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LIFE OF MILTON.
IT is agreed among all writers, that the family of Milton came originally from Milton in Oxfordshire; but from which of the Miltons is not altogether so certain. Some say, and particularly Mr. Philips, that the family was of Milton near Abingdon in Oxfordshire, where it had been a long time seated, as appears by the monuments still to be seen in Milton church. But that Milton is not in Oxfordshire, but in Berkshire; and upon enquiry I find, there are no such monuments in that church, nor any remains of them. It is more probable therefore that the family came, as Mr. Wood says, from Milton near Holton and Thame in Oxfordshire: where it flourished several years, till at last the estate was sequestered, one of the family having taken the unfortunate side in the civil wars between the houses of York and Lancaster". John Milton, the poet's grandfather, was, according to Mr. Wood, an under-ranger or keeper of the forest of Shotover,
Dr. Bliss informs me that he searched the Registers of Milton near Thame, and that there are no entries there of any persons of the name of Milton. The Registers go back to the year 1550. It is traditionally believed
in the place, that a large house yet standing there belonged to the family of Milton, but Mr. Ellis, the vicar, could not discover any documents to prove the point. E.
near Holton in Oxfordshire; he was of the religion of Rome, and such a bigot, that he disinherited his son only for being a protestant. Upon this the son, the poet's father, named likewise John Milton, settled in London, and became a scrivener by the advice of a friend eminent in that profession; but he was not so devoted to gain and to business, as to lose all taste of the politer arts, and was particularly skilled in music, in which he was not only a fine performer, but is also celebrated for several pieces of his composition: and yet on the other hand he was not so fond of his music and amusements, as in the least to neglect his business, but by his diligence and economy acquired a competent estate, which enabled him afterwards to retire, and live in the country. He was by all accounts a very worthy man; and married an excellent woman, Sarah of the ancient family of the Bradshaws, says Mr. Wood; but Mr. Philips our author's nephew, who was more likely to know, says, of the family of the Castons, derived originally from Wales. Whoever she was, she is said to have been a woman of incomparable virtue and goodness; and by her her husband had two sons and a daughter.
The elder of the sons was our famous poet, who was born in the year of our Lord 1608, on the 9th of