A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature, by John W. Cousin


Udall, Nicolas (1505–1556). — Dramatist and scholar, born in Hampshire, and ed. at Oxford In 1534 he became headmaster of Eton, from which he was dismissed for misconduct, 1541. In 1537 he became Vicar of Braintree, in 1551 of Calborne, Isle of Wight, and in 1554 headmaster of Westminster School. He translated part of the Apophthegms of Erasmus, and assisted in making the English version of his Paraphrase of the New Testament. Other translations were Peter Martyr’s Discourse on the Eucharist and Thomas Gemini’s Anatomia, but he is best remembered by Ralph Roister Doister (1553?), the first English comedy, a rude but lively piece.

Underdown, Thomas (fl. 1566–1587). — Translator. He translated the Æthiopian History of Heliodorus 1566; also from Ovid.

Underwood, Francis Henry (1825–1894). — Critic and biographer, born in Massachusetts, was American Consul at Glasgow and Leith. He wrote Hand-books of English Literature, Builders of American Literature, etc., some novels, Lord of Himself, Man Proposes, and Dr. Gray’s Quest, and biographies of Lowell, Longfellow, and Whittier.

Urquhart, Sir Thomas (1611–1660). — Eccentric writer and translator, was ed. at King’s College, Aberdeen, after leaving which he travelled in France, Spain, and Italy. He was bitterly opposed to the Covenanters, and fought against them at Turriff in 1639. His later life was passed between Scotland, England (where he was for some time a prisoner in the Tower), and the Continent, where he lived, 1642–45. A man of considerable ability and learning, his vanity and eccentricity verged upon insanity, and he is said to have died from the effects of an uncontrollable fit of joyful laughter on hearing news of the Restoration. Among his extravagances was a genealogy of his family traced through his father to Adam, and through his mother to Eve, he himself being the 153rd in descent. He published Trissotetras, a work on trigonometry (1645), an invective against the Presbyterians (1652), a scheme for a universal language, Logopandecteision (1653), and a partial translation of Rabelais (1653), a further portion being published in 1693. In the last he was assisted by Peter Anthony Motteux, a Frenchman who had established himself in England, who continued the work.

Usk, Thomas (died 1388). — Poet, born in London, was secretary to John of Northampton, the Wyclifite Lord Mayor of London, whom he betrayed to save himself, in which, however, he failed, being executed in 1388. During his imprisonment, which lasted from 1384 until his death, he composed The Testament of Love, a didactic poem long attributed to Chaucer.

Ussher, James (1581–1656). — Divine and scholar, born in Dublin, the son of a lawyer there, and ed. at Trinity College, took orders, and became Chancellor of St. Patrick’s, Dublin, 1605, and Prof. of Divinity, 1607–21. On the Irish clergy, in 1715, deciding to assert themselves as an independent church, U. had the main hand in drawing up the constitution, certain features of which led to the suspicion of his being in favour of Puritanism. To defend himself he went in 1619 to England, and had a conference with the King (James I.), in which he so completely succeeded that he was in 1621 made Bishop of Meath, and four years later Archbishop of Armagh. He constantly used his influence in favour of reform, and endeavoured to introduce such modifications of Episcopacy as would conciliate and comprehend the Presbyterians. During the troubles which led to the Civil War U. maintained the unlawfulness of taking up arms against the King. The Rebellion in Ireland in 1641 drove him away, and he settled first at Oxford, but ultimately at the house of Lady Peterborough at Reigate, where he died in 1656. His works dealt chiefly with ecclesiastical antiquities and chronology, his magnum opus being Annales, a chronology of the world from the creation to the dispersion of the Jews in the reign of Vespasian, a work which gained him great reputation on the Continent as well as at home. The date of the creation was fixed as 4004 B.C., which was long universally received. It has, of course, been altogether superseded, alike by the discovery of ancient records, and by geology.


Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:53