The son of the Rev. Thomas Cleveland, vicar of Hinckley (1620–52), Cleveland was born in Loughborough, and educated at Hinckley Grammar School. Admitted to Christ's College, Cambridge, he graduated BA in 1632 and became a fellow of St John's College in 1634, where he became a college tutor and lecturer on rhetoric.
A staunch Royalist, Cleveland opposed the election of Oliver Cromwell as member for Cambridge in the Long Parliament, and lost his college post as a result in 1645. He then joined Charles I, by whom he was welcomed, and was appointed to the office of Judge Advocate at Newark.
In 1646, however, he lost this office, and wandered about the country dependent on the bounty of other Royalists. In 1655 he was imprisoned at Great Yarmouth, but released by Cromwell, to whom he appealed, and went to London, where he lived till his death. For his letter to Cromwell, see May it please yr Highnesse (1657) or Cleaveland's petition to His Highnesse the Lord Protector [sic]
Poems and other works
Cleveland's poems first appeared in The Character of a London Diurnal (1647) and thereafter in some 20 other collections. His real achievement lay in his political, satirical poems, written mainly in heroic couplets. He has been called "both a detached, intellectual, 'metaphysical' poet" and "a committed satirist".
Cleveland also wrote Royalist news books such as Mercurius Pragmaticus (for King Charles II), which appeared after the [[Execution of Charles I). He was particularly interested in the 14th-century Wat Tyler rebellion against Richard II (cf. The idol of the clownes, or, Insurrection of Wat The Tyler (1654) and The Rebellion of the Rude Multitude under Wat Tyler and his priests Baal and Straw(1660)).
- "Cleveland, John (CLVT627J)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
- "John Cleveland". Encyclopædia Britannica. 18 November 2011. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
- Kastan, David Scott (2006). The Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature. Oxford University Press. p. 22. ISBN 978-0-19-516921-8.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Cousin, John William (1910). "Cleveland, John". A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature. London: J. M. Dent & Sons – via Wikisource.
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