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Little is known of the life of the author of ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore beyond

a few dates and some records of his education and career. He was the

second son of Thomas Ford, a wealthy Devonshire landowner who had

married the niece of the influential Sir John Popham, the Lord Chief

Justice of England from 1592 until 1607. There is a record of John

Ford’s baptism at Ilsington in Devon on 17 April 1586 and of a John

Ford, described as a gentleman from Devon, entering Exeter College,

Oxford, in March 1601. Ford was admitted to the Middle Temple in

November 1602 to continue his education and gain a legal training and

although he was never called to the bar, it is generally assumed that he

made a career in the law and remained in London until at least 1639,

when his last play was published, possibly retiring to Devon just before

the period of the Civil War. Evidence that he remained a resident of the

Middle Temple whilst embarking upon a secondary career as a pam-

phleteer, poet and dramatist includes a note of his being reprimanded

in 1617 for participating in a dispute with the Temple authorities over

their strict dress code. As late as 1638 he is still described as ‘Master John

Ford of the Middle Temple’ in the introductory material attached to his

play The Fancies Chaste and Noble. An allusion to Ford by William Hemminge

in his elegy On Randolph’s Finger (c.1632) is often quoted as an isolated

comment on his personality:

With folded Armes and Melancholye hatt.