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Gookin, Vincent (1590?-1638) (DNB00)

GOOKIN, Sir VINCENT (1590?–1638), writer against the Irish nation, youngest son of John Gookin, esq., of Ripple Court in Kent, and Catherine, daughter of William Dene, esq., of Bursted in the same county, appears to have settled in Ireland early in the seventeenth century as tenant in fee-simple, under Henry Beecher (and subsequently under Sir Richard Boyle, first earl of Cork, who purchased Beecher's grant), of the manor of Castle Mahon in the barony of Kinalmeaky, co. Cork, part of the ‘seignory’ granted by letters patent (30 Sept. 1588) to Phane Beecher and Hugh Worth as ‘under-takers’ for the plantation of Munster (Notes and Queries, 1st ser. iv. 104; English Hist. Review, iii. 267). Sir Vincent (when and for what reason knighted is not known) was a man of considerable enterprise, and was soon remarked as one of the wealthiest men in the south of Ireland, possessing property in England and Ireland, and deriving a large income from his fishery at Courtmacsherry, and from his wool flocks (Salisbury, Family Memorials, pp. 393-6). In spite of his position he bitterly hated Irishmen, and in 1634 he created considerable disturbance in Munster by publishing and circulating, under the form of a letter addressed to the lord deputy, what was described by Wentworth as ‘a most bitter invective against the whole nation, natives, old English, new English, Papist, Protestant, Captains, Soldiers, and all, which … did so incense, I may say enrage, all sorts of people against him, as it was evident they would have hanged him if they could.’ The matter was taken up by parliament, and so ‘wondrous foul and scandalous’ was the libel, that Wentworth clearly perceived that, unless prompt measures were taken by the crown to punish the offender, the question of the judicature of parliament —‘wherein,’ he added naïvely, ‘I disbelieve His Majesty was not so fully resolved in the convenience and fitness thereof by any effect it hath produced, since it was restored to the House of Parliament in England ‘—would be raised in a most obnoxious fashion. A pursuivant with a warrant for his arrest was immediately despatched into Munster, but two days before his arrival Gookin had fled with his wife into England. The constitutional question of the judicature thus raised still remained. Wentworth boldly asserted that in questions of judicature, as in matters of legislature, nothing, according to Poynings' law, could be determined by the parliament that had not first been transmitted as good and expedient by the deputy and council. He nevertheless recognised the necessity of appeasing their wrath by inflicting a severe punishment on Gookin. The offence, he declared, would bear a ‘deep fine,’ and Gookin, being ‘a very rich man,’ was well able to undergo it. Order was accordingly given by the king and council ‘to find out and transmit this audacious knight’ to be censured in the council chamber (Strafford, Letters, i. 348-349, 393). What his punishment was or whether he managed to evade it does not appear; but it is probable that he never again revisited Ireland. He died at his residence at Highfield in Gloucestershire on 5 Feb. 1638, and was buried in the parish church of Bitton. He married, first, Mary, daughter of Mr. Wood of Waldron, by whom he had two sons, Vincent and Robert, besides other children who died young; secondly, Judith, daughter of Sir Thomas Crooke of Baltimore, co. Cork, by whom he had two sons, Thomas and Charles, and five daughters, and several other children who died young. The bulk of his property in England and Ireland passed to his eldest son, Vincent [q.v.]

[Edward E. Salisbury's Family Memorials, 2 pts. privately printed, New Haven, Conn. 1885; New England Historical and Genealogical Register; Notes and Queries; Strafford's Letters; Ware's Writers of Ireland; Hasted's Kent; Berry's Kentish Pedigrees; Ireland's History of Kent; Sim's Index; Prendergast's Cromwellian Settlement of Ireland.]

R. D.