Born at Theobalds, in Hertfordshire, he was the son of the merchant, Benjamin Shute. He received part of his education at the University of Utrecht; and, after returning to England in 1698, studied law in the Inner Temple. In 1701 he published several pamphlets in favour of the civil rights of Protestant dissenters, to which class he belonged. On the recommendation of Lord Somers he was employed to induce the Presbyterians in Scotland to favour the union of the two kingdoms, and in 1708 he was rewarded for this service by being appointed to the office of commissioner of the customs.
From this, however, he was removed on the change of administration in 1711; but his fortune had, in the meantime, been improved by the bequest of two considerable estates -- one of them left him by Francis Barrington of Tofts, whose name he assumed by act of parliament, the other by John Wildman of Beckett Hall at Shrivenham in Berkshire (now Oxfordshire). Barrington now stood at the head of the dissenters. On the accession of George I he was returned to parliament for Berwick-upon-Tweed; and in 1720 the king raised him to the Irish peerage, with the title of Viscount Barrington of Ardglass. But having unfortunately engaged in the Harburg lottery, one of the bubble speculations of the time, he was expelled from the House of Commons in 1723 -- a punishment which was considered much too severe, and was thought to be due to personal malice of Walpole.
In 1725 he published his principal work, entitled Miscellanea Sacra or a New Method of considering so much of the History of the Apostles as is contained in Scripture,—afterwards reprinted with additions and corrections, in 1770, by his son Shute. In the same year he published An Essay on the Several Dispensations of God to Mankind. He died on 14 December 1734.