Murford, Nicholas (DNB00)

MURFORD, NICHOLAS (fl. 1650), poet, belonged to a Norfolk family. One Peter Murford was in 1629 lieutenant of the military company of Norwich (Blomefield, Norfolk, iii. 374), and was described in 1639 as a leading citizen of Yarmouth (cf. Cal. State Papers, 1639, p. 412). According to Nicholas's account, his father spent 13,000l. 'for the good of the Commonwealth An 1632' (Memoria Sacra, Ded.) Nicholas appears to have settled as a merchant at Lynn, and to have travelled largely for business purposes in Germany, France, and the Netherlands. Salt was one of the commodities in which he dealt, and he invented a new method of manufacture, which he described in ' A most humble declaration … concerning the making of salt here in England' (manuscript in All Souls Coll. Oxf. 276, No. 101). The Company or Corporation of Saltworkers was formed by royal letters patent about 1638 near Great Yarmouth to work the invention (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1639, pp. 153-4). But the enterprise was not successful. On 1 Oct. 1638 Murford petitioned Charles I to prohibit the importation of foreign salt (cf. ib. 1638-9, p. 45); he complained that the saltworkers of North and South Shields had infringed his patent, and asked the government to arrange so that he could obtain coal from Newcastle at the same cost as it was supplied to the salt-workers at Newcastle or Hartlepool (ib. 1639-1640, p. 236). Murford sought to direct the attention of the Short parliament to his grievances (cf. A Draught of the Contract about Salt on the behalf of Nicholas Murford, also a Proposition made by Thomas Horth, Merchant, and other Owners of Salt Pans at North and South Shields, and another Petition in the behalf of the Town of Yarmouth. The consideration whereof is humbly presented to the Houses of Parliament, 1640?). But he only succeeded in obtaining a respite for the payment of some arrears of salt duty (Cal. State Papers, 1640, p. 15). On like grounds he involved himself in a dispute with the corporation of Southampton (Hist. MSS. Comm. 11th Rep. iii. 133). In 1652 Murford was a prisoner for debt in the Fleet, and petitioned Cromwell for the repayment of the 13,000l. which his father had devoted to public objects in 1632, and which Charles I, he said, had undertaken to repay (Mem. Sacra, Ded.). He wrote an elegy on a daughter Amy (Fragmenta Poetica, C2.).

Murford dabbled in literature, and produced two volumes of pedestrian verse. The earlier, ‘Fragmenta Poetica, or Miscelanies of Poetical Musings, Moral and Divine,’ printed for Humphrey Moseley in 1650, is a rare book (Brit. Mus.). Among the writers of commendatory verse, prefixed to it, are Thomas Parker, M.D., and Nicholas Toll, pastor at Lynn. A ‘satyre’ is addressed to Martin Holbeach, the traveller. One song was ‘made at my last coming out of Germany,’ another is dated from Embden. A portrait of the author was inserted, and was afterwards altered and made to serve as a portrait of James Forbes, (1629?–1712) [q. v.] Murford's second work was not printed; it is extant among the British Museum manuscripts (Addit MS. 28602). Its title runs: ‘Memoria sacra: or Offertures unto the Fragrant Memory of the Right Honourable Henry Ireton (late) Lord Deputy of Ireland. Intended to have been humbly presented at his Funerall. By a Nurschild of Maro. Anagr. Fui Ireton.’ The dedication ‘to his excellency (my noblist patron, the Lord General Cromwell)’ is dated 8 Feb. 1651–2. The elegy is poor doggerel. In the opening verses, called ‘The Sigh,’ passing allusion is made to James Howell and Sir Philip Sidney. Some verses addressed by Murford to William Lilly, the astrologer, are among the Ashmolean MSS. at Oxford.

[Hunter's Chorus Vatum in Addit. MS. 24491, f. 99; Brydges's Restituta Lit. iv. 479; Corser's Collectanea (Chetham Soc.), pt. ix. pp. 39–44.]

S. L.