Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hooker, John
HOOKER, alias VOWELL, JOHN (1526?–1601), antiquary and chamberlain of Exeter, was born there in or about 1526, being the second son of Robert Hooker, who was mayor of Exeter in 1529, by his third wife, Agnes, daughter of John Doble of Woodbridge, Suffolk. His parents died when he was about ten years old. He was educated in Cornwall at a famous school kept by Dr. John Moreman, vicar of Menheniot, and thence proceeded to Oxford. Corpus Christi College was most probably the college to which he belonged, although Exeter has been suggested, for under a tablet in the hall of Corpus, inscribed with Latin verses concerning the founder, are these words: ‘Hanc repurgatam tabellam restituit Johannes Hooker, generosus, Exoniensis, 1579’ (Wood, Survey of the Antiquities of the City of Oxford, ed. Clark, 1889, i. 551). On leaving Oxford he travelled in Germany, and at Cologne he kept the common exercises of a lecture and disputations in the law, a circumstance leading to the inference that he graduated in that faculty before he left England. He next visited Strasburg, where he sojourned with Peter Martyr. After returning to England for a short time, he proceeded to France with the intention of travelling through Italy and Spain, but in consequence of the wars he was ‘driven to shift himself homewards again.’ Not long afterwards he married, took up his residence in the parish of St. Mary Major in his native city, was in Exeter when it was besieged by the rebels in 1549, and applied himself to the study of astronomy and English history.
He was elected the first chamberlain of the city of Exeter on 21 Sept. 1555. He mentions his appointment in his manuscript ‘History of Exeter.’ His fee he tells us was 4l. a year, and his liveries brought 32s. more. His office chiefly concerned the orphans, but he was also to see the records safely kept, to enter the acts of the corporation in the absence of the town clerk, to attend the city audits, to survey the city property, and to help and instruct the receiver (Oliver, Hist. of Exeter, p. 242). As solicitor to Sir Peter Carew, he went to Ireland on his client's business; and he was elected burgess for Athenry in the Irish parliament of 1568. On 20 March 1568–9 the lord deputy of Ireland and the Irish council granted him a license to print the Irish acts of parliament at his own charges (Calendar of the Carew MSS. 1515–74, p. 387). In 1569 he spoke vehemently in the Irish House of Commons in support of the royal prerogative, and so irritated the opposition that the house broke up in confusion, and his parliamentary friends deemed it necessary to escort him to his lodgings in the house of Sir Peter Carew, to protect him from personal violence. Browne Willis states that he and Geoffrey Tothill were elected burgesses for Exeter to Queen Elizabeth's third parliament, which assembled at Westminster on 8 May 1572 (Notitia Parliamentaria, vol. iii. pt. ii. p. 80), but his name does not appear in the ‘Official List of Members of Parliament,’ 1878. He died at Exeter in November 1601, and was buried on 8 Nov. in St. Mary Major's.
By his first wife, Martha, daughter of Robert Toker of Exeter, he had issue five children, viz.: Robert, John, John, Margery, and Prothsaye; and by his second wife, Anastryce, daughter of Edward Bridgeman of Exeter, he had issue Thomas, Toby, Alice (wife of John Travers), Zachary (who became rector of St. Michael Carhayes, Cornwall), Audrey, Thomas, May, Peter, Amy, George, John, and Dorothy. He was uncle of ‘judicious’ Richard Hooker [q. v.] (pedigree in R. Hooker's Works, ed. Keble, i. p. cix).
A portrait of him is preserved in the town hall of Exeter.
