Thomas Lake, the 16th and 17th century politician, was born in Southampton, the son of a minor customs official, and was baptised at St Michael's Church in October 1560. According to one report he was educated at King Edward VI Grammar School in