Manuel John JOHNSON (1805–1859)
His wife Mrs Caroline JOHNSON, née Ogle (1822–1881)
St Mary Magdalen section: Row 12, Grave D70

Manuel Johnston

Manuel John Johnston Radcliffe Observer died February 28, 1859 aged 53

Also of Caroline his wife died January 1, 1881 aged 59

For the full academic career of the astronomer Manuel John Johnson, see the
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. He also has a short entry in Wikipedia,
and a long obituary in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Manuel John Johnson was born in Macao, China on 23 May 1805, the eldest son of John William Johnson of the East India Company. In 1828 he was appointed Superintendent of the Ladder Hill Observatory in St Helena. He returned to England and was matriculated at the University of Oxford by Magdalen Hall on 15 December 1835 at the age of 30. He obtained his B.A. in 1839, and in May that year was appointed Radcliffe Observer. He did not move into the accommodation at the Observatory until October 1840.

Caroline Ogle was born at the High Street, Oxford in 1822. She had a twin (Amelia), and the two babies were baptised by Thomas Lee, President of Trinity College, at St Peter-in-the East Church on 21 September 1822. They were the daughters of James Adey Ogle, Regius Professor of Divinity, and Sarah Homfray. For more information about her parents and family, see Professor Ogle’s grave.

On 16 July 1850 Manuel John Johnson (45) married Caroline Ogle (28) at St Mary Magdalen Church. At the time of the 1851 census they were living at the Radcliffe Observatory with six servants, and Caroline was expecting her first baby. Her unmarried sister Amelia Ogle was paying a visit, as well as another relation, the Leeds-born physician John Ogle (26).

Radcliffe ObservatoryThe Radcliffe Observatory from Walton Street in 2009, just after demolition of some Radcliffe Infirmary buildings

Manuel and Caroline Johnson had six children in under seven years:

  • Henry James Johnson (born at the Radcliffe Observatory in 1851 and baptised on 2 July at St Giles’s Church)
  • Elizabeth Johnson (born at the Radcliffe Observatory in 1852 and baptised on 18 August at St Giles’s Church)
  • Amelia Johnson (born at the Radcliffe Observatory in 1853 and baptised on 30 November at St Giles’s Church)
  • Richard Walker Johnson (born at the Radcliffe Observatory on 23 November 1854 and baptised on 27 December at St Giles’s Church)
  • Caroline Annette Johnson (born at the Radcliffe Observatory in 1856 and baptised on 30 April at St Giles’s Church)
  • Janet Johnson (born at the Radcliffe Observatory in 1858 and baptised on 30 June at St Giles’s Church).

Less than nine years after his wedding, Manuel Johnson died suddenly of heart disease:

† Manuel John JOHNSON died at the Radcliffe Observatory at the age of 53 on 28 February 1859 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 8 March (burial recorded in the parish register of St Mary Magdalen Church).

His effects came to nearly £1,500.

Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 12 March 1859 had the following report on Johnson’s funeral:

FUNERAL OF THE LATE RADCLIFFE OBSERVER. — The mortal remains of Mr. Johnson were on Tuesday morning interred in the cemetery of St. Sepulchre, close to the vault of the late Dr. Ogle, his father-in-law. The funeral cortège consisted of a hearse and three mourning coaches. On arriving at the cemetery it was joined by about forty senior members of the University, who were anxious to pay a final tribute of respect to departed worth. Amongst those present were Dr. Macbride, Dr. Scott, Dr. Jacobson, Dr. Wellesley, Dr. Acland, Dr. Jackson, Dr. Nairn, Admiral Swinburne, Captain Burrows, Capt. Bowden, the Revs. Messrs. Michell, Woolcombe, Hales, Cholmeley, Burgon, Hackman, Cornish, O. Coxe, Venables, Jenkins, J. Rigaud, T. Bowden, Crawfurd, Church, Mosely, Terry, &c. The service was performed by the Rev. Dr. Cholmeley, Fellow of Magdalen College. The coffin bore the following inscription — “Manuel J. Johnson, died February 28, 1859. Aged 53.”

