Map of Holborn, London
Click on a red cross to explore
the Black and Asian presence in Holborn.
1. Dr Johnson's
Number 17, Gough Square, off Fleet Street.
building, which has stood since 1700, was the home of Dr Samuel
Johnson, the 18th century writer and lexicographer. Dr Johnson lived
in Gough Square from 1748 to 1759 and it was here that he compiled
the first comprehensive English dictionary. He also employed a Black
servant, Francis Barber, as his valet. Barber remained in Dr Johnson’s
service from 1754 until Johnson died in 1784.
Here is an extract from Dr Johnson’s
will. In it, he leaves Francis Barber an annuity of £70
a year, a lot of money in those days, and makes him a residuary
legatee. Barber also received a gold watch from Dr Johnson
before he died. This inheritance allowed Francis Barber and
his family to settle in Lichfield, Staffordshire, where he
died in 1801.
The National Archives holds many original and registered copy
wills dating from the mid 14th to the mid 19th centuries.
Check the online catalogue, use Documents Online or visit
The National Archives in person to search for a will.