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KIRKE, JOHN (fl. 1638), dramatist, may be the John Kirke who is described in the will of Edward Kirke [q. v.], Spenser's friend, as the testator's godson. He was author of a popular tragi-comedy, entitled ‘The Seven Champions of Christendome,’ which was licensed for the press on 13 July 1638 (Arber, Stationers' Reg. iv. 424). License was given at the same time for the publication of ‘The Life and Death of Jack Straw and Watt Tyler by John Kirke’ (ib.), but of this piece nothing is known. The play was published under the title ‘The Seven Champions of Christendome. Acted at the Cockpit and at the Red Bull in St. John's Streete, with a generall liking, and never printed till the yeare 1638. Written by J. K.,’ London, 1638, 8vo. The dedication is addressed to the author's ‘much respected friend, Master John Waite.’ It is written in both prose and verse, with a few songs interspersed, but it has few literary merits. It was reprinted in ‘Old English Drama,’ 1830. An unnamed play by Kirke was burned by Sir Henry Herbert, licenser of stage plays, in May 1642, for ‘the offence that was in it,’ but on 8 June following Herbert allowed Kirke's ‘Irish Rebellion,’ a play that is not now known to be extant. The dramatist was author of the dedication to Sir Kenelm Digby prefixed to Shirley's ‘Martyred Soldier,’ 1638.

[Hunter's Chorus Vatum (Addit. MS. 24492, f. 91); Fleay's Biog. Chron. of English Drama, ii. 256.]

S. L.