George Wither (1588-1667)

IN 1639 Wither was a captain of horse in the expedition against the Scots and quarter-master general of the regiment wherein he was captain. . . . But this our author, who was always from his youth puritanically affected (sufficiently evidenced in his satires), sided with the Presbyterians in the beginning of the civil wars raised by them, anno 1642, became an enemy to the King and regality, sold the estate he had, and with the moneys received for it raised a troop of horse for the parliament, was made a captain and soon after a major, having this motto on his colours, Pro Rege, Lege, Grege; but being taken prisoner by the cavaliers, Sir John Denham the poet (some of whose land at Egham in Surrey Wither had got into his clutches) desired His Majesty not to hang him,

`because that so long as Wither lived, Denham would not be accounted the worst poet in England'.

From Anthony Wood, Athenae Oxonienses, ed. Philip Bliss (1813-20), iii. 762.

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