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SALUTE TO DR. JOHNSON

Times Echo and Life / Latest News / SALUTE TO DR. JOHNSON
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27 SEP

SALUTE TO DR. JOHNSON

By timesecholife on in Latest News

ANNUAL COMMEMORATION OF HISTORIC FIGURE

CIVIC leaders and residents of Uttoxeter joined together for the annual commemoration of a key historic figure within the town, Dr Samuel Johnson.
Traffic in Market Place was brought to a standstill on the morning of Monday, September 25 as councillors told the story of the prolific writer and abolitionist.
Michael Bundock, president of the Johnson Society spoke of Dr Johnson’s life during a special service at St Mary’s Parish Church, in Bridge Street on Monday.
After a procession led by town crier, Ken Knowles, who read a poem, town mayor, Alison Trenery hung a wreath as onlookers were told how the talented writer famously endured an act of penance in 1780 where the memorial in his name now stands.
It is believed that Dr Johnson stood bareheaded for several hours in the pouring rain, in self-enforced punishment for refusing to work on his father’s bookstall decades earlier.
Many people are aware of how the he wrote the first ever official English dictionary but are unaware of how the infamous writer’s life-story came to an end, when he left his huge fortune to former slave, Jamaican, Francis Barber.
After an education at Lichfield Grammar School, Samuel left for London at the age of 26, where he started writing poems, plays and stories, anything to make some money.
He is famously known for writing the English dictionary, which took him nine years to complete.
Around half way through this process, he met 10-year-old Francis Barber.
Frank was bought over to England from Jamaica as a slave by Colonel Richard Bathurst who offered him as a servant to the recently-widowed Dr Johnson.
Samuel was known for taking people in to his home who were sick or suffering and providing them with food and shelter.
A staunch abolitionist, he hated slavery and was completely against it, which was a most uncommon attitude for that period.
After living with Dr Johnson for six years, learning to read and write, Frank decided to join the Navy, but returned two years later as he missed his old abode on land.
A friend as much as a servant to his landlord, Frank lived in Dr Johnson’s home with his wife Elizabeth Hall and their four children, one named Samuel in honour of his benefactor.
As Dr Johnson grew old and unwell, Frank cared for him until he died in 1784.
Dr Samuel Johnson left all his money and property to his friend, carer and servant, Francis Barber. The sum of £1,500 was enough for Frank, his wife and children to never have to worry about money again.
Dr Johnson’s penance is observed annually in Uttoxeter’s market place, where his father was a bookseller.

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