|Admin History||The poet, John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester, was born in 1647, the son of Henry Wilmot, who was made 1st Earl of Rochester for his royalist services. Wilmot was educated at Wadham College, Oxford (MA, 1661) and the University of Padua. He married Elizabeth Mallet in January 1667 and took up his seat in the House of Lords in the following July. As a member of the court of King Charles II, Rochester was in March 1667 made the King's Gentleman of the Bedchamber. One of the best-known of the libertine set linked with the Restoration court, he was notorious for his rakish life as well as his literary output. He died in 1680 aged only 33, allegedly of syphilis.|
Banished at one point from the court, because of a lampoon which angered the king, Rochester set himself up for a period as 'Doctor Bendo' at Tower Hill in London.
Rochester wrote extensively, particularly in the form of satirical verse. During his lifetime his work circulated in manuscript, generally anonymously; few of his poems or songs were published under his name until after his death. His works include: 'Tunbridge Wells' (1675), 'The History of Inspids' (1676), 'A Trial of the Poets for the Bays' (1677), and 'Rochester's Farewell' (1680).
Thomas Alcock is shown from internal evidence to be formerly a servant of Wilmot, living in December 1687 at Shirehampton, a village near Bristol. Vivian de Sola Pinto, who edited the manuscript, identified a chalk drawing in the Ashmolean Museum by Samuel Cooper as a portrait of Thomas Alcock. According to Alcock's inscription on the picture, the portrait was drawn when he was eighteen at the Earl of Westmorland's house at Apethorpe, Northamptonshire. Alcock signs his inscription, 'preceptor', leading Pinto to conclude that he may have been employed by Rochester as a teacher for his children. Pinto's edition includes further conjectures about Alcock's history.
|Custodial History||The manuscript volume described here was purchased by The University of Nottingham in January 1949. Previous ownership evidence includes reference to Gerald P. Mander of Tettenhall Wood, Staffordshire. It can be identified as 17730 in the Phillips Collection.|
|Description||The manuscript comprises a copy of the Earl of Rochester's text 'Alexander Bendo's Bill', together with a dedicatory epistle by Thomas Alcock, addressed to Lady Ann Baynton, the daughter of Rochester. 'Bendo's Bill' takes the form of an advertisement for the doctor's practice, referring to the episode when Rochester established himself as an Italian quack doctor in the City of London. Apart from his letters and a short fragment of comedy, this is Wilmot's only surviving prose work.|
Vivian de Sola Pinto, Professor of English at the University of Nottingham, edited the manuscript for publication. It appeared in 1961 under the title The Famous Pathologist or the Noble Mountebank, as the first issue of the 'Nottingham University Miscellany'.