Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Filmer, Edward

FILMER, EDWARD (fl. 1707), dramatist, born in or about 1657, was the second son of Sir Robert Filmer, bart., of East Sutton, Kent, who died 22 March 1676, by his wife, Dorothy, daughter of Maurice Tuke of Layer Marney, Essex (Berry, County Genealogies, Kent, p. 187). Hasted (Hist. of Kent, fol. ed., ii. 418 n. g) wrongly describes him as the ‘second son of Sir Edward Filmer, who died in 1629.’ He was himself seated at East Sutton. In 1672 he was admitted as founder's kin fellow of All Souls' College, Oxford, and took the degree of B.A. on 17 Dec. of that year, proceeding B.C.L. 21 Feb. 1675, D.C.L. 27 Oct. 1681 (Cat. of Oxford Graduates, 1851, p. 229). He wrote a lugubrious blank verse tragedy of extreme length, called ‘The Unnatural Brother,’ 4to, London, 1697, which appears to have been acted three times at the theatre in Little Lincoln's Inn Fields (Genest, Hist. of the Stage, ii. 114). It met with a ‘very cold reception,’ which the author ascribes principally to his having ‘made choice of too few persons in the drama, and that the stage was never filled; there seldom appearing above two at a time, and never above three, till the end and winding up of the whole. … If these must be thought faults now in our nicer age, I am sure they were not thought such heretofore by the Antients’ (Preface). Part of this drama was reproduced by Pierre Antoine Motteux as ‘The Unfortunate Couple; a short Tragedy,’ in ‘The Novelty,’ &c., 4to, 1697. Filmer defended the stage against the attacks of Jeremy Collier in a sensible, well-written treatise entitled ‘A Defence of Plays, or the Stage Vindicated, from several Passages in Mr. Collier's Short View, &c. Wherein is offer'd the most probable method of Reforming our Plays. With a Consideration how far Vicious Characters may be allow'd on the Stage,’ 8vo, London, 1707. Collier replied in ‘A Farther Vindication of the Short View,’ &c., 8vo, London, 1708. Hasted (loc. cit.) is again wrong when he states that Filmer ‘died in 1703.’ By license, dated 29 Jan. 1686–7, he married Archiballa, only daughter and heiress of Archibald Clinkard or Clenkard of Sutton Valence, Kent (Chester, London Marriage Licences, ed. Foster, col. 484), and was buried at East Sutton.

[Baker's Biographia Dramatica (Reed and Jones), i. 242, iii. 371–2.]

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