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PART I.

LIFE OF MILTON.

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FAMILY names, as it is well known, not only in this country, but throughout all Europe, are in numerous instances derived from those of places. In every county of England are still to be found—and the cases were far more numerous in former days—families bearing the same names with its towns, villages, and hamlets. This however gives no indication of their original social position. It only shows that at one time they dwelt in or came from that place, and the name was given alike to the homeless vagrant and the lord of the manor. In the sixteenth century a family which had derived its name of Milton from a town of that namet (the con

* See Note A. at the end of this Part.

+ There are at least twenty places of this name in England. Of these, two are in Oxfordshire, Great Milton, a parish in the hundred of Thame, and Milton, a hamlet in the parish of Adderbury, within a few miles of Banbury. There is also a Milton seven miles south of Abingdon, in the adjoining county of Berks. It is this last that Phillips, the nephew and biographer of Milton, gives as the original seat of

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traction of Middleton) in Oxfordshire, was resident in that county. It had formerly, we are told, been of considerable opulence and importance; but having taken the Lancastrian side in the Wars of the Roses, it had shared in the misfortunes of that party, and been shorn of its wealth and consequence,—the landed property having been confiscated, and the then proprietor left with nothing but what he held in right of his wife. We hear nothing more of the fortunes of the Milton family till the latter half of the sixteenth century, when we find John Milton holding the office of under-ranger of the royal forest of Shotover, in the vicinity of the city of Oxford.” He was, it appears, a rigid professor of the doctrines of the lately dominant superstition; and when his son, of the same name as himself, whom he had sent to the College of Christ Church in the adjacent University, had there learned and embraced the Reformed doctrines, he disinherited him, and there is no account of his ever having again taken him into favour; nor is the circumstance very likely, such was the spirit of religious rancour, we may add religious fervour and sincerity, which prevailed in those times.t John Milton the younger was thus at an early age thrown, we may suppose, entirely on his own resources. It is not unlikely that the profession of the law had been his original destination; and now, probably seeing these higher prospects blighted, and being a young man of

the family; which he said was proved by the monuments to be seen in the church of that place. No such monuments however were to be seen when Newton sought for them. Wood said the family was from Great Milton. * Aubrey says he resided at Holton, which is six miles to the east of Oxford, Shotover lying between them. + See Note B. at the end of this Part.

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