Rye, like Winchelsea, has had a richer history than I can cope with. She was an important seaport from the earliest times; and among other of our enemies who knew her value were the Danes, two hundred and fifty of whose vessels entered the harbour in the year 893. Later the French continually menaced her, hardly less than her sister Cinque Port, but Rye bore so little malice that during the persecutions in France in the sixteenth century she received hundreds of Huguenot refugees, whose descendants still live in the town. Many monarchs have come hither, among them Queen Elizabeth, in 1573, dubbing Rye "Rye Royal" and Winchelsea "Little London."
Rye has had at least one notable son, John Fletcher the dramatist, associate of Francis Beaumont and perhaps of Shakespeare, and author of "The Faithful Shepherdess." Fletcher's father was vicar of Rye. The town also gave birth to a curious father, son, and grandson, all named Samuel Jeake. The first, born in 1623, the author of "The Charters of the Cinque Ports," 1728, was a lawyer, a bold Nonconformist, a preacher, an astrologer and an alchemist, whose library contained works in fifteen languages but no copy of Shakespeare or Milton. He left a treatise on the Elixir of Life. The second, at the age of nineteen, was "somewhat acquainted with the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, rhetoric, logic, poetry, natural philosophy, arithmetic, geometry, cosmography, astronomy, astrology, geography, theology, physics, dialling, navigation, caligraphy, stenography, drawing, heraldry and history." He also drew horoscopes, wrote treatises on astrology and other sciences, suffered, like his father, for his religion, and when he was twenty-nine married Elizabeth Hartshorne, aged thirteen and a half. They had six children. The third Samuel Jeake was famous for constructing a flying machine, which refused to fly, and nearly killed him.
Rye also possessed an unknown poet. On a blank leaf in an old book in the town's archives is written this poem, in the hand of Henry VIII.'s time:—