Francis Barber

Joshua Reynolds

Black Cultural Archives

Black Cultural Archives

Photographic reproduction of artwork, originally purported to be a portrait of Francis Barber, companion to Dr Samuel Johnson, in the manner of Sir Joshua Reynolds. The original is held in the Tate gallery and a copy is displayed at Dr Johnson House. Francis Barber was born in Jamaica about the year 1735, and was brought to England in 1752 by Richard Bathurst. In England, Barber became valet to Samuel Johnson, the prolific writer and poet, and Barber later became Johnson’s close companion and friend. When Johnson died in 1784, he left a legacy for Barber, including an annuity and a gold watch. Unfortunately, due to financial management issues, Barber was later forced to sell the gold watch. Barber died in 1801, but he has left a legacy of his line. Cedric Barber is the great, great, great, great, grandson of Francis Barber. Within a few generations their African heritage was no longer visible. The Barbers, like many other Back Georgians, were quietly absorbed in to the mainstream of Britain.

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