Osborne, Francis

, an English writer of considerable abilities, was born about 1589. He was descended from an ancient family, who had been long seated at Chicksand, near Shefford, in Bedfordshire, where his grandfather, and father, sir John Osborne, were men of fortune, and, according to Wood, puritans, who gave him what education he had at home, but never sent him to either school or university. This he appears to have afterwards much regretted, on comparing the advantages of public and private education. As soon, however, as he was of age, he commenced the life of a courtier, and being taken into the service of the Pembroke family, became master of the horse to William earl of Pembroke. Upon the breaking out of the civil wars, he sided with the parliament, but not in all their measures, nor all their principles; yet they conferred some public employments upon him; and, having married a sister of one of Oliver’s colonels, he was enabled to procure his son John a fellowship in All-souls’ college, Oxford, by the favour of the parliamentary visitors of that university, in 1648. After this he resided there himself, purposely to superintend his education; and also to print some books of his own composition. Accordingly, among others, he published there his “Advice to a Son,” the first part in 1656; which going through five editions within two years, he added a second, 1658, in 8vo. Though this had the usual fate of second parts, to be less relished than the first, yet both were eagerly bought and admired at Oxford, especially by the young students; which being observed by the “godly ministers,” as Wood calls them, they drew up a complaint against the said books, as instilling atheistical principles into the minds of the youth, and proposed to have them publicly burnt. Although this sentence was not carried into execution, there appeared so many objections to the volumes, that an order passed the 27th of July, 1658, forbidding all booksellers, or any other persons, to sell them. But our author did not long survive this order, dykig Feb. 11, 1659, aged about seventy. For the accusation of atheism there seems little foundation; but many of his sentiments are otherwise objectionable, and the quaintness of his style, and pedantry of his expression, have long ago consigned the work to oblivion. His other publications were, 1. “A seasonable Expostulation, with the Netherlands,” &c. 1652, 4to. 2. “Persuasive to mutual compliance under the present government.| 3. “Plea for a free State compared with Monarchy.” 4. “The private Christian’s non ultra,” &c. 1G56, 4to. 5. A volume in 8vo, containing, “The Turkish policy, &c. a Discourse upon Machiavel, &c. Observations upon the King of Sweden’s descent into Germany a Discourse upon Piso and Vindex, &c. a Discourse upon the greatness and corruption of the Court of Rome another upon the Election of Pope JLeo X. Political occasion for the defection from the Church of Rome a Discourse in vindication of Martin Luther.” Besides these were published, 1. “Historical Memoirs on the Reigns of Queen Elizabeth and King James.” 2. “A Miscellany of sundry Essays, &c. together with political deductions from the History of the Earl of Essex,” c. Other pieces have been ascribed to him on doubtful authority. A collection of his works was published in 1689, 8vo and again, 1722, in 2 vols. 12mo. 1


Biog, Brit.