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John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester, styled Viscount Wilmot between 1652 and 1658, was an English Libertine poet, a friend of King Charles II, and the writer of much satirical and bawdy poetry. He was the toast of the Restoration court and a patron of the arts. He married an heiress, Elizabeth Malet, and had many mistresses, including the actress Elizabeth Barry.

Life

John Wilmot was born in Ditchley, Oxfordshire. His father, Henry, Viscount Wilmot, was a hard-drinking Royalist from Anglo-Irish stock, and had been created Earl of Rochester in 1652 for military services to Charles II during his exile under the Commonwealth; His mother, Anne St. John, was a Royalist by descent and a staunch Anglican.

At the age of twelve, Rochester attended Wadham College, Oxford, and there, it is said, he "grew debauched". At fourteen he was awarded the degree of M.A. by Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, who was both the Chancellor of the University, and Rochester's uncle. After carrying out a Grand Tour of France and Italy, Rochester returned to London, where he graced the Restoration court. Later, his courage at the Battle of Vågen made him a war hero.

In 1667 he married Elizabeth Malet, a witty heiress whom he had attempted to abduct two years earlier. Samuel Pepys describes the attempted abduction in his diary for 28 May 1665:

Thence to my Lady Sandwich's, where, to my shame, I had not been a great while before. Here..
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