Herbert Roper Barrett – A Lawn Tennis Biography 4/4
On the third and final day an inspired Kingscote beat Gobert in straight sets before Davson faced Laurentz in the deciding match, which the British player won in five sets, giving the away side overall victory in the tie by 3 matches to 2. The British would go on to lose the Challenge Round to Australia (now playing as a separate nation, without New Zealand) in Sydney in January 1920. However, Herbert Roper Barrett was not part of the British team for this tie. Indeed, the tie in Deauville in August 1919 marked his eighth and last appearance as a player for the British Davis Cup team, but not the end of his involvement in the competition.
In early August of 1919, Barrett had taken part in the Suffolk Championships tournament in Saxmundham, where he won the men’s singles title for the twelfth time in a row (there had been no competition during the war years 1915-18) and the fifteenth time overall. In the final he defeated another Englishman, Frank Jarvis, 6-2, 6-2. In September of 1919, he won another singles title when he beat Theodore Mavrogordato in the final of the Kent Coast Championships in Hythe, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.
In the early to mid-1920s, Herbert Roper Barrett’s main successes came mainly in men’s doubles and mixed doubles events, in which he continued to take part past his fiftieth birthday in November 1923. In August of 1920, he once again won the men’s singles title at the Suffolk Championships in Saxmundham, beating a Lieutenant-Colonel Davies in the final, 6-0, 6-2.
One of his Herbert Roper Barrett’s very last successes in a men’s singles event came at the same tournament, the Suffolk Championships in Saxmundham, in August 1921 when, at the age of 47, he became champion for the fourteenth time in a row and the seventeenth time overall. In the final he defeated another Englishman, Francis Fison, 6-1, 6-1.
At Wimbledon in late June of 1921, Barrett had appeared in the men’s singles event for the last time, reaching the fourth round before being beaten by the top Japanese player Zenzo Shimidzu, 6-3, 6-3, 6-1. Barrett continued to play in the doubles events at Wimbledon for several more years. In the same year, 1921, he and his new partner, the young South African player Brian Norton, went all the way to the final before losing a close match to the eventual champions, the Englishman Max Woosnam and the Australian-born player Randolph Lycett, 8-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
One year later, in 1922, Barrett and Norton again reached the semi-final of the men’s doubles event at Wimbledon. This was the first Wimbledon tournament to be held at the present location on Church Road. The Challenge Round was also abolished in all events this year. In the semi-finals of the men’s doubles event Barrett and Norton met the Australians Gerald Patterson and Pat O’Hara Wood, and came within two games of reaching the final before the Australians won a memorable match, 6-1, 3-6, 5-7, 6-3, 15-13.
At Wimbledon in 1923, Herbert Roper Barrett and Brian Norton reached the third round before losing in five sets to the eventual champions, Randolph Lycett and the Englishman Leslie Godfree, 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4. This was an excellent performance from Barrett, who would celebrate his fiftieth birthday four months later in August 1923.
There were celebrations at Wimbledon three years later, in 1926, to mark the first holding of the Championships fifty years earlier in 1877, when the only event had been the men’s singles. As many surviving champions as were able to come appeared on one side of the Centre Court, down the middle of which a red carpet had been laid. Some of the other competitors in that year’s tournament were lined up on the other side of the court. In order of seniority, each of the former (and present) champions that day received a special commemorative medal from Queen Mary, who presided over the ceremony with King George V.
A photograph taken of many of the former champions present on the day in question, Monday, 21 June 1926, includes Herbert Roper Barrett, men’s doubles champion in 1909 (with Arthur Gore), and 1912 and 1913 (with Charles Dixon). In this photograph Barrett is standing on the far right in the back row, with Gore to his right. Dixon is standing in the middle of the same row.
At Wimbledon in 1926, the 52-year-old Barrett and the 58-year-old Gore teamed up again for the men’s doubles event, but lost in the second round. One year later, in 1927, both Barrett and Gore again entered the men’s doubles event at Wimbledon together, but lost their first round match to the unheralded pair of F.T. Stowe and E.U. Williams, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 12-10. The following year, 1928, Barrett entered the men’s doubles event at Wimbledon with the New Zealander Francis Fisher, but they withdrew from the event before their first round match was due to be played. This was the last time Herbert Roper Barrett entered one of the main events at the Wimbledon Championships.
