Rokewode, John Gage (DNB00)

ROKEWODE, JOHN GAGE (1786–1842), antiquary, born on 13 Sept. 1786, was the fourth and youngest son of Sir Thomas Gage, the fourth baronet of Hengrave Hall, Suffolk, by his first wife, Charlotte, daughter of Thomas Fitzherbert, esq. of Swinnerton, Staffordshire, and of Maria Teresa, daughter of Sir Robert Throckmorton, bart. He was descended in the female line from Ambrose Rookwood [q. v.] Educated in the college of the jesuits at Stonyhurst, Lancashire, he afterwards travelled on the continent. On his return he studied law in the chambers of Charles Butler (1750–1832) [q. v.], the conveyancer, and he was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn on 10 Feb. 1818, but he never practised. He was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries on 5 Nov. 1818, and he also became a fellow of the Royal Society. In 1829 he was elected director of the Society of Antiquaries, and he held that post until his death. On the death, 31 July 1838, of his brother, Robert Joseph Gage Rookwood (who had taken the name of Rookwood in 1799), he inherited the estates of the Rookwood family, with their mansion at Coldham Hall in the parish of Stanningfield, near Bury St. Edmunds, and he received the royal license to assume the name of Rokewode. He died suddenly on 14 Oct. 1842, while on a visit to his cousin, Thomas Fitzherbert Brockholes, at Claughton Hall, Lancashire, and was interred in the family vault at Stanningfield.

His works are:

  1. ‘The History and Antiquities of Hengrave in Suffolk,’ London, 1822, royal 4to, dedicated to the Duke of Norfolk. This work is valuable no less for its ornamental and useful illustrations than for its curious details of private history and biography, and of ancient customs and characters.
  2. ‘The History and Antiquities of Suffolk, Thingoe Hundred,’ London, 1838, royal 4to, in a large and highly embellished volume, dedicated to the Marquis of Bristol.

For the Camden Society he edited ‘Chronica Jocelini de Brakelonda, de rebus gestis Samsonis Abbatis Monasterii Sancti Edmundi,’ London, 1840, 4to. An English translation by T. E. Tomlins appeared in 1844, under the title of ‘Monastic and Social Life in the Twelfth Century,’ and on Rokewode's book Carlyle based his ‘Past and Present’ in 1843 [see Jocelin de Brakelond].

Rokewode was an occasional contributor to the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ and to the ‘Collectanea Topographica et Genealogica.’ In vol. ii. of the latter work he printed an ancient genealogy and charters of the Rokewode family. His communications to the Society of Antiquaries are enumerated in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ for 1842, ii. 659. The more important are (a) ‘A Dissertation on St. Æthelwold's Benedictional,’ an illuminated manuscript of the tenth century, in ‘Archæologia,’ xxiv. 1–117, with thirty-two plates; (b) ‘A Description of a Benedictional or Pontifical, called Benedictionarius Roberti Archiepiscopi,’ an illuminated manuscript of the tenth century in the public library at Rouen, ib. pp. 118–136; (c) ‘The Anglo-Saxon Ceremonial of the Dedication and Consecration of Churches,’ ib. xxv. 235–74; (d) ‘Remarks on the Louterell Psalter,’ printed, with six plates, in the ‘Vetusta Monumenta,’ vol. vi.; (e) ‘A Memoir on the Painted Chamber in the Palace at Westminster,’ printed, with four teen plates, in the same volume of ‘Vetusta Monumenta.’

A portrait, of which the original by Mrs. Carpenter is at Hengrave Hall, has been engraved. There is also an excellent bust by R. C. Lucas, which was presented to the Society of Antiquaries. A portion of Rokewode's valuable library was sold in London on 22 and 23 Dec. 1848.

[MS. Addit. 19167, f. 265; Aungier's Hist. of Isleworth, p. 104*; London and Dublin Orthodox Journal, xv. 276; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. (Bohn), p. 853.]

T. C.