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

DRANT, THOMAS (d. 1578?), divine and poet, son of Thomas Drant, was born at Hagworthingham in Lincolnshire; matriculated as pensioner of St. John's College, Cambridge, 18 March 1558, proceeded B.A. 1560-1, was admitted fellow of his college 21 March 1560-1, and commenced M.A. 1564. On the occasion of Queen Elizabeth's visit to the university in August 1564 he composed copies of English, Latin, and Greek verses, which he presented to her majesty. At the commencement in 1565 he performed a public exercise (printed in his 'Medicinable Morall') on the theme 'Corpus Christi non est ubique.' He was domestic chaplain to Grindal, who procured for him the post of divinity reader at St. Paul's. In 1569 he proceeded B.D., and on 28 July in that year he was admitted by Grindal's influence to the prebend of Chamberlainwood in the church of St. Paul's. On 8 Jan. 1569-70 he preached before the court at Windsor, strongly rebuking vanity of attire. He was admitted to the prebend of Firles in the church of Chichester 21 Jan. 1569-70, to the rectory of Slinfold in Sussex 31 Jan., and to the archdeaconry of Lewes 27 Feb. On Easter Tuesday 1570 he preached a sermon at St. Mary Spital, London, denouncing the sensuality of the citizens; and he preached another sermon at the same place on Easter Tuesday 1572. He had some dispute with Dr. William Overton, treasurer of the church of Chichester, and afterwards bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, whom he accused in the pulpit of pride, hypocrisy, ignorance, &c. He is supposed to have died about 17 April 1578, as the archdeaconry of Lewes was vacant at that date.

Drant is the author of: 1. 'Impii cuiusdem Epigrammatis qvod edidit Richardus Shacklockus . . . Apomaxis. Also certayne of the special articles of the Epigramme, refuted in Englyshe,' 1565, 4to, Latin and English. 2. 'A Medicinable Morall, that is, the two Bookes of Horace his Satyres Englyshed. . . . The wailyngs of the prophet Hieremiah, done into Englyshe verse. Also epigrammes,' 1566, 4to. Some copies have at the back of the title a dedicatory inscription, 'To the Right Honorable my Lady Bacon, and my Lady Cicell, sisters, fauourers of learnyng and vertue.' The rhymed translation of Horace's satires is wholly devoid of grace or polish. Among the miscellaneous pieces that follow the translation of Jeremiah are the English and Latin verses that Drant presented to the queen on her visit to Cambridge in 1564, English verses to the Earl of Leicester, and Latin verses to Chancellor Cecil. In 1567 appeared: 3. 'Horace his arte of Poetrie, pistles, and Satyrs, Englished and to the Earle of Ormounte, by Tho. Drant, addressed,' 4to. Drant found the labour of translating Horace difficult, for in the preface he writes: 'I can soner translate twelve verses out of the Greeke Homer than sixe oute of Horace.' 4. 'Greg. Nazianzen his Epigrams and Spiritual Sentences,' 1568, 8vo. 5. 'Two Sermons preached, the one at S. Maries Spittle on Tuesday in Easter weeke 1570, and the other at the Court of Windsor . . . the viij of January . . . 1569.' n. d. [1570?], 8vo. 6. 'A fruitful and necessary Sermon specially concernyng almes geving,' n. d. [1572 ?], 8vo, preached at St. Mary Spittle on Easter Tuesday 1572. 7. 'In Solomonis regis Ecclesiastem . . . paraphrasis poetica,' 1572, 4to, dedicated to Sir Thomas Heneage. 8. 'Thomse Drantae Angli Advordingamii Praesul. Ejusdem Sylva,' 4to, undated, but published not earlier than 1576, for it is dedicated 'Edmvndo Grindallo Cantuario Archipraesuli,' and in 1576 Grindal was appointed to the see of Canterbury. In the British Museum is preserved Queen Elizabeth's presentation copy, with manuscript dedicatory verses (on the fly-leaf), in which Drant speaks of an unpublished translation of the Book of Job:–

once did I with min hand
Job mine thee give in low and loyal wise.

In 'Sylva' (pp. 79-80) is a copy of verses headed 'De seipso,' in which, he observes

Sat vultu laudandus eram, flavusque comarum;
Corpore concrevi, turbae numerandus obesse.

There are Latin verses to Queen Elizabeth, Grindal, Parker, Lord Buckhurst, and others, and on pp. 85-6 are verses in Drant's praise by James Sandford in Greek, Latin, Italian, and French. Commendatory Latin verses by Drant are prefixed to Foxe's 'Acts and Monuments,' 1570; Sadler's translation of Vegetius's 'Tactics,' 1572; Carter's annotations to Seton's 'Dialectica,' 1574; Alexander Neville's 'Kettus,' 1575; Llodowick Lloyd's 'Pilgrimage of Princes,' n. d. He has a copy of English verses before Peterson's 'Galateo,' 1576. In the correspondence of Spenser and Gabriel Harvey allusion is made to Drant's rules and precepts for versification. 'I would heartily wish,' writes Spenser to Harvey in 1580, 'you would either send me the rules and precepts of arte, which you obserue in quantities, or else followe we mine that M. Philip Sidney gaue me, being the very same which M. Drant deuised, but en' larged with M. Sidney's own iudgement, and , augmented with my obseruations' (Harvey, Works, ed. Grosart, i. 36). In 'Pierces Supererogation' Harvey uses the expression 'Dranting of verses' (ib. ii. 131). Drant's unpublished works included a translation of the 'Iliad,' as far as the fifth book, a translation of the Psalms, and the 'Book of Solomons Prouerbs, Epigrames, and Sentences spirituall,' licensed for press in 1567. Extracts from sermons that he preached at ' Chichester and St. Giles, Cripplegate, are preserved in Lansdowne MS. 110. Tanner ascribes to him ' Poemata varia et externa, Paris, 15 . . ., 4to.'

[Cooper's Athenae Cantabrigienses; Strype's Annals, ii. 2, 379-80 (1824); Ames's Typogr. Antiq. (Herbert), pp. 654, 858, &c.; Nichols's Progresses of Queen Elizabeth, iii. 36-8; Corser's Collectanea; Ritson's Bibliographia Poetica; Drant's Works.]

A. H. B.