Secretary of State

William Taylor Barry

Term of OfficeSeptember 2, 1824 - February 3, 1825
PartyJeffersonian Republican; Democrat
Significant AccomplishmentsAs a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives during the Bank Panic of 1818, Barry became well-known as an advocate for relief of debtors & a supporter of the state-funded Bank of the Commonwealth. As Lieutenant-Governor, he made a persuasive case for a system of free public education in the Barry Report of 1822.
Governor during his term of OfficeGov. Joseph Desha
Assistant Secretary of StatePreston S. Loughborough
EducationPisgah Academy; Kentucky Academy; Transylvania University; William & Mary College; Studied Law with John Rowan
Spouse(s)Lucy Overton; Catherine Mason
Children1st mg: Susan Lucy; 2nd mg: Andrew Jackson
ParentsJohn & Susannah (Dozier) Barry
ResidenceKentucky (Fayette County)
Birth Date2/5/1784
Birth PlaceVirginia (Lunenberg County)
Date of Death8/30/1835
Place of DeathEngland (Liverpool)
Place of BurialKentucky (Frankfort Cemetery, Franklin County)
National OfficesU.S. Senate (1814-1816); Postmaster General (1829-1835); Minister to Spain (1835)
Other State Offices HeldKentucky House of Representatives (1809-1811; 1814; 1817-1819; 1819-1821); Lieutentant-Governor (1820-1824); Chief Judge for the New (Pro-Relief) Court
County Offices HeldCommonwealth Attorney
Military ServiceWar of 1812
NoteIn 1828 Barry ran for Governor against Thomas Metcalfe; he was narrowly defeated.

William Taylor Barry was born on February 5, 1784, in Lunenberg County, Virginia. His parents were John and Susannah (Dozier) Barry. His family migrated to Kentucky in the mid-1790s and settled in Fayette County. Barry was educated at the Pisgah Academy, the Kentucky Academy, and at Transylvania University. He graduated from William and Mary College in 1803. He studied law with John Rowan and was admitted to the Bar in 1805.

Barry was a Jeffersonian Republican and then a Democrat. He was appointed Commonwealth Attorney in 1805. In 1807, he was elected to the Kentucky House and reelected in 1809. He served in the U. S. House of Representatives from August 1810 until March 1811. After brief service in the War of 1812, he was reelected to the Kentucky House in 1814. He then served in the U. S. Senate from December 1814 until May 1816.

From 1817 until 1821 Barry again served in the Kentucky House where, after the Bank Panic of 1818, he became well known as an advocate of relief for debtors and a supporter of the state-funded Bank of the Commonwealth. He was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1820 and served with Governor John Adair. He made a persuasive case for a system of free public education in the Barry Report (1822).

In 1824, Barry served briefly as Secretary of State in the administration of Governor Joseph Desha before becoming Chief Judge of the New (Pro-Relief) Court. In 1828, he ran for Governor against Thomas Metcalfe and was only narrowly defeated. He was appointed Postmaster General in 1829 by President Andrew Jackson. Following charges of favoritism and corruption in 1834, however, Barry resigned his office to become minister to Spain in 1835. He died on August 30, 1835, in Liverpool, England, on the way to his new assignment. He is buried in the Frankfort Cemetery.

William Barry was married twice—first to Lucy Overton and second to Catherine Mason. He had a daughter, Susan Lucy Barry, from his first marriage and a son, Andrew Jackson Barry, from his second marriage.


“Biographical Encyclopedia,” (1878), pgs. 310-11;

Collins, “History of Kentucky, Vol. II,” (1874), pgs. 196-98;

“Kentucky Encyclopedia,” (1992), pgs. 55-56;

Levin, ed., “Lawyers and Lawmakers,” (1897), pgs. 731-35.