Gager, William

, a Latin poet of considerable note in the sixteenth century, was educated at Westminsterschool, from which he was elected to Oxford, in 1574, and took afterwards his degrees in arts at Christ-church, | but in a few years preferring the study of the law, he took the degrees in that faculty also, in 1589. About this time his reputation had recommended him to Dr. Martin Heton, bishop of Ely, by whose interest, most probably, he was made chancellor of that diocese. Wood professes that he knows no more of him, unless that he was living in 1610; but by the assistance of the Ely registers, we are enabled to pursue him a little farther. By them it appears that in 1601, being then LL. D. he acted as surrogate to Dr. Swale, vicar-general of Ely, and in 1608 he was delegate and commissary to archbishop Bancroft, in the diocese of Ely; and in 1609 he was custos of the spiritualities in the vacancy of the see. In the years 1613, 1616, and 161S, he was, vicar-general and official principal to Lancelot Andrews, bishop of Ely; and in 1619 he acted as deputy for the archdeacon of Canterbury, at the installation of bishop Felton, in the cathedral of Ely. When he died we have not been able to discover.

Wood says, “he was an excellent poet, especially in the Latin tongue, and reputed the best comedian (i.e. dramatic writer) of his time.” He had a controversy with Dr. John Rainolds, on the lawfulness of stage-plays, which appears to have been carried on in manuscript letters, until Raiuolds published his “Overthrow of Stage-plays,” containing his answer to Gager and a rejoinder. He had a more singular controversy with Mr. Heale, of Exeter-college, in consequence of his (Gager’s) asserting at the Oxford Act in 1608, “That it was lawful for husbands to beat their wives.” This Mr. Heale answered in “An Apology for Women,*' &c. Oxon. 1609, 4to. In the” Exequiae D. Philippi Sidnxi,“Gager has a copy of verses in honour of that celebrated character, who, when living, had a great respect for his learning and virtues. His Latin plays are, 1.Meleager,“a tragedy. 2.” Rivales,“a comedy; and 3.Ulysses redux," a tragedy. These were all acted, and we are told, with great applause, in Christ church hall. The first only was printed in 1592, 4to, and occasioned the controversy between the author and Dr. Rainolds. Gager’s letter in defence of this and his other plays, is in the library of University-college. 1


Ath. Ox. vol. I, Walton’s Hist, of Poetry, To). II. 383. ms Register! of Ely.