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Sir Thomas Overbury

Sir Thomas Overbury

Birth
Ilmington, Stratford-on-Avon District, Warwickshire, England
Death 15 Sep 1613 (aged 32)
Tower Hamlets, London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Greater London, England
Burial London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Greater London, England
Memorial ID 6851 · View Source
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Poet. Born at Compton Scorpion in Warwickshire, the son of Nicholas Overbury, of Bourton-on-the-Hill. In 1595 he became a gentleman commoner of Queen's College, Oxford, and took his degree in 1598. He secured a position of servitor-in-ordinary to James I and was knighted in June 1608 along with his great friend, Robert Carr. By 1611, Overbury involved himself in his friend Carr's affairs when that gentleman apparently fell for Frances Howard, the notorious Countess of Essex whom Overbury called a ‘filthy, base woman.' Overbury's objections to the lady became known to her when he circulated his forty-seven stanza poem ‘A Wife' which enumerated the virtues necessary in a woman which were apparently lacking in the Countess. An implacable enemy, the Countess conspired with others who managed to convince Overbury to reject the offer of the Russian Embassy from the King. James I considered this action a near treasonous insult and committed Overbury to the Tower. The Countess then contrived to remove the Governor of the Tower and replace him with her own man who worked in concert with a pair of apothecaries and an intermediary. The cabal than administered a stew of poisons including rosalger, sublimate of mercury, white arsenic, and copper vitriol to Overbury in his food over a four or five month period. Overbury lingered in great pain until September 1613 when he died in agony. Initially, the cause of his death was thought to be syphilis, due to the excessive blistering on his skin. Two months after Overbury's death Carr, now Earl of Somerset, married the Countess. Within a year, suspicion about Overbury's convenient death grew and the Somersets found themselves on trial during which evidence of the plot was uncovered. All participants were sentenced to death; a sentence carried out on all save the Somersets for whom it was commuted. Following five years in the Tower, they remained within the grounds of a country house until pardoned by the King. Pardon was granted after four years. Overbury's poem, ‘A Wife', was published during his murder trial, capitalizing of the sensationalism of the case, and ran through six editions within a year. It eventually became one of the most popular printings of the century. His works also include ‘Characters,' ‘The Remedy of Love,' and the essay ‘Observations in Foreign Travels.'

Bio by: Iola


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 7 Nov 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 6851
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Sir Thomas Overbury (18 Jun 1581–15 Sep 1613), Find A Grave Memorial no. 6851, citing Chapel of Saint Peter-ad-Vincula, London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Greater London, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .