Haak, Theodore (DNB00)

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HAAK, THEODORE (1605–1690), translator, was born of Calvinist parentage at Neuhausen, near Worms, in 1605, and was educated at home. In 1625 he came to England and studied at Oxford and Cambridge for a year. After visiting some continental universities, he became a commoner of Gloucester Hall in Oxford in 1629. Here he remained three years, without, however, taking a degree, and was subsequently ordained deacon by Hall, bishop of Exeter. He never received full orders. 'In the time of the German wars,' says Wood, 'he was appointed one of the procurators to receive the benevolence money which was raised in several dioceses in England to be transmitted to Germany, which he usually said was a deacon's work.' Wood vaguely adds that his love of solitude induced him to decline some offers of employment from foreign princes. On the outbreak of the civil war he took sides with the parliament. The Westminster assembly of divines employed him to translate into English the so-called 'Dutch annotations' on the Bible, and for his encouragement the parliament, by a decree dated 30 March 1648, granted him the sole right in the translation for fourteen years from the time of publication. In the following year parliament settled on him a pension of 100l. a year (Commons' Journals, vi. 199; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1656-7, p. 280). During the Commonwealth Haak was often about the council of state. There are various entries in the order books of the council of money gifts to him on account of procuring foreign intelligence and translating documents (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1649-53, 1655-7). In 1657 he published his translation of the Dutch commentary as 'The Dutch Annotations upon the whole Bible; or all the Holy Canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, together with, and according to, their own translation of all the text: as both the one and the other were ordered and appointed by the Synod of Dort, 1618, and published by authority, 1637. Now faithfully communicated to the use of Great Britain, in English, &c. By Theodore Haak, esq.,' 2 vols. fol. London.

About 1645 Haak suggested the meeting together of learned men, which ultimately led to the formation of the Royal Society (Weld, Hist. of Royal Soc. i. 31). On its constitution he was elected a fellow, 20 May 1663. He did not contribute to the 'Philosophical Transactions, 'but communicated to No. 5 of Robert Hooke's 'Philosophical Collections' for February 1681-2 the criticisms of Marin Mersenne and Descartes upon Dr. John Pell's 'An Idea of Mathematicks,' together with the latter's answer. These four letters were sent to Haak by the writers, he 'being a common friend to them all.' Two of his own letters relating to the society and its progress, addressed to Governor John Winthrop of Connecticut, have been printed by R. C. Winthrop in the 'Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society,' and separately, 8vo, Boston, 1878. Writing to Winthrop from London, 22 June 1670, he speaks of many troubles, including a dangerous illness, a troublesome lawsuit, and the death of his wife.

Haak died at the house of his cousin, Frederick Schloer (Anglicè Slare), M.D.,near Fetter Lane, 9 May 1690, and was buried three days later in a vault under the chancel of St. Andrew's, Holborn, his funeral sermon being preached by Dr. Anthony Horneck, F.R.S. (cf. his will registered in P. C. C. 90, Dyke). His virtues and learning won for him the friendship of most of the eminent men of his day quite irrespective of party. There is a portrait of Haak in the Bodleian Gallery at Oxford, which has been engraved by S. Harding.

According to Wood, Haak 'translated into High Dutch several English books of practical divinity.' He also translated into High Dutch in blank verse half of 'Paradise Lost,' which made a great impression upon J. Seobald Fabricius. Before his death he had made ready for the press 'about three thousand proverbs out of the German into the English tongue, and as many of the German from the language of the Spaniard.'

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), iv. 278-80; Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, x. 257; Boyle's Works (Birch); Birch's Hist. of the Royal Society; Masson's Life of Milton, iv. 228, 229, 448, 449; Evelyn's Diary (1850-2), iii. 241; Evans's Cat. of Engraved Portraits, i. 152.]

G. G.