Luke, Samuel (DNB00)

LUKE, Sir SAMUEL (d. 1670), parliamentarian, eldest son of Sir Oliver Luke, knight, of Woodend, Bedfordshire, by Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Valentine Knightley (Visitation of Huntingdonshire, 1613, p. 61, Camden Society, 1849; Gent. Mag. 1823, pt. ii. p. 28). Luke was knighted on 20 July 1624 (Metcalfe, Book of Knights, p. 183). In the Short parliament of April 1640, and in the Long parliament, Sir Samuel Luke represented Bedford borough, while his father was one of the members for the county (Return of Names of Members of Parliament, i. 480, 485). Both took the side of the parliament, and belonged to the presbyterian section of the popular party. In July 1642 Samuel Luke was wounded in endeavouring to arrest Sir Lewis Dyves (Lords' Journals, v. 246, 268). He was present at the battle of Edgehill as captain of a troop of horse, and on 4 Jan. 1643 was commissioned by Essex to raise a regiment of dragoons in Bedfordshire (Commons' Journals, iii. 156; Beesley, History of Banbury, p. 406). His newly raised regiment was surprised by Prince Rupert at Chinnor on 18 June 1643, fifty killed and 120 taken prisoners. Luke himself was absent, but fought by Hampden's side in the defeat at Chalgrove field on the same day, and greatly distinguished himself by his courage. ‘Great-spirited little Sir Samuel Luke,’ says a parliamentary paper, ‘so guarded himself with his short sword, that he escaped without hurt, though thrice taken prisoner, yet rescued, and those to whom he was prisoner slain’ (His Highness Prince Rupert's late beating up the Rebels' Quarters at Portcomb and Chinner, 1643, 4to, p. 4; A Letter from Robert, Earl of Essex, relating the true state of the late Skirmish at Chinner, 1643, 4to, pp. 2, 6; Forster, Life of Hampden, p. 371). On 5 July 1643 and again on 28 Sept. Luke was thanked by the parliament for his services. He became scoutmaster-general of the army of the Earl of Essex, assisted in the recovery of Newport-Pagnell (29 Oct. 1643), and became governor of that town when it was made a permanent garrison (Commons' Journals, iii. 156, 256, 531; Report on manuscripts of the Duke of Portland, i. 144; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1644, passim). Luke co-operated with Cromwell in the capture of Hilsden House, Buckinghamshire, of which he sent a detailed account to the speaker (Sanford, Studies and Illustrations of the Great Rebellion, Appendix B; Memoirs of the Verney Family, ii. 191). On 26 May 1644 Luke surprised Fortescue's regiment of royalist horse at Islip (Mercurius Aulicus). Both as governor and scoutmaster Luke was extremely energetic and efficient. The fall of Leicester in May 1645 seemed to endanger Newport, and Luke complained that he had only six hundred men at his disposal to defend works requiring two thousand to man them. ‘We want all provisions,’ he wrote, ‘and if we escape a storm we cannot hold out long’ (Rushworth, vi. 38; cf. Portland MSS. i. 221). But the victory of Naseby saved Newport from attack, and on 26 June 1645 the operation of the self-denying ordinance put a term to Luke's command (Commons' Journals;;, iv. 164, 166). On 11 Jan. 1646–7 parliament ordered him 4,482l. 13s. 6d. for his arrears of pay (ib. v. 48).

