Heath, James (1629-1664) (DNB00)

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HEATH, JAMES (1629–1664), historian, son of Robert Heath, the king's cutler, who lived in the Strand, was born in London in 1629, and educated in Westminster School. He entered Christ Church, Oxford, in 1646, and was deprived of his studentship in 1648 by the parliamentarian visitors. In March 1649 he was at the Hague at the court of Charles II (Chronicle, ed. 1663, p. 420). Living afterwards on his patrimony, he adhered to Charles II in his exile until it was almost spent, and then married. He was therefore unable to claim his student's place in 1660. To support his family he wrote and corrected for the press. Heath died on 16 Aug. 1664, at Well Close, near the Lame Hospital in St. Bartholomew's parish, and was buried near the screen of the church of that parish, leaving several children and some unpublished manuscripts. ‘He was a good school scholar, and had command of an English and Latin pen, but wanted a head for a chronologer, and was esteemed by some a tolerable poet’ (Wood).

Heath's chief work is ‘A Brief Chronicle of the late Intestine War in the three Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland,’ 1661, afterwards enlarged and completed from 1637–1663, in 4 parts, 1663. Another edition is continued by J. Philipps, Milton's nephew, to 1675 (published London, 1676), and another to 1691. ‘Some copies have in them the pictures of the most eminent soldiers in the said war, which makes the book valued the more by some novices. But this chronicle being mostly compiled from lying pamphlets and all sorts of news-books, there are innumerable errors therein, especially as to name and time, things chiefly required in history’ (ib.) Heath is extremely biassed, and states hardly any facts on his own authority. Nevertheless the details he collects from the newspapers of the period give his chronicle a certain usefulness, especially for the period of the republic.

His other works are: 1. ‘Elegy on Dr. Thomas Fuller’ [q. v.], 1661. 2. ‘An Essay to the Celebration of the Anniversary Day of his Majestie's Birth and Restitution,’ London, 1662; in verse. 3. ‘An Elegy upon the most lamented Death of the late Dr. J. Gauden’ [q. v.], London 1662; a single folio sheet. 4. ‘The Glories and Magnificent Triumphs of the Blessed Restitution of King Charles II, from his Arrival in Holland till this present,’ 1662. 5. ‘Flagellum; or the Life and Death, Birth and Burial of Oliver Cromwell, the late Usurper’ (Carlyle calls him ‘Carrion Heath,’ and adds that he is a ‘dreadfully dull individual,’ Life of Cromwell, chap. ii.), 1663; 3rd edit. 1665; 4th, with print of Cromwell, 1669; other editions, 1672, 1679. 6. ‘Elegy (with Epitaph) on the much lamented Death of Dr. Sanderson, late Lord Bishop of Lincoln,’ 1663. 7. ‘A new Book of Loyal English Martyrs and Confessors,’ 1663. 8. ‘Brief but exact Survey of the Affairs of the United Netherlands,’ no date. 9. ‘England's Chronicle of Lives and Reigns of the Kings and Queens, from Julius Cæsar to William and Mary,’ 1689; 2nd edit. 1691. He was perhaps the author of verses prefixed to ‘The Art of Longevity,’ by Edmund Gayton [q. v.] (see Wood, Athenæ Oxon. iii. 757).

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, 1813, iii. 663, iv. 765; List of the Queen's Scholars of Westminster, pp. 125, 127; Walker's Sufferings, ii. 109; Watt's Bibl. Brit. 1824, p. 479; Hazlitt's Collections, 2nd ser. 1882 p. 274, 3rd ser. 1887 p. 107; Lowndes's Bibliog. Manual, 1859, ii. 1029.]

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