Elizabeth Porter biography

Elizabeth Porter

Female, Deceased Person

1689 – 1752

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Who was Elizabeth Porter?

Elizabeth Jervis Porter, familiarly known as "Tetty", was the wife of Samuel Johnson.

Born Elizabeth Jarvis, her first marriage was to Henry Porter, a Birmingham merchant, with whom she had three children. The couple became friends of Johnson in 1732 and Johnson courted her after Porter's death. His affectionate names for her, "Tetty" or "Tetsey," were regional contractions for the name "Elizabeth."

They married on 9 July 1735 at St. Werburgh's Church, Derby, where the event is reenacted annually. At the time he was 25, she 46, and neither the Johnson nor Porter families were enthusiastic about the marriage.

Her dowry of over £600 was invested in setting up Edial Hall, a private school at Edial near Lichfield. After its failure, in 1737 Johnson moved to London, where she joined him later that year.

In later life she suffered from ill-health, exacerbated by alcohol and opiate medicines. Robert Levet, a poverty-stricken doctor supported by Johnson, ascribed her death to the latter. She died at 63, and is buried in Bromley Parish Church. Her gravestone inscription says Formosae, cultae, ingeniosae, piae.

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Born
1689
Spouses
Lived in
  • Dr. Johnson's House
    (1748 - 1752)
Died
Mar 17, 1752
Resting place
St Peter and St Paul, Bromley

Submitted
on July 23, 2013

Citation

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