Sir Thomas Overbury, an English author, born at Hmington, Warwickshire, in 1581, died in London, Sept. 15, 1613. He graduated at Queen's college, Oxford, in 1598. After travelling on the continent, he went in 1601 to Edinburgh, where he became intimate with Robert Carr, afterward Viscount Rochester and earl of Somerset. In 1608 Overbury was knighted. In 1609 he visited France and the Netherlands, and wrote " Observations upon the State of the Seventeen Provinces in 1609 " (1626). When he returned, his patron Rochester was engaged in an intrigue with Frances Howard, wife of the earl of Essex; but when it was proposed that she should procure a divorce in order to marry Rochester, Over-bury opposed it, and wrote his poem "The Wife" (published in 1614 and frequently reprinted) to dissuade him. Overbury's opposition excited the enmity of the countess, who attempted to procure his assassination; but her uncle, the earl of Northampton, devised that a foreign mission should bo offered to him, which Rochester prompted him to refuse. _ His refusal was declared a contempt of the king's commands, and he was committed to the tower in April, 1613, where he received the harshest treatment, and died within five months.
In November Rochester was created earl of Somerset, and in December married the countess of Essex. In May, 1616, the two were arrested for having procured the death of Over-bury by poisoning; the countess pleaded guilty and her husband was convicted, and both were sentenced to death, but pardoned; while five minor conspirators, who furnished or adrainistered the poison, were convicted and executed. A full account of the case from contemporary manuscripts was published in 1846 by Andrew Amos, entitled " The Great Oyer of Poisoning," etc. Overbury's writings, all published posthumously, besides the above mentioned, are: "Characters" and "Newes from any whence, or Old Truths under a supposal of Novelty" (1614); "The First and Second Part of the Remedy of Love," a paraphrase from Ovid (1620); "Miscellaneous Works in Prose and Verse " (1632); and "Crumms fallen from King James's Table, or his Table Talk" (1715). A complete edition of his works, with a life by E. F. Rimbault, was published in 1856.