English poet and dramatist, 1609-42.

Born into English high society and blessed with some talent for writing, Sir John was a favorite at the court of King Charles I. He had a moderate military career, serving under the Swedish King Gustavous Adolphus and later fighting (rather poorly) for Charles I himself against the Scots in 1639. He was elected to Parliament in 1640, but soon got himself involved in a political intrigue which forced him to flee to France. Penniless, he poisoned himself in 1642.

Sir John was the author of many poems and other works--his claim to fame--of a generally flowery nature. These tend, however, to be ignored by all but the academic community. His real legacy is the game of cribbage, which he invented in the 1630s as a means of "stacking the deck" in his favor. For it should be noted that Sir John, much more than he was a writer, was a gambler and womanizer. He took the contemporary games Noddy and One-and-Thirty and adapted them to his own purpose. The master of the game he had invented, he took many a poor sap for all that he was worth. But somehow the game caught on, and is now played by millions worldwide. A much better accomplishment, one might think, than his overblown poetry.

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