Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Duck, Arthur

DUCK, Sir ARTHUR (1580–1648), civilian, second son of Richard Duck by Joanna, his wife, was born at Heavitree, Devonshire, in 1580, entered Exeter College, Oxford, in 1595, and there graduated B. A. in June 1599. He afterwards migrated to Hart Hall, where he proceeded M.A. on 18 May 1602. In 1604 he was elected a fellow of All Souls (Lansd. MS. 985, f. 77). He took the degree of LL.B. on 16 Dec. 1607, and that of LL.D. on 9 July 1612, having spent some years in foreign travel. In 1614 he was admitted an advocate at Doctors' Commons. Between this date and 1617 he made a journey into Scotland in some official capacity, but in what does not appear (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1611-18, p. 496). On 16 Jan. 1623-4 he was returned to parliament for Minehead, Somersetshire, having on 5 Jan. preceding been appointed king's advocate in the earl marshal's court (ib, 1623-1625, p. 145). He is said to have held the office of master of requests, but the date of his appointment is not clear. He certainly acted in a judicial capacity as early as May 1625 (ib. 1625-6, p. 33). An opinion of Duck's, advising that a statute drafted by Laud in 1626 for Wadham College, Oxford, by which fines were to be imposed on absentee fellows, was not ultra vires, is mentioned in the 'Calendar of State Papers,' Dom. 1625-6, p. 525. On, or soon after, his translation from the see of Bath and Wells to that of London (1628), Laud appointed Duck chancellor of the diocese of London, to which the chancellorship of the diocese of Bath and Wells was added in 1635. Duck pleaded on behalf of Laud an ecclesiastical case tried before the king's council at Whitehall on appeal from the dean of arches in 1633. By Laud's directions the altar in St. Gregory's Church, London, had been placed in the chancel, whence it had been removed by order of Sir Henry Martin, dean of arches. Charles himself gave judgment, deciding that when not in use the altar should remain in the chancel, but that its position on occasion of the celebration of the eucharist should be left to the discretion of the minister and churchwardens. On 17 Dec. 1633 Duck was placed on the ecclesiastical commission, and in 1634 he was appointed visitor of the hospitals, poorhouses, and schools in the diocese of Canterbury (ib. 1631-3, pp. 108, 255; 1633-4, pp. 327, 530; 1635, p. 233; 1636-7, p. 429; 1641-3, p. 532). A multitude of minutes in the 'Calendar of State Papers' from this date until 1643 show the volume and variety of the business transacted by him in his character of ecclesiastical commissioner. In the first parliament of 1640 he again represented Minehead. In 1645 he was appointed master in chancery (Hardy, Catalogue of Lord Chancellors, &c.) In September 1648 Charles, then a prisoner in the Isle of Wight, requested that the parliament would permit Duck to attend him to assist him in the conduct of the negotiations then pending. It is not clear whether the request was granted or not. Duck died suddenly in Chelsea Church on 16 Dec. 1648, and was buried at Chiswick in May 1649. He held by sublease the prebendal manor of Chiswick, which narrowly escaped pillage by the parliamentary troops in 1642. His property was subsequently sequestrated (Whitelocke, Mem. 234, 235; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1641-3, p. 372; Smyth, Obituary, Camden Soc., 27; Lysons, Environs, ii. 191, 218). Duck married Margaret, daughter of Henry Southworth, by whom he had nine children. Two daughters only survived him. His wife died on 15 Aug. 1646, and was buried in Chiswick Church. Duck is the author of two works of some merit: 1. 'Vita Henrici Chichele archiepiscopi Cantuariensis sub regibus Henrico V et VI,' Oxford, 1617, 4to, reprinted, ed. William Bates, in 'Vitæ Selectorum aliquot Virorum,' London, 1681, 4to, translated by an anonymous hand, London, 1699, 8vo. 2. 'De Usu et Authoritate Juris Civilis Romanorum,' London, 1653 (in which he was much assisted by Gerard Langbaine), translated by J. Beaver in 1724, and bound in the same volume with the translation of Ferrières's 'History of the Roman Law,' London, 8vo.

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. iii. 257; Wood's Fasti Oxon. i. 296, 321, 348; Lists of Members of Parliament (Official Return of); Fuller's Worthies (Devon); Prince's Worthies of Devon.]

J. M. R.