Correspondence of William Stukeley and Maurice Johnson, 1714-1754

Both sides of a correspondence, stretching over forty years, between two remarkable Lincolnshire friends, the antiquaries William Stukeley (1687-1765) and Maurice Johnson (1688-1755), are brought together in this volume. Beginning when the writers were in their twenties, the letters cover Johnson's work as a lawyer and the development of his cherished Spalding Gentlemen's Society, and Stukeley's career as a physician, his ordination in 1729, and eventual return to London in 1747. The two friends wrote on a wide range of topics, including current affairs, political scandals, financial disasters like the South Sea Bubble and the threat of Jacobite invasions. The letters reflect cultural life: the founding of the British Museum, operatic performances, the activities of the Royal Society and Society of Antiquaries. They portray life in South Lincolnshire: local elections, concerts, race meetings and plays. Local gossip reveals a parade of characters, marrying for love or money, building houses, and encountering alarming accidents. Naturally, the letters also illustrate the lives of the two friends, their financial concerns, their marriages, children and pets, their friendships, difficulties with neighbours and all the minutiae of small-town Lincolnshire life. Above all, the two men shared their passion for the study of antiquity and their enthusiasm for spreading knowledge as widely as possible, particularly through the learned societies founded during this period. The letters are presented with explanatory notes and a full introduction. Diana Honeybone and Michael Honeybone taught history for the Open University and Nottingham University Department of Adult Education. They have spent many years studying and teaching the local history of the East Midlands, with special emphasis on intellectual activity in the eighteenth century.