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HOOKER, THOMAS (1586?–1647), minister at Hartford, Connecticut, son of Thomas Hooker (d. 1635), was born at Markfield, near Leicester, probably on 7 July 1586. He was educated at Market Bosworth grammar school, and afterwards for a time as a sizar of Queen's College, where he matriculated 27 March 1603–4, and finally at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1608, M.A. in 1611, and became a fellow on Sir Wolstan Dixie's foundation (Savage, Genealogical Dict. ii. 459–60). About 1620 he became rector of Esher in Surrey. The income of the living was only 40l. a year, but Francis Drake, the patron, received him into his house. Drake's wife was under the impression that she had committed the unpardonable sin, and Hooker succeeded in comforting her after Ussher and John Dod had failed (cf. Trodden down strength, by the God of Strength, or Mrs. Drake revived. Related by her friend Hart Onhi, Lond., 1647). Hooker married Susanna, Mrs. Drake's waiting-woman. In 1626 he accepted a lectureship at Chelmsford, Essex; he was especially popular with the younger ministers, ‘to whom he was an oracle and their principal library.’ His puritanism, however, brought him into disfavour with Laud. He was threatened with an arraignment before the high commission, and offered in May 1629 to depart quietly out of the diocese. In June he appeared before the bishop in London, when the excitement ‘even drowned the noise of the great question of tonnage and poundage’ (cf. the very interesting letters from Samuel Collins, vicar of Braintree, Essex, to Dr. Arthur Duck, in Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1628–9, pp. 554, 567). It was mainly through Collins's mediation that proceedings were stayed. On 3 Nov., however, Dr. John Browning, rector of Rawreth, Essex, again complained to Laud (ib. Dom. 1629–31, p. 87). A week later Laud received a petition in favour of Hooker, signed by forty-nine of the beneficed clergy in Essex (ib. Dom. 1629–31, p. 92). Meanwhile Hooker had opened a school at Little Baddow, about five miles from Chelmsford, with John Eliot [q. v.] for his assistant, but eventually, on being cited in 1630 to appear before the high commission court, he deemed it prudent to forfeit his sureties and withdraw to Holland. Here his movements were made known to Laud, through the agency of Stephen Goffe [q. v.] (ib. Dom. 1633–4, pp. 30, 324, 450). He was some time at Amsterdam, then preached for two years at Delft, and afterwards assisted William Ames (1571–1633) [q. v.] at Rotterdam. In 1633 he sailed for New England in the Griffin. He arrived at Boston on 4 Sept., settled in the following month at Newtown (now Cambridge), Massachusetts, and became a freeman on 14 May 1634. At a fast kept on 11 Oct. 1633 Hooker was chosen pastor of the eighth church formed in the colony of Massachusetts. In June 1636 he removed with the greater part of his congregation to the banks of the Connecticut, where Hartford was founded. Hooker came to be identified with all the important political and religious movements of the colony, and, in August 1637, was one of the moderators of the synod held in Boston concerning the doctrines promulgated by Mrs. Anne Hutchinson [q. v.]. In the autumn of 1638 he addressed a remarkable letter to Governor Winthrop of Massachusetts regarding a permanent confederation of the colonies (first published in 1860 in vol. i. of the Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society, and also separately). Hooker was cut off by an epidemic on 7 July 1647. His death was mourned as a public calamity. He died possessed of a good estate and library, as appears from his will and inventory printed in Trumbull's ‘Public Records of Connecticut,’ i. 498–502. He left several children.

Hooker wrote:

  1. ‘The Soules Preparation for Christ; or a Treatise of Contrition’ (anon.), 4to, London, 1632 (many editions).
  2. ‘The Soules Implantation’ (anon.), 4to, London, 1637; another edit., 4to, London, 1640.
  3. ‘The Soules Ingrafting into Christ. By T. H.,’ 4to, London, 1637.
  4. ‘The Soules Exaltation … By T. H.,’ London, 1638.
  5. ‘The Soules Humiliation’ (anon.), 2nd edit., 4to, London, 1638; another edit., 4to, London, 1640.
  6. ‘The Soule's Vocation, or effectual calling to Christ [on John vi. 45]. By T. H.,’ 4to, London, 1638.
  7. ‘An Exposition of the Principles of Religion,’ 12mo, London, 1640.
  8. ‘The Danger of Desertion; or a farewell Sermon [on Jer. xiv. 9] … preached immediately before his departure out of Old England. Together with ten particular Rules to be practised every day by converted Christians,’ 4to, London, 1641; 2nd edit. the same year.
  9. ‘The Faithful Covenanter: a Sermon,’ &c., 4to, London, 1644.
  10. ‘A briefe Exposition of the Lord's Prayer,’ 4to, London, 1645.
  11. ‘Heaven's Treasury opened in a fruitfull Exposition of the Lord's Prayer. Together with the principall grounds of Christian Religion briefly unfolded,’ two parts, 12mo, London, 1645. Part ii. had been published separately in 1640 as ‘An Exposition of the Principles of Religion.’
  12. ‘The Saint's Guide, in three Treatises. I. The Mirror of Mercie, on Gen. vi. 13. II. The Carnall Man's Condition, on Rom. i. 18. III. The Plantation of the Righteous, on Ps. i. 3,’ three parts, 12mo, London, 1645.
  13. ‘A Survey of the Summe of Church Discipline’ (defence of the churches of New England), four parts, 4to, London, 1648, a book which has largely affected the course of thought in the development of congregationalism in the United States.
  14. ‘The Covenant of Grace opened: wherein … infants baptisme is fully proved and vindicated; being severall Sermons preached at Hartford in New England,’ 4to, London, 1649.
  15. ‘The Saints Dignitie and Dutie. … Delivered in severall [seven] Sermons,’ 4to, London, 1651.
  16. ‘The Application of Redemption by the effectual work of the Word and Spirit of Christ, for the bringing home of lost sinners to God. The ninth and tenth books [on Is. lvii. 15 and Acts ii. 37]. (A Comment upon Christ's last Prayer in the seventeenth of John … being his seventeenth book, made in New England.) Two parts,’ 4to, London, 1656.
  17. ‘The poor doubting Christian drawn to Christ …,’ 12mo, London, 1684; another edit., with an abstract of the author's life by E. W. Hooker, 8vo, Hartford, 1845.

He wrote also ‘The Unbelievers preparing for Christ,’ and an epistle ‘To the Reader’ prefixed to ‘The Doctrine of Faith,’ by J. Rogers of Dedham, Essex, 12mo, 1629. His life was written by his descendant, the Rev. Edward W. Hooker, for vol. vi. of the series called ‘Lives of the Chief Fathers of New England,’ 12mo, Boston, 1849 and 1870, but is merely a compilation from Cotton Mather and Hooker's own writings.

[Information kindly supplied by the Rev. Dr. G. L. Walker of Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.A.; Walker's Hist. of the First Church at Hartford (containing many authorities and a full bibliography); Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1631–3, p. 411; David's Annals of Evangelical Nonconformity in Essex, p. 149; Winthrop's Hist. of New England (Savage); Mather's Magnalia Christi Americana; Hubbard's Hist. of New England.]

G. G.