Thomas Gataker 1574-1654

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Thomas GATAKER 1574-1654

Biographical Note

Born in London, son of Thomas Gataker, rector of St Edmund the King, Lombard Street. BA St John’s College, Cambridge 1594, MA 1597, BD 1604, Fellow of Sidney Sussex 1596. He returned to London ca.1600 as tutor to the family of Sir William Cooke. Lecturer at Lincoln’s Inn 1601; he refused a number of other offers of preferment during the early 1600s, in the interests of a quiet life, until becoming rector of Rotherhithe, Surrey in 1611. He published numerous tracts and sermons during the 1610s and 20s; his theology lay on the Calvinist and puritan side. He became a member of the Westminster Assembly in 1643 and in 1644-45 served on committees to examine ministers. After 1645 illness forced his withdrawal from public affairs, but he continued to write; his extensive published output includes not only theological works but also an edition of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (1652).


Gataker bequeathed his books, along with the residue of his estate, to his son Charles, subject to a number of specific bequests: his "two volumes of the larger annotations on the Bible" to John Bradshaw, son of his friend William Bradshaw; his English Bible in three volumes in quarto to his friend John Downing; a book of his choice to his son in law Francis Taylor; Luther's Colloquia mensalia to his assistant John Powl. He noted that he had subscribed £20 for two copies of Walton's Polyglot, and directed that when published one of these should be given to Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, the other to his son. In a codicil to the will, he made provision for the distribution among relatives of ten copies of Richard Baxter’s The saints’ everlasting rest “handsomely bound”.

The joint library of Gataker and his son Charles was sold by auction in London by William Cooper on 12 December 1681; the preface to the catalogue states that it presents “so much of the library of Mr Thomas Gataker, as was rescued out of the flames of London, and preserved ever since in the hands of his son, who made some addition thereunto”. We do not know what proportion of the whole was destroyed in 1666. The sale was also a joint one with the books of William Outram, and the catalogue does not distinguish which books came from which source. It contained 2524 lots, plus 36 bundles of stitched books and pamphlets, divided between Latin theology (625), Latin miscellaneous (885), Hebrew books (presumably Outram’s, 38), and English books (976). Examples: Shrewsbury School C.II.23.