Queer Places:
All Saints Churchyard Spelsbury, West Oxfordshire District, Oxfordshire, England

Image result for John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of RochesterJohn Wilmot (1 April 1647 – 26 July 1680) was an English poet and courtier of King Charles II's Restoration court. The Restoration reacted against the "spiritual authoritarianism" of the Puritan era.[3] Rochester was the embodiment of the new era, and he is as well known for his rakish lifestyle as his poetry, although the two were often interlinked.[3] He died at the age of 33 from venereal disease.

Rochester's contemporary Andrew Marvell described him as "the best English satirist," and he is generally considered to be the most considerable poet and the most learned among the Restoration wits.[4] His poetry, despite being widely censored during the Victorian era, enjoyed a revival from the 1920s onwards, with notable champions including Graham Greene and Ezra Pound.[5] The critic Vivian de Sola Pinto linked Rochester's libertinism to Hobbesian materialism.[5] During his lifetime, he was best known for A Satyr Against Reason and Mankind, and it remains among his best known works today.

By the age of 33, Rochester was dying, from what is usually described as the effects of syphilis, gonorrhea, or other venereal diseases, combined with the effects of alcoholism. Carol Richards has disputed this, arguing that it is more likely that he died of renal failure due to chronic nephritis as a result of suffering from Bright's disease.[25] His mother had him attended in his final weeks by her religious associates, particularly Gilbert Burnet, later Bishop of Salisbury.

After hearing of Burnet's departure from his side, Rochester muttered his last words: "Has my friend left me? then I shall die shortly." In the early morning of 26 July 1680, Rochester died "without a shudder or a sound".[26] He was buried at Spelsbury church in Oxfordshire.

A deathbed renunciation of libertinism and conversion to Anglican Christianity, Some Passages of the Life and Death of the Honourable John Wilmot Earl of Rochester, was published by Reverend Burnet.[27] Because this account appears in Burnet's own writings, its accuracy has been disputed by some scholars, who accuse Burnet with having shaped the account of Rochester's denunciation of libertinism to enhance his own reputation. On the other hand Graham Greene, in his biography of Wilmot, calls Burnet's book "convincing". [28]


  1. Christopher Hill reviews 'The Letters of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester' edited by Jeremy Treglown · LRB 20 November 1980
  2. John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (2013). Selected Poems. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-164580-8.
  3. Paul Davis, ed. (2013). Selected Poems: John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-164580-8.
  4. http://cerisia.cerosia.org/articles/251/Longman%20Anthology%20Instructors%20Manual/Restoration/76-JohnWilmot_IM.pdf
  5. "A Martyr to Sin". The New York Times.
  6. James William Johnson (2004). A Profane Wit: The Life Of John Wilmot, Earl Of Rochester. University Rochester Press. p. 19. ISBN 978-1-58046-170-2.
  7. James William Johnson (2004). A Profane Wit: The Life Of John Wilmot, Earl Of Rochester. University Rochester Press. p. 29. ISBN 978-1-58046-170-2.
  8. Frank H. Ellis, "Wilmot, John, second earl of Rochester (1647–1680)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 accessed 12 July 2012
  9. Johnson, James William (2004). A Profane Wit: The Life of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester. University Rochester Press. p. 56. ISBN 978-1-58046-170-2.
  10. Treglown, Jeremy. "Rochester and the second bottle." Times Literary Supplement [London, England] 10 Sept. 1993: 5. Times Literary Supplement Historical Archive. Web. 11 Dec. 2012.
  11. https://archive.org/details/letterswrittento00balf
  12. Diary of Samuel Pepys — Complete 1665 N.S. at Project Gutenberg Samuel Pepys, entry for 26 May 1665, Diary of Samuel Pepys May 28, 1665. Accessed May 5, 2007
  13. Gilbert Burnet; Samuel Johnson; Robert Parsons (1782). Some passages in the life and death of John Earl of Rochester, written by his own direction on his death-bed ...: with a sermon, preached, at the funeral of the said Earl, by the Rev. Robert Parsons. T. Davies. p. 6.
  14. Frank H. Ellis, "Wilmot, John, second earl of Rochester (1647–1680)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 accessed 4 April 2013
  15. Johnson, James William (2004). A Profane Wit: The Life of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester. University Rochester Press. p. 85. ISBN 978-1-58046-170-2.
  16. Ballantyne, Iain; Eastland, Jonathan (2005). Warships of the Royal Navy: HMS Victory. Barnsley, Yorkshire: Pen and Sword Maritime. p. 28. ISBN 1844152936.
  17. Johnson, James William (2004). A Profane Wit: The Life of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester. University Rochester Press. p. 88. ISBN 978-1-58046-170-2.
  18. Notes and Queries (2011) 58 (3): 381–386. doi: 10.1093/notesj/gjr109
  19. Johnson, James William (2004). A Profane Wit: The Life of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester. University Rochester Press. p. 98. ISBN 978-1-58046-170-2.
  20. Google books Charles Beauclerk, Nell Gwyn: Mistress to a King (New York: Grove, 2005), 272.
  21. Wilmot, John (2002). The Debt to Pleasure. New York: Routledge. p. 14. ISBN 0-415-94084-2.
  22. Johnson, Profane Wit, 250-53
  23. Timbs, John. Doctors and patients, or, Anecdotes of the Medical World and Curiosities of Medicine. London: Richard Bentley and Son (1876), p.151.
  24. Alcock, Thomas. "Epistle Dedicatory" to Lord Rochester, The Famous Pathologist or The Noble Mountebank. Ed. and introd. Vivian de Sola Pinto. Nottingham: Sisson and Parker Ltd. (1961), pp. 35-38
  25. Richards, Carol (2011). Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness:the Life of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester.
  26. Johnson, Profane Wit, 327-43
  27. Norton, D. A History of the English Bible as Literature Cambridge 2000 pp172-3 ISBN 0521778077
  28. Greene, Graham (1974). Lord Rochester's Monkey, being the Life of John Wilmot, Second Earl of Rochester. New York: The Bodley Head. p. 208