Lok, Michael (DNB00)

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LOK, MICHAEL (fl. 1615), traveller, was a younger son of Sir William Lok [q. v.] According to memorials presented by Michael Lok in 1576 and on 26 May 1577 (Cal. State Papers, East Indies), he was kept at school until 1545, when he was thirteen. His father then sent him to Flanders and France. After being seven years in Flanders he went in 1552 to Spain, following his business as a merchant, and there and at Lisbon had opportunities of seeing ‘the marvellous great trade of the Spanish West Indies, and the great traffic into the East Indies.’ During twenty-four years ‘he travelled through almost all the countries of Christianity,’ and was ‘captain of a ship of one thousand tons in divers voyages in the Levant.’ He also studied history, languages, and ‘all matters appertaining to the traffic of merchants, and spent more than 500l. in books, maps, charts, and instruments.’ His boast is corroborated by Hakluyt (Divers Voyages to America, Hakluyt Soc., p. 18), who speaks of him as ‘a man for his knowledge in divers languages, and especially in cosmography, able to do his country good, and worthy, in my judgment, for the manifold good parts in him, of good reputation and better fortune.’

In the course of his many voyages he had already made the acquaintance of Martin Frobisher [q. v.], and in 1576 entered warmly into the scheme for the voyage to the north-west, supplying many of the necessaries at his own cost. When the Cathay Company was formed in March 1577, Lok was appointed governor for six years. The venture, however, entirely failed, and in January 1579 he had to petition the privy council for relief and assistance (Cal. State Papers, East Indies). For the past three years, he wrote, he had taken charge of all the business of Frobisher's voyages; of his own money he had expended some 7,500l., ‘all the goods he had in the world, whereby himself, his wife, and fifteen children are left to beg their bread.’ On this petition 430l. was allowed him in February 1579; but in June 1581 he was again petitioning the privy council, being a prisoner in the Fleet, condemned at the suit of William Borough to pay 200l. for a ship bought for Frobisher's last voyage, ‘which is not the petitioner's debt.’ He was also bound for a debt of nearly 3,000l., ‘still owing by the company of adventurers.’ He was still petitioning in November, when he had been six months in prison (ib. pp. 63, 70). Of his release there is no account; but he does not seem to have recovered his money, and as late as 1614–15 he was still being sued for a debt of 200l. due for stores supplied to Frobisher's ships (Exchequer Decrees and Orders, 12–13 Jac. I).

In 1587–8 Lok was in Dublin, and in 1592 went out to Aleppo under an engagement as consul for the Levant Company for four years. After two years, however, the appointment was summarily cancelled, by the intrigues—as Lok asserted—of one Dorrington, in the employment of Sir John Spenser, alderman of London (Addit. MS. 12497; Zachary Lok to Cecil, 9 Dec. 1598, in Cal. State Papers, Dom.). He claimed the full amount of his salary for the four years; but in 1599 he was still claiming it, nor does it appear that he was ever paid. In 1603 Lok's son Zachary died, bequeathing him his seal, his black coat lined with plush, and all his books. On 29 June 1608 Lok wrote to the Earl of Salisbury, sending him intelligence of the warlike preparations of the king of Spain (ib.), and in 1614–15 he was still defending an action as to the debts of the Cathay Company. He was then eighty-three, and doubtless died shortly afterwards.

Lok married, first, Joan, daughter of William Wilkinson, sheriff of London. She died 1571, leaving several children, of whom eight are named in her will (dated 9 Feb. 1570–1, proved by Lok 6 April 1571). He married, secondly, Mary (or Margaret), daughter of Martin Perient, treasurer to the army in Ireland, widow of Cæsar Adelmare (d. 1569), and mother of Julius Cæsar [q. v.] the judge. In 1579 Lok described himself, in his petitions, as having a wife and fifteen children. An essay, ‘An conveniens sit Matrimonium inter Puellam et Senem’ (Add. MS. 12503), which he wrote in 1583, might be thought to imply that he was meditating a third marriage in his old age. Besides this essay, he translated into English part of Peter Martyr's ‘Historie of the West Indies,’ which was published in 1612. Lok's name is here spelt as he signed it.

[Authorities in the text; notes and references kindly communicated by Mr. W. Noel Sainsbury and Mr. G. E. Cokayne.]

J. K. L.