Blind Jack of Knaresborough (John Metcalf)
was born in 1717 in a cottage whose garden
adjoined the churchyard. Though blinded by
smallpox at the age of six, he became famous
as a musician, guide, horseman, trader and
pioneer builder of roads. He died
in 1810 and is buried in
John Metcalf (1717–1810), also known as Blind Jack of Knaresborough or Blind Jack Metcalf, was the first professional road builder to emerge during the Industrial Revolution. Blind from the age of six, John had an eventful life, which was well documented by his own account just before his death. In the period 1765 to 1792 he built about 180 miles (290 km) of turnpike road, mainly in the north of England.