Croke, Richard

, in Latin Crocus, one of the revivers of classical learning, was a native of London, educated at Eton, and admitted scholar of King’s college, Cambridge, April 4, 1506. During the time of his scholarship he went to Oxford, and was instructed in the Greek language by Grocyn. He then went to Paris and some other parts of Europe for further improvement, and continued abroad about twelve years, supported chiefly by the liberality of Warham, archbishop of Canterbury. During his residence there he received a very high honour, that | of being chosen Greek professor at Leipsic, being the fiirt that ever taught Greek in that university. Camerarius was one of his pupils here. He resided at Leipsic from 1514 to 1517, and afterwards for some time at Louvain in the same capacity. But as now the study of the Greek language began to be encouraged in our own universities, and as they could ill spare a scholar of Croke’s accomplishments, he was invited home, and in 1519, by the interest of Fisher, bishop of Rochester, was chosen public orator, and lecturer or teacher of Greek in that university. Here, likewise, as well as at Leipsic, he was the first who publicly and by authority taught Greek, Erasmus, who preceded him, having only made some private attempts; yet, in some respect he may be said to have succeeded that eminent scholar, as in his oration in praise of Greek learning, he makes honourable mention of Erasmus, and speaks modestly of himself as unworthy to succeed him. Erasmus had so good an opinion of him, that knowing he was poor, he desired dean Colet to assist him. In 1524, having proceeded in divinity, he became doctor in that faculty, and Henry VIII. being informed of his abilities, employed him as tutor to his natural son, the duke of Richmond. This promotion led to higher; for, being introduced at court when the question respecting the king’s divorce was agitated, Dr. Croke was thought a proper person to be sent abroad, in order to influence the university of Padua to the king’s side; which he successfully accomplished, although the enemies of that divorce say, not in the most honourable manner. From Collier we learn that Croke owns, in a letter to his royal master, that he had paid various sums to at least five of the members of the universities of Padua and Bologna, in order to keep them steady to the cause. But Burnet appears to explain this matter more to Croke’s honour.

On his return to England, the university of Oxford invited him to settle there, with which he complied in 1532, and taught Greek in Peckwater school (on the site of which Peckwater quadrangle is built), and soon after he was made a canon of Cardinal Wolsey’s college, which he held until 1545, when he removed to Exeter college on a pension of 26l. 135. 6d. per annum, from the smallness of which it has been inferred that he had not now the same interest at court as formerly but long before this, in 1532 f when, upon the death of dean Higden, the canons | supplicated his majesty, through lord Cromwell, that he might be appointed to that office, the request was denied, nor was he afterwards made a canon of the college upon the new foundation by Henry VIII. when it had the name of the King’s college. It appears by his will that he had only the living of Long Buckby, in Northamptonshire, which Dodd supposes was conferred upon him in queen Mary’s time. The same historian thinks that in king Edward’s reign he did not go all the lengths of the reformers, and gives as a proof some reflections against Leland on account of his inconstancy in religion. There can be no doubt, however, of Dr. Croke’s remaining Jinn in the popish religion, for we find him enumerated among the witnesses appointed to discover heresy in archbishop Cranmer’s writings. Dr. Croke died at London in 1558, but where buried is not known. His writings are, 1. “Oratio de Groecarum disciplinarum laudibus,” dated July 1519, and probably printed about that time, 4to. It is dedicated to his fellow collegian, Nicholas West, bishop of Ely; and the date shows the error of those biographers who inform us that he was not chosen Greek professor at Cambridge until 1522. With this is printed “Oratio qua Cantabrigienses est hortatus, ne Grascarum literarum desertores essent.” Before, and at the end of these orations, Gilbert Ducher wrote an epistle in praise of Croke’s learning. 2. “Introductiones ad Grascam linguam,” Cologn, 1520, 4to. 3. “In Ausonium annotationes.” 4. “Elementa Gr. Gram.” 5. “De Verborum constructione.” His Letters from Italy to Henry VIII. on the subject of the divorce may be seen in Burnet’s History of the Reformation, with a full account of his proceedings there, which gives us no very favourable notion of the liberality of his royal employer, and proves that Collier’s accusation of bribery has not much foundation. Croke is also said to have made some translations from the Greek of Theodore Gaza and Elysius Calentinus. Hody says that he and Erasmus translated Gaza’s Greek Grammar in 1518, which may be the same mentioned above; and we suspect that the work “De Verborum constructione” is also from Gaza. Bale and Pits are seldom to be depended on in the titles of books. The fame of Croke has been recently revived on the continent by John Gott. Boehmius, in his “Specimen Literature Lipsicae Saeculo XVI.” 1761, 4to, in which he notices Croke as the reviver of Greek literature in that university. The same author, | in his “Opuscula Academica de Litteratura Lipsiensi,” has published Croke’s “Encomium Academic Lipsiensis.1


Ath. Ox. vol. I. Dodd’s Ch. Hist. Burnet’s Hist. vol. I. p. 87. —Strype’s Cranmer, p. 375. Jortin’s Erasmus. —Saxii Onomast.