Thomas Sackville

English politician and poet (1536-1608)

Thomas Sackville, 1st earl of Dorset, (1535/6-1608) was an English playwright, poet, statesman, and the Chancellor of Oxford University. He was the son of Sir Richard Sackville, a member of the court of King Henry VIII of England. He married Cicely Baker in 1555.[1]

Thomas Sackville
Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset by John De Critz the Elder.jpg
Buckhurst, Sussex, England
Died19 April 1608
London, England
Cause of deathStroke
Resting placeWestminster Abbey
Known forPlays and poetry
Notable work
Gorboduc (play)
Induction (poem)
Buckingham's Complaint (poem)

Sackville was a London barrister, and entered Parliament in 1558. He was a member of the Privy Council in 1585. In 1586, he delivered the death sentence to Mary, Queen of Scots. He served on diplomatic missions to The Hague. In 1591, Sackville became Chancellor of the University of Oxford. He served as lord high treasurer, a life appointment, from 1599 to 1608. He died of a stroke.

Sackville is famous for Gorboduc (1563), the first English tragedy written in blank verse.[2] He wrote this play with Thomas Norton. Sackville's two great poems, Induction and Buckingham's Complaint, were published in The Mirror for Magistrates (1563). The play and the two poems make Sackville one of the major English poets and playwrights.


  1. Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset
  2. Encyclopedia of British writers, p. 345


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