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CHAP. tled, upon occasion of his matching with a gentlewoman of that county. For the family was anciently of the Isle Anno 1514. of Wight, where it long flourished in wealth and reputation, and received accessions of honour by divers intermarriages. For Hayward, who wrote the life of King Edward VI. must be corrected, who, in that book, hath done this gentleman wrong, in disparaging his pedigree, as though it were obscure; where, speaking of the Prince's tutors, Dr. Cox and Sir John Cheke, he describes them to have been "of mean birth; and that they might be said to be "born of themselves, for the esteem of their virtue and "learning, by reason of the place of their employment."
He was the son and heir of Peter Cheke, a younger brother of the ancient house of the Chekes of Motston in the Isle of Wight. For to fetch his genealogy for some generations backward, as it lies in the visitation-books of the heralds; Richard Cheke of Motston, in the time of Richard II. married one of the daughters of Montacute, or Montague. His son was called Edward, who married a daughter of Trenenian. By whom he had John Cheke of Motstone, that matched with a daughter of Tremain. By whom he had issue John, whose wife was a daughter of Glamorgan, of the county of Southampton. His son was Robert, who married the daughter of Bremshot of Bremshot. Whose sons were David and Peter, the father of John Cheke, the subject of our story. David's line for divers generations after him enjoyed Motstone.
The family of the Chekes.
Peter, the second son, married Agnes, daughter of Dufford [i. e. De Ufford, a great name once] of the county of Cambridge, a grave, wise, and good woman. Ascham, in one of his epistles, styles her venerandam illam fœminam, i. e. that venerable woman. By whom Peter had Anne, married to George Allington; Alice, to Dr. Blithe, the first public King's Reader of the Physic Lecture in the University of Cambridge. He was of King's college, and sometime Proctor there; and a traveller beyond sea: Elizabeth, to Spering; Mary, matched with Sir William Cecil, afterwards Secretary of State to King Edward and Queen
Elizabeth; and Magdalen, first married to Eresby, then SECT. to John Purefoy of Leicestershire. And besides these daughters, he had, by the same Agnes, John his son and Anno 1514. heir.
If one were minded to seek further after this family, we Others of might be told of one Margaret Cheke, who obtained a li- of the cence from King Richard III. to found a chauntry for one Chekes. Priest, in the parish church of Long Ashton, nigh Bristol; book of that which bespake her a person of quality and wealth. We King. might be told, that some of this name were dispersed in Suffolk, where, in the parish church of Debnam, anno 1440, Weev. Mon. was buried John Cheke, gentleman. There also lay buried Robert Cheke, and Rose his wife, as appears by a monumental inscription there. The name also flourished in the city of London in Queen Elizabeth's time: where was also one John Cheke, a wealthy citizen of the Company of Mercers; who, upon a loan from the city, anno 1588, that memorable year, (when the richest sort of all the companies lent their proportions to the Queen,) for his share lent her 1007. To which I add another Cheke, named also John, ordained Deacon anno 1560, by Grindal, Bishop of London; which John is charactered in the Book of Ordinations to be libera conditionis, et laudabilis commendatio- Regist, Bp. nis, i. e. of genteel extract, as well as laudable life and
These I the rather mention, to extinguish that ill report Cheke's family vinSir John Hayward had suggested to the world of our dicated. Cheke's mean birth; whom Dr. Fuller also hath taken notice of with some just indignation, leaving him this character for his pains, that "he was a learned pen, but too Full. Wor"free in dealing disgraceful characters on the subjects "thereof:" adding this further account of Cheke's family, that the paternal estate was 300l. per annum, never increased nor diminished till twenty years ago, [that is, so many years before the time of Fuller's writing this,] when it was sold outright; and that one of those Chekes in Richard the II.'s days married a daughter of the Lord. Mountague's; though it may be inquired, whether that
CHAP. family were advanced to the honour of barons so anciently as that King's time.
et seq. In what
The gentleman of whom we are to write was born in the year 1514, as I collect from his age, when he was called in for a witness to answer certain interrogatories Mon. first concerning Bishop Gardiner, in December or January, anno edit. p. 807. 1550, being then set down to be thirty-six years of age: A MS. of and more certainly from his nativity, calculated by his dear friend Sir Thomas Smith, that he was born the same year, on the 16th day of June, at two of the clock five minutes afternoon. And perhaps it may not be unacceptable to some to exhibit this scheme of his nativity, drawn up by so notable a man.
