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The stock of the Fords, however, is known to have been highly respectable: they appear to have settled at an early period in the north-west of Devonshire, and to have possessed considerable property in the contiguous parishes of Ashburton, Ilsington, &c.
From an extract of the Baptismal Register of Ilsington, it appears that John (our author) was baptized there on the 17th April, 1586; and as he became a member of the Middle Temple, November 16, 1602, he could scarcely have spent more than a term or two (if any) at either of the Universities: there was, however, more than one grammarschool in the immediate vicinity of his birthplace, fully competent to convey all the classical learning which he ever possessed, and of which, to say the truth, he was sufficiently ostentatious in his earliest work, though he became more reserved when age and experience had enabled him to compare his attainments with those of his contemporaries.
It appears from Rymer's Foedera,” that the father of our poet was in the commission of the peace. Whether this honourable situation was procured for him by the interest of his wife's father, the famous Lord Chief Justice Popham, cannot be told; it may, however, be reasonably surmised, that his connexion with one of the first law-officers of the crown led to the course of studies subsequently pursued by both branches of the family. Popham was made attorney-general in 1581; and in 1592 he was advanced to the rank of chief justice of the King's Bench, which he held for many years; so that his patronage, which must have been consider
* Tome xviii. p. 575. *