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

SHERBURNE, Sir EDWARD (1618–1702), poet, son of Sir Edward Sherburne (1578–1641), was great-grandson of Richard Sherburne of Haighton, a son of Sir Richard Sherburne (d. 1513) of Stonyhurst, where the elder branch of the family remained until its extinction in 1717. The poet's father, Sir Edward, son of Henry Sherburne (d. 1598) of Oxford, by a second wife, moved from Oxford to London, where he acted successively as agent to Sir Dudley Carleton (afterwards Viscount Dorchester), as secretary (from 1617 to 1621) of Bacon, lord keeper, as secretary of the East India Company from 1621, and as clerk of the ordnance of the Tower of London from 1626. Dying in December 1641, he was buried in the Tower chapel. By his wife Frances, second daughter of John Stanley of Roydon Hall, Essex, he had seven sons and one daughter. One son, John, published a translation of some of Ovid's ‘Epistles’ (1639). Another son, Henry, an ardent royalist, was during the civil wars controller to the army of Ralph, lord Hopton, and, proceeding to Oxford, drew an exact ichnography of the city in which the king wrote the names of the bastions (engraved in Wood's Hist. et Antiq. 1674, i. 364); he was made chief engineer on Sir Charles Lloyd's death, and was killed by some mutinous soldiers on 12 June 1646, being buried next day in the church of St. Peter-in-the-East.

Edward, the poet, born on 18 Sept. 1618, at Goldsmith's Rents, Cripplegate, London, was first educated at the neighbouring school of Thomas Farnaby [q. v.], and afterwards under Charles Alleyn, author of the ‘Historie of Henry the Seventh,’ 1638. On Alleyn's death in 1640 he travelled in France, but was recalled home by the news of the illness of his father, who died in December 1641. He succeeded his father as clerk of the ordnance, having obtained the reversion of the office in 1637–8. On the outbreak of the civil war, being a royalist and Roman catholic, he was deprived of his place by order of the House of Lords on 17 Aug. 1642, and was for some months in the custody of the usher of the black rod. On his release in October he went to Nottingham and joined the king, who made him commissary-general of artillery. In that capacity he was present at the battle of Edgehill. He attended the king to Oxford, where he and his younger brother, Henry, were both created M.A. on 20 Dec. 1642. On the surrender of Oxford, in June 1646, he removed to London and lived in the Middle Temple with Thomas Povey, a near relative. He was now reduced to indigence by the seizure of his estate and personal property, including his valuable library, which, according to Wood (Fasti, ii. 30), ‘was great and choice, and accounted one of the most considerable belonging to any gent. in or near London.’ He seems to have been befriended at this time by his kinsman, Thomas Stanley [q. v.], the poet and scholar, and was intimate with James Shirley the dramatist. His leisure he devoted to a study of the classics.

In 1648 he first appeared before the public as an author. In that year he published two books: ‘Medea, a Tragedie, written in Latine, by Lucius Annæus Seneca, Englished [in verse] by E. S.;’ and ‘Seneca's Answer to Lucilius his Quære: Why Good Men suffer Misfortunes, seeing there is a Divine Providence,’ translated into English verse. The latter was dedicated to Charles I, who was then in captivity in the Isle of Wight. In 1652 Sherburne was appointed by Sir George Savile (afterwards Marquis of Halifax) to take charge of his affairs, and in 1654 he became travelling tutor to Savile's kinsman, Sir John Coventry, with whom he visited France, Italy, Hungary, Germany, and the Low Countries, returning in October 1659. At the Restoration he was superseded in his place at the ordnance, but restored to office on petition, although the emoluments of the office, which he now shared with Francis Nicholls, were greatly diminished. In February 1666 his salary was increased by 100l. It is evident from the numerous references in the state papers that he was a diligent public servant. In a petition for compensation in 1661 he claimed that he ‘kept the train of ordnance together, to serve as a troop in the field in the decline of the late king's cause, and preserved the ordnance records, so that it is now restored to its primitive order and constitution’ (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1661–2, p. 229). He was the principal author of the ‘Rules, Orders, and Instructions’ given to the office of ordnance in 1683, which, with few alterations, continued in use as long as the office existed. About the time of the ‘popish plot’ some ineffectual attempts were made to remove him from office on the ground that he was a Roman catholic. The king supported him, and conferred on him the honour of knighthood on 6 Jan. 1682. At the revolution he quitted the public service, as he could not take the oaths, and lived a retired and studious life. His reduced circumstances induced him in 1696 to present petitions to the king and to Henry Sidney, earl of Romney [q. v.], master-general of the ordnance, for a pension, but without result. It is probable that his kinsman, Sir Nicholas Sherburne of Stonyhurst, provided for his necessities in his later years.

