Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Tuke, Samuel (d.1674)

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TUKE, Sir SAMUEL (d. 1674), royalist and playwright, third son of George Tuke of Frayling, Essex, was admitted to Gray's Inn on 14 Aug. 1635, at the same time as his eldest brother, George Tuke ( Foster, Gray's Inn Register, p. 208; cf. Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1660–1, p. 152). When the civil war broke out Tuke entered the king's army. In March 1644 he was in command at Lincoln, fought at Marston Moor in July, and in September following was in Wales with the division of northern horse which had escaped from that battle (Pythouse Papers, p. 24; Warburton, Prince Rupert, i. 524). In 1645 Tuke was serving in the west of England under Goring, and, being the eldest colonel of horse in that army, expected to be made major-general of the horse. Being disappointed of his hope through the double dealing of Lieutenant-general George Porter, he resigned his commission and endeavoured to force Porter to a duel, but was obliged by the council of war to apologise for his conduct (Bulstrode, Memoirs, pp. 141–7). In 1648 Tuke was one of the defenders of Colchester, and acted as one of the commissioners for the besieged when it capitulated (Carter, True Relation of the Expedition of Kent, Essex, and Colchester, pp. 172, 212, 217; Rushworth, vii. 1241; Report on the Manuscripts of the Duke of Beaufort, pp. 23, 30, 43).

In 1649 Evelyn mentions meeting ‘my cousin Tuke’ at Paris (Diary, ed. Wheatley, ii. 8). He remained abroad during the Protectorate. On 20 Sept. 1657 Queen Henrietta Maria recommended him to Charles II as secretary to the Duke of York, to which the king, at Hyde's instigation, replied that he was in no degree fit for that office (Cal. Clarendon Papers, iii. 237, 319, 330, 365, 370). Tuke was in March 1653 in attendance on the Duke of Gloucester, and had hopes of becoming his governor. ‘I will undertake for him if he can get that charge,’ writes Nicholas, ‘he shall not stick to conform to any profession of religion’ (Nicholas Papers, ii. 11). By 1659, if not earlier, he had become a Roman catholic (Evelyn, iii. 252).

After the Restoration Tuke was treated with great favour by Charles II, who charged him with missions to the French court—in October 1660 to reconcile the queen mother to the Duke of York's marriage with Anne Hyde, and on 1 March 1661 to condole on the death of Cardinal Mazarin (ib. ii. 118, 125). He was knighted on 3 March 1663–4, and created baronet on 31 March following (Le Neve, Knights, p. 180). Tuke was prominent as an advocate of the claims of loyal catholics to a remission of the penal laws, and was heard on their behalf before the House of Lords on 21 June 1661 (Lords' Journals, xi. 276, 286), and, according to Evelyn, also on 4 July 1660 and 15 March 1673 (Diary, ii. 114, 289). He was one of the first members of the Royal Society. Wood describes him as ‘a person of complete honour and ingenuity,’ and Evelyn frequently mentions him with high praise. ‘I do find him,’ writes Pepys, describing an accidental meeting with Tuke at his bookseller's, ‘I think a little conceited, but a man of very fine discourse as any I ever heard almost’ (15 Feb. 1669). Tuke died at Somerset House in the Strand on 26 Jan. 1673–4, and was buried in the chapel there.

According to Evelyn, Tuke married twice (Diary, ii. 165, 231). His first wife is vaguely described as ‘kinswoman to my Lord Arundel of Wardour’ (ib.) His second wife, who survived him, was Mary, daughter of Ralph Sheldon, ‘one of the dressers belonging to Queen Catherine’ (Wood, Athenæ, ii. 802). Letters from Mrs. Evelyn to her are printed in the appendix to Evelyn's ‘Diary’ (ed. Wheatley, iv. 59, 62). In 1679 she was accused of tampering with one of the witnesses to the popish plot (Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. p. 477).

Tuke's eldest son, Charles, baptised 19 Aug. 1671, fought for James II in Ireland as a captain in Tyrconnel's horse, and died of the wounds he received at the battle of the Boyne (Evelyn, Diary, ii. 265, iii. 90; D'Alton, King James's Irish Army List, i. 60, 87). With him the baronetcy became extinct.

Tuke was the author of a play called ‘The Adventures of Five Hours,’ a tragi-comedy, the first edition of which appeared in 1663, and a third and revised edition in 1671. It is an adaptation of Calderon ‘recommended to me,’ says Tuke, ‘by his sacred majesty as an excellent design.’ According to Pepys, it was acted at Lincoln's Inn Fields for the first time on 8 Jan. 1663. ‘The play,’ he says, ‘in one word is the best for the variety, and the most excellent continuance of the plot to the end, that ever I saw, or think ever shall, and all possible, not only to be done in the time, but in most other respects very admittable and without one word of ribaldry.’ ‘Othello,’ he adds, seemed ‘a mean thing to him’ after seeing Tuke's play (Diary, iii. 8, v. 407, ed. Wheatley). It is reprinted in Hazlitt's edition of Dodsley's ‘Old Plays’ (xv. 185). Complimentary verses by Evelyn, Cowley, and others are prefixed to the second edition. In the ‘Session of the Poets’ Cowley is charged that he ‘writ verses unjustly in praise of Sam Tuke,’ and Tuke's poetical pretensions are laughed at:

Sam Tuke sat and formally smiled at the rest,
But Apollo, who well did his vanity know,
Called him to the bar to put him to the test,
But his muse was so stiff she scarcely could go.

She pleaded her age, desired a reward:
It seems in her age she doted on praise;
But Apollo resolved that such a bold bard
Should never be graced with a periwig of bays.

There is some reason for attributing to Tuke a share in the authorship of ‘Pompey the Great,’ 1664. He is mentioned as one of its authors in a catalogue of Herringman's publications in 1684 (Dodsley, xv. 188). He also contributed to the transactions of the Royal Society a history of the ordering and generation of green Colchester oysters, printed in Spratt's ‘History of the Royal Society,’ p. 307. A pamphlet on the character of the king is attributed to him in the ‘Hatton Correspondence’ (i. 20).

[A brief account of Tuke is given in Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ii. 802, ed. 1721, which is copied in Dodd's Church History, iii. 251. Authorities cited.]

C. H. F.