Freeman, Ralph (DNB00)


FREEMAN, Sir RALPH (fl. 1610–1655), civilian and dramatist, who was probably the son of Martin Freeman, first comes into notice as succeeding Naunton in the office of master of requests in 1618. He had married a relation of Buckingham, through whose influence he had also obtained a grant of pre-emption and transportation of tin for seven years in August 1613. In 1622 he had a grant in reversion of the auditorship of imprests, and also the auditorship of the mint. It was thought that through Buckingham Freeman would succeed Thomas Murray as provost of Eton, but the appointment was given to Sir Henry Wotton. Freeman unsuccessfully applied to Buckingham to be allowed to succeed Wotton at Venice. In 1626 and 1627 he was on a commission for the arrest of French ships and goods in England. In 1629 he held the office of auditor of imprests, after a dispute as to its possession with Sir Giles Monpesson, and soon afterwards became master worker of the mint at a salary of 500l. per annum. He was one of the first appointed in February 1635 to the newly created office of 'searcher and sealer' of all foreign hops imported into England. On the death of Sir Dudley Digges, Freeman bid high for the mastership of the rolls, which was taken by Sir Charles Cæsar. He appears to have retired into private life shortly afterwards, and to have lived to an advanced age. In 1655 he published 'Imperiale,' a tragedy which he had written many years before, and had 'never designed to the open world;' he was induced to publish it by ' the importunity of his friends, and to prevent a surreptitious publication intended from an erroneous copy.' This unauthorised edition to which he refers had appeared so far back as 1639. The tragedy met with the approval of Langbaine. Freeman also published two verse translations from Seneca, both of which are above the average, the first being the 'Booke of Consolation to Marcia' (1635), and the other the 'Booke of the Shortnes of Life' (2nd ed. 1663). At the last-given date Freeman was still alive, and must have been an old man. He has been erroneously confounded with another Sir Ralph Freeman who was lord mayor of London, and died on 16 March 1633-4.

[Rolls Ser. (Dom.) 1603-10, p. 475, 1611-18, pp. 197, 511, 1619-23, pp. 53, 93, 335, 569, 1623-5, pp. 56, 70, 1627-8, pp. 32, 181, 1628-9, pp. 141, 590, 1634-5, p. 524, 1636-7, p. 445, 1638-9, p. 622; Baker's Biographia Dramatica.]

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