Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Carew, Thomas

CAREW, THOMAS (1598?–1639?), poet, a younger son of Sir Matthew Carew [q. v.], by Alice, daughter of Sir John Rivers, knt., was born about 1598, and seems early to have fallen into dissipated habits. He entered at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, but left the university without taking a degree. As early as 1618 his father, who was in straitened circumstances at the time, writing to Sir Dud1ey Carleton, complains that one of his sons was 'roving after hounds and hawks, and the other [Thomas] studying in the Middle Temple, but doing little at law.’ Carleton hereupon took the youth into his service as secretary, and Carew appears to have remained with him during his embassy at Venice and Turin, and to have returned with him to England about the end of 1615. When Carleton became ambassador to the States in the following spring, Carew again accompanied him, but some time in the summer he suddenly threw up his employment (in irritation at some affront had received at the hands of his patron) and returned to England. Sir Matthew made more than one effort to get his son another but in vain, and at the end of October describes him as 'wandering idly about without employments' Lord Arundel and others having declined to take him into their service in consequence of his misconduct, which had been aggravated by ‘aspersions' spoken and written against Sir Dudley and Lady Carleton. In 1619 Carew went with his friend Lord Herbert of Cherbury to the French court. He afterwards obtained some post about the court, for at the creation of Henry, prince of Wales, in November, he is mentioned as attending on Lord Beauchamp as his squire. Very little more is known of his life after this. He became sewer in ordinary to Charles I, and gentleman of his privy chamber, and was, it is said, high in favour with that king, who bestowed upon him the royal domain of Sunninghill (part of the forest of Windsor), and had a high opinion of his wit and abilities. Carew was associated more or less closely with almost all the eminent literary men of his time, and was especially intimate with Davenant and Sir John Suckling. In the collection of Suckling's poems there are more than one among the poems and letters addressed to Carew by no means creditable to either. Carew’s longest performance was ‘Cœlum Britannicum’ (though Mr. Bolton Carney doubted whether he were really the author), a masque performed at Whitehall on 18 Feb. 1633-4; his other poems an chiefly songs and ‘society verses] composed, it is said, with great difficulty, but melodious and highly polished, though characterised by the usual conceits and affectation of his time. Four editions of Carew appeared between 1640 and 1671, a fifth in 1772, and four have been printed during the present century, by far the most complete and elaborate being that of Mr. W. C. Hazlitt, published in quarto in 1870. There is an uncertainty about that time of Carew's death. It looks as if his life had been shortened by his irregular habits. When he was stricken down by mortal sickness, he sent for Hales of Eton to administer to him the consolations of religion. Hales seems to have thought very meanly of him, and made no secret of his low opinion. Garew has left some wretched attempt at versifying a few of the Psalms; these Mr. Hazlitt has printed. The have not a single merit. Carew probably died in 1639, but no entry of his burial has been found. The illness that led him to a maudlin kind of repentance seems to have come upon him when he was in the country. If he recovered enough from it to return to London, he probably died at his house in King Street, St. James's.

[Mr. Hazlitt has availed himself of all the known sources for the biography of Carew in the edition of his poems mentioned shove, and has given his authorities. The only additions to be made are from Nichols‘s Progrssses of James I, iii. 224; Lord Herbert's Autobiography (1886), xxviii. 190, 198; Court and Times of James I, i. 488, 484; Cal. of State Papers, Dom. 1638-9, p. 342; Notes and Queries, 4th series, ii. 459.]

A. J.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.54
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
63 i 26
Carew Thomas: for 1598 read 1595
30-32 for He entered . . . . a degree read Wood's statement that he entered at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, is uncorroborated. He apparently matriculated at Merton College on 10 June 1608, aged 13, and graduated B.A. 31 Jan. 1611
64 i 1-2 Carew or Cawe: omit cross reference under Thomas