John Dickens.

John Dickens (21 August 1785 – 31 March 1851) was the father of English novelist Charles Dickens and was the model for Mr Micawber in his son’s semi-autobiographical novel David Copperfield.

For much of his career John worked as a clerk for the Royal Navy at the naval yards at Portsmouth and Chatham. He also worked at the Navy Pay Office in Somerset House, London.

Whilst working at the Navy Pay Office, John Dickens became friends with a colleague Thomas Barrow. In 1809 John Dickens married his sister, Elizabeth Barrow in the nearby church of St Mary-le-Strand.

In 1810 Elizabeth’s father, who also worked for the Navy Pay Office, was found guilty of embezzling money and fled to the Isle of Man.

In 1824 John Dickens was imprisoned for debt and had to resign his post.


Charles Dickens and Somerset House.

The Victorian writer and social critic Charles Dickens featured Somerset house in a number of works:

item In his sketch Mr Minns and his cousin, Mr. Augustus Minns “was a clerk in Somerset-house, or, as he said himself, he held ‘a responsible situation under Government.’ “, where he enjoyed a good salary and lived nearby in a first floor flat in Tavistock Street, Covent Garden.