|Some Notable Citizens of Lichfield|
In the 17th and early 18th century the education that was provided by Lichfield's free schools, later known as the Grammar School, resulted in an exceptional number of notable alumni, many of whom went on to hold senior positions in the Church, Literature, Science and even the Royal Court. The following list also includes several other notable citizens who were born elsewhere but later made their home in Lichfield.
Walter de Langton, the son of Simon Peverill, was born in Langton West,
Leicestershire. He was appointed a clerk in the royal chancery and,
from 1295, Treasurer of England under King Edward I. The following year
he was elected Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield (as the see was then
known). He is buried in Lichfield Cathedral.
Elias Ashmole, the founder of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, was born
at No. 5 Breadmarket Street in Lichfield. His birthplace, also known
as Priest's Hall and now a solicitor's office, is marked by a stone
plaque. He attended Lichfield Grammar School in St John's Street,
which was rebuilt in the mid 19th century and is now the Council
Gregory King was born in the parish of St Chad, Lichfield and attended
Lichfield Grammar School where he learnt Latin, Greek and Hebrew.
After an early career as an engraver, surveyor and map maker, working
in London and Staffordshire, he was appointed registrar of the College
of Arms. He was created Rouge Dragon Pursuivant of Arms in 1677 and
Lancaster Herald of Arms in Ordinary in 1688; holding the latter post
until his death. He is buried in the church of St Benet, Paul's Wharf,
John Floyer was born at Hints Hall near Lichfield and studied
medicine at Queen's College Oxford. After graduating he settled in
Lichfield where he developed new ways of caring for patients and
published several books. Notably, he was the first to develop a
system for pulse rate measurement using a specially designed watch.
George Smalridge was born in Lichfield and attended Lichfield Grammar School. He later studied at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford, where for six years he acted as deputy for the regius professor of divinity. He was appointed Dean of Carlisle in 1711 and subsequently Dean of Christ Church and Bishop of Bristol. A well known figure in London in Queen Anne's day, his sermons were highly regarded and many were published during his lifetime. He is buried in Oxford.
Joseph Addison was born in Wiltshire but moved to Lichfield soon afterwards when his father was appointed Dean of Lichfield Cathedral. As a young man he attended Lichfield Grammar School, later achieving fame as an essayist, poet, playright and politician. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.
John Colson, the son of a vicar-choral, was educated at Lichfield
Grammar School before matriculating at Christ Church, Oxford.
After teaching at the new Mathematical School in Rochester he gained a
position at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. He was appointed to the
post of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics in 1739.
Thomas Newton was born in Lichfield and attended Lichfield Grammar School. He later studied at Trinity College, Cambridge and was ordained in 1730. A scholar whose published works include a biography of John Milton (pub. 1749) he was appointed Bishop of Bristol in 1761 and Dean of St Paul's Cathedral in 1768. His birthplace in Bird Street is marked by a stone plaque.
Samuel Johnson, writer, critic, lexicographer, conversationalist, and famous for his Dictionary of English, was born in Lichfield in 1709 and attended Lichfield Grammar School. He later studied at Pembroke College, Oxford, but left without taking a degree. After failing to gain employment locally as a school teacher, he moved to London in 1737 to pursue a literary career. His birthplace in Breadmarket Street is now a museum reflecting his life and work. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.
Richard Greene was born in Lichfield and, after qualifying as an
apothecary in Shropshire, he returned to practice in the City where
he later held office as sheriff and became an alderman. A notable
antiquary he assembled a large collection of fossils, coins, watches,
armour and natural history specimens which the public were invited
David Garrick, actor, dramatist and theatre manager, was born in Hereford but spent most of his early life in Lichfield. He attended Lichfield Grammar School, the site of which is in St John's Street, and later studied Latin and Greek at the school run by Samuel Johnson. His former Lichfield home in Beacon Street was demolished in the 19th century and replaced by the new Probate Court, where there is a stone plaque. The modern theatre in Castle Dyke also bears his name. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.
Erasmus Darwin, physician, scientist, inventor and poet was born in Newark upon Trent but settled in Lichfield in 1756, where he lived until 1780. He was the grand-father of Charles Darwin. There is a stone plaque at the front of his house in Beacon Street, on the edge of the Cathedral Close, which is now a working museum and research centre dedicated to his life and work. He is buried in All Saint's Church, Breadsall, Derby.
Anna Seward was born at Eyam in Derbyshire in 1742 where her father was the minister. The family moved to Lichfield seven years later when her father was appointed Canon Residentiary at Lichfield Cathedral. She is known as an eighteenth century English romantic poet, often called "the Swan of Lichfield". Despite having many admirers, she never married and lived in the Bishop's Palace for the rest of her life. She is buried in Lichfield Cathedral.
Henry Salt was born in the parish of St Mary, Lichfield and educated
first at Lichfield's Free school, where he was taught by the drawing
master John Glover, and later at a boarding school in Market Bosworth.
After training as a portrait painter in London he joined an expedition,
led by Viscount Valentine, to survey the Red Sea coast of Africa.
This work led to a further expedition to Abyssinia and his subsequent
appointment in 1815 as Consul General in Egypt. His lifelong passion
was the study of Egyptian antiquities and his large collections now
grace both the British Museum and the Louvre in Paris.
James Thomas Law was educated at Christ's College, Cambridge. He was
made Prebendary of Lichfield Cathedral in 1818 and in 1821 appointed
Chancellor of the Diocese of Lichfield, a post he retained for the
rest of his life. Further appointments, as Master of St John's
Hospital and of Lichfield Theological College followed. He also sat
as a judge on the Diocesan Consistory Court and in the local Probate
Members of the Petit family lived in Redcourt House, Tamworth Street,
for over 70 years from 1820 to 1898. The Rev. John Louis Petit was a
notable architectural historian and watercolourist who campaigned against
the imposition of neo-Gothic features on existing buildings throughout
his life. He travelled widely in England, Europe and the Middle East,
carefully recording the churches and other buildings that he saw.
Richard Greene was born in Lichfield and followed his grandfather (see
above) in becoming a prominent citizen. By his marriage to Mary Scott
he inherited a share in the popular local bank that had been part-owned
by her father, Robert Scott. Unfortunately the family fell on hard times
in 1855 when Richard was declared bankrupt following the discovery that
his former partner, James Palmer, and his Chief Cashier, William Lawton,
had been embezzling the bank's funds for several years. The family home
at Stowe House was sold and they all left Lichfield, eventually settling