1690 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir John Mennes

Anthony Wood, Athenae Oxonienses (1690-91; 1721) 2:481-82.



JOHN MENNES, the third Son of Andrew Mennes, Esq; (by Jane his second Wife, Daughter of John Blechendon, Esq;) Son of Matthew Mennes, was born in the Parish of S. Peter in Sandwich in Kent, on the eleventh of May 1598 and was educated in Grammar learning in the Free-School there. In the 17th Year of his Age, or thereabouts, he became a Com. of Corp. Ch. Coll. where continuing for some Years, did advance himself much in several sorts of learning, especially in Humanity and Poetry and something in History. Afterwards he became a great Traveller, a most noted Sea-man, and as well skill'd in marine Affairs, in building of Ships, and all belonging thereunto, as any Man of his time. In the reign of King James I. he had a place in the Navy-Office, and in the reign of King Charles I. was made Controller of it. In 1636 I find him a Militia-Captain, and in 1639 he was Captain of a Troop of Horse in the expedition against the Scots. In 1641 I find him a Vice-Admiral, and by that title did he receive the honour of Knighthood from his Majesty at Dover in the Month of February the same Year. Afterwards, upon the breaking out of the Rebellion, he closely adhered to the Cause of his Majesty, and in 1642 I find him Captain of a Ship called the Rainbow for his Majesty's Service, while Robert Earl of Warwick was Vice-Admiral, but how long he continued in that employment I cannot tell; sure I am that when his Majesty's Cause declined, he left the Nation and for a time adhered to Prince Rupert while he roved on the Seas against the Usurpers in England; who being successless, he retired to King Charles II. in Exile, took his fortune as other Royalists did, yet always in a gay, cheerful and merry condition. After the return of his Majesty from his Exile, he was made Governor of Dover-Castle, and had the place of chief Comptroller of the Navy conferred on him, which he kept to his dying day, being accounted by all that knew him to be an honest and stout Man, generous and religious, and well skill'd in Physic and Chymestry. This Person, who was always poetically given, and therefore his Company was delightful to all ingenious and witty Men, was Author of the great part of a Book entit.

Musarum deliciae: or, the Muses recreation, containing several pieces of poetic wit. Lond. 1656. oct. 2d edit. James Smith had so great a hand in that Book that he is esteemed the Author almost of half of it. Sir John Mennes hath also written.

Epsom Wells, a Poem. — Printed in qu. and divers other Poems scattered in other Mens works. He hath also extant a mock Poem on Sir Will. D'Avenant and his Gondibert; and did assist, as I have been credibly informed, Sir John Suckling in the composition of some of his Poetry; on whom, and his Fine Troop of Horse that ran away when they were to engage with the Enemy, he wrote a scoffing Ballad. At length he having lived beyond the Age of Man, concluded his last day in the Navy-Office in Seething-Lane within the City of London, on Saturday the 18th of February in sixteen hundred and seventy: Whereupon his body was buried at the upper end of the Chancel of the Church of S. Olaves in Hart-street, on the 27th day of the same Month. Soon after was a neat Monument erected over his Grave, with an inscription thereon, much becoming the Person for whom it was set up. His eldest Brother, which his Father had by his first Wife Elizabeth Warham, was named Matthew, who was created Knight of the Bath at the Coronation of King Charles I. The second was named Thomas, who was buried in the Church of S. Peter in Sandwich, in Jan. 1631.