Tooke, John Horne

Tooke, John Horne, 1736–1812, English radical politician and philologist. Born John Horne, he adopted the name Tooke in 1782 after being designated heir to the estate of a rich friend, William Tooke. He became (1760) an Anglican priest but soon abandoned his clerical duties for politics. He was a strong supporter of John Wilkes until 1771, when he broke with him and founded the Constitutional Society to promote parliamentary reform and support for the American colonists. He was fined and imprisoned (1778) for attempting to raise funds to aid the victims of the government “murder” at Lexington and Concord. In 1794, in a period of repression of radical agitation, Tooke was tried for treason but acquitted. In 1801 he was elected to Parliament, but in the same year the government passed an act (specifically directed against him) that disqualified clergy from sitting in the House of Commons. Tooke's later years were devoted to literary pursuits. His Epea Pteroenta, or the Diversions of Purley (1786–1805) was an early attempt at scientific language study.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: British and Irish History: Biographies