Brooke, John Charles

, late Somerset-herald, was the son of William Brooke, M. D. of Fieidhead, near Dodsworth in Yorkshire, and a gentleman by descent. He was born in 1748, and put apprentice to Mr. James Kirkby, a chemist, in Bartlett’s-buildings, London; but discovering a strong turn to heraldic pursuits, and having, by a pedigree of the Howard family, which he drew, attracted the notice of the then duke of Norfolk, he procured him a place in the college of arms, by the title of Rouge Croix pursuivant, in 1775, from which, in 1778. he was advanced to that of Somerset herald, which office he held at his death, and by the interest of the present duke of Norfolk he was also one of the lieutenants in the militia of the West Riding of Yorkshire. On Feb. 3, 1794, he was suffocated, with his friend Mr. Pingo of York, and many other persons, in attempting to get into the pit at the little theatre in the Hay market. It did not appear that he had been thrown down, but was suffocated as he stood; his countenance had the appearance of sleep, and even the colour in his cheeks remained. He was interred, with great respect, and the attendance of the principal members of the college and of the society of antiquaries, Feb. 6, in a vault under the heralds’ seat, in the church of St. Bennet, Paul’s Wharf. A mural monument, by Ashton, has since been placed over his remains by Edmund Lodge x esq. Lancaster herald.

Mr. Brooke, by a well-regulated ceconomy, had acquired about 14,000l. By his will he appointed his two sisters executrixes and residuary legatees, and bequeathed his Mss. to the college of arms. He made many collections, chiefly relative to the county of York. His father inheriting the Mss. of his great uncle, the rev. | Brooke, which he had made as a foundation for the topography of that great division of the kingdom, they came into his hands, and he greatly enlarged them by his own industry, and by copying the manuscripts of Jennings and Tellyson, which treated upon the same subject. His collections were not confined to Britain; but he added much to his literary labours whilst on a tour to the continent. The whole shew his judgment as well as application. Becoming, April 6, 1775, a member of the society of antiquaries, he enriched their volumes with some curious papers relative to the ancient seal of Robert baron Fitzwaltet, and those of queens Catharine Parr and Mary d'Este; illustrations of a Saxon inscription in Kirkdale church, in the North Riding of Yorkshire, and another in Aldborough church, in Holderness; and of a deed belonging to the manor of Nether-Sillington, in Yorkshire. Some items of his, signed J. B. appear in the Gentleman’s Magazine; and the first writers of the age in history, biography, and topography, have been indebted to him. 1


Gent. Mag. vol. LX IV 7 Noble’s College of Arms.