Croke, Alexander (DNB00)

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CROKE, Sir ALEXANDER (1758–1842), lawyer and author, born 22 July 1758 at Aylesbury, was son of Alexander Croke, esq., of Studley Priory, a direct descendant of John Croke [q. v.], by Anne, daughter of Robert Armistead, rector of Ellesborough, Buckinghamshire. After spending some years at a private school at Burton, Buckinghamshire, he matriculated as a gentleman-commoner of Oriel College, Oxford, 11 Oct. 1775, and was called to the bar at the Inner Temple in 1786. He removed his name from the books of the college soon afterwards without proceeding to a degree, but on resolving to practise at the bar he returned to Oxford about 1794, and proceeded B.C.L. 4 April 1797, and D.C.L. three days later. He was admitted a member of the College of Advocates 3 Nov. 1797 (Coote, Civilians, p. 138). Sir William Scott, afterwards Lord Stowell, whose acquaintance Croke had made at Oxford, employed him in 1800 to report one of his judgments. The case (Horner v. Liddiard) related to the marriage of illegitimate minors, and Croke published his report with an essay on the laws affecting illegitimacy. The publication brought Croke into notice, and he was employed in 1801 by the government to reply to a book by a Danish lawyer named Schlegel attacking the action of the English admiralty court in its relations with neutral nations. This service was rewarded with a judgeship in the vice-admiralty court of Halifax, Nova Scotia, which Croke held from 1801 to 1815. On his return to England in 1816 he was knighted. For the rest of his life he lived at Studley, entertained his Oxford friends, amused himself with drawing and painting, and wrote a number of books. He was a strong tory in politics and religion. He died at Studley 27 Dec. 1842 in his eighty-fifth year. Croke married in 1796 Alice Blake of Brackley, Northamptonshire, by whom he had five sons and three daughters. His eldest son, Alexander, died in 1818, aged 20. His father wrote a pathetic account of his life and death (The Croke Family, i. 730–51). Two sons, George (1802–1860) and John, survived him, and the latter succeeded to the property on the former's death. The second daughter, Jane, married Sir Charles Wetherell 28 Dec. 1826, and died 21 April 1831.

Croke's chief works were: 1. ‘The Genealogical History of the Croke Family,’ 2 vols. Oxford, 1823, a work of very great research. 2. ‘An Essay on the Origin, Progress, and Decline of Rhyming Latin verses,’ with specimens, Oxford, 1828. 3. ‘Regimen Sanitatis Salernitatum,’ with introduction and notes, Oxford, 1830. 4. ‘The Patriot Queen,’ London, 1838. 5. ‘The Progress of Idolatry, a poem with other poems,’ Oxford, 1841. Croke's decisions in the court at Halifax were published from his notes by James Stewart in 1814, together with an answer to Baron de Rehausen's ‘Swedish Memorials,’ addressed to Lord Castlereagh. Croke prepared for the press, but did not publish, ‘An Essay on the Consolato di Mare,’ an ancient code of maritime law, and the translation of the Psalms by his ancestor John Croke. Croke also wrote pamphlets on draining and enclosing Otmoor, 1787, and ‘The Case of Otmoor with the Moor Orders,’ Oxford, 1831; ‘Statutes of the University of King's College, Windsor, Nova Scotia,’ Halifax, 1802; ‘An Examination of the Rev. Mr. Burke's Letter of Instruction to the Catholic Missionaries of Nova Scotia,’ under the pseudonym of Robert Stanser, Halifax, 1804; and ‘The Catechism of the Church of England,’ Halifax, 1813.

[Gent. Mag. 1843, pt. i. 315–17; Croke's Hist. of Croke Family, i. 706–30; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

S. L. L.