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Thomas Kenneth Barnsley

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Revision as of 13:02, 25 January 2024 by JR Snow (talk | contribs) (missing comma)
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Thomas Kenneth "Tea Cake" Barnsley (10 October, 1891 - 31 July, 1917[1][2]) was a friend of J.R.R. Tolkien at King Edward's School in Birmingham.

Thomas was a keen member of the debating society, and performed in Sheridan’s 'The Rivals' with Tolkien whilst at School. Tolkien, as secretary of the debating society, wrote of Thomas in the Chronicle of June 1911: "A loyal upholder of the Society who has never failed to display his unusual fluency (as distinct from argument) and remarkable talent for personalities of amiable virulence. Has never condescended to attempt to ingratiate himself with the Secretary"[1]. Thomas was also a member of the T.C.B.S., though not within the inner circle of friends.

While reading History at Cambridge he decided to join the 1st Birmingham Battalion, and serve in the war. After rising to the rank of Captain, in August 1916 he was buried alive by a trench mortar, though he managed to escape and return to England. After being sent to Belgium in July of 1917 he was killed in action near Ypres while consoling a captured prisoner. Barnsley would be one of many of Tolkien's friends that died in the war.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 King Edward’s School and the Great War, "Barnsley, Thomas Kenneth", (accessed 25 January 2024)
  2. Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond (2006), The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide: I. Chronology
  3. Garth, John, Tolkien and the Great War