In 1834 he was articled to a solicitor in Bury St Edmunds, but the uncongenial and sedentary employment soon broke down his health.
He was United States solicitor in the court of claims from 1855 until 1858, and was associated with George T.
The city auditor, treasurer and solicitor are elected, as under the code.
He went to school at Sturminster Newton, where he was considered the clever boy of the school; and when a solicitor named Dashwood applied to the master for a quick-witted boy to join him as pupil, Barnes was selected for the post.
His father was a solicitor, and his mother was the daughter of Matthew Buist, factor to Lord Haddington.