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a political author in the seventeenth century, was the son of

, a political author in the seventeenth century, was the son of Richard Birkenhead, of Northwych, in the county of Cheshire, an honest saddler, who, if some authors may deserve credit, kept also a little ale-house. Our author was born about 1615, and having received some tincture of learning in the common grammar-schools, came to Oxford, and was entered in 1632, a servitor of Oriel college, under the tuition of the learned Dr. Humphrey Lloyd, afterwards bishop of Bangor. Dr. Lloyd recommended him to Laud, archbishop of Canterbury, as his amanuensis, and in that capacity he discovered such talents, that the archbishop, by his diploma, created him A. M. in 1639, and the year following, by letter commendatory from the same great prelate, he was chosen probationary fellow of All-souls college. This preferment brought him to reside constantly in Oxford, and on king Charles I. making that city his head-quarters during the civil war, our author was employed to write a kind of journal in support of the royal cause, by which he gained great reputation; and his majesty recommended him to be chosen reader in moral philosophy, which employment he enjoyed, though with very small profit, till 1648, when he was expelled by the parliament visitors. He retired afterwards to London, where adhering steadily to his principles, he acquired, among those of his own sentiments, the title of “The Loyal Poet,” and suffered, from such as had then the power in their hands, several imprisonments, which served only to sharpen his wit, without abating his courage. He published, while he thus lived in obscurity, and, as Wood says, by his wits, some very tart performances, which were then very highly relished, and are still admired by the curious. These were, like his former productions, levelled against the republican leaders, and were written with the same vindictive poignancy that was then fashionable. Upon the restoration of king Charles II. he was created April 6, 1661, on the king’s letters sent for that purpose, D. C. L. by the university of Oxford and in that quality was o'ne of the eminent civilians consulted by the convocation on the question “Whether bishops ought to be present in capital cases?” and with the rest, Keb. 2, 1661-2, gave it under his hand, they ought and might. He was, about the same time, elected a burgess, to serve in parliament for Wilton, in the county of Wilts, and continuing his services to his master, was by him promoted, on the first vacancy, to some office at court, which he quitted afterwards, and became master in the Faculty office. He was knighted November 14, 1662, and upon sir Richard Fanshaw’s going with a public character to the court of Madrid, sir John Birkenhead succeeded him as master of requests. He was also elected a member of the royal society, an honour at that time conferred on none who were not well known in the republic of letters, as men capable of promoting the truly noble designs of that learned body. He lived afterwards in credit and esteem with men of wit and learning, and received various favours from the court, in consideration of the past, and to instigate him to other services; which, however, drew upon him some very severe attacks from those who opposed the court. Anthony Wood has preserved some of their coarsest imputations, for what reason is not very obvious, as Wood is in general very partial to the loyalist writers. He died in Westminster, December 4, 1679, and was interred at St. Martin’s in the Fields, leaving to his executors, sir Richard Mason, and sir Muddiford Bamston, a large and curious collection of pamphlets on all subjects.