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CHEKE, HENRY (1548?–1586?), translator, eldest son of Sir John Cheke [q. v.] and Mary his wife, was born about 1548. After receiving his early education from his father's friend, Peter Osborne, he was sent to King’s College, Cambridge. His prospects were not bright, as his father, who died when he was about nine years of age, left him land worth two hundred marks a year burdened with debts of a thousand marks. However, Cecil was his uncle, and, in answer to a Greek letter Cheke wrote him when he was about fifteen, promised to do what he could to help him. His life at Cambridge was studious, and in 1568, when he was scarcely twenty, the university, to please Cecil, granted him his M.A. degree. He sat for Bedford in the parliament of 1572–83. and at the time of his return was living at Elstow in the same county. His means were narrow, and he was indebted to friends for help. In 1574 he was living at Wintney, Hampshire, and in 1575 at Bear in the same county. During 1575–6 he travelled on the continent, chiefly in Italy. On his return to England he resided at Ockham, Surrey. He attended the court- in the hope of obtaining place, and solicited his uncle the treasurer to give him some office. At last, in 1581, he was appointed secretary to the council of the north, and in 1584 was elected member for Boroughbridge, Yorkshire. He resided at the office of the council, a house in York called ‘The Manor,’ and appears to have died there in 1586. Strype says that he was knighted, but of this there is no proof, and it is probably a mistake. He married (1) Frances, daughter of Sir Humphrey Radcliffe of Elstow, and sister of the Earl of Sussex, in 1569 or 1570, by whom he had Sir Thomas Cheke of Pyrgo, Essex, and other children; and (2) in January 1584–5, at St. Michael-le-Belfry, York, Frances, daughter of Marmaduke Constable. He published a translation of an Italian morality play by Francesco Negri de Bassano, with the title ‘A certayne Tragedie wrytten first in Italian by F. N. B., entituled, Freewyl, and translated into Englishe by Henry Cheeke,’ 4to, no place or date, 211 pages besides dedication, prefatory epistle to the reader, and ‘faults,’ black letter. The lay is dedicated to the Lady Cheynie or Cheyney of Toddington, Bedfordshire, and the Cheney shield, charged with nineteen coats, is on the back of the title-page. The Lady Cheney was Jane, daughter of Thomas, lord Wentworth of Nettlested, who married Henry, created Lord Cheney of Toddington in 1572. In his dedication Cheke says that he had received great benefits from her, and that the purpose of his work was to set forth ‘the devilish devices of the popish religion which pretendeth holiness only for gain.’ The play is in five acts. The original, entitled ‘Tragedia del Libero Arbitrio,’ 1546, and a Latin version by John Crispin, 1559, are in the University library at Cambridge.

[Addit. 24493, f. 61; Strype's Life of Sir J. Cheke; Cooper's Athenæ Cantab. ii. 9; Cheeke's Tragedie in the Library of the British Museum; Langbaine’s English Dramatic Poets, 161; Halliwell-Phillipps’s Catalogue of Old English Plays, 103; Ames's Typogr. Antiq. (Hebbert), 1688; Dugdale's Baronage, ii. 289; Lysons's Bedfordshire, 143.]

W. H.