He died unmarried on 4 Nov. 1702, and was buried in the chapel of the Tower of London. A memorial tablet, erected by his kinsman Sir Nicholas, bears a long Latin inscription said to be composed by himself.

Besides the two works mentioned, Sherburne published:

  1. ‘Salmacis, Lyrian, and Sylvia, Forsaken Lydia, the Rape of Helen, a Comment thereon, with several other Poems and Translations,’ London, 1651, 8vo; reprinted in Chalmers's ‘English Poets,’ 1810, vi. 601, and again in 1819, with memoir &c. by S. Fleming, 12mo. The volume was dedicated by Sherburne to his friend, Thomas Stanley, and contains most of his extant original verse, which at times reminds the reader of Waller, but is very unequal. His melodious translations from Horace show him at his best.
  2. ‘The Sphere of Marcus Manilius made an English Poem, with annotations and an astronomical appendix,’ London, 1675, folio, dedicated to Charles II. The elaborate appendix contains among other things a ‘Catalogue of Astronomers, Ancient and Modern,’ which is valuable for its notices of contemporary writers. The work is noticed with commendation in the ‘Philosophical Transactions,’ No. 110 (abridgment, ii. 185). He contemplated another work on Manilius, but handed over his collection of papers to Dr. Richard Bentley.
  3. ‘Troades, or the Royal Captives: a Tragedy, from Seneca,’ 1679, 8vo.
  4. ‘Francis Blondel's Comparison of Pindar and Homer,’ englished by E. S., London, 1696, 8vo.
  5. ‘The Tragedies of L. Annæus Seneca the Philosopher, Medea, Phædra and Hippolytus, and Troades, or the Royal Captive,’ translated into English verse, with annotations, to which is prefixed ‘The Life and Death of Seneca the Philosopher,’ London, 1701, 8vo; re-issued with five plates in 1702; dedicated to Richard Francis Sherburne, son of Sir Nicholas of Stonyhurst. There is added ‘The Rape of Helen, out of the Greek of Coluthus,’ originally printed in the volume of 1651. Sherburne contended that these three tragedies were all that survive of Seneca's plays.

He also wrote commendatory verses to Alleyn's ‘Henry VII,’ 1638; to his brother John Sherburne's translation of Ovid's ‘Heroical Epistles,’ 1639; to W. Cartwright's ‘Comedies,’ 1651; and Thomas Stanley the younger's translation of ‘C. Ælianus his various History,’ 1665.

[Art. by Mr. J. Brander Hatt in Stonyhurst Magazine, March 1885, ii. 61 seq.; Wood's Fasti Oxon. (Bliss), ii. 30; Biogr. Brit. 1763, vi. 3670; Gent. Mag. June 1796, p. 462; Chalmers's Biogr. Dict. xxvii. 453; Dodd's Church Hist. iii. 453; Fleming's Memoir in reprint of Sherburne's Poems, 1819; Wood's Life and Times (Oxford Hist. Soc.), vols. ii. iii. iv.; Sherburne's Letters to Wood are preserved at the Bodleian Libr. (Wood MSS. F. 44); Hearne's Collections (Oxford Hist. Soc.), i. 158; Correspondence of Richard Bentley, D.D. 1842, i. 36, 41, 172; Hazlitt's Handbook to Popular Literature, and Gray's Index to Hazlitt's Collections; Phillips's Theatrum Poetarum, 1675, is dedicated to Sherburn and Stanley; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1659–60 to 1665–6; Corresp. of Scientific Men (Rigaud), 1841.]

C. W. S.