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Joshua Johnson

Birthdate: (59)
Birthplace: St. Leonard, Calvert, Maryland
Death: April 17, 1802 (59)
Washington, DC, United States
Place of Burial: Frederick, Frederick County, Maryland, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Thomas Johnson and Dorcas Johnson
Husband of Catherine Johnson
Father of Anne "Nancy" Hellen; Louisa Catherine Adams; Thomas Baker Johnson; Caroline Virginia Marylanda Buchanan; Elizabeth Dorcas Pope and 3 others
Brother of Benjamin Johnson; Mary Johnson; Rebecca Johnson; Thomas Johnson, Governor, Assoc. Justice, US Sup. Ct.; Dorcas Johnson and 9 others

Occupation: American Merchant, American Merchant. Appointed Stamp-Master by President John Adams, an office he held until his death. Stamp-Master is equilivent to Post Master.
Managed by: Thomas Milton Olson
Last Updated:

About Joshua Johnson

Joshua Johnson was born 25 June, 1744, in St. Leonard, Calvert County, Maryland and died in Washington, D.C. in 1802. He was a U.S. Consul, a merchant, a businessman and U.S. Superintendent of Stamps.

Joshua Johnson left Maryland for England in 1771. He met his wife Cathernie Nuth while living in London. With the start of the Revolutionary War, he moved his family to France settling in the port city of Nantes in 1778. The children grew up in great luxury and indulgence, a lifestyle attributed to mother's insistence. In France, the Johnsons entertained many Americans, including John Adams and his son, then-twelve year old John Quincy.

Joshua Johnson (1742-1802) came from a large Maryland family originally from Norfolk. His grandfather, Thomas Johnson I of Great Yarmouth emigrated to America c. 1689 settling in Maryland, where he was relatively unsuccessful as planter and trader.

His only son, Thomas II (1702-c. 1777), did better as a planter and frequently represented Cecil County in the Lower House of the Assembly, though his principal residence was in Calvert County on the Patuxent in the heart of the southern Maryland tobacco country. Thomas II had a large and successful family, including seven sons. His second son, Thomas III (styled 'Jr.' in the letterbooks) (1732-1819), became a prosperous lawyer in Annapolis, acquired land thereabouts, and was first elected to the provincial assembly by Anne Arundel County in 1762; he became a delegate to the Continental Congress, the first Revolutionary governor of Maryland, and later a justice of the United States Supreme Court. Four of his younger brothers settled in western Maryland, James and Roger being pioneers in the nascent iron industry there. Of the seven, only Joshua had a 'foreign' career.

Joshua Johnson's business journals from his years as a London based merchant are considered to be some of he finest records from this era due to their detail and completeness. They are available online at:


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Joshua's daughter, Louisa Johnson, married President John Quincy Adams. In 1767 Joshua had already established himself as a merchant in Annapolis,Maryland. In March 1771, Johnson entered into a partnership agreement with Charles Wallace and John Davidson to establish the Annapolis firm of Wallace, Davidson, and Johnson, in London, the first American tobacco firm to operate independently of British middlemen, and then in Wallace, Johnson, and Muir, which played an important role in expanding the tobacco trade with France and in marketing French goods in the United States in the last years of the Revolutionary War. Joshua went to London in 1771 and from 1778 to 1783 the Johnson family lived in Nantes, France. Following the revolution the Johnson family returned to London where Joshua Johnson served as the first U.S. consul (1790–1797). In 1797 he returned to Maryland and President Washington appointed Johnson Superintendent of Stamps after his return to the United States, a position Johnson held until his death in 1802. Louisa and John Quincy Adams became engaged in 1796 when he then U.S. minister to the Netherlands, was in London for the ratification of Jay’s Treaty and were married in that city on 26 July 1797, in the parish church of All Hallows Barking. Louisa Johnson Adams worshipped as a Catholic, attending masses and strictly adhered to what the nuns in the convent of her first school had taught her while in Nantes, France growing up.

Wednesday, April 21, 1802 Paper: Political Intelligencer (Fredericktown, MD) Volume: IX Issue: 92 Page: 3 Departed this life on Saturday evening last in this town after a long and painful illness, JOSHUA JOHNSON, Esq. for many years a respectable Merchant in London and lately superintendent of Stamps in the City of Washington.

On Monday evening his remains were respectfully deposited in the silent tomb in the Episcopal burial ground attended by numerous relatives and friends.

In early life Mr Johnson embarked in commercial pursuits, went over to London prior to the American Revolution, where he established a commercial connexion, long and well known for its extensive dealings and credit. His attachment to the liberties of his native country and his decided opposition to the oppressive measures of the then British Government, induced him to relinquish his favorite pursuits for a few years and to retire with his family to France. At the conclusion of the War he returned again to London, resumed his former profession, which he continued to pursue until a few years ago, when a disposition to retired induced him to return to his native Country, there to ipend the evening of his days.

His attention to his countrymen, in prosperity or in adversity both in London and in France was great and unremitted. His house was a hospitable aslyum to the Americans and particularly to those from his native state.

His country sensible of his services and sacrifices during the American war conferred on him the honorable appointment of Consul at the Port of London, and on his return to Maryland he was appointed to superintend one of the revenue departments of the government.

He was an affectionate husband, an indulgent parent, and a useful citizen. By his death his family hath sustained an irreparable loss and society a valuable member.

Daughter Louisa Catherine Johnson, wife of President John Quincy Adams

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Joshua Johnson's Timeline

June 25, 1742
St. Leonard, Calvert, Maryland
Age 30
London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
February 12, 1775
Age 32
London, Middlesex, England
Age 33
October 5, 1777
Age 35
London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
Age 38
Of, Haverhill, Massachusetts, Essex, United States
Age 38
London, Middlesex, England
Age 41
April 8, 1788
Age 45
London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
April 17, 1802
Age 59
Washington, DC, United States