1800 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Gervase Markham

Samuel Egerton Brydges, in Theatrum Poetarum Anglicanorum (1800) 278-84.



JERVASE (whom Phillips erroneously calls John), MARKHAM, of Cotham, in Nottinghamshire, esq. but his name does not occur in the pedigree of that family, printed in Thoroton's Nottinghamshire. Robert Markham, of Cotham, esq. married Mary, daughter of Sir Francis Leake, knt. and had issue Sir Robert Markham, of Cotham, knt. whose wife Ann, daughter of Sir John Warburton, of Cheshire, died 17 November, 1601. This Sir Robert might perhaps be brother of our poet. Dr. Thoroton mentions Sir Robert's brother Francis, who was a soldier and a scholar; and "was admitted into the university of Heidelberg, 12 Feb. 1595; this person collected the history of his own family, and wrote certain decades of epistles to eminent persons, concerning the Art of War, which he printed. The elder brother was a fatal unthrift, and destroyer of this eminent family."

Jervase Markham was a voluminous writer, upon an astonishing variety of subjects, from the latter end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth till that of Charles I, for whom he is reported to have taken up arms, and borne a captain's commission. During a long period of his life he seems to have supported himself in part at least, by compilations for the booksellers. For the following curious memorandum is preserved in the Biographia Dramatica I. 299. "Md. That I Gervase Markham of London gent. do promise hereafter to never to write any more book or books to be printed of the diseases, or cures of any cattle, as horse, cowe, sheepe, swine, and goates, &c. in witnes whereof I have hereunto sett my hand the 24th daie of July, 1617. Gervis Markham."

But he appears to have been earliest distinguished for poetry.... Numerous however, as were this writer's works, his memory has not had the fate of being transmitted with any clearness to posterity. The time of his death, and all other particulars regarding him are utterly unknown.