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Tooke, John Horne

John Horne Tooke, 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.

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Horne Tooke, John

Horne Tooke, John (1736–1812). A man of many parts (clergyman, philologist, conversationalist, and wit) who carried the radicalism of the 1760s into the early 19th cent. His legal and organizational talents were first apparent in his vigorous championing of Wilkes. His subsequent support for the American colonists led to a prison sentence. In 1781 he joined the Society for Constitutional Information, which he soon dominated; and in 1792 assisted in the formation of the London corresponding society. He was tried for high treason in 1794 and acquitted. Although twice unsuccessful, his contest of the Westminster elections helped to prepare the way for the radical triumphs of 1807. Tooke's radicalism, like that of Cartwright and others, was based on belief in an ancient constitution which had become corrupted, thus denying the traditional rights and freedoms of Englishmen.

John F. C. Harrison

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Horne Tooke, John

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