Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Ocland, Christopher

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OCLAND, CHRISTOPHER (d. 1590?), Latin poet and controversialist, was a native of Buckinghamshire, and is conjectured by Joseph Hunter to be identical with the Okeland who contributed to the anthems in a music-book printed by John Day in 1565. It is certain that in January 1571–2 he was elected master of the grammar school founded by Queen Elizabeth in the parish of St. Olave, Southwark, but it is not clear that he entered on the office. Subsequently he became master of the grammar school at Cheltenham, which was also of royal foundation. The publication in 1580 of his ‘Anglorum Prælia,’ a Latin historical poem, brought him into public notice, as it was appointed by Queen Elizabeth and her privy council to be received and taught in every grammar and free school within the kingdom, ‘for the remouing of such lasciuious poets as are commonly reade and taught in the saide grammer schooles’ (Ames, Typogr. Antiq. ed. Herbert, ii. 910 n.) The author, however, went unrewarded, and in December 1582 he petitioned Secretary Walsingham for an alms-knight's room then void in the college of Windsor (Cal. State Papers, Dom. Eliz. 1581–90, p. 80). In September 1589 he was residing at the sign of the George in the parish of Whitechapel, and was suffering great poverty. On 13 Oct. 1590 he wrote to Lord Burghley, asking to be relieved in his distress. He humbly desired that her majesty might give him a prebend or benefice—so that he was probably in holy orders—and he added: ‘I never had any thing at her graces hands for all my bookes heretofore made of her Hieghnes.’ In the same letter he mentioned that he had just received tidings that one Hurdes, a serjeant of London, who cast him in the counter at Christmas, 1589, had a capias utlagatum out for him; and he complained that he had been condemned to pay 40l. although he owed Hurdes only 5l. He stated that his wife had been paralysed for upwards of three years, and that her malady became worse daily on account of the malady of her sons. Incidentally he remarked that he had an only daughter, and in conclusion he wrote: ‘I teach schole at Grenewych, where my labor wyll not fynde me bread and drynck.’ Probably he died soon afterwards. Among the petitions presented to Charles, prince of Wales, is one from his daughter, Jane Ocland, dated 14 Jan. 1617, setting forth that she was in distress. She received a gift of 22s.

Bishop Hall alludes to Ocland in his ‘Satires’ (bk. iv. Sat. 3):

Or cite old Ocland's verse, how they did wield
The wars in Turwin, or in Turney field

His works are: 1. ‘Anglorum Prælia, Ab Anno Domini 1327, Anno nimirum primo inclytiss. Principis Eduardi eius nominis tertii, vsque ad annum Do. 1558, Carmine summatim perstricta,’ London (R. Neuberie), 1580, 4to, without pagination; dedicated to Queen Elizabeth. A copy of the rare first edition is preserved in the Grenville Library. The work is an hexameter poem, versified from the chronicles ‘in a tame strain, not exceedingly bad, but still farther from good’ (Hallam, Literature of Europe, 1854, ii. 148). A second edition appeared at London, 1582, 8vo, with the addition of Ocland's ‘Εἰρηναρχία,’ and of Alexander Neville's Latin poem on Kett's rebellion. 2. ‘Εἰρηναρχία siue Elisabetha. De pacatissimo Angliæ statu, imperante Elizabetha, compendiosa narratio. Huc accedit illustrissimorum virorum, qui aut iam mortui fuerunt, aut hodie sunt Elisabethæ Reginæ à consiliis, perbreuis Catalogus,’ London, 1582, 8vo; dedicated in hexameters to Mildred, lady Burghley. A translation into English by ‘Iohn Sharrock’ appeared under the title of ‘Elizabeth Queene,’ black letter, London (R. Waldegrave), 1585, 4to. The copy of this translation, preserved in the Grenville Library, is believed to be unique. There afterwards appeared in English verse, ‘The Pope's Farwel; or Queen Ann's Dream. Containing a True Prognostick of her own Death. … Written originally in Latine Verse by Mr. Christopher Ocland, and printed in the Year 1582. Together with some few Remarques upon the late Plot, or Non-Con-Conspiracy’ [London, 1680?], 4to. 3. ‘Elizabetheis, siue de Pacatissimo et Florentissimo Angliæ Statu sub Fœlicissimo Augustissimæ Reginæ Elizabethæ Imperio. Liber secundus. In quo præter cetera, Hispanicæ classis profligatio, Papisticarumque molitionum & consiliorum hostilium mira subversio, bona fide explicantur,’ in verse, London (T. Orwin), 1589, 4to. 4. ‘The Fountaine and Welspring of all Variance, Sedition, and deadlie Hate. Wherein is declared at large the Opinion of the famous Diuine Hipcrius and the consent of the Doctors from S. Peter the Apostle his Time and the Primitiue Church in order to this Age: expressly set downe, that Rome in Italie is signified and noted by the name of Babylon, mentioned in the 14. 17. and 18 Chapters of the Reuelation of S. Iohn,’ London (R. Ward), 1589, 4to. Dedicated to the Earls of Huntingdon and Warwick.

[Addit. MSS. 5877 f. 108, 24493 f. 185; Ames's Typogr. Antiq. (Herbert), pp. 909–911, 1809; Brydges's Cens. Lit. ix. 42; Ellis's Letters of Eminent Literary Men, p. 65; Haslewood's Ancient Critical Essays, ii. 150, 312; Lansdowne MSS. 65 art. 55, 99 art. 12, 161 f. 4; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. (Bohn), p. 1716; Manning and Bray's Surrey, iii. 654; Strype's Annals, iii. 155, 598, iv. 269.]

T. C.