Second Secretary at the Admiralty, 1804 -1845

Having proved his exceptional abilities in China and South Africa, Barrow was an obvious choice for the post of Second Secretary, a job that included the entire running of the whole British Navy. (Samuel Pepys was a predecessor in the role)
After the glory days of the Napoleonic wars and Nelson (he was the last to shake Nelson's hand as he embarked for Trafalgar, a scene I regretfully left out of the mural for lack of space) Barrow inherited a large number of idle ships, and idle Officers on half-pay. (The ordinary sailors were just discarded, wooden legs and all, to fend for themselves.) Barrow needed to find some "peacetime" purpose for these ships & officers, and so his Grand Project to explore the world and open up new lands for British glory was born. Here below is the actual Office in the Admiralty from which Barrow operated for 40 years. That's him, standing, reading some report to the assembled Lords.
He remained in the job throughout some 11 changes of Government and thus became the first ever "permanent civil servant." Indeed he has been called the first ever civil servant of any sort, in other words, the first professional Beaurocrat. He (reluctantly) accepted a baronetcy as reward in 1835 and was thereafter "Sir John".

 And this is the Admiralty building itself, in 1830. It's not only very grand, but grandly situated too, just across St James' Park from Buckingham Palace. Barrow would also have popped down the Thames on a smart Admiralty barge to Greenwich quite often,( see "Early Career/ Greenwich for a painting of those stupendous premises) to supervise the ships, the docks and yards, provisionings and fittings-out and so on. A very hard-working life ( which is what he liked and wanted.)


This, apparently posed in the Admiralty office (the nook by the bookshelf?) is a painting of the Arctic Council of 1851. Barrow has been dead 3 years, but is still included - that's his portrait on the wall, top right. The other portrait is of the dreaded Sir John Franklin, whose appaling story (sorry but quite a lot of it was Barrow's fault) I am definitely not going into. A can of worms, indeed.