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Brentford People - Robert Wallace Johnson

Brief Biography

In each case the source is listed in brackets after the item.

Robert Wallace Johnson was born around 1730 (assuming he married in his early 20s) and married Elizabeth Stevenson in St George, Hanover Square (1752). He baptised a daughter Elizabeth Wallace Johnson the following year and a son Robert Groat Wallace Johnson in 1755, both at an Independent Chapel in Kingston upon Thames. (6)

He had qualified as a ‘doctor in physic’ by 1769, the year in which his wife Elizabeth died; there is a monument to her at St Lawrence’s church, New Brentford, suggesting they lived here by 1769. (Burial of Elizabeth wife of Robert Wallice Johnson, April 15 1769: St Lawrence parish register) (4)

James Hawley family sold ‘the property of the market’ at the Butts in New Brentford to Charles Woodcock Esq and Robert Wallace Johnson MD and others in 1769 (4)

Robert Wallace Johnson married Susannah Owen at Heston in 1770. (6)

RWJ of Brentford leased land to the south of Chapel, part of land in New Brentford, Ealing, Middlesex for 999 years to Peter Wright in 1792, with consent of Hugh Ronalds & Alexander Corson. (8)

RWJ was a wealthy doctor who acquired six acres in Town Meadow and by 1792 ‘owns a steam mill, starch house, a coak house, lofts and yards’.(3)

In the same year he had some role in a marriage settlement of £1560 between James Corneck and Ann Smith (late Nicholas, nee Hatley).(11)

RWJ owned a mill worked by steam for grinding corn and making starch in Brentford in 1795. (5)

In 1796 RWJ was party to a 21 year lease of ‘several messuages with wharves, warehouses..’ Cowley / West Drayton(9)

RWJ wrote to Sir Joseph Banks (baronet, naturalist) in 1798.(10)

RWJ wrote his will in 1807 and died in 1813. His daughter Elizabeth survived him. In 1814 she was the widow of Blissett William Gould Esq. She had previously married (-) Turnball, who had died by 1791. RWJ’s estate included a piece of copyhold land called Twig Ayte ‘descended to Elizabeth Gould’. James Montgomrey bought Lot 6 at auction in 1813; Lots 6 is described as part of New Brentford Mead, ca 2 acres 3 roods 4 poles … with free right of access through Catherine Wheel Yard.(7)

In 1819 … and Johnson’s starch mill were said to have disappeared.(2)



References found through searches of local history books / Internet, as at August 2007

1. ‘Ealing Walkabout’

by Kate McEwan, published by Nick Wheatley Associates, 1983

‘No breweries have survived the passage of time, but beer still flows at the Brewery Tap at the end of Catherine Wheel Road. From here, a footpath leads eastward over the disused flood-gates known as Dr. Johnson’s Lock (after Dr. William Johnson, proprietor of the C18 starch mill), then bridges a backwater basin and weir and finally emerges at the hydraulic Thames Locks below Dock Road , which marks the start of the Grand Union Canal.’

2. 'Ealing and Brentford: Economic history'

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 7: Acton, Chiswick, Ealing and Brentford, West Twyford, Willesden (1982), pp. 131-44. URL:

‘By 1816, however, the brick and pottery works were depressed (fn. 2) and in 1819 recent industries, presumably Corson's turpentine works and Johnson's starch mill, were said to have disappeared.’

‘In 1791 coke powered William Johnson's starch mill and from 1821 it was processed at Brentford gasworks.’


3. ‘Manorial Records of New Brentford’

by David Shavreen, published in the Brentford & Chiswick Local History Journal 2006. Original records are at Chiswick Library.

‘Another successful Brentford entrepreneur was Dr. Robert Wallace Johnson. He was a wealthy doctor who acquired six acres in Town Meadow and by 1792 ‘owns a steam mill, a starch house, a coak house, lofts and yards’. However he had to answer to the Lord of the Manor for encroachment for ‘he has bought a piece of land that so projects into the creek that in all probability it will impede the navigation and threatens to totally stop up the same’. To which the Lord* has added ‘the new canal will remedy this’.

* Lord of the Manor

'Brentford', The Environs of London

Volume 2: County of Middlesex (1795), pp. 39-58. URL:

4. Market and fairs.

'Edward I. granted a weekly market at Brentford ... The property of the market came afterwards (a second time) into the Hawley family, and was sold (anno 1768) by James Hawley, M.D. to Charles Woodcock, Esq. Robert Wallace Johnson, M. D. and others...'

There is a second reference to Robert Wallace Johnson in the same web page, under the heading of ‘Monuments’ (at St Lawrence’s chapel): Elizabeth wife of Robert Wallace Johnson, M. D. (1769)


5. Manufactures The only manufactures in this place are, some turpentine works belonging to Mr. Corson, and a mill worked by steam for grinding corn and making starch, which belongs to Robert Wallace Johnson, M.D.


These records have been extracted from the register and put on to the Latter Day Saints database (IGI)

Robert Wallace Johnson married Elizabeth Stevenson at St George Mayfair*, Westminster, London on 15 September 1752

Elizabeth Wallace Johnson, daughter of Robert Wallace Johnson & Elizabeth was baptised at the Independent Chapel, Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey on 19 Dec 1753

Robert Groat Wallace Johnson, son of the above, was baptised at the same chapel on 22 Oct 1755

Robert Wallace Johnson married Susannah Owen at Heston, Middlesex on 28 June 1770

Source as above, but this entry was submitted by an individual so is a secondary rather than primary source

* A Catholic church located in the heart of Mayfair, St George’s has welcomed worshippers since the 18th Century.(


Access to Archives

7. London Metropolitan Archives: North Thames Gas Predecessors, 1708-1947

Reference Code: ACC/638; Creation dates: 2 Nov. 1814

8. London Metropolitan Archives: Brentford Congregational Church

Reference Code: N/C/034; Creation dates: 16 July 1792

Land to south of Chapel, part of land in New Brentford, Ealing, Middx.

9. London Metropolitan Archives: Public Records

Reference: ACC/0276/67; Creation dates: 1796 4 Sept

Lease for 21 years. 1. Edward Hilliard of Cowley House. 2. Robert Wallace Johnson, Elisset William Gould, John Burrell and Robert Donald.

10. Joseph Banks Research Project [Wisconsin FF 153. 154 - SL Banks MS Co 2:10]

Creator(s): Banks, Sir, Joseph, 1743-1820, baronet, naturalist; Creation dates: 12/12/1798

To Banks from Robert Wallace Johnson

11. Hackney Archives Department: Small Collections [M1 - M1612]

Reference: M38; Former Reference: BRA 1208; Creation dates: 1792

Trusts and Uses as to £1560 to Robert Wallace Johnson: marriage settlement of James Corneck and Ann Smith, late Ann Nicholas, born Ann Hatley.