Richard Croke

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Richard Croke (or Crocus) (c. 1489–1558) was an English classical scholar and a royal tutor and agent.

Early life and education[edit]

He was educated at Eton College.[1] He took his BA at King's College, Cambridge in 1510[2] and proceeded to travel.[3][a] He studied Greek with William Grocyn in London and Oxford and then with Erasmus[4] and Aleander in Paris in 1511. In 1514, he was called to the University of Leipzig, where he remained for some years. Among his pupils were Joachim Camerarius,[5] Hieronymus Dungersheim,[6] who had studied with Croke in Dresden, and Caspar Creuziger. He was replaced by Petrus Mosellanus.[b] As a young man, he was identified as a follower of Erasmus, who was then constructing his editio princeps of the New Testament in Greek (Basle, 1516).[8]


He was recalled by John Fisher in 1519[c] to teach Greek at Cambridge.[9] It had been in abeyance since Erasmus's time (1511-1513), and he was Cambridge's second lecturer in Greek.[10] He became Public Orator at Cambridge in 1522,[11] Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge in 1523, and Doctor of Divinity in 1524.[1] He quarrelled with Fisher over college matters in the later 1520s.[12]

In 1529 and 1530, he acted for Henry VIII in Italy in the matter of the king's intended divorce from Catherine of Aragon; he had earlier tutored Henry in Greek.[13] Croke later tutored the illegitimate Duke of Richmond and Somerset, his son.[14] While seeking canon lawyers to support Henry's side of the argument,[d] he also contacted humanists (such as Girolamo Ghinucci[16]) and sought manuscripts.

On his return to England, he in 1531 became deputy vice-chancellor of Cambridge and vicar of Long Buckby, Nottinghamshire.[1] A year later he moved to the University of Oxford.

He was a witness at the 1555 trial of Thomas Cranmer.


  • Ausonius (1515)
  • Orationes Richardi Croci duos (1520)


  1. ^ [1] has him at Basle (listed in French as "Richard Crocus").
  2. ^ Croke the Grecian and Mosellanus the Latinist were in Leipzig in contact also with Georg Agricola[7]
  3. ^ CNDB says 1517, when he took his M. A. from Cambridge. Dresden und Sachsen - Dresden und Sachsen - Geschichte - Bildung, Wissenschaft agrees. Hilgendorf says 1518.
  4. ^ Bribes were involved but not successful: "Original Letter of Dr Richard Croke to K Henry VIII written at Venice, A.D. 1529. or 1530. the 23 of Octobre, concerning the prevarication of certain Friers of the University of Padua, who had taken his Majesties money, for their Subscription, as disallowing his marriage with Q. Catherine; and yet now are altogether for it."[15]


  1. ^ a b c Concise Dictionary of National Biography.[page needed]
  2. ^ "Croke, Richard (CRK506R)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. ^ Ward, Sir Adolphus William; Prothero, George Walter; Leathes, Stanley Mordaunt (1902). The Cambridge Modern History. Vol. The Renaissance. Richard Croke, of King's College, Cambridge, who took his degree in the year 1509–10, studied Greek at Oxford with William Grocyn; went thence to Paris; and subsequently taught Greek at Cologne, Louvain, Leipzig, and Dresden.
  4. ^ Allen, P. S. (1914). The Age of Erasmus: Lectures Delivered in the Universities of Oxford and London. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Erasmus left his Moria behind in Paris for Richard Croke to see through the press
  5. ^ Public Domain Kolde, T. (1914). "Camerarius, (Camermeister), Joachim". In Jackson, Samuel Macauley (ed.). New Schaff–Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. Vol. II (third ed.). London and New York: Funk and Wagnalls.
  6. ^ M. A. Screech, Erasmus: Ecstasy and The Praise of Folly (1980), p. 25
  7. ^ (Elke Axmacher (1997). "Trozendorf, Valentin". In Bautz, Traugott (ed.). Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL) (in German). Vol. 12. Herzberg: Bautz. cols. 618–623. ISBN 3-88309-068-9.).
  8. ^ "Early Anabaptists". At that time Erasmus of Rotterdam also lived in Basel and was in touch with this circle. Oecolampadius, the reformer of Basel, and Hans Denck had contact with the circle around Erasmus as early as 1515. To this circle also belonged a close friend of the young patrician Conrad Grebel: Heinrich Loriti from Ennenda in Glarus, who had connections with other people in Basel as well. Apart from him, those especially worthy of mention are Michael Bentinus (a friend of Hans Denck's), Richard Crocus, Wolfgang Capito, and Johann Oecolampadius.
  9. ^ "XVIII: Catholic Europe". The Cambridge Modern History. Vol. I. 1912. At Cambridge, Fisher, the Chancellor, recalled his protege Richard Croke from Leipzig in 1519 to carry on the work of Erasmus, who had taught Greek in the University between 1511 and 1513.
  10. ^ [2][dead link]: "In 1519 Richard Croke was named Greek reader in Cambridge. He had been a pupil of Erasmus and of Grocyn, and, by the liberality of Archbishop Warham, had studied and taught for twelve years in the universities of Paris, Louvain, and Leipzig, thus meeting the Renaissance revival half-way to Italy. His Latin inaugural oration is one of the most curious documents we possess in illustration of English classical study during its first days. It is a splendid, if rhetorical, eulogy of Greek literature and of Greek intellect".
  11. ^ "".
  12. ^ Mentioned in Catholic Cambridge (1983) by M. N. L. Couve de Murville and Philip Jenkins.[page needed]
  13. ^ Weir, Alison (2002). Henry VIII: The King and His Court. ISBN 9780345437082.[page needed]
  14. ^ Hobden, Heather. "Elizabeth Blount: Mother of King Henry VIII's Son". Archived from the original on 6 February 2006.
  15. ^ "Detailed listing" (PDF). Retrieved 23 July 2020.
  16. ^ "Patrick Delaforce Family History Research chapter 22".


  • J. Przychocki, "Richard Croke's search for patristic mss in connexion with the divorce of Catherine", Theol. Studies. 1911; os-XIII: 285–295
  • J. T. Sheppard (1919), Richard Croke, a sixteenth century don: being the Croke Lecture for the May Term, 1919
  • Jonathan M. Woolfson (2000), "A 'remote and ineffectual Don'? Richard Croke in the Biblioteca Marciana". Bulletin of the Society for Renaissance Studies, 17:2, 1–11