Online Encyclopedia

SIR CHARLES SEDLEY (c. 1639-1701)

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Originally appearing in Volume V24, Page 579 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SIR CHARLES SEDLEY (c. 1639-1701)  ,
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English wit and dramatist, was born about 1639, and was the son of
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Sir John Sedley of
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Aylesford in Kent . He was educated at Wadham College, Oxford, but
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left without taking a degree . Sedley is famous as a
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patron of literature in the Restoration period, and was the " Lisideius " of Dryden's Essay of Dramatic Poesy . His most famous
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song, " Phyllis is my only joy," is much more widely known now than the author's name . His first
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comedy, The Mulberry Garden (1668), hardly sustains Sedley's contemporary reputation for wit in conversation . The best, but most licentious, of his comedies is Bellamira; or The
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Mistress (1687), an imitation of the Eunuchus of
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Terence, in which the heroine is supposed to represent the duchess of Cleveland, the mistress of Charles II . His two tragedies, Antony and
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Cleopatra (1667) and The Tyrant King of Crete (1702), an adaptation of Henry Killigrew's Pallantus and Eudora, have little merit . He also produced The Grumbler (1702), an adaptation of Le Grondeur of Brueys and Palaprat . An indecent frolic in Bow Street, for which he was heavily fined, made Sedley notorious . He was member of parliament for New Romney in Kent, and took an active and useful
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part in politics . A speech of his on the
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civil list after the Revolution is cited by Macaulay as a proof that his reputation as a man of wit and ability was deserved . His bon mot at the expense of James II. is well known .

The king had seduced his daughter and created her countess of

Dorchester, whereupon Sedley remarked that he hated ingratitude, and, as the king had made his daughter a countess, he would endeavour to make the king's daughter a queen . He died on the loth of August 1701 . His only child, CATHERINE, countess of Dorchester (c . 1657-1717), was the mistress of James II. both before and after he came to the
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throne, and was created a countess in 1686, an
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elevation which aroused much indignation and compelled Catherine to reside for a time in Ireland . In 1696 she married Sir David Colyear, Bart . (d . 1730), who was created
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earl of Portmore in 1703, and she was thus the
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mother of Charles Colyear, 2nd earl of Portmore (1700-1785) . She died at Bath on the 26th of
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October 1717, when her
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life peerage became
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extinct . By James II . Lady Dorchester had a daughter Catherine (d . 1743), who married James Annesley, earl of Anglesey (d . 1702), and after his
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death married John Sheffield, duke of Buckingham .

Through Catherine, her daughter by her first

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husband, she was the ancestress of the Barons Mulgrave . See The
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Works of Sir Charles Sedley in
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Prose and Verse (1778), with a slight
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notice of the author .

End of Article: SIR CHARLES SEDLEY (c. 1639-1701)
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