Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Tuke, Brian
TUKE, Sir BRIAN (d. 1545), secretary to Henry VIII, was apparently son of Richard Tuke (d. 1498?) and Agnes his wife, daughter of John Bland of Nottinghamshire (Essex Pedigrees, Harl. Soc. xiv. 609; Visit. of Notts.) The family, whose name is variously spelt Tuke, Toke, and Tooke, was settled in Kent, and Sir Brian's father or grandfather, also named Richard, is said to have been tutor to Thomas Howard, second duke of Norfolk [q. v.] Possibly it was through Norfolk's influence that Brian Tuke was introduced at court; in 1508 he was appointed king's bailiff of Sandwich, and in 1509 he was clerk of the signet. On 30 July in the same year he was made feodary of Wallingford and St. Walric, and on 28 Oct. was appointed clerk of the council at Calais. On 20 Dec. 1512 he was placed on the commission of the peace for Kent, and on 28 Nov. 1513 on that for Essex. In 1516 he was made a knight of the king's body, and in 1517 'governor of the king's posts' (for Tuke's account of the organisation of the postal service, see State Papers, Henry VIII, i. 404-6). For some time Tuke was secretary to Wolsey, and in 1522 he was promoted to be French secretary to the king; an enormous amount of correspondence passed through his hands, and there are more than six hundred references to him in the fourth volume alone of Brewer's Letters and Papers of Henry VIII. On 17 April 1523 Tuke was granted the clerkship of parliament surrendered by John Taylor (d. 1534) [q. v.] In 1528 he was one of the commissioners appointed to treat for peace with France, and in the same year was made treasurer of the household. In February 1530-1 Edward North (afterwards first Baron North) [q. v.] was associated with him in the clerkship of parliaments, and in 1533 Tuke served as sheriff of Essex and Hertfordshire. Among the numerous grants with which his services were rewarded Tuke received the manors of Southweald, Layer Marney, Thorpe, and East Lee in Essex. He performed his official duties to the king's satisfaction, avoided all pretence to political independence, and retained his posts until his death at Layer Marney on 26 Oct. 1545. He was buried with his wife in St. Margaret's, Lothbury.
Tuke married Grissell, daughter of Nicholas Boughton of Woolwich, and by her, who died on 28 Dec. 1538, had issue three sons and three daughters. The eldest son, Maximilian, predeceased him; the second, Charles, died soon after him, and the property devolved on the third, George Tuke, who was sheriff of Essex in 1567. Of the daughters, the eldest, Elizabeth, married George, ninth or eighteenth baron Audley; and the second, Mary, married Sir Reginald Scott of Scott's Hall, Kent [see under Scott, Sir William, d. 1350].
No fewer than six portraits of Tuke are ascribed to Holbein, whose salary it was Tuke's business to pay. One is in the old Pinacothek at Munich; another belongs to Lord Methuen, and is at Corsham Court; a third belonged in 1869 to Mr. W. M. Tuke of Saffron Walden; a fourth to the Duke of Westminster (cf. Cat. Third Loan Exhib. No. 625); and a fifth to Mr. John Leslie Toke of Godinton Park, Kent (Athenæum, 1869, ii. 376, 408, 442); a sixth belonged to Mr. J. R. Haig (Notes and Queries, 4th ser. v. 313). One of these belonged to Lord Lisle, son of the Earl of Leicester, in 1678 (Evelyn, Diary, 27 Aug. 1678). Tuke was a patron of learning as well as of art; Leland speaks of his eloquence, and celebrates his praises in nine Latin poems (Encomia, pp. 4, 15, 22, 31, 34, 38, 40, 47, 77). He wrote the preface to Thynne's edition of Chaucer published in 1532 [see Thynne, William]. He is said to have written against Polydore Vergil [q. v.], and to have been one of the authors from whom Holinshed derived his facts; probably the latter reference is merely to Tuke's numerous letters and state papers, many of which, extant among the Cottonian manuscripts and in the Record Office, have been calendared in Brewer and Gairdner's ' Letters and Papers of Henry VIII.'[State Papers, Henry VIII, passim; Cotton. MSS.; Letters and Papers of Henry VIII; Ellis's Original Letters, 4th ser. ii. 270; Acts of the Privy Council, ed. Nicolas, vol. vii. and ed. Dasent, vol. i.; Stow's Survey; Rymer's Foedera; Bale's Cat. Scriptt. 111.; Tanner's Bibl. Brit.-Hib.; Morant's Essex, i. 117, 118, 407: Nichols's Lit. Anecdotes, ix. 163-4; Gent. Mag. 1831, i. 585; Notes and Queries, 4th ser. iv. 313, 489, v. 24, 77, 266, 313, 517; Brewer's Henry VIII, i. 66, ii. 272, 276, 370.]