Biography Giles Fletcher Senior

Giles Fletcher Senior

photo of Giles Fletcher Senior
  • Time Period1548 - 1611
  • Place

Poet Biography

English author, son of Richard Fletcher, vicar of Cranbrook, Kent, and father of the poets Phineas and Giles Fletcher, was born in 1548.
He was educated at Eton and at King’s College, Cambridge, taking his B.A. degree in 1569. He was a fellow of his college, and was made LL.D. 1581. In 1558 he had married Joan’Sheafe of Cranbrook. In that year he was commissary to Dr Bridgwater, chancellor of Ely, and in 1585 he sat in parliament 1o1 Winchelsea.
He was employed on diplomatic service in Scotland Germany and Holland,, and in 1588 was sent to Russia to the court of the czar Theodore with instructions to conclude an alliance between England and Russia, to restore English trade, and to obtain better conditions for the English Russia Company. The factor of the company, Jerome, Horsey, had already obtained large concessions through , the favour of the protector, Jonris Gojunov, but when Dr Fletcher reached Moscow in 1558 he found that Godunov’s interest was alienated, and that the Russian government was contemplating an alliance with Spain.
He returaed to, England in 1589 in company with Jerome Horsey, and in 1590 he published Of the Russe Commonwealth, Or Maner of Government by the Russe Einperour (commonly called The Emperour of Moskovia) with the manners and fashions of the people of that Country.
In this comprehensive account of Russian geography, government, law, methods of warfare, church and manners, Fletcher, who states that he began to arrange his material during the return journey, doubtless received some assistance from the ‘longer experience of his travelling companion, who also wrote a narrative of his travels).
The Russia Company feared that the freedom of Fletcher’s criticisms would give offence to the Muscovite authorities, and accordingly damage their trade. The book was consequently suppressed, and was not reprinted in its entirety until 1856, when it was edited from a copy of the original edition for the Hakluyt Society, with an introduction by Mr Edward A. Bond.

Fletcher was appointed “Remembrancer” to the city of London, and an extraordinary master of requests in 1596, and became treasurer of St Paul’s in. 1597. He contemplated a history of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and in a letter to Lord Burghley he suggested that it might be well to begin with an account from the Protestant side of the marriage of Henry VIII. and Ann Boleyn, But personal difficulties prevented the execution of this plan.
He had become security to the exchequer for the debts of his brother, Richard Fletcher, bishop of London, who died in 1596, and was only then saved from imprisonment by the protection of the earl of Essex. He was actually in prison. in 1601, when. he addressed a somewhat ambiguous letter to Burghley from which it may be gathered that his prime offence had been an allusion to Essex’s disgrace as being the work of Sir Walter Raleigh.
Fletcher was employed in 1610 to negotiate with Denmark, on behalf of the “Eastland Merchants,” and he died next year, and was buried on the 11th of March In the parish, of St Catherine Colman, London

Fletcher also wrote Dc literis antiquae Brüanniae (ed. by Phineas Fletcher, 1633), a treatise on “ The Tartars,” printed in Israel Redux (1677), tO prove that they were the ten lost tribes of Israel. Latin poems published in various miscellanies, and Licia, or Poeifies of Love in Honour of the admirable and singular venues of his Lady, to the imitation of the best Latin Poets. . . whereunto is added the Rising to the Crowne of Richard the third, (1593). This series of love sonnets, followed by some other poems, was published anonymously.
Most critics, with the notable exception of Alexander Dyce (Beaumont and Fletcher, Works, i. p. xvi., 1843) have accepted it as the work of Dr Giles Fletcher on the evidence afforded in the first of the Piscatory Eclogue-s of his son Phineas, who represents his father (Thelgon), as having “raised his rime to sing of Richard’s climbing.”