Born in Northhampton County, David Alexander Barnes (1819-1892) was the son of planter Collin W. Barnes and his second wife Louisa Barnes. David entered the University in 1837, became a member of the Philanthropic Society, and graduated in 1840. He was practicing law by 1842. In 1844, 1846, and 1850 he served in the NC House of Commons, and in 1861 he was a delegate to the Secession Convention. During the Civil War Barnes served as a member of Gov. Zebulon Vance's military council. Gov. William W. Holden appointed Barnes a judge of the superior court in 1866 and a University trustee in 1868. In 1872 Barnes married Bettie Vaughan; they were the parents of three daughters and one son (Dictionary of North Carolina Biography 1:98).