GEORGE TOOKE, of Popes, in the county of Hertford, esq. born about 1595, was sent in the unfortunate expedition against Cadiz in 1625, as captain of a band of volunteers, sir Edward Cecil being both admiral of the fleet, and also lieutenant-general and lord marshal of the land forces. On Sept. 3, they joined the fleet at Plymouth, where sir Samuel Argol, who had been employed with 23 sail against the Dunkirkers, came up with the admiral, and brought nine of their ships as prizes. Here they waited so long for the arrival of the king (who knighted several of the officers), that they did not weather the Lizard till Oct. 9; and were 13 days reaching Cadiz, occasioned by a tempest, which Mr. Tooke, who appears to have been a considerable actor in the expedition, has well described in a poem, of which it may be observed, en passant, that the versification is perfectly in the vitiated taste of the times in which it was written; but the thoughts are just and manly, the poetry strong and nervous, and the imagery every where correspondent and true. In a mixture of prose and verse, Mr. Tooke proceeds to describe the various distresses of the fleet, both in their fruitless attack and unsuccessful search of the plate-fleet. "Loud complaints," says Hume, "were made against the court, for entrusting so important a command to a man like Cecil, whom, though he possessed great experience, the people, judging by the event, esteemed of very slender capacity." Nor did their misfortunes cease with their voyage. A severe mortality attended the ships after their arrival at Plymouth. "For my own peculiar," says Mr. Tooke, "though outwardly I held up, and fair awhile after, yet this forbearance wrought so little quittance, that several diseases (hence contracted) laid at length such peremptory fetters of a warm bed and a cautious diet over me, that I was compelled to retire, and verse myself out of that profession which I had formerly been versed in for several years together."
In consequence of these resolutions, he retired to his paternal estate at Popes, where he pursued a learned intimacy with the famous Selden, the learned John Hales of Eton college, Mr. John Greaves, and others; the last of whom, in 1651, dedicates A Description of the Grand Seignior's Seraglio, or the Turkish Emperor's court, to "his honoured and truly noble friend, George Tooke, esq." Here these extraordinary geniuses used to pass their hours in the mutual improvement of their minds, and the cultivation of the virtues; while their fellow-citizens, after imbruing their hands in civil carnage, were engaged in empty disputations and idle contests. In this retirement he had the great affliction to lose his wife, a woman of excellent virtues and uncommon endowments. On which occasion he wrote various canzonets, and dedicated them "to the memory of his deceased very dear wife, Anna Tooke of Beere."
In the same year Mr. Tooke had a proper opportunity of testifying his grief and his friendship, by composing A brief epitaph payed to the merit of my learned kinsman Mr. John Greaves, deceased the 7th of October, 1652.
The manor of Popes had been in this family from 1483. Mr. Thomas Tooke sold it in 1664 to Stephen Ewre and Joshua Lomax; and they the next year to Daniel Shottorden, of Eltham in Kent, esq. He sold it to col. Thomas Taylor; and Taylor to sir David Mitchel, who gave it to his lady for life, and afterwards to his nephew John Mitchel, esq. who was not many years ago the possessor. They were likewise lords of the manor of Worrnley in Hertfordshire, and patrons of the rectory. For, we find by the records, that Henry VIII. at the dissolution of the monastery of Ecclesia Sancta Crucis de Waltham, or Waltham Holy Cross, granted the manor of Wormley, and the advowson of the rectory, to Edward North and his heirs, at the rent of £1. 13s. per ann. He sold it to Elizabeth Woodcliffe, from whom it came to William Woodcliffe of London. This William, by Elizabeth his wife, daughter of Fisher of Longworth, left a daughter Angelot, married to Walter Tooke, of Popes, in Hatfield, esq. This Angelot, as appears by her epitaph on the north side of the chancel of Wormley church, was a second daughter, in right of whom her husband presented to the living alternis vicibus. It appears by Mr. Purvey's epitaph, who married lord Denny's sister, that he also was patron alternis vicibus. Hence it has been conjectured, that Mr. Purvey's father, John, married the elder sister; and they were sharers, in right of their wives, both of the manor and advowson, till it fell entirely to Tooke, upon the elder sister's death. The Purveys presented twice, and the Tookes four times; and the first presentation was Purvey's, as probably marrying the elder sister. Ralph Tooke succeeded his father Walter, and, dying without issue, was buried at Essingdon, and divided the estate between his brothers George and John. George sold his part to Richard Woollaston, esq. who was gun-founder to Oliver Cromwell. He left a son John; and John, a son Richard, who conveyed it to William Fellows, esq. whose eldest son Coulston Fellows, esq. succeeded to it. This Ralph Tooke died December 22, 1635, aged seventy-seven years. He married Jane, the daughter of Edward Byth, of Smallfield in the county of Surrey, esq. She died Dec. 8, 1641. George Tooke, our author, who had the other moiety, called Wormleybury, died possessed of it in 1675, aged eighty years. His device was a hedge-hog; and under it his family motto, "Militia mea multiplex." On which in his old age he wrote, A key to the Hedge-hog combatant; and my motto.