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Coke, Sir John

COKE, SIR JOHN (1563-1644), English politician, was born on the 5th of March 1563, and was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. After leaving the university he entered public life as a servant of William Cecil, Lord Burghley, afterwards becoming deputy-treasurer of the navy and then a commissioner of the navy, and being specially commended for his labours on behalf of naval administration. He became member of parliament for Warwick in 1621 and was knighted in 1624, afterwards representing the university of Cambridge. In the parliament of 1625 Coke acted as a secretary of state; in this and later parliaments he introduced the royal requests for money, and defended the foreign policy of Charles I. and Buckingham, and afterwards the actions of the king. His actual appointment as secretary dates from September 1625. Disliked by the leaders of the popular party, his speeches in the House of Commons did not improve the king's position, but when Charles ruled without a parliament he found Coke's industry very useful to him. The secretary retained his post until 1639, when a scapegoat was required to expiate the humiliating treaty of Berwick with the Scots, and the scapegoat was Coke. Dismissed from office, he retired to his estate at Melbourne in Derbyshire, and then resided in London, dying at Tottenham on the 8th of September 1644. Coke's son, Sir John Coke, sided with the parliament in its struggle with the king, and it is possible that in later life Coke's own sympathies were with this party, although in his earlier years he had been a defender of absolute monarchy. Coke, who greatly disliked the papacy, is described by Clarendon as "a man of very narrow education and a narrower mind"; and again he says, "his cardinal perfection was industry and his most eminent infirmity covetousness."

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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