Men of Kent and Kentishmen/Sir John Mennes

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Sir John Mennes,


This "great traveller and noted seaman," as Wood calls him, belonged to an old family settled at Sandwich, where he was born 11th May, 1598. He was educated at the free school there, and at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. In the reign of James I. he was made Comptroller of the navy. In the time of the Civil War he adhered to the royal cause, and served both on land and sea, being in 1641 made a vice-admiral and knighted at Dover. After the fall of the king he joined Prince Rupert, harassing the king's enemies by sea and taking part in the Kentish insurrection in 1668, but finally joined Charles II. in his exile. At the Restoration he was made Governor of Dover Castle and chief Comptroller of the navy, appointments which he held to his death in 1671. "He was accounted by all who knew him an honest and strict man, generous and religious, and well skilled in physic and chymistry." He was the author of a poem entitled "Epsom Wells," and of a greater part of a book entitled "Musarum Deliciæ." He is also said to have assisted Sir John Suckling in the composition of some of his poetry, and to have been the author of the scoffing poem on that knight, entitled "Sir John Suckling's Campaign," and beginning:—

Sir John he got him an ambling nag,
 To Scotland for to ride-a,

to be seen in Percy's "Reliques of Ancient Poetry."

[See "Wood's Athenæ Oxon." by Bliss, "Brydge's Censura Literaria."]