THOMAS RANDOLPH, an English poet, was the son of a steward to Edward lord Zouch, and born in Northamptonshire (Wood says, at Newnham, near Daintry; Langbaine, at Houghton) June 15, 1605. He was educated at Westminster-school, whence, being a king's scholar, he was elected to Trinity college, Cambridge, in 1623. Here he obtained a fellowship, and afterwards commenced master of arts, in which degree he was incorporated at Oxford. Very early in life he gave proofs of good talents, and was not only esteemed and admired by the learned at the university, but grew in equal favour with the wits and poets of the metropolis. His learning, gaiety of humour, and readiness of repartee, gained him admirers, procured him admission in all companies, and especially recommended him to the intimacy and friendship of Ben Jonson, who admitted him as one of his adopted sons in the Muses, and held him in equal esteem with Cartwright.
As a dramatic writer, his turn was entirely to comedy; and Baker pronounces his language elegant, and his sentiments just and forcible; his characters for the most part, strongly drawn, and his satire well chosen and poignant; and this critic also recommended the altering his pieces, so as to render them fit for the present stage, or at the least giving the world a correct and critical edition of them.
The dramatic pieces he has left behind him, five in number, were published in 1638, by his brother, Mr. Thomas Randolph, of Christ-church college, Oxford, along with his poems, some of which have considerable merit. Of his dramatic pieces, the "Muses' Looking-glass" is the most generally admired; in it there is great variety of characters of the passions and vices, drawn with much truth, and interspersed with many strokes of natural humour. A late critic thinks he has discovered in it the groundwork of the "Rehearsal," and similar satires. "The Looking-Glass" was about fifty years ago revived at Covent-garden theatre, and is reprinted in Dodsley's Collection of Old Plays. Had Randolph lived, it is thought he would have produced many more valuable pieces; but, as Antony Wood says, being somewhat addicted to libertine indulgences, in consequence of keeping too much company, and running into fashionable excesses with greater freedom than his constitution could bear, he assisted in shortening his own days, and died March 17, 1634, before he had completed the age of twenty-nine years, at the house of William Stafford, esq. of Blatherwyke in Northamptonshire. He was buried, with the ancestors of the family of Stafford, in an aile adjoining to the church of that place, soon after which a monument of white marble was erected over his grave, at the charge of sir Christopher (afterwards lord) Hatton, of Kirby, with an inscription upon it, in Latin and English verse, written by our author's intimate friend Peter Hausted.