The Life of John Metcalf: Commonly Called Blind Jack of Knaresborough

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Blinded by smallpox at the age of six, John Metcalf (1717-1810) led a life that might have featured in an eighteenth-century novel. Popularly known as 'Blind Jack of Knaresborough', Metcalf had many and varied careers, including musician, horse trader, fish supplier, textile merchant and stage-wagon operator. Developing a method for building roads on marshy ground, using heather and gorse as a foundation, he eventually became one of the eighteenth century's great road builders, laying over 120 miles of high-quality roads in Yorkshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire and Cheshire. Published in 1795 and based on conversations with Metcalf, this book recounts his life in a series of anecdotes. Metcalf starts with his boyhood escapades, and his becoming an accomplished swimmer, climber and gambler. Among the later episodes recounted are his services in raising troops to fight Jacobite rebels, during which he was present at the battles of Falkirk Muir and Culloden.

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Cambridge University Press
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