Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Jeake, Samuel

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JEAKE, SAMUEL (1623–1690), puritan antiquary, born at Rye in Sussex, on 9 Oct. 1623, probably belonged to one of the many French protestant refugee families who settled in that place at the close of the sixteenth century. The name, written also Jake, Jaque, Jeakes, and Jacque, points to a French origin. Samuel's father was a baker. His mother, a woman of decided piety, was daughter of the Rev. John Pearson of Peasmarsh, Sussex; she died 20 Nov. 1639. In 1640 Samuel severed his connection with the established church, and was appointed minister of a conventicle—apparently belonging to the antipædobaptists. He afterwards became an attorney-at-law at Rye, and in 1651 was made a freeman and common, or town, clerk. This office he resigned, or was deprived of, after the passing of the act of 1661, excluding dissenters from municipal corporations. As a sectarian preacher, Jeake came into frequent collision with the authorities. He was prosecuted before the privy council in 1681, and his meeting-house was shut up. Next year he was again delated, under the Five Miles Act, and, being brought to London, remained there till 1687, when the toleration which James II extended to the dissenters enabled him to return to Rye. There he remained, ‘and spake in the meeting till his death’ on 3 Oct. 1690 (cf. Rye parish register). He married in 1651 Frances Hartridge of Pembury, Kent, and by her had three children, of whom Samuel (see below) survived him.

Jeake was a nonconformist who adhered to no one of the great denominations of his time; he disliked the presbyterians as heartily as he disliked the church, and he spoke contemptuously of the independents as ‘Babell, from the differences that have happened among the master-builders.’ He wrote voluminously upon theological controversy, astrology, and antiquarian subjects, but published nothing himself. While town-clerk, he bought for one guinea the whole collection of statutes referring to the Cinque ports, which belonged to the borough of Rye. This was the foundation of his magnum opus on ‘The Charters of the Cinque Ports, two Ancient Towns, and their Members. Translated into English, with Annotations, Historical and Critical, thereupon. Wherein divers old Words are explain'd, and some of their ancient Customs and Privileges observ'd,’ completed in 1678, but not printed until 1728. The book has long enjoyed a high reputation (Horsfield, Sussex, i. 500). A translation of Charles II's charter to the Cinque ports, published for the mayor and jurats of Hastings (1682), is also attributed to Samuel Jeake the elder.

Jeake dabbled in alchemy, and made an elaborate calculation of his own horoscope. He had a large library, valued at 145l. 5s. 11d., and compiled a catalogue (Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. v. 134). Remains of a storehouse built by him, and of a curious horoscope on the front, still exist in Mermaid Street, Rye. Jeake's ‘Logisticelogia, or Arithmetic Surveighed and Reviewed. In Four Books, etc., by Samuel Jeake, Senior,’ was published in London in 1696, fol., edited by his son.

Jeake, Samuel, the younger (1652–1699), astrologer, the only surviving son, born at Rye 4 July 1652, was educated by his father, early became an astrologer, and kept a careful diary, which is still extant. Like his father, he was a nonconformist, and suffered persecution, especially in 1685. By trade he was a wool-stapler and general merchant, but through life was a hard student and given to preaching. He died at Rye 23 Nov. 1699. He married a girl of thirteen, Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Hartshorne, formerly master of Rye grammar school, and by her left several children. His widow afterwards married one Tucker. Samuel Jeake, his third child (b. 3 June 1697), known as ‘Conjuror’ or ‘Councellor’ Jeake, attained notoriety by an attempt to construct a flying machine, and other fantastic schemes. He went to Jamaica, practised at the bar there, and was living in 1746.

The Jeake MSS. are preserved at Brickwall, Northiam, Sussex. Extracts from them have appeared in the ‘Sussex Archæological Collections.’

[Holloway's History of Rye; Sussex Archæol. Collections, vols. iv. v. ix. xii. xiii. xvi. and xxxi.; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. ix. 700.]

E. H. M.