The John Hooke Tragedy

to Isle of Wight History Centre
The Scientist, The Grocer, The Governor and Grace. Full commentary
Hooke's Diary Extracts from Robert Hooke's diary 1672-1680
Newport Corporation Documents relating to the suicide of John Hooke.
Hooke Family Tree
John Hooke Timeline
Hooke Family Home
Freshwater area in the 17th century
Hooke and Geology
Freshwater Parish
Robert Hooke Timeline
Sir Robert Holmes Timeline
Character Glossary


An Introduction

In 1678, John Hooke, the unknown brother of the famous London scientist, Robert Hooke, was found hanging in a house in Newport on the Isle of Wight. Recent examination of this suicide has brought to light a number of surprising and puzzling relationships and connections, centred on the Hooke family. The nature of these relationships reveals information on the morals, attitudes and thinking of the seventeenth century mind as well as the pressures of seventeenth century society.

In the years leading up to his suicide, John Hooke was running up an increasing debt with his brother, Robert, while, shortly before his death, John’s daughter, Grace, began courting the semi-piratical Admiral and Governor of the Isle of Wight, Sir Robert Holmes.

With the social and economic pressures of being the Mayor of Newport mounting, John may have also discovered that his brother, Robert, had been having sex with his daughter up in his lodgings at Gresham College in London, where she had become his house-keeper.

New evidence now suggests that it was John’s daughter, Grace, who was the unknown mother of Robert Holmes’s illegitimate daughter, Mary, who was born in 1678, the same year John was found hanging in Newport.

Both Hooke brothers, sons of a minor clergyman, remained unrecognised at their deaths.The elder brother, who seemed to promise so much, died leaving very little.The younger, who was so weak and sickly in his early life that early death was expected, died leaving a very rich scientific and intellectual legacy that has only been recognised in the last hundred years.

Research and text by Rob Martin for The Isle of Wight History Centre.
Produced by The Isle of Wight History Centre.
Thanks to Roger Hewitt for technical help.
Created: July 2000.
Updated: April 2006

Any further information gratefully accepted.

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