His parents' character.
His parents bore a repute in Cambridge for their honesty and integrity: and that character Gardiner Bishop of Winchester himself gave of them; who, while he lived
in Cambridge, and resided in Trinity hall there, main- SECT. tained a good acquaintance and friendship with them, as in one of his controversial letters to Cheke he hints; tell- Ann. 1514, ing him, that he had his a education under honest parents, and such as were among the number of the best.
His education, proficiency; usefulness at St. John's
HE was bred up to learning, and from the grammar Admitted school was admitted into St. John's college in Cambridge. John's. Which, as it communicated good literature and sound religion to him, so he afterwards proved a singular ornament to it. For here he seemed not only to receive the grounds of learning, but also the principles of true religion, and the knowledge and love of the Gospel, which he so closely adhered to, and so heartily professed, and endured so much for afterwards. For this was one of the colleges in that University, which in Cardinal Wolsey's days was noted for reading privately the holy Scriptures and Luther's books, and for their discovering thereby the abuses of religion. In this college, in the middle and latter times of King Henry VIII. many excellently learned persons sprang up, who unveiled and exposed the gross errors and corruptions wherewith the Popes of Rome and their party had imposed upon the Church of Christ. Here were the Levers and the Pilkintons, afterwards exceeding useful preachers under King Edward, and exiles under Queen Mary. Here was Taylor, afterward Bishop of Lincoln, turned out of the House of Lords in Queen Mary's first Parliament, for no reason, whatsoever was pretended, unless for his religion. Here were Roger Ascham, Hutchinson, Raven, Grindal, (tutor to the Lady Elizabeth,) and divers others, who disputed at home, and offered to do so more publicly in the Schools, against the Mass.
a Educatus ex parentibus probis atque adeo optimis. Ep. D. Winton. Checo, de Pronunt.
et seq. Made the King's Scholar.
Cheke so closely plied his studies, that he soon became a scholar of note, and, though but young, arrived to excelAnn. 1534, lent skill in the learned languages. So that the commendation of him, and of his parts and abilities, came to the King, chiefly by the means of Dr. Butts, the King's Physician, who was Cheke's great friend, counsellor, and the encourager of his studies, and whom he called his patron; and to whom he once wrote a pious letter from Hartford, (where he was with Prince Edward,) upon a fit of sickness. For Cheke being once at Court with Butts, he took occasion to recommend him to the King for a singular scholar, and particularly for his study and proficiency in the Greek tongue. And being thus known to the King, he soon after advanced him to the honour to be his Scholar, together with one Smith of Queen's college, afterwards sufficiently known, being Secretary of State, and employed in embassies abroad. To both whom the King exhibited for the encouragement of their studies, and for the bearing of their expenses of travel into foreign countries. A very good practice formerly used by our Princes, to fit and train up young scholars for the service of the King and Court, to be Ambassadors, Secretaries, Privy Counsellors, Bishops, Tutors to the nobility, and the like; having learned the languages of other countries, acquainted themselves with their customs, and visited the Courts of Princes. This qualified Cheke to be sent for to the Court, and to have the young Prince Edward committed to his care and charge, as we shall see by and by.
And as he and Smith were partners and consorts in the King's favour, so were they constant companions, being both of like age, conditions, studiousness, and pursuing the same methods of good learning. And though there was an emulation between them, who should outdo the other, yet so generous were the tempers of these young men, that it was so far from begetting envy between them, that, on the contrary, it knit them together in the most intimate friendship and endearments, like natural brethren.
b Sir Thomas.