19 June 2010

John Dryden, Aldwincle and Titchmarsh, Northamptonshire

In 1609 John Pickering married Susannah Dryden, and some years later Erasmus, Susannah's brother, married Mary Pickering, John's cousin. The poet John Dryden (1613-1700) was the eldest child of the marriage between Erasmus and Mary, and he was born in Aldwincle near Thrapston, in the rectory opposite a now redundant church (All Saints), where his maternal grandfather was rector.

John Dryden spent his younger years in neighboring Titchmarsh, and his parents are buried in the parish church of St Mary the Virgin there.

In the north transept is a monument dated 1722, painted by John Dryden's cousin Elizabeth Creed, to John's parents, although it bears a representation of John Dryden's head - labeled 'The Poet', at the top - and the information in the monument relates much more to John than to his parents:

'[Erasmus and Mary] had 14 children, the eldest of whom was John Driden Esc. the celebrated poet and laureat of his time, his bright parts & learning are best seen in his own excellent writings on various subjects. We boast that he was bred & had his first learning here, where he has often made us happie with his kind visits and most delightfull conversation. He married the lady Elizabeth Howard daughter to Henry Earl of Barkshire by whom he had 3 sons, Charls, John and Erasmus Henry, and after 70 od years when nature could be no longer suported, he recieved the notice of his approaching disolution with sweet submission and entier resignation to the divine will. And he took so tender and obliging a farewell of his friends as none but he him self could have expressed (of which sorrowfull number I was one). His body was honourably interred in West Minster Abbey among the greatest wits of divers ages. His sons were all fine genius accomplished gentlemen: they died in their youth un married.' Sr Erasmus Henry the youngest lived till the ancient honour of the family descended on him.'

Samuel Pepys was a friend of Elizabeth's husband John Creed, and visited Titchmarsh in 1668, on the occasion of their wedding.

Elizabeth was the daughter of Sir Gilbert Pickering (1613-68), who was Lord Chamberlain to Oliver Cromwell.

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