Melton, John (DNB00)

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MELTON, Sir JOHN (d. 1640), politician and author, son of Evan Melton, came of a Yorkshire family, and may have been connected with the Meltons of Aston, though the direct line became extinct with Dorothy, only daughter and heiress of Sir John Melton, who died about 1545 (see Poulson, Holderness, ii. 199; Hunter, South Yorkshire, i. 162; Baker, Northamptonshire, i. 672; and Collectanea Topographica, passim). Melton was reading law in chambers in 1609 when he published his ‘Sixefolde Politician.’ In 1616 he contributed commendatory verses to the ‘Descriptions’ by William Fennor, and in 1620 published his ‘Astrologaster.’ He was knighted at Whitehall on 4 Nov. 1632. He appears to have increased his means by trading extensively in saltpetre and coal (see Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1631–3 pp. 109, 183, and 1638–9 p. 397), and became a personage of some importance. There is a letter from him to James Hay, first earl of Carlisle [q. v.], dated 2 Dec. 1633, preserved in Egerton MS. 2597, f. 166, and another to the Earl of Strafford, dated 4 May 1635, advising him to use his influence to procure the summons of a parliament (Strafford Letters, i. 418). In the latter year he was secretary to the council of the north, with an annual salary of 33l. 6s. 8d. In 1640 he was elected M.P. for Newcastle-on-Tyne, but a petition was lodged against his return, and before it was decided Melton died (Commons' Journals, 17 Dec. 1640; Official Returns of Members of Parliament, i. 491, n. 11). He was buried at Tottenham, and a monument was erected to his memory.

Melton married, apparently in 1634, a lady named Currans, who within the space of twelve months presented him with five children, two sons at the first birth, and at the second, in 1635, two sons and a daughter; the latter event she did not survive (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1635, p. 385).

Melton was author of: 1. ‘A Sixefolde Politician … together with a Sixefolde Precept of Policy,’ 1609, 8vo. This book contains commendatory lines by John Davis, and has been frequently assigned to John Milton's father, but on insufficient grounds; a pun in the first line of the introductory verses would lose its point if the author's name were Milton, not Melton. 2. ‘Astrologaster, or the Figure-Caster; rather the Arraignment of Artlesse Astrologers and Fortune-tellers,’ 1620, 4to; it is dedicated to Melton's father, Evan, and contains commendatory verses by ‘John Hancocke, bachelor of arts and student of Brazenose College, Oxford,’ and others by ‘John Malin, master of arts and sometime student of Trinity College in Cambridge.’ Hunter (New Illustr. of Shakespeare, ii. 54) says the ‘Astrologaster is now a very curious book, and in its day was no doubt a very useful book.’ Copies of both works are preserved in the British Museum Library.

[Works in Brit. Mus. Library; Cal. State Papers, passim; Commons' Journals; Strafford Letters; Egerton MS. 2597; Official Returns of Members of Parliament; Cat. Early Printed Books; Brydges's British Bibliographer, i. 531; Joseph Hunter's New Illustr. of Shakespeare, ii. 54, and his Tract on Milton, pp. 11, 13; Cat. Huth Library; Metcalfe's Book of Knights; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. xii. 420, 4th ser. iv. 476; Lowndes's Bibl. Man.]

A. F. P.