1690 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Davies of Hereford

Anthony Wood, Athenae Oxonienses (1690-91; 1721) 1:444.



JOHN DAVIES, who writes himself of Hereford because he was born in that City, was, from the Grammar School there, sent to this University, but to what House of Learning therein, I know not. After he had remained with us for some years, without the taking of a degree, he retired for a time to his native Country, having then, among Scholars, the character of a good Poet, as by those Poems, which he then made, and were shortly after published, was manifested. Sir John Davies, whom I shall mention under the year 1626 was more a Poet than a Scholar, and somewhat enclined towards the Law; which hath made some unwary Readers take the Writings of one for the other. But our Author finding not a subsistence by Poetry, he set up for a Writing-master, first in his own Country, and afterwards at London, where at length he was esteemed the greatest Master of his Pen that England in his age beheld, first for Fast-writing, (2) Fair-writing. which looked as if it had been printed, (3) close-writing, (4) Various writing, as Secretary, Roman, Court, and Text-hand. In all which he was exceeded after his death, by one Gething his Country-man and Scholar. Sometimes he made pretty excursions into Poetry, and could flourish matter with his fancy, as well as Letters with his Pen, the Titles of which do follow [omitted]. Several copies of verses of his are also published in other books, as a large copy before Ph. Holland's translation of Cambden's Britannia, another in the Odcombian Banquet, another before Speed's Chroncle, and in divers other books, &c. He died about the year sixteen hundred and eighteen and was buried, as one tells us, within the Precincts of S. Giles's Ch. in the Fields, near Lon. I find one Joh. Davies, gent. to have lived in the parish of S. Martin in the fields, who dying in the beginning of July (or thereabouts) in 1618, was buried near to the body of Mary, his sometimes wife, in the church of St. Dunstan in the West. Whether the same with the poet I cannot justly tell, because my author here quoted (Tho. Fuller) saith, but upon what authority I know not, that he was buried at S. Giles's in the fields. One John Dunbar, a Latin poet of Scotland, hath an epigram on J. Davies the poet [Epigr. Lond. 1616. cent. 3 no. 20], which may serve for an epitaph, wherein he tells us that he was another Martial, and that he outstript in poetry Sam. Daniel, Josh. Sylvester the merchant adventurer, &c.