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

Many biographical details are changed in later editions.

FLETCHER, THOMAS (1664–1718), poet, eldest son of John Fletcher of Winchester by his wife Mary Bourne, was born at Wirley Magna, Staffordshire, on 21 March 1664, and was educated at Winchester School and at New College, Oxford, where he graduated B.A. on 10 April 1689, M.A. on 14 Jan. 1692, B.D. and D.D. on 25 June 1707. He was fellow of his college, and held for a time a mastership at Winchester School. A man of the same name held the prebend of Barton David in the church of Wells from 1696 to 1713, and is probably the same person, though the cathedral archives do notestablish the fact. Fletcher was an admirer of Bishop Ken, and wrote some fulsome verses to him on his promotion to the see of Bath and Wells in 1685. The prebend did not fall vacant until after Ken's deprivation, but it is probable that he still retained and exerted sufficient influence with the dean and chapter of Wells to secure Fletcher's appointment, the more so as they cordially detested his successor, Bishop Kidder. Fletcher died on 21 Feb. 1718. By his wife, Catherine Richards, he had three daughters and one son, Thomas. He is now represented by Thomas William Fletcher, esq., of Lawneswood House, near Stourbridge, Staffordshire.

Fletcher is the author of a small volume of verse entitled ‘Poems on Several Occasions and Translations, wherein the first and second books of Virgil's Æneis are attempted in English,’ London, 1692, 8vo. A dedication to the Rev. William Harris, D.D., ‘school-master of the college near Winton,’ explains that the poems are chiefly juvenile exercises. The first book of the Æneid is translated in heroic couplets, part of the second and also part of the fourth in blank verse. The volume also contains a translation of the second epode of Horace, and of part of the first book of Boethius's ‘De Consolatione Philosophiæ,’ the verses to Ken referred to in the text, a ‘pastoral’ on the birth of Christ, and some other pieces of a conventional stamp.

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), iv. 559; Hearne's Collections (Oxford Hist. Soc.), i. 291; Le Neve's Fasti; Cat. Oxford Graduates; Burke's Landed Gentry; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

J. M. R.