Bartley was born in Hackney, East London on 22 November 1842, and died in London on 13 September 1910. In 1864 he married Mary Charlotte Cole, by whom he had four sons and one daughter. Bartley was educated in Blackheath, Clapton and University College school before becoming a science examiner for the Committee of the Council on Education. Here he was promoted firstly to official examiner, and then assistant director of the science division of the Committee, where he served until his resignation in 1880. In that year Bartley decided to pursue a political career, and sat as the Conservative MP for North Islington between 1885 and 1906. He was also a JP for London and Middlesex. He was awarded a knighthood in 1902.
From The Biographical Dictionary of British Economists in Oxford Reference.