Hooker's chief literary labour was the editing and revision of Holinshed's ‘Chronicles,’ originally published in 1577. ‘Newlie augmented and continued with manifold matters of singular note and worthie memorie to the yeare 1586,’ by Hooker, the work reappeared in 3 vols. folio in 1586–7. Hooker was assisted in the undertaking by Abraham Fleming, John Stow, and Francis Thynne, and many of their additions relating to contemporary politics roused the wrath of the queen, and caused the edition to undergo serious castration immediately after its first publication [see under Holinshed, Raphael]. Hooker's original contributions to the work are: 1. ‘The begininge, cause, and course of the comotion or rebellion in the counties of Devon and Cornewall in … 1549.’ One manuscript is in the Bodleian Library, Rawlinson MS. 792. Another, belonging to the Rev. R. Walker of Truro, was sold at Bristol in 1855. 2. ‘The Irish historie composed by Giraldus Cambrensis and translated into English (with scholies to the same), together with Supplie to the said historie from the death of Henrie the eight, unto 1587;’ sometimes found separate. Dedicated to Sir Walter Raleigh. 3. ‘Description of the City of Exeter, and of the sundry Assaults given to the same.’ A MS. copy is in Ashmole MS. 762; another, dated 1559, is in the Cottonian collection, Titus F. vi. 88; an outline of the ‘Description’ dated 1571 is in MS. in the College of Arms (H. D. N. No. 41; cf. Charles Worthy's Notes 1882). The ‘Description’ alone was issued separately, apparently at Exeter, about 1583 in 4to. 4. ‘An Addition to the Chronicles of Ireland, from 1546, where they ended, to the year 1568.’ 5. ‘Order and usage of keeping the Parliaments in England.’ Also issued separately, London, 1572, 4to, and with the ‘Description’ of Exeter (London? 1575? 4to); it was reprinted in the ‘Somers Tracts.’ There are manuscripts of this work in the Harleian collection, 1178, f. 19, and in the library of Lord Calthorpe, and in the MS. at the College of Arms mentioned above. 6. ‘A Catalog of the Bishops of Excester, with the description of the Antiquitie and first foundation of the Cathedrall Church of the same’ (also separately. London, 1584, 4to).
Other of his separate publications are: 7. ‘Orders enacted for Orphans and for their portions within the Citie of Excester, with sundry other instructions incident to the same,’ London , 4to. 8. ‘The Events of Comets or blazing Stars, made upon the sight of the Comet Pagonia, which appeared in the month of Nov. and Dec. 1577,’ London, 8vo. Dedicated to Sir John Gilbert. 9. ‘A Pamphlet of the Offices, and duties of everie particular sworne Officer of the citie of Excester,’ London, 1584, 4to. 10. ‘The Lyffe of Sir Peter Carewe, late of Mohonese Otrey, in the countie of Devon, Knyghte, whoe dyed at Rosse, in Irelande, the 27th of November 1575.’ Printed in ‘Archæologia,’ xxviii. 96–151, and in the ‘Calendar of the Carew Manuscripts, edited by J. S. Brewer and W. Bullen,’ London, 1867, vol. i. pp. lxvii–cxviii. The original manuscript is at Lambeth, No. 605. Its contents are embodied in ‘The Life and Times of Sir Peter Carew, Kt. (From the original manuscript) with a historical introduction and elucidatory notes,’ by John Maclean, F.S.A., London, 1857, 8vo.
The ‘Description’ of Exeter [No. 3 above], together with Nos. 6 and 9, was reprinted carelessly by Andrew Brice [q. v.] in 1765 from a MS. in the Guildhall, Exeter.
