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Application for Blue Plaque for Francis Barber

Updated: Mar 26

Francis Barber

Dr Johnson’s House Trust is applying for a Blue Plaque to commemorate the life of another resident of the house, Johnson’s servant Francis Barber. Once enslaved in Jamaica, Barber later became Samuel Johnson’s servant, friend, and heir. He lived at 17 Gough Square 1752–1756 with Johnson while he wrote the Dictionary. This is understood to be the only property still standing in the City of London that can be identified as the home of a formerly enslaved person who became an independent, valued member of a household in the 18th century.

The plaque will mark an important part of Black History in Georgian London, and will give Dr Johnson’s House an exciting opportunity to explore Barber’s life and experiences, framed in the context of other black lives at the time. Readers may remember David Olusoga placing a temporary commemorative plaque on the House as part of his Black and British: A Forgotten History , a four-part BBC-Television documentary series in November 2016

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