When the Cowpers were Sussex landowners, while his mother, Ann, daughter of Roger Donne of Ludham Hall, Norfolk, was of the same race as the poet Donne, and the family claimed to have Plantagenet blood in its veins.
The first impression of an unbiassed reader who dips into the poems of Donne is unfavourable.
As soon as this act was discovered, Donne was dismissed, and then thrown into the Fleet prison (February 1602), from which he was soon released.
In 1611 Donne wrote a curious and bitter prose squib against the Jesuits, entitled Ignatius his Conclave.
Of the very numerous sermons preached by Donne at Lincoln's Inn, fourteen have come down to us.
During the latter part of his residence in Sir Thomas Egerton's house, Donne had composed the longest of his existing poems, The Progress of the Soul, not published until 1633.
The principal editor of his posthumous writings was his son, John Donne the younger (1604-1662), a man of eccentric and scandalous character, but of considerable talent.
The influence of Donne upon the literature of England was singularly wide and deep, although almost wholly malign.
About this time Donne became intimate with Robert Ker, then Viscount Rochester and afterwards the infamous earl of Somerset, from whom he had hopes of preferment at court.
During three years he was experimental assistant to Alfred Donne (1801-1878) in his course of lectures on microscopic anatomy.