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Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 11 (Revised), Court Officers, 1660-1837. Originally published by University of London, London, 2006.

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Poet Laureate 1660–1837

The poet laureate was expected to produce annual odes in praise of the Sovereign for his birthday and New Years' Day as well as other, similar panegyrics as occasion demanded. This office appears originally to have been in the gift of the Crown which made appointments by letters patent under the great seal granting the office during pleasure. (fn. 1) During the tenure of John Dryden and Thomas Shadwell (1668–92) the office was combined with that of historiographer. Thereafter the two offices were held separately. Nahum Tate was the last holder of the office to be appointed by letters patent; subsequent appointments were made by lord chamberlain's warrant. The salary, fixed at £200 in 1670, was reduced to £100 in 1692. In addition, the poet laureate was allowed an annual butt of sack or £30 in lieu thereof (fn. 2)

1660 Davenant, Sir W.
1668 22 Apr. Dryden, J. (and Historiographer from 1670)
1689 29 Aug. Shadwell, T.
1692 23 Dec. Tate, N.
1715 1 Aug. Rowe, N.
1718 10 Dec. Eusden, L.
1730 3 Dec. Cibber, C.
1757 19 Dec. Whitehead, W.
1785 Apr. Warton, T.
1790 July Pye, H.J.
1813 12 Aug. Southey, R.


  • 1. For some account of this office, see W. Hamilton, 'The origin of the office of Poet Laureate', Transactions of the Royal Historical Society o.s. VIII (1880), 20–35.
  • 2. C 66/3119, letters patent to Dryden 18 Aug. 1670; C 66/3356, letters patent to Tate 23 Dec. 1692; LC 3/20.