-1914 by J.H. Stainton
Publisher: E.Weston and Sons, Change Alley, Sheffield, 1924.
Sheffield Archives & Local Studies 942.74 S