Francis Quarles (1592-1644), Poet

13 Oct

Francis Quarles is the 11th great-grandfather of Richard, James, Gary, Lisa, Carl, Jane, Bruce, Cathy, Ron, Stacey, Matt, Sandy, and the 12th great-grandfather of Asher, Owen, Caitlyn, Becky, Emily, Jack, Jill, Jordan, Mike, Brian.

Born: before May 8, 1592, Romford, Essex, England
Died: September 8, 1644, Terling, Essex, England
Father: James Quarles
Mother: Joan Dalton
Spouse: Ursula Woodgate (married May 28, 1618, St. Andrew’s, Holborn, London, England)
Children: 18, including Charles, Philadelphia, John, William, Joanna

Francis Quarles was born at the manor house of Stewards in Romford and was baptized on May 8, 1592. His father died when Francis was seven, his mother when he was 14.

Francis was educated first at Christ’s College, Cambridge (B.A., 1608) and at Oriel College, Oxford. He then studied law at Lincoln’s Inn.

In 1613, he accompanied the Earl of Arundel’s mission to escort Elizabeth, the daughter of James I, to Heidelburg to marry the Elector Palatine. Quarles went abroad again in 1615 before marrying Ursula Woodgate in London in 1618. After marriage Francis turned his energies to writing.

Francis’ first important work was A Feast for Worms (1621), a paraphrase of the biblical Book of Jonah in verse. Similar paraphrases followed, including those on the books of Esther (1621), Job (1624), Jeremiah (1624), Psalms (1625) and a work on Samson (1631).

A long verse-romance developed out of Sidney’s Arcadia, Argalus and Parthenia (1629), enjoyed great success. Francis followed this in 1630 with Divine Poems and Divine Fancies in 1632.

In the 1630′s Francis returned to Essex and began work on what was to become his best-known and most popular work, the best-selling Emblems (1635).

In 1639 Francis was appointed Chronologer of the City of London, and when the Civil War broke out he employed his time writing books and pamphlets in the Royalist cause. Francis’ political writings, particularly the Enchiridion (1640), were highly-regarded by Royalists. Francis’ devoutly religious poetry, on the other hand, was much beloved by anti-Royalist Puritans.

In 1644 the Long Parliament ordered Francis’ house to be searched for “subversive” writings and all his manuscripts were burned. Thankfully, his popularity among the Puritans preserved him from personal attack, but Francis did succumb to death from causes on September 8, 1644. He was buried in the church of St. Olave, Silver Street, in London.

“Flatter not thyself in thy faith in God if thou hast not charity for thy neighbor.” – Francis Quarles

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Posted by on October 13, 2013 in Biographies


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