John Home Tooke, an English politician, born in Westminster, June 25, 1736, died at Wimbledon, March 18, 1812. He was the son of John Home, a poulterer, was educated at Cambridge, became an usher in a school at Blackheath, took orders, and obtained a curacy in Kent. He was ordained priest in 1760, and for three years officiated in the chapelry of New Brentford. He then went to France as travelling tutor to the son of Elwes the miser. In 1765 he wrote a pamphlet in favor of Wilkes and his party; and on a second visit to the continent he formed at Paris an intimate acquaintance with that politician. On his return in 1767 he took an active interest in political matters, especially in securing the election of Wilkes from Middlesex, In 1769 he was one of the founders of the society for supporting the bill of rights; but its financial affairs involved him in a quarrel with Wilkes, and for this he was attacked by Junius, but defended himself with success. In 1771 he received his degree of M. A. from the university of Cambridge. In 1773, designing to study law, he formally resigned his living.
He rendered great assistance in resisting an enclosure bill which would have reduced the value of some property of his friend William Tooke of Purley, who in return made him his heir; but, though in 1782 he changed his name to Tooke, he never received more than £8,000 from the property. He bitterly opposed the American war, and advertised for a subscription for the widows and orphans of the Americans "murdered by the king's troops at Lexington and at Concord." The ministry prosecuted him for libel, and he was tried at Guildhall in July, 1777. He conducted his own defence, but was condemned to one year's imprisonment and a fine of £200. While confined he published his celebrated "Letter to Mr. Dunning," critically explaining the case of The King v. Lawley, which had been used as a precedent against him on his trial. He declared himself "the victim of two prepositions and a conjunction," which particles he calls "the abject instruments of his civil extinction." After his release in 1779, he applied for admission to the bar, but was rejected on the ground of being a clergyman. He published in 1780, in conjunction with Dr. Price, a pamphlet entitled "Facts," severely reflecting upon Lord North and his prosecution of the American war.
In 1786 appeared the first part of his "Еπεα πτερόντα, or the Diversions of Purley," the object of which was to prove that all parts of speech could he resolved into nouns and verbs, and that all words were at first applied to sensible objects. The second part appeared in 1805 (new ed. by Richard Taylor, with additions from the copy prepared by the author for republication, and his letter to John Dunning, 2 vols. 8vo, 1829; with additional notes by Richard Taylor, 8vo, 1860). In 1787 he published "A Letter to the Prince of Wales" in regard to his supposed marriage with a Roman Catholic. In 1788 appeared his pamphlet "Two Pair of Portraits," in which he drew a contrast between the two Pitts and the two Foxes. In 1794 he was tried for high treason, with Hardy, Thelwall, and others, mainly on the ground of his participation in the action of the "Constitutional Society," and was acquitted, being eloquently defended by Erskine. In 1801 he was returned to the house of commons by Lord Cam-elford for the borough of Old Sarum, and he retained his seat till the dissolution in 1802; but the decision of that parliament that no one in priest's orders could be a member disqualified him from sitting again.
The latter years of his life were spent at Wimbledon. He was never married, hut left several illegitimate children. - See " Memoirs of John Home Tooke, interspersed with Original Documents," by A. Stephens (2 vols. 8vo, 1813), and "Memoirs of John Horne Tooke, Esq., together with his Valuable Speeches ■ and Writings," etc, by John A. Graham (New York, 1828).