Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Locker, John

LOCKER, JOHN (1693–1760), miscellaneous writer, born in London on 27 Aug. 1693, was son of Stephen Locker, a scrivener in the Old Jewry, and clerk of the Leathersellers' Company. He entered Merchant Taylors' School on 12 March 1706–7 (Robinson, Register, ii. 20), matriculated at Merton College, Oxford, 21 April 1711, and afterwards travelled on the continent with his friend Mr. Twisleton. On 28 March 1719 he was admitted of Gray's Inn, and he studied law in the chambers once occupied by Francis Bacon, viscount St. Albans (Foster, Gray's Inn Admission Register, p. 363). He was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries 3 March 1737, and became an intimate friend of John Bowyer (Gough, List of Soc. Antiq. p. 6). He was appointed clerk of the Companies of Leathersellers (1719) and Clockmakers (1740), and he was also a commissioner of bankrupts. He is styled by Dr. Ward ‘a gentleman much esteemed for his knowledge of polite literature,’ and by Dr. Johnson, ‘a gentleman eminent for curiosity and literature.’ He learned Modern Greek colloquially from a poor Greek priest, whom he casually met wandering about the streets of London, and entertained for some years in his house at his own and Dr. Mead's expense. Locker translated into Modern Greek a part, if not the whole, of one of Congreve's comedies. He died a widower on 30 May 1760, and was buried in St. Helen's Church, Bishopsgate Street (Gent. Mag. 1760, p. 297).

He married Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Edward Stillingfleet, M.D., Gresham professor of physic, and afterwards rector of Wood-Norton and Swanton, Norfolk. She was sister of Benjamin Stillingfleet, and granddaughter of the eminent Bishop of Worcester. By this lady, who died on 12 Aug. 1759, he had nine children. Their son, William Locker, is separately noticed.

Locker translated the last two books of Voltaire's ‘Life of Charles XII, King of Sweden,’ London, 1731, and wrote the prefatory discourse.

He and his friend Robert Stephens, historiographer-royal, eagerly collected original or authentic manuscripts of Bacon's ‘Works,’ published and unpublished. On Stephens's death in November 1732 his papers came into the possession of Locker, who also died before he could publish the results of their joint labours, although he finished his correction of the fourth volume of Blackbourne's edition (London, 1730), containing Bacon's law tracts and letters. After Locker's death all his collections were purchased by Dr. Birch, and they are now in the British Museum (Addit. MSS. 4258–62). In the preface to the complete edition of Bacon's ‘Works’ published by Birch and Mallet in five vols. 1765, liberal acknowledgment is made of the labours of Stephens and Locker.

To Dr. Johnson Locker communicated a collection of examples made by Addison from the writings of Tillotson, with the intention of preparing an English dictionary.

[Nichols's Lit. Anecd. vii. 234, ix, 417; Spedding's Letters and Life of Bacon, i. 16, 119, ii. 2, vi. 165 n., 172.]

T. C.