HAKE, Edward, of New Windsor, Berks. and Bishop's Stortford, Herts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

educ. ?Barnard’s Inn c.1564-7; ?G. Inn.1

Offices Held

Under-steward, New Windsor 1576, bailiff 1578, town clerk 1579, mayor 1586-7.2


Almost nothing is known about Hake’s family or domestic life. He is said to have been educated by John Hopkins; the dates of his legal training and career have not been definitely ascertained. In the introduction to the 1579 edition of his satires, Newes out of Pawles Churchyarde, he spoke of himself as having spent three years at an inn of chancery twelve years earlier. A poem which he wrote to celebrate the anniversary of Elizabeth’s accession, ‘this joyful eve of our 17 day of November 1575’, was dated from Barnard’s Inn. The Gray’s Inn Register does not record his admission, but the Pension Book refers to payments he made in 1593 towards building a gate out to Holborn—suggesting that he still had chambers at the Inn.3

Besides practising as a common lawyer, Hake was a prolific writer, who first made his name as a puritan satirist. Newes out of Pawles Churchyarde, which contained eight satires, and was dedicated to the Earl of Leicester, was one of his earliest works, but his writings included poems and a translation of the Imitatio Christi, as well as his only specifically legal book, the Epieikeia, a dialogue stressing the similarities between, and the interdependence of, common law and equity. He lavished immense care on this work, corresponding at length with (Sir) Julius Caesar and other authorities about it. He wrote it before the end of Elizabeth’s reign, revising it for presentation to James I. Chief Justice (Sir Edmund) Anderson approved the finished manuscript, telling Hake that he had done his work ‘honestly and sufficiently’, but the book neither found a publisher nor brought its author preferment.4

Hake’s connexion with the local government of Windsor apparently began about 1576, when he succeeded Robert Harris II as under-steward to the Earl of Leicester. The town records describe him at this time as of Bishop’s Stortford, but certainly from the date of his appointment he spent his time in either Windsor or London. In addition to holding the court leet, he carried out from 1576 the duties performed in other boroughs by a recorder, and acted as a justice of the peace and commissioner for musters in the town, although his actual grant of the office of town clerk (with a fee of 20s. a year) is dated September 1579. He was permitted to exercise the office by deputy if necessary and to keep his place as ‘brother and burgess’ on the corporation even if he ‘happen to depart from Windsor to dwell elsewhere’. Concerning his tenure of the office of under-steward the Windsor records are puzzling. Hake was appointed for life in 1576, but in 1584, when the position was being filled by John Reddish, Hake was appointed deputy under-steward and given the reversion to his original office. On Leicester’s death in September 1588, Sir Henry Neville I became high steward, and in October the town books record the election to Parliament of ‘Edward Hake, under-steward’.5

During Hake’s period as mayor, the Queen visited Windsor and was received in state by the corporation. Hake gave an address on her arrival, and later made an oration in her honour at the guildhall. During his year of office there were complaints about the smallness of the market bushel in the town, and Hake ‘travelled to Greenwich and thence to Westminster divers journeys till he found the clerk of the market, carrying with him the brazen gallon, and obtained the amending of the bushel’. If Hake hoped for a government office under Elizabeth, he was disappointed. He is only known to have been appointed to one central commission, set up in 1595 to inquire into lands and tenements belonging to the Queen from which she received no profit. He may have died soon after James’s accession, as his last known work, a collection of poems called Of Gods Kingdome and this Unhelping Age, was produced in 1604. No will or inquisition post mortem has been found.6

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: J.C.H.


  • 1. E. Hake, Epieikeia (Yale, 1953), xxv-xxvi.
  • 2. Bodl. Ashmole 1126, ff. 46v, 48, 49, 50.
  • 3. Epieikeia, xxv; Harl. Misc. ix. 123; G. Inn Pens. Bk. i. 99.
  • 4. Add. 12503, f. 47; Lansd. 161, ff. 233, 247; Epieikeia, xxv-xxix.
  • 5. Ashmole 1126, ff. 46-8d, 50.
  • 6. Nichols, Progresses Eliz. ii. 460-1; Epieikeia, xxvi; Lansd. 78, f. 90.