Johnson, Maurice

, an excellent antiquary, and founder of the Gentleman’s Society at Spalding, was descended from a family much distinguished in the last century. At Berkhamstead, the seat of one of his relations, were half-length portraits of his grandfather, old Henry Johnson and his lady, and sir Charles and lady BickerstafF, and their daughter, who was mother to sir Henry Johnson, and to Benjamin Johnson, poet-laureat to James I. who, agreeably to the orthography of that age, spelt his name Jonson. Sir Henry was painted half-length, by Frederick Zucchero; and the picture was esteemed capital. The family of Johnson were ajso allied to many other families of consideration. Mr. Johnson, born at Spalding, a member of the Inner Temple, London, and steward of the soke or manor of Spalding, married early in life a daughter of Joshua Ambler, esq. of that place. She was the granddaughter of Sir Anthony Oldh’eld, and lineally descended from Sir Thomas Gresham, the founder of Gresham-coilege, and of the Royal Exchange, London. By this lady he had twenty-six children, of whom sixteen sat down together to his table.

Mr. Johnson in the latter part of his life was attacked with a vertiginous disorder in his head, which frequently interrupted his studies, and at last put a period to his life, | Feb. 6, 1755. He acquired a general esteem from the frankness and benevolence of his character, which displayed itself not less in social life than in the communication of his literary researches. Strangers who applied to him for information, though without any introduction except what arose from a genuine thirst for knowledge congenial with his own, failed not to experience the hospitality of his board. While their spirit of curiosity was feasted by the liberal conversation of the man of letters, their social powers were at the same time gratified by the hospitable frankness of the benevolent Englishman. The following eulogium on him by Dr. Stukeley, is transcribed from the original in the “Minutes of the Society of Antiquaries:” “Maurice Johnson, esq. of Spalding in Lincolnshire, counsellor at law, a fluent orator, and of eminence in his profession one of the last of the founders of the Society of Antiquaries, 1717, except Br. Willis and W. Stukeley founder of the literary society at Spaldfog, Nov. 3, 1712, which, by his unwearied endeavours, interest, and application in every kind, infinite labours in writing, collecting, methodizing, has now [1755] subsisted forty years in great reputation, and excited a great spirit of learning and curiosity in South Holland [in Lincolnshire]. They have a public library, and all conveniences for their weekly meeting. Mr. Johnson was a great lover of gardening, and had a fine collection of plants, and an excellent cabinet of medals. He collected large memoirs for the ‘ History of Carausius,’ all which, with his coins of that prince, be sent to me, particularly a brass one which he supposed his son, resembling those of young Tetricus. A good radiated Caes Spfa. Rev. a woman holds a cornucopiæ, resting her right hand on a pillar or rudder, Locis or Cislo. In general the antiquities of the great mitred priory of Spalding, and of this part of Lincolnshire, are for ever obliged to the care and diligence of Maurice Johnson, who has rescued them from oblivion.

An accurate account of his many learned communications to the Society of Antiquaries of London, as well as of those which he made to the society he founded at Spalding, may be seen in the curious work which furnishes this article. 1


History of the Spalding Society.—Nichols’s Bowyer.