Luke was a strong presbyterian, and one of his last acts as governor of Newport was to arrest two officers of the new model captains, Hobson and Beaumont, for transgressing the orders of parliament against unlicensed preaching. He thus became involved in a quarrel with their commanders, Colonel Fleetwood and Sir Thomas Fairfax, and incurred the hatred of the Independent party in the army (Ellis, Original Letters, 3rd ser. iv. 254, 262). On 1 Aug. 1647 Luke was seized by a party of soldiers, on suspicion that he was raising the forces of Bedfordshire to assist the city against the army, but was speedily released by Fairfax (Cary, Memorials of the Civil War, 1842, i. 325; Rushworth, vii. 740). On the occasion of Pride's purge (December 1648) Luke was again arrested, but was set at liberty on 20 Dec., and no charge brought against him (ib. pp. 1355, 1369). During the Commonwealth and protectorate he took no part in public affairs. At the Restoration he sat in the convention parliament as member for Bedford borough, but he was not returned to the parliament of 1661. Luke died in 1670, and was buried at Cople in Bedfordshire on 30 Aug. (Gent. Mag. 1823, ii. 124; Lysons, Bedfordshire, p. 72, 92). He married Elizabeth, daughter of William Freeman, on 2 Feb. 1624, by whom he left three sons and several daughters (Visitations of Bedfordshire, p. 179; Foster, Alumni Oxonienses, i. 949; Malcolm, Londinium, ii. 370; Nichols, Collectanea Topographica, ii. 85, v. 362). Luke was a very little man, and his size made him a butt for royalist satire. His reputation has suffered from the supposition that he was the original of Butler's Sir Hudibras. Butler puts the following verses into the mouth of his hero:

'Tis said there is a valiant Mamaluke
In foreign land, yclep'd
To whom we have been oft compared
For person, parts, address, and beard.
    Hudibras, Canto i., ed. 1663, 8vo, p. 69.

The rhyme required the insertion of Luke's name, and the key to ‘Hudibras,’ attributed to Sir Roger L'Estrange [q. v.], explained that Sir Hudibras meant ‘Sir Samuel Luke of Bedfordshire, a self-conceited commander under Oliver Cromwell’ (Butler, Posthumous Works, with a Key to Hudibras, &c., 12mo, 1715, vol. i.) The life of Butler prefixed to ‘Hudibras,’ ed. 1710, p. vii, asserted that Butler was some time in Luke's service, and composed ‘Hudibras’ during that period; but the earlier lives of Butler by Wood and Aubrey make no mention of this fact, which must be considered extremely doubtful. Luke is also satirised in the ‘Memoirs of the years 1649–50’ attributed to Butler (ib. ii. 91).

The estimate which Luke's own party formed of his character is shown by the posts with which parliament entrusted him, and by the panegyrics of parliamentary writers (cf. Ricraft, England's Champions, 1647, reprint, p. 78). As scout-master-general he was extremely efficient. ‘This noble commander,’ says ‘Mercurius Britannicus,’ ‘watches the enemy so industriously that they eat, sleep, drink not, whisper not, but he can give us an account of their darkest proceedings’ (p. 218, quoted in Gent. Mag. 1823, pt. ii. p. 124). His letter-books have been preserved and some of his letters printed (Egerton MSS. 785, 786, 787, Brit. Mus.; Ashburnham MSS. at Stowe, No. 229; Report on Lord Ashburnham's MSS. p. 12; Ellis, Original Letters, 3rd ser. iv. 217–67; Beesley, History of Banbury, pp. 393–411; Tanner MSS. Bodleian Library). The correspondence proves that Luke was a vigilant and energetic officer, and a man of sense and courage. Instead of being the austere zealot that he has been pictured, he was fond of fine clothes, good cheer, and good claret (cf. Brown, Life of Bunyan, 3rd edit. p. 45). Coates, in his ‘History of Reading,’ 1802, prints a diary of the siege of that town in 1643, drawn up by Luke (pp. 31–9).

A pamphlet entitled ‘A Coffin for the good old Cause,’ published in 1660, is attributed to Luke in Butler's ‘Posthumous Works,’ where it is reprinted (vol. iii. 1717, p. 183). But there is neither external nor internal evidence to support the theory.

[A pedigree of the Luke family is given in the Harleian Society's Visitation of Bedfordshire. The best Life of Luke is in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1823, pi, ii. Other authorities cited above.]

C. H. F.