Dr Samuel Brooke (1575-1631) was a Gresham Professor of Divinity (appointed 1612), a playwright, the chaplain of Trinity College, Cambridge and subsequently the Master of Trinity (1629-1631). He was known to be an Arminian and anti-Calvinist. In 1631 he was appointed archdeacon of Coventry.
He was the son of Robert Brooke of York, the brother of Christopher Brooke who appears in George Wither's eclogues under the pastoral name of Cuddie. Samuel Brooke was educated at Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was admitted in 1596; he proceeded M.A. 1604, B.D. 1607, and D.D. 1615.
He was imprisoned for a short period, by the action of Sir George More, for secretly celebrating the marriage of John Donne with More's daughter. He was promoted to the office of chaplain to Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, who recommended him (26 September 1612) as Gresham Professor of Divinity; he was later chaplain to both James I and Charles I.
On 13 June 1618 he became rector of St Margaret, Lothbury, London, and 10 July 1621 was incorporated D.D. at Oxford. He was elected master of Trinity College, Cambridge, 5 September 1629, and on 17 November resigned his Gresham professorship. On 13 May 1631 Brooke was admitted archdeacon of Coventry, and he died 16 September 1632. He was buried without monument or epitaph in Trinity College Chapel.
In 1614 he wrote three Latin plays, which were performed before James I on his visit to the university in that year. The names of the plays were recorded as Scyros, Adelphe, and Melanthe. Adelphe derives from La Sorella by Giambattista della Porta. A central character in Melanthe is Nicander, the loutish heir of a rich father, who is laughed at and kicked around by the heroine Ermilla, before she finally decides to accept him as her husband. The play also contains a chorus of dancing satyrs.
William Prynne in his Canterburie's Doome attacked Brooke as a disciple of William Laud, and stated that in 1630 Brooke was engaged on Arminian treatise on predestination. Laud encouraged him to complete this book, but afterwards declined to sanction its publication on account of a general prohibition on debating the subject. None of Brooke's works were printed. Besides the treatise already mentioned, a manuscript of the first three books of which is in Trinity College Library, he wrote a tract on the Thirty-nine Articles, and a discourse, dedicated to the Earl of Pembroke, entitled De Auxilio Divinæ Gratiæ Exercitatio theologica, nimirum: An possibile sit duos eandem habere Gratiæ Mensuram, et tamen unus convertatur et credat; alter non: e Johan. xi. 45, 46. The manuscript of this is in the Cambridge University Library.
| Gresham Professor of Divinity
| Master of Trinity College, Cambridge