The following remain in manuscript: 12. ‘A Synopsis Chorographical, or an historical Record of the Province of Devon, in Latin called Damnonia.’ There is a copy of this in Harl. MS. 5827 entitled ‘A Discourse of Devonshire and Cornwall, with Blazon of Arms.’ On the author's death the work was put into the hands of Judge Doddridge to prepare it for publication, but it has never been printed (for description, see Journal Brit. Archæol. Soc. 1862, xviii. 134–45). Prince had seen a copy in the possession of John Eastchurch of Wood, with manuscript remarks by Doddridge. 13. ‘An Abstracte of all the Orders and Ordynances extant, made, enacted, and ordayned, by the Maiors and Comon Counsell of the Citie of Excester for the tyme beinge, for the good government of the saide Citie and Comonwelthe of the same.’ Manuscript belonging to the corporation of Exeter. 14. Two thick manuscript folio volumes, also in the possession of the corporation of Exeter, containing a vast amount of local antiquarian information, chiefly relating to the haven of Exe and the city of Exeter. 15. ‘Journal of the Proceedings of the Irish Parliament, anno 1568.’ Manuscript mentioned by Bishop Tanner (Bibl. Brit. p. 410). 16. Autograph manuscript in the University Library, Cambridge (Mm. i. 32), containing part of a journal of the parliament at Dublin, 1568; the arms and quarterings of the lords of parliament in England, temp. Edwardi VI, Mariæ, et Elizabethæ; and several collections of the arms of the gentry in England and Ireland. 17. Heraldic collections in the library of Trinity College, Dublin, dated 1575. 18. ‘The Desplayenge of the Gulye Lyon of Berewcke yn Durias, together with his Caveat unto Frauncys, Erle of Bedforde, his Lorde and Patron,’ 1578, 4to, at Woburn. He is also said to have written: 19. A translation of the Epistle of St. Augustine to Dardanus. 20. A translation of Erasmus's ‘Detectio Præstigiarum.’ This and the preceding work he presented to Thomas, earl of Bedford. 21. ‘A Book of Ensigns,’ dedicated to the Earl of Bedford.
John Hooker alias Vowell must be distinguished from John Hooker or Hoker (fl. 1540), poet and dramatist, described as of Maidstone, who became a demy of Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1525, and graduated B.A. in 1527, proceeding M.A. in 1535 and B.D. in 1540. He was elected fellow in 1530, and lectured at his college in various subjects, being, according to Tanner, a well-known classical scholar; Leland, in his ‘Cygnea Cantio,’ refers to him as ‘Hocherus nitor artium bonarum.’ A letter of Hooker's, supposed to be addressed to Bullinger, is printed in ‘S. Clementis Epist. duæ cum Epist. singular. Clar. Virorum,’ Lond. 1694. The following works, apparently never published, have been attributed to him:
- ‘Piscator; or, the Fisher caught,’ a comedy which Warton thought was written for the students at Magdalen to act.
- . ‘An Introduction to Rhetorick.’
- ‘Poema de vero Crucifixo.’
- ‘Epigrammata Varia.’ Bloxam wrongly attributed to this writer Vowell's ‘Life of Sir Peter Carew.’
[Ames's Typogr. Antiq. (Herbert); Journal of Archæological Assoc. (1862), xviii. 138–42; Boase's Registrum Collegii Exoniensis, pp. xviii, 202; Boase and Courtney's Bibl. Cornubiensis, pp. 317, 838, 1357; Cat. of MSS. in the Univ. Library, Cambridge, iv. 123; Calendar of the Carew MSS. 1514–74, 1575–88, 1601–3, 1603–1624; Davidson's Bibl. Devoniensis, pp. 20, 21; Visitation of Devon (Harl. Soc.), p. 353; Gough's British Topography, i. 304; Hazlitt's Handbook to Literature, p. 635; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. (Bohn), pp. 896, 2795; Maclean's Life of Sir P. Carew; Moore's Hist. of Devon, ii. 125; Oliver's Hist. of Exeter (1861), pp. 219, 256; Prince's Worthies of Devon, p. 387; Tanner's Bibl. Brit. pp. 405, 410; Todd's Cat. of Lambeth MSS.; Ware's Writers of Ireland (Harris), p. 327; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), i. 138, 713; Wood's Fasti Oxon. ed. Bliss, i. 84, 100, 112; Worthy's John Vowell alias Hooker, Some Notes on a MS. at the Heralds' College, 1882; Hist. MSS. Comm. 2nd Rep. App. pp. 1, 40, 41, 257, 8th Rep. App. p. 581. For John Hooker (d. 1540) see Bloxam's Reg. Magd. Coll. Oxon. iv. 52; Leland's Cygnea Cantio, London, 1545, p. 92; Warton's Hist. of Eng. Poetry, iii. 84; Gillow's Bibl. Dict. of Eng. Cath. iii. 375; Dodd's Church Hist. i. 213.]