Booker, Luke (DNB00)

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BOOKER, LUKE, LL.D. (1762–1835), divine and poet, was born at Nottingham on 20 Oct. 1762. His father, a schoolmaster, had four wives and thirteen children; to four sons he gave the names of the evangelists. Probably Booker was educated at home; W. T. (see below) says 'he never was at college.' He was ordained in 1785, without a title, and became lecturer at the collegiate church, Wolverhampton, and soon afterwards incumbent of St. Edmund's chapel of ease, Dudley. In 1806 he was presented by his brother-in-law, Richard Blakemore, to the rectory of Tedstone-de-la-Mere, Herefordshire. In 1812, on the death of the Rev. Dr. Cartwright, he became, in addition, vicar of Dudley, on the presentation of the third viscount. He was in great request as a preacher of charity sermons, of which he is said to have delivered 173, and to have collected in this way nearly 9,000l. He was not equally successful, though little less industrious, as a poet. Better remembered than any production of his own muse is a clever satirical poem, professing to be by W. T. of Wantage, printed in 'The Procession and the Bells; or the Rival Poets' (London, 1817, 12mo; reprinted, Dudley, 1833, 12mo), in which his person and manner, 'just like a moving steeple,' are delineated with irreverent freedom in Hudibrastic measure. The origin of this satire was the demolition of the old historic church of St. Thomas, Dudley, in opposition to the wishes of many parishioners. On the laying of the foundation-stone of the new edifice, 25 Oct. 1816, a motley public procession excited much ridicule. Booker died on 1 Oct. 1835, at Bower Ashton, near Bristol. He was four times married. He had lost his eldest son, a youth of thirteen, in 1810. Perhaps Booker's best title to literary note is his— 1. 'Description and Historical Account of Dudley Castle,' Dudley and London, 1825, 8vo (a good piece of work, superseded as to the historical part bv Twamley's 'History,' 1867). His publications were very numerous. The earliest seems to have been 2. 'Poems, on subjects Sacred, Moral, and Entertaining,' Wolverhampton, 1785, 2 vols. 8vo; 2nd edition, 1788, 3 vols. 18mo. This was followed bv 3. 'The Highlanders, a Poem,' Stourbridge [1787?], 4to. 4. 'Miscellaneous Poems,' Stourbridge, 1789, 8vo. 5. 'Malvern, a Descriptive and Historical Poem,' Dudley, 1798, 4to. 6. 'The Hop-Garden, a didactic Poem,' Newport, [1799 ?], 8vo. 7. 'Poems, inscribed to Viscount Dudley, having reference to his seat at Himley,' 1802, 4to. 8. 'Calista, or a Picture of Modern Life, a Poem,' 1803, 4to. 9. 'Tobias, a Poem,' 3 parts, 1805, 8vo. 10. 'Euthanasia, or the State of Man after Death,' 1822, 12mo. ll. ‘Tributes to the Dead, more than 200 Epitaphs, many of them original,' 1830, 12mo. 12. ‘The Springs of Plynlimmon, a Poem.' Wolverhampton, 1834, 12mo. The ‘Gentleman’s Magazine’ mentions, without date: 13. ‘The Mitre Oak,' and 14. ‘Mandane, a Drama.' He published numerous single sermons and addresses. He wrote a ‘Moral Review of the Conduct and Case of Mary Ashford, violated and murdered by Abraham Thorton,’ Dudley, 1818, 8vo. (This poor girl was murdered, at the age of twenty, on 27 May 1817; Booker wrote her epitaph, partly in verse signed L. B., in Sutton churchyard.) He is sometimes quoted as the author of another piece suggested by the occurrence, ‘The Mysterious Murder, or What’s o’clock: a Melodrama in 3 acts; by G. L.,’ Birmingham [1817?], l2mo. This was by George Ludlam, prompter at the Theatre Royal, Birmingham. Booker's pamphlet was much discussed, inasmuch as he assumed the guilt of the acquitted man. He also wrote: ‘Suggestions for a candid Revisal of the Book of Common Prayer,' ‘A Plain Form of Christian Worship for use of Workhouses and Infimaries,' ‘Select Psalms and Hymns for use of Churches,' and ‘Illustrations of the Liturgy.'

[Annual Register, 1835, p. 237; Gent. Mag. 1836, pt. i. p. 93; Bates, in Notes and Queries. 2nd ser. xi. 431; Clark‘e Curiosities of Dudley and the Black Country, 1881; authorities cited above; advertisements in various periodicals]

A. G.