Philadelphia ship owner and merchant. Revolutionary patriot.
Member of the Committee of Correspondence (1774-75). American consul in Europe (1781). He was in Lorient, Paris, Amsterdam, and other cities for the purpose of obtaining supplies. Appointed commissioner with authority to act for the United States in settling accounts in Europe (1782).
Due to the perilous American financial situation, Barclay developed credit problems for which he was arrested in Bordeaux (1785).
Appointed American consul in Morocco (1791).