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F sir John Denham very little is known but what is related of him by Wood, or by himself. He was born at Dublin, 16158; the only son of sir John Denham, of Little Horsley, in Essex, then chief baron of the exchequer in Ireland, and of Eleanor, daughter of sir Garret More, baron of Mellefont.
Two years afterwards, his father, being made one of the barons of the exchequer in England, brought him away from his native country, and educated him in London.
In 1631 he was sent to Oxford, where he was considered “as a dreaming young man, given more to dice and cards than study:” and, therefore, gave no prognosticks of his future eminence; nor was suspected to conceal, under sluggishness and laxity, a genius born to improve the literature of his country.
When he was, three years afterwards, removed to Lincoln's inn, he prosecuted the common law with sufficient appearance of application; yet did not lose his propensity to cards and dice; but was very often plundered by gamesters.
a In Hamilton's memoirs of count Grammont, sir John Denham is said to have been seventy-nine, when he married Miss Brook, about the year 1664; according to which statement he was born in 1585. But Dr. Johnson, who has followed Wood, is right. He entered Trinity college, Oxford, at the age of sixteen, in 1631, as appears by the following entry, which I copied from the matriculation book.
Trin. Coll. "1631. Nov. 18. Johannes Denham, Essex. filius J. Denham de Horsleyparva in com. prædict. militis, annos natus 16.” MALONE.