William was born in 1875 to Daniel and Catherine Barriball at Plympton, Devon. His father was a grocer running his shop, Barriball and Sons, in Southgate place just at the junction with Angel hill. Brought to Launceston in his infancy, William was educated at Horwell boy’s Grammar school.
William followed into his fathers business (below) and later with his brother Ernest, taking it over on his father’s retirement.
He married Elizabeth (Bessie) Kate Rowse on the 13th of April 1899 at Hicks Mill, Truro and they set up home in Church Street, Launceston. They had one child, a daughter, Catherine Lois b. 1901. William was only eleven years old when he joined the church at which his parents had settled, the United Methodist Church in St. Thomas Road. He was later appointed the secretary of the Sunday School, a position he held for 24 years. He was only 16 when he became a local preacher. For seven years he served the ex-U.M.F.C. circuit as its secretary; and then for 15 years in succession, he was circuit steward. He took a great interest in missionary work and was secretary and treasurer of the U.M. Layman’s Missionary Fellowship for the district. An earnest advocate of the Temperance Cause, he was treasurer of the local branch of the Temperance Council of Christian Churches, trustee of the Launceston Tent of the L.O.R.. He was also a keen supporter of the League of Nations Union, and in the autumn of 1924 accompanied James Treleaven on a trip to Geneva to be present at the meeting Assembly of the League of Nations.
In 1909 he was elected to the town council holding his seat at each election, and becoming increasingly popular as a public man. In November 1922, he was elected Mayor and was unanimously elected for a further year in 1923. It was recognised on all hands that William discharged the duties of the office with conspicuous ability. He showed great ability as a speaker on a vast variety of subjects. One of the most memorable achievements of his Mayoralty was the raising by him of over £1,000 for the installation of an X-Ray outfit at Launceston Hospital (then in Western Road). He also revived the old practice of beating the bounds, himself participating in the arduous tramp round.
He was also a member of the Cornwall County council being elected unopposed in 1925 succeeding Mr. A. Williams, M.P.. A staunch Liberal, so general was the desire to have him on the County Council, that his nomination papers were signed by representatives of all parties. He was also the president of the local Liberal association.
He not only helped the town as Councillor and Mayor, but as president of the local Agricultural Association, a member of the Board of Trustees of Municipal Charities, chairman of the Allotments Committee, a member of the committee of the local Hospital, a member of the Carnival Committee, and a member of the Board of Governors of Horwell’s Endowed School.
He died at his home of Priory House, St. Thomas road, Launceston on the 14th of April 1925 at the age of 50.
In Memorian by ‘Lachlan.’ (1925)
To the late Mr. W. Barriball, of Launceston.
Lowly he’s laid,
Aman bestowed by all,
Who strove to answer
Duty’s clarion call
In varied pathways, with a mind sincere,
Who strove to ease and aid the laod
Of halt and lame on Life’s rough road,
Loving his fellow men.
Silent the voices,
That could with zeal and fire
Sweep o’er the strings
Of Oratory’s lyre,
And with his messages reach the hearts of all.
That, cool and wise amid debate,
Could oftimes point the course to take,
And oftimes led that way.
But now he’s gone,
As all must go
Who walk this pathway here below,
To leave behind a Memory and a Name,
Honest and Willing, Cautious, Bold and True,
These many be names, to mention but a few,
By which a Town many keep his Memory new,
And mourn a Son who gave his all
Talent and time through love for all,
Nor sought nor asked reward.