Manuscript copy made by Thomas Alcock of 'The Famous Pathologist or the NobleMountebank', by John Wilmot (1647-1680), 2nd Earl of Rochester, 1687

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The manuscript comprises a copy of the Earl of Rochester's text 'Alexander Bendo's Bill',together with a dedicatory epistle by Thomas Alcock, addressed to Lady Ann Baynton, the daughter ofRochester. 'Bendo's Bill' takes the form of an advertisement for the doctor's practice, referring tothe episode when Rochester established himself as an Italian quack doctor in the City of London.Apart from his letters and a short fragment of comedy, this is Wilmot's only surviving prosework.

Vivian de Sola Pinto, Professor of English at the University of Nottingham, edited the manuscriptfor publication. It appeared in 1961 under the title The Famous Pathologist or the NobleMountebank, as the first issue of the 'Nottingham University Miscellany'.

Administrative / Biographical History

The poet, John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester, was born in 1647, the son of Henry Wilmot, who wasmade 1st Earl of Rochester for his royalist services. Wilmot was educated at Wadham College, Oxford(MA, 1661) and the University of Padua. He married Elizabeth Mallet in January 1667 and took up hisseat in the House of Lords in the following July. As a member of the court of King Charles II,Rochester was in March 1667 made the King's Gentleman of the Bedchamber. One of the best-known ofthe libertine set linked with the Restoration court, he was notorious for his rakish life as well ashis literary output. He died in 1680 aged only 33, allegedly of syphilis.

Banished at one point from the court, because of a lampoon which angered the king, Rochester sethimself up for a period as 'Doctor Bendo' at Tower Hill in London.

Rochester wrote extensively, particularly in the form of satirical verse. During his lifetime hiswork circulated in manuscript, generally anonymously; few of his poems or songs were published underhis name until after his death. His works include: 'Tunbridge Wells' (1675), 'The History ofInspids' (1676), 'A Trial of the Poets for the Bays' (1677), and 'Rochester's Farewell' (1680).

Thomas Alcock is shown from internal evidence to be formerly a servant of Wilmot, living inDecember 1687 at Shirehampton, a village near Bristol. Vivian de Sola Pinto, who edited themanuscript, identified a chalk drawing in the Ashmolean Museum by Samuel Cooper as a portrait ofThomas Alcock. According to Alcock's inscription on the picture, the portrait was drawn when he waseighteen at the Earl of Westmorland's house at Apethorpe, Northamptonshire. Alcock signs hisinscription, 'preceptor', leading Pinto to conclude that he may have been employed by Rochester as ateacher for his children. Pinto's edition includes further conjectures about Alcock's history.

Arrangement

No archival arrangement has been necessary.

Conditions Governing Access

ACCESS: Accessible to all registered readers.

LANGUAGE: English

Other Finding Aids

This description is the only finding aid available for the manuscript. Copyright on thedescription belongs to The University of Nottingham.

Separated Material

  • Other archive collections containing manuscripts relating to John Wilmot, 2nd Earl Rochester,are recorded on the National Register ofArchives.

Conditions Governing Use

REPROGRAPHIC: Reprographic copies can be supplied for educational use and private study purposesonly, depending on access status and the condition of the documents.

COPYRIGHT: Permission to make published use of this manuscript must be sought in advance inwriting from the Keeper of the Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections (email mss-library@nottingham.ac.uk). The Department willtry to assist in identifying copyright owners but this can be difficult and the responsibility forcopyright clearance before publication ultimately rests with the person wishing to publish.

Custodial History

The manuscript volume described here was purchased by The University of Nottingham in January1949. Previous ownership evidence includes reference to Gerald P. Mander of Tettenhall Wood,Staffordshire. It can be identified as 17730 in the Phillips Collection.

Related Material

  • The University of Nottingham; Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections: Autographpoems of John Wilmot, 2nd Earl Rochester. Reference: Pw V 31-32

Bibliography

T. Alcock and J. Wilmot, The Famous Pathologist, or the Noble Mountebank (Nottingham:Sisson and Parker for The University of Nottingham, 1961)