Barry, James (1603–73), 1st Baron Barry of Santry , lawyer and judge, was the eldest surviving son of the six sons and three daughters of Richard Barry, merchant, of Dublin, and his wife, Anne, daughter of James Cusack of Rathgar. Richard Barry served as sheriff (1604–5), alderman (1606–48) and mayor (1610–11) of Dublin and, with recorder Richard Bolton (qv), was one of the successful protestant candidates in the disputed election for Dublin city MPs in April 1613; he was elected for the city again in 1634 and 1640.
James Barry graduated BA on 27 April 1621 and MA in June 1624 from TCD, and was incorporated MA at Oxford and Cambridge in 1627. He entered Lincoln's Inn, London, on 11 July 1621, was called to the bar in 1628, and was made a member of King's Inns, Dublin, on 15 April 1630; he later acted as treasurer of King's Inns, in 1635–6 and 1661–4, and was a trustee from 2 March 1638.
Barry was named prime serjeant on 6 October 1629. He was MP for Lismore in 1634, the same year that he was appointed second baron of the exchequer (5 August), as the candidate of Lord Deputy Wentworth (qv); he also acted as an assize judge. In 1637 he was responsible for the publication The case of tenures, a report of the Irish judges’ opinion on a test case that left the way clear for the extension of plantation to Connacht. He was knighted in August 1640. He was part of Dublin's close-knit office- and land-holding elite, marrying Catherine Parsons, daughter of Sir William Parsons (qv), future lord justice, and his wife, Elizabeth Lany; they had four sons and five daughters. His estates lay principally in county Dublin, particularly at Santry, and also in county Meath. In 1640–41 he acted in parliament against the prosecution of Wentworth and other officials such as Lord Chancellor Bolton. In 1641 the Westminster house of commons summoned him to England as a delinquent, but the Irish council sought to block that demand. In the 1640s he spent some time in London, being recorded there on 24 August 1643 and in January 1648, on the latter occasion being appointed a commissioner to raise £50,000 for the war in Ireland. From 1653 he acted as a barrister in Dublin, being named counsel for persons claiming benefit of the Kilkenny articles in December 1654. Although, unlike other former members of the judiciary, he did not serve on the high court of justice set up to deal with offenders from the 1641 insurrection, he was suggested as a possible judge by the commonwealth authorities from 1654 and appears to have acted as at least an assize judge from 1655.
Barry took a significant part in the events surrounding the fall of the republic and restoration of monarchy in 1659–60. He was named to chair a committee of safety set up after the Dublin coup of December 1659 directed against the military regime which had taken power in London. Elected to the 1660 Irish convention for Co. Dublin, he was chosen chairman of that body. As such he made clear his opposition to presbyterian efforts to endorse the solemn league and covenant, ensuring the defeat of that measure. In May–June 1660 he acted as one of the convention's commissioners to the newly restored Charles II. He was appointed chief justice of king's bench on 17 November 1660 (patent 8 February 1661), and was made an Irish privy councillor and commissioner for the implementation of the 30 November 1660 declaration on the land settlement (19 February 1661). He was created Baron Barry of Santry on 18 February 1661 and took his seat in the lords on 8 May 1661 but was not chosen speaker, ‘besides his disability of body . . . he being at best but a cold friend to the declaration’ (A collection of the state letters of . . . Orrery (1742), 17). He continued to act upon matters relating to the land settlement and to the issue of ecclesiastical property and as an assize judge. He was a leading figure in the prosecution of those involved in the 1663 plot of Thomas Blood (qv). He was considered as a possible successor to Sir Maurice Eustace (qv) as lord chancellor, and again for the post when Eustace's successor, Archbishop Michael Boyle (qv), fell ill in 1666. Ormond proved supportive, insisting that ‘although Santry was indolent and wilful, it was of less consequence as he was generally in the right’ (Ball, i, 280), though Clarendon, the English lord chancellor, was ultimately less impressed by his qualities. He died 9 February 1673 and was buried in Christ Church cathedral, Dublin. A portrait is held by the King's Inns.