Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Laureate, Poet. Amongst all the races of Western Europe minstrels appear to have been included in the retinue of royal persons from the earliest period of which there is any record. This was the case in England as elsewhere, but the term "poet laureate" was not used to denote an officer of the royal household receiving a fixed salary until the reign of James I. The laurel wreath was a recognised badge of the poet, especially if he had actually received it as a mark of distinction from some university; and during the Middle Ages the term "laureate" was frequently used both in the looser and in the more exact sense. In 1616 the title was conferred upon Ben Jonson, with a salary of 100 marks, which in 1630 was increased to £100, with the addition of an annual terce of canary. The latter was commuted for £27 at the end of the 18th century. The list of poets laureate includes Dryden (1670-89), Southey (1813-43), Wordsworth (1843-50), and Tennyson (1850-92), besides several poets of-the second and third rank.