Johnson, John (d.1833) (DNB00)

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JOHNSON, JOHN, LL.D. (d. 1833), the kinsman and friend of William Cowper, was cousin to the poet by one remove, his mother being the daughter of Roger Donne, rector of Catfield, Norfolk, and brother to Cowper's mother. He was educated at Caius College, Cambridge, where he graduated LL.B. in 1774, and LL.D. in 1803. He became chaplain to the Earl of Peterborough, and on 1 Jan. 1800 was presented to the rectory of Yaxham with Welborne, Norfolk, which he held till his death on 29 Sept. 1833. He married a daughter of George Livius, who was at the head of the commissariat in India.

For twenty-seven years Cowper held no intercourse with his maternal relations, and knew not whether they were living or dead. Johnson, however, when a Cambridge student, introduced himself to the poet during a Christmas vacation. Cowper conceived an affection for ‘the wild but bashful boy,’ which was amply requited. Cowper, who used to call him ‘Johnny of Norfolk,’ was deeply indebted to his kinsman for the care taken of him during the latter years of his life. Cowper died in Johnson's house in the market-place of East Dereham 25 April 1800.

A portrait of Johnson, painted by Abbott in 1793, was engraved by H. Robinson. Another was engraved by E. Finden, from a sketch by Lady Palgrave after Jackson.

He wrote ‘The Tale of the Lute, or the Beauties of Audley End,’ a pastoral poem, which Cowper advised him not to publish; and edited: 1. Vol. iii. of Cowper's ‘Poems,’ containing the posthumous poetry and a ‘Sketch of the Life of Cowper’ by Johnson, dedicated to Earl Spencer, London, 1815, 8vo. 2. ‘The Letters of William Cowper,’ a new edition, revised by Johnson, 3 vols., London, 1817, 8vo. 3. ‘Memoirs of William Hayley,’ 2 vols., London, 1823, 4to. 4. ‘The Private Correspondence of William Cowper with several of his most intimate Friends, now first published from the Originals in the possession of [and edited by] John Johnson,’ 2 vols., London, 1824; 3rd edit., 2 vols., London, 1837.

Another John Johnson (1759–1833), divine, born on 26 Sept. 1759, in the parish of St. Giles-in-the-Fields, Middlesex, son of John and Elizabeth Johnson, was educated at the Charterhouse, and at Oriel College, Oxford, where he graduated B.A. in 1779, M.A. in 1782. In October 1784 he became rector of Great Parndon, Essex, and on 26 Nov. 1790 vicar of North Mimms, Hertfordshire. He died on 11 Sept. 1833. He published, besides two fast-day sermons (1794 and 1795): 1. A translation from the French, ‘Observations on the Military Establishment and Discipline of his Majesty the King of Prussia; with an Account of the Private Life of that celebrated Monarch …,’ London, 1780, 8vo. 2. ‘Trifles in Verse,’ London, 1796, 8vo.

[For Cowper's friend see Biog. Dict. of Living Authors, p. 180; Cowper's Works (Grimshawe), viii. 1; Cowper's Life and Correspondence, ed. Southey (Bohn's Standard Library), passim; Gent. Mag. ciii. pt. ii. p. 379; Graduati Cantabr. 1856, p. 214; Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. iv. 409. For the second John Johnson see Foster's Alumni Oxon. ii. 757; Gent. Mag. ciii. pt. ii. p. 282; Oxford Graduates, 1851, p. 367; Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. iv. 409; Biog. Dict. of Living Authors, p. 180.]

T. C.