Open main menu


HIGGINS, JOHN (fl. 1570–1602), poet and compiler, born, according to his own account, about 1545, is said by Hearne to have been a student of Christ Church, Oxford (Coll. ed. Doble, Oxf. Hist. Soc., iii. 138), but his name does not appear in the university register. He began ‘to learne the tongues’ when he was twenty, and taught grammar between 1568 and 1570. Hearne describes him as ‘a person of excellent parts and learning. He was a poet, antiquary, and historian of great industry, well read in classick authors, and was withall very well skilled in French.’ His earliest published work, which occupied him two years, was a new and revised edition of ‘Huloet's Dictionarie,’ London, 1572, fol. (by Thomas Marshe). Higgins, who describes himself as ‘late student in Oxeforde,’ dedicates the book to Sir George Peckham. In 1575 appeared ‘Flowers, or Eloquent Phrases of the Latine Speach, gathered out of the sixe Comœdies of Terence, whereof those of the first three were selected by Nicholas Vdall, and those of the latter three nowe to them annexed by John Higgins’ (by Thomas Marshe). A new edition followed in 1581. Thomas Newton, in his 'Encomia,' 1589 (p. 128), highly commends the joint labours of Higgins and Udall. Higgins's next undertaking was a translation entitled 'The Nomenclator or Remembrancer of Adrianus Junius, Physician, divided into two Tomes, conteining proper names and apt termes for all things vnder their conuenient titles, London (for Ralph Newberie and Henrie Denham),' 1585, 8vo. The dedication, to Dr. Valentine Dale, is signed 'Joannes Higgins,' and is dated from Winsham, Somerset, 15 Nov. 1584. In 1602 Higgins published at Oxford 'An Answer to W. Perkins concerning Christ's Descension into Hell' (8vo).

Higgins is best known by his elaborate expansions of 'The Mirrour for Magistrates,' originally prepared by William Baldwin, and published in 1559. Baldwin's collection treats of English history from the reign of Richard II onwards. Higgins resolved to write on the beginnings of British history. In 1574 he issued 'The First Parte of the Mirour for Magistrates, containing the Falles of the first Infortunate Princes of this Lande. From the coming of Brute …,' London (by Thomas Marshe), 1574, fol. The volume opens with an induction in imitation of Sackville's well-known poem. Sixteen legends, dealing with Albanact, Locrinus, Bladud, Ferrex, Porrex, Nennius, and the like, are told in verse; and the volume closes with a metrical address by Higgins. Higgins reissued his 'First Parte' in 1575, enlarging his address at the conclusion, and adding a new poem, 'Irenglass.' In 1587 Thomas Newton prepared a collective edition of the original 'Mirrour' and of the various supplementary volumes. For this edition Higgins prepared twenty-three new poems in continuation of the seventeen already published by him. The new series treats of Brennus, Cæsar, Nero, Caracalla, and similar heroes. Thus the first forty poems in Newton's volume are from Higgins's pen, and in a later section appears another new one by him dealing with later history, namely, 'How the Valiant Knight, Sir Nicholas Burdet, Chiefe Butler of Normandy, was slayne at Pontoise, Anno 1441.' Richard Niccols reissued all Higgins's contributions in another collective edition of the 'Mirrour,' published in 1610, and reissued as 'The Falles of Vnfortvnate Princes' in 1619. In 1815 Haslewood once again reprinted the whole work.

A manuscript in Brit. Mus. MS. Cott. Galba, C. iv. 189, entitled 'A Discourse on the ways how to annoy the K. of Spain, and to provide for the restitution of wrongs,' is dated June 1571, and is assigned to 'Mr. Higgins.'

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), i. 734-6; Haslewood's Mirror for Magistrates (1815), introd. See art. Blenerhasset, Thomas.]

S. L. L.