Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Brooke, Richard

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BROOKE, RICHARD (1791–1861), antiquary, was a native of Liverpool, where he was born in 1791. His father, also named Richard, was a Cheshire man, who settled in Liverpool early in life, and died there on 15 June 1852, at the age of 91. Richard Brooke the younger practised as a solicitor in Liverpool, and devoted his leisure time to investigations into the history and antiquities of his county, and into certain branches of natural history. One of the favourite occupations of his life was to visit and explore the several fields of battle in England, especially those which were the scenes of conflict between the rival houses of York and Lancaster. The great object he had in view was to compare the statements of the historians with such relics as had survived, and with the traditions of the neighbourhoods where the respective battles had been fought. He was led to this line of research at a comparatively early age during visits to his brother, Mr. Peter Brooke, who resided near Stoke Field. In 1825 he published 'Observations illustrative of the Accounts given by the Ancient Historical Writers of the Battle of Stoke Field, between King Henry the Seventh and John De la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, in 1487, the last that was fought in the Civil Wars of York and Lancaster; to which are added some interesting particulars of the Illustrious Houses of Plantagenet and Neville' (Liverpool, 1825, roy. 8vo). In later years he carried on his researches, and communicated the result to the Society of Antiquaries, of which he was a member, and to the Liverpool Literary and Philosophical Society, in papers which were subsequently published in a volume in 1857, entitled 'Visits to Fields of Battle in England in the Fifteenth Century. To which are added some Miscellaneous Tracts and Papers upon Archæological Subjects' (8vo). The battlefields described are Shrewsbury, Blore Heath, Northampton, Wakefield, Mortimer's Cross, Towton, Tewkesbury, Bosworth, Stoke, Evesham, and Barnet. The additional papers are: 1. 'On the Use of Firearms by the English in the 15th Century.' 2. 'The Family of Wyche, or De la Wyche, in Cheshire.' 3. 'Wilmslow Church in Cheshire.' 4. 'Handford Hall and Cheadle Church in Cheshire.' 5. The Office of Keeper of the Royal Menagerie in the Reign of Edward IV.' 6. 'The Period of the Extinction of Wolves in England.'

He was a member of the council of the Liverpool Literary and Philosophical Society, and read many papers at the meetings of the society. The following, in addition to some of those named above, are printed in its 'Proceedings:'

  1. 'Upon the extraordinary and abrupt Changes of Fortune of Jasper, earl of Pembroke,' vol. x.
  2. 'Life of Richard Neville, the Great Earl of Warwick and Salisbury, called the King Maker,' xii.
  3. 'Life and Character of Margaret of Anjou,' xiii.
  4. 'Visit to Fotheringay Church and Castle,' xiii.
  5. 'Migration of the Swallow,' xiii.
  6. 'On the Elephants used in War by the Carthaginians,' xiv.
  7. 'On the Common or Fallow Deer of Great Britain,' xiv.

In the 'Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire' he published 'Observations on the Inscription of the Common Seal of Liverpool' (i. 76), besides the three Cheshire papers reprinted in the volume of 'visits.' In 1853 he published 'Liverpool as it was during the Last Quarter of the Eighteenth Century, 1775 to 1800' (Liverpool, roy. 8vo, pp. 558). In this he has gathered a body of interesting facts relating to the history of the great port during that period, much of the information being derived from his father. He died at Liverpool on 14 June 1861, in the seventieth year of his age.

[Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, 1862, 2nd ser. ii. 105; prefaces to Brooke's works.]

C. W. S.