On 12 August 1926, a short report had appeared in the “Gloucestershire Citizen” newspaper under the heading “Tennis Romance – Veteran Player to Wed Widow”. The report in question read as follows: “The engagement is announced of Mr Herbert Roper Barrett, a tennis veteran, who took part in the march past of veterans at the Wimbledon Jubilee this year, and Mrs [Helen] Glenny of Cleveland Square, Hyde Park, [London], widow of Mr John Waterhouse Glenny. Mr Barrett, who is a solicitor, is 53 years of age. He has gained distinction at association football as well as at tennis, having played for the Corinthians and the Casuals. He has also won many international honours at tennis, mainly by his exceptional ability as a doubles player, and he has represented Britain in many Davis Cup competitions.”
Herbert Roper Barrett married Helen Glenny on 13 October 1926 at All Souls’ Church in Langham Place, just off Oxford Circus in London. Helen Barrett, as she became, had been born Helen Bothwick in Hawick, Scotland, in 1879. She married her first husband, the aforementioned John Waterhouse Glenny, in 1898; they had four children together, all girls. Like his wife, John Waterhouse Glenny was a native of Hawick.
John Waterhouse Glenny (b. 1868) was himself a talented lawn tennis player and took part in lawn tennis tournaments mainly in Scotland in the years circa 1890-1900. His younger brother, Charles James Glenny (b. 1871 in Hawick) was one of the top Scottish players of the time and won several tournaments in his native country. He was also runner-up to Anthony Wilding in the men’s singles event at the Scottish Championships in 1904.
John Waterhouse Glenny died on 6 March 1919 in Ipswich, England. It is probable that Helen Glenny met her second husband, Herbert Roper Barrett, in lawn tennis circles. They might have known each other before John Waterhouse Glenny’s death. She was 45 years of age at the time of her marriage in 1926 to the 53-year-old Barrett, who became not just her husband, but also stepfather to her four daughters.
Two years earlier, in 1924, Barrett had become non-playing captain of the British Davis Cup team for the first time for their tie against France. This was held at Devonshire Park, Eastbourne, in late July and resulted in a 4-1 victory for France. In subsequent years, Herbert Roper Barrett would captain the British Davis Cup team several more times, most notably during the years 1933-36, when Great Britain won the prestigious trophy four times in a row, due principally to the efforts of Fred Perry, Wimbledon men’s singles champion in the years 1934-36. The British victory in the Davis Cup competition of 1933 was the country’s first such success since 1912, while Great Britain has not managed to win back the same trophy since 1936.
As late as 1929, at the age of 55, Herbert Roper Barrett was still capable of reaching the final of an open lawn tennis event. He did so in early August of that year in the men’s doubles event at the Suffolk Championships in Saxmundham, when he and his partner, Flight Lieutenant H.J. Gilbert, lost to E.W. Eardley and Norman Latchford, 6-3, 6-2. It appears that all of the finalists were English.
In the 1930s, in addition to his role as Davis Cup captain, Herbert Roper Barrett was also president of the British Lawn Tennis Association for a time. He also continued to practise as a solicitor and to occupy positions on various boards and committees within the City of London, where he had his law practice. He had been made a Freeman of the City of London in 1910, the same year in which he entered the Worshipful Company of Farriers, one of the Livery Companies of the City of London which, amongst other things, supports charities. Barrett acted as Master of the Worshipful Company of Farriers (London) in 1921 and 1933.
In 1910, Barrett was also elected a member of the Corporation of London for the Lime Street Ward. Lime Street is a small street in the City of London, located between Fenchurch Street to the south and Leadenhall Street to the north. Barrett’s law practice was situated in Leadenhall Street.
In 1939, a serious illness forced Barrett to retire from his position as non-playing captain of the British Davis Cup team. He was 65 years old when World War Two broke out in September of the same year, causing lawn tennis tournaments in Great Britain to be cancelled for the duration.
Herbert Roper Barrett did not live to see the resumption of lawn tennis tournaments in 1946. He died on Tuesday, 27 July 1943 in a hospital in Horsham, a small market town in West Sussex. His funeral was held four days later, at Itchingfield Church in Horsham. A memorial service was also held, on 10 August 1943, at Saint-Peter-upon-Cornhill Church in the City of London. This would have enabled mourners to pay their respects to a man who not only had an excellent record of public service, but was also a great lawn tennis player.