Mrs Johnson, whose six children now ranged in age from about eight months to eight years, had to move out of the Observatory house so that Robert Main, who was appointed her husband’s successor as Radcliffe Observer in June 1860, could move in. At first she lived at 65 St Giles’s Street (the right-hand house now forming the Ioannou Building), and at the time of the 1861 census she was there with all six of her children: Henry (10), Elizabeth (9), Amelia (7), Richard (6), Caroline (5), and Janet (2). She had four house servants to help her.

Her eldest son Henry James Johnson was matriculated at the University of Oxford by Trinity College on 27 October 1869, aged 19.

In 1871 Mrs Johnson was living at College Green, Worcester with three of her daughters: Elizabeth (18), Amelia (17), and Caroline (15), plus a German governess and three servants. Her other three children were out of Oxford: Henry (19), now an undergraduate, was paying a visit to his maternal uncle and aunt William & Parthenia Ogle at Clarges Street, Westminster; Richard (16) was boarding at Wellington College, Sandhurst; and Janet (12) was staying with her aunt Mrs Amelia Mozley and her husband at the vicarage in Old Shoreham.

In 1872 Mrs Johnson became the first leaseholder of 16 Norham Gardens. She died there in 1881:

† Mrs Caroline Johnson née Ogle died at 16 Norham Gardens at the age of 59 on 1 January 1881 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 6 January (burial recorded in the parish register of St Mary Magdalen Church).

Her personal estate came close to £14,000.

All four of Manuel Johnson’s daughters remained unmarried, and at the time of the 1881 census the eldest, Miss Elizabeth Johnson (28), was the head of the household at 16 Norham Gardens, living there with Amelia (27), Caroline (25), and Janet (22), plus four servants. Their two brothers were elsewhere: Henry (29), who had obtained his B.A. in 1873, was a solicitor, lodging at Hanover Square; and Richard (26) is hard to locate.


The six children of Manuel and Caroline Johnson
  • Henry James Johnson (born 1851) married Pauline Hinterhuber in Kensington in 1884. At the time of the 1891 census he was a solicitor of 39 paying a visit to his unmarried sister Elizabeth in Oxford with his wife and their children Paul Manuel Johnson (5) and Basil Johnson (3). In 1891 he was at home at 55 Sloane Gardens, Chelsea with his wife and their three servants. They were still there in 1911 with their two sons, who were both law students.
  • Elizabeth Johnson (born 1852) was aged 38 and living alone with four servants at 16 Norham Gardens in 1891, and her brother Henry and his family was paying a visit. The family home had been sold by 1901, and in 1911 Elizabeth was living alone with one servant at Great Marlow, Buckinghamshire.
  • Amelia Johnson (born 1853) was living on her own with two servants at 47 Vincent Square, Westminster in 1891, when she was 37. In 1901 she was living at Eye Hospital in Walton Street, Oxford, where she was matron. In 1911 she was a church worker, living at 11 Derby Road, Portsmouth. She was living in Bledlow when on 13 September 1927 at the age of 73 she arrived at Philadelphia on a tourist trip.
  • Richard Walker Johnson (born 1854) is hard to locate after 1871, when he was still at school; but a man of that name appears in Kelly’s Clergy List in 1901. He may have emigrated to the USA, as a Richard W. Johnson, born in England, appears in New York censuses from 1892.
  • Caroline Annette Johnson (born 1856) was boarding at 26 Marine Parade, Brighton in 1891 with her sister Janet. In 1911 she was staying with her uncle William Ogle (83), who was a retired physician, at 10 Gordon Street, London. She died in Oxford in 1935, aged 78.
  • Janet Johnson (born 1858) was aged 32 and boarding at 26 Marine Parade, Brighton in 1891 with her sister Caroline. In 1901 she was paying a visit to Mrs Church in Westminster; and in 1911 when she was 55 she was living alone at 23 Hunter Buildings, Blackfriars Road, Southwark.

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