Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Feake, Christopher

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FEAKE, CHRISTOPHER (fl. 1645-1660), Fifth-monarchy man, began public life as an independent minister. His earlier history is unknown. Edwards reports that in 1645 he was a preacher in London without settled charge. At St. Peter's, Cornhill, St. Mary's Woolchurch, and elsewhere as opportunity served, he discoursed 'many strange and odd things' in favour of close communion and gathered churches, and against tithes and the Westminster Assembly. In January 1646 he obtained the sequestered vicarage of All Saints, Hertford. Here he did not observe the order of public worship prescribed by the directory (1644); he discarded psalm-singing and the use of the Lord's Prayer, and refrained from baptising infants. In his preaching he predicted the downfall of all governments, on the ground of their enmity to Christ; that of Holland was doomed 'for tolerating Arminianism.' He seems to have secured a following who, when articles were exhibited against Feake by a justice of peace at the Hertford assizes, invaded the court, crying,'We will maintain our minister with our blood.' The judge dismissed the case, and Feake on the following Sunday had 'a great auditory' to listen to his counterblast against the articles. In 1649, on the sequestration of William Jenkyn [see Finch, Edward, fl. 1630–1641], Feake received the vicarage of Christ Church, Newgate, and one of the lectureships at St. Anne's, Blackfriars. On 28 April 1650 he preached at Mercers' Chapel, before the lord mayor (Thomas Foote), a Fifth-monarchy sermon, which was published. Soon after this he gathered or joined a baptist church meeting at Blackfriars, and subsequently in Warwick Lane. He wrote against the quakers.

Feake's preaching became more and more virulent in its attacks on the existing government. He spoke of Cromwell (18 Dec. 1653) as 'the most dissembling and perjured villain in the world.' For this and the like language he was brought before the council of state, deprived of his preferment, and committed to Windsor Castle. He appears to have been liberated in 1655, but was soon brought again before the council, and having been examined by Cromwell, was sent back to Windsor. Cromwell did not send him for trial, on the ground that the sentence would have been death. He was not treated with severity, and in the summer of 1656 we find him, though still nominally a prisoner, living in London in his 'own hired house,' with a 'souldier' appointed to keep him.

The idea of a speedy approach of our Lord's millennial reign was very widely diffused among all classes of religionists at the time of the Common wealth. Feake occupies a middle position between the quiet dreamers and the armed fanatics who are alike included under the head of Fifth-monarchy men. His violence was exclusively of the tongue. He seems to have been set at full liberty on Cromwell's death, and in 1660 he disappears from view. At the time of his arrest (1653) he had a wife and eight children.

The following list of Feake's publications is probably incomplete: 1. 'The Genealogy of Christianity,' &c. 1650, 4to (sermon on Acts xi. 26, mentioned above; it is dedicated to the lord mayor). 2. 'Recommendatory Epistle,' prefixed to 'The Little Horns Doom,' &c. 1651, 8vo, by Mary Cary, afterwards Rande, a millenarian. 3. Advertisement to the Reader,' signed by Feake and others, prefixed to 'A Faithful Discovery,' &c. 1653, 4to; 2nd edit. 1655, 4to (a work against the Yorkshire quakers by John Pomroy, Joseph Kellet, and Paul Glissen). 4. 'The New Nonconformist,' &c. 1654. 4to (written from his 'watchtower' in Windsor Castle). 5, 'The Oppressed Close Prisoner in Windsor Castle,' &c. 1655, 4to. 6. Address 'to the Reader' prefixed to 'Mr. Tillinghast's Eight last Sermons.' &c. 1656. 8vo (this also is written from his 'watchtower;' he mentions that it was his second imprisonment. John Tillinghast, who died early in 1655, was minister of a congregational church at Trunch, Norfolk, and a Fifth-monarchy man). 7. Address 'to the Readers' on church government, prefixed to 'The Prophets Malachy and Isaiah prophecying to the Saints,' &c. 1656, 4to (mentions his 'hired house' and the 'souldier'). 8. 'The Time of the End,' &c. 1657, 12mo, by John Canne [q. v.], preface by Feake, 9. 'A Beam of Light,' &c. 1659, 4to (the pamphlet deals with recent political history).

Feake is mentioned in 'The Declaration of Prophetick Proposals, touching Mr. Feak, &c. 1653 [i.e. February 1654], by Arise Evans, a kindred but more distracted spirit. A tract entitled 'Proh Tempora! Proh Mores!' 1654, 4to, by 'J. N., a Mechanick,' refers to a publication called 'Mr. Christopher Feakes Exhortations,' and mentions that although Feake 'derides psalmsinging' he 'makes new songs.' A publication entitled 'A Word for All: or the Rump's Funerall Sermon, held forth by Mr. Feak to a Conventicle of Fanatiques at Bedlam,' &c. 1660, 4to, is a lampoon upon Feake.

[Edwards's Gangræna, 1648, pt. iii.; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. 1692, ii. 412; Calamy's Account, 1713, p. 19; Brook's Lives of the Puritans, 1813. iii. 308 sq.; Wilson's Dissenting Churches, 1814, iv. 133; Browne's History of Congregationalism in Norfolk and Suffolk. 1877, p. 295; works cited above.]

A. G.