Croke, Sir George

, the third son of sir John Croke of Buckinghamshire, was born at Chilton in that county in 1559, and educated at the free school of Thame, from whence, about the year 1576, he went to Oxford, and became a commoner, or gentleman commoner, of University college; but before he took any degree, he was removed to the Inner Temple, where he studied law. Here he was autumn reader in 1599, treasurer in 1609, and double reader in Lent 1617. In June 1623 he was knighted and made king’s serjeant; and Feb. 22, 1624, was created one of the justices of the common-pleas, which office he held till 1628, when, upon the death of sir John Doderidge, he succeeded him as justice of the king’s bench. In 1636 he gained great credit by taking the part of Hampden in the case of ship-money, without losing the king’s favour. Sir George had purchased an estate at Waterstoke, in Oxfordshire, and not long before his death he petitioned king Charles to be discharged from his office of judge on account of his age, being then upwards of eighty years old, when his majesty was pleased, in consideration of his long and faithful services, to excuse him from any farther attendance, either on the bench or circuit, but ordered that he should remain in office, and his salary be continued. After this he retired to Waterstoke, where he died Feb. 16, 1641. Sir George had another estate at Studley, near Waterstoke, where, in 1639, he endowed some almshouses. His epitaph at Watarstoke gives him | a character which has never been contradicted; that he was distinguished for acute judgment and presence of mind inherited au integrity of heart which neither threats nor honours could seduce and that he poised in equal balance the prerogative of the crown and liberties of the people.

The “Reports” of sir George Croke have obtained the character of great authenticity. There have been several editions, as in 1657, 1658, 1661, all of which are called the first edition, and are frequently without tables of the principal matters; there is also a very incorrect edition, varying in the numbers from the other editions, and the dates are printed in numerical letters MDCL. &c. An edition of 1669, which is called the second, is well printed in 3 vols, but has no references. The third, also in 3 vols, fol. was translated and published by his son-in-law, sir Harbottle Grimstone, in 1683 or 1685, with tables and references. This first led the way in divesting this branch of legal literature of the foreign idiom, and substituting the author’s native language. The fourth and last edition, in 4 vols. 8vo, 1790 1792, with additions and marginal notes, and many references to later authorities, including several from the ms notes of lord chief baron Parker, was published by Thomas Leach, esq. There is an accurate abridgment of Croke’s Reports, three parts, 8vo, by Will. Hughes, esq, published in 1685. Sir George Croke’s arguments on ship-money were published with those of sic Richard Hutton. Lloyd, no friend to the patriots of Charles I.'s time, remarks that the share in this tax for which Hampden went to law was eighteen shillings, and that it cost the nation eighteen millions. 1


Ath. Ox. vol. II.—Ward’s Gresham Professors.—Lloyd’s State Worthies. —Fuller’s Worthies.—Bridgman’s Legal Bibliography.