Henry Cheke was born in 1548 and was the eldest son of Sir John Cheke and his wife Mary. Cheke was tutored at an early age by his father’s friend, Peter Osborne and later sent to King’s College, Cambridge. However, Cheke’s father died when he was just nine years old and although Cheke inherited his father’s land that were worth two hundred marks a year he also inherited debts that totalled a thousand marks.
As a minor Cheke’s wardship was likely to have been granted to Sir William Cecil, Lord Burghley, therefore Cheke and Cecil corresponded often with Cheke asking for help or thanking him for various things.
In 1568 Cheke was granted his M.A. from Cambridge at just the age of 20 although Cheke was studious some believed that Cecil had a hand in it being granted early. With his M.A. and Cecil’s influence Cheke attended the 1572 Parliament for Bedford. Just two years later he would be seeking Cecil’s help again, this time in the form of employment.
In 1569 Cheke married Frances Radcliff and although we know for definite they had their son, Thomas, the total amount of children the couple had is unknown, although many believe they had three sons and two daughters
In July 1576 Cheke received a clerkship from the Privy Council and not long after that Cheke set sail for the continent, in particular France and Italy. During his travels Cheke translated a play about the ‘devilish devices of the popish religion’ and dedicated it to Lady Cheney of Toddington.
Upon his return back to England on 3rd January 1578 Cheke was placed on the roster of Privy Council clerks and would be required for six months of the next year; January, February, July, August, September and October. In August of the same year Cheke was sent to York to take up the role of secretary to the council in the north. He resided at the council in a place called ‘The Manor’
With his new position within the council in the north Cheke retained his position in Parliament this time for Boroughbridge and served on a committee that discussed the fraudulent conveyances bill on 15th February 1585.
Cheke became involved in an argument with the Archbishop of York when two council servants were arrested. The Archbishop complained that Cheke had attempted to hinder his proceedings whereas Cheke stated that he and other members of the council commissioners had simply refused to comply with the demands of the Archbishop who had demanded to see depositions and examine those who had not been listed in the Archbishops commission.
Cheke died on 23rd June 1586, most likely at ‘The Manor’ and as buried in York Minister. Although the cause of his death is not officially known it is widely believed that he died after breaking his neck after falling down some stairs. This allegedly occurred after he had openly mocked the Catholic martyr, Francis Ingleby. However, the two incidents were never proven to be linked.York Minster, burial of Henry Cheke