Brooke, John Charles (DNB00)


BROOKE, JOHN CHARLES (1748–1794), Somerset herald, second son of William Brooke, M.D., and Alice, eldest daughter and coheiress of William Mawhood of Doncaster, was born at Fieldhead, in the parish of Silkstone, near Sheffield, in 1748. He was sent to the metropolis to be apprenticed to a chemist in Holborn, but he had already acquired a taste for genealogical research, and having drawn up a pedigree of the Howard family which attracted the favourable notice of the Duke of Norfolk, he thus obtained an entrance into the College of Arms. He was appointed Rouge Croix pursuivant in 1773, and was promoted to the office of Somerset herald in 1777. Two years previouslv in 1775, he had been elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. Brooke was secretary to the earl marshal, and, also through the patronage of the Duke of Norfolk, a lieutenant in the militia of the West Riding of Yorkshire. With Benjamin Pingo, York herald, and fourteen other persons, he was crushed to death on 3 Feb. 1794, in attempting to get into the pit of the Haymarket Theatre. His body was interred in the church of St. Benet, Paul's Wharf, where a monumental tablet was erected to his memory, with an epitaph composed by Edmund Lodge, afterwards Clarenceux king-at-arms.

Brooke made voluminous manuscript collections, chiefly relating to Yorkshire. His father had inherited the manuscripts of his great-uncle, the Rev. John Brooke, rector of High Hoyland in Yorkshire, which had been formed as a foundation for the topography of that county. These came into the hands of John Charles Brooke, who greatly enlarged them by means of his own researches, and by copying the manuscripts of Jenyngs and Tilleyson. A catalogue of these collections will be found in Gough's 'British Topography,' ii. 397, 401, 402. Brooke's contributions to the 'Archæologia' are enumerated in Nichols's 'Illustrations of Literature,' vi. 355. He was a contributor also to the 'Gentleman's Magazine,' and the principal authors of his day in genealogy and topography acknowledge their obligations to him. Besides a history of Yorkshire, he contemplated a new edition of Sandford's 'Genealogical History of the Kings of England,' a baronage after Dugdale's method, and a history of all tenants in capite to accompany Domesday. He bequeathed his manuscripts to the College of Arms, but a small collection of Yorkshire pedigrees by him is preserved in the British Museum (Addit. MS. 21184). Many of his letters on antiquarian subjects are printed in Nichols's 'Illustrations of Literature.'

A portrait of Brooke, engraved by T. Milton from a painting by T. Maynard, forms the frontispiece to Noble's 'History of the College of Arms.'

[Nichols's Lit. Anecd. i. 681, 684, iii. 263, vi. 142, 254, 303; Nichols's Illustr. of Lit. vi. 354-429; Noble's College of Arms, 428-434, 440; Addit, MS. 5726 E, art. 3, 5864, f. 116; Notes and Queries (2nd series), iv. 130, 160, 318; Gent. Mag. lxiv. 187, 275, lxvii. 5 ; Annual Reg. 1794, chronicle 5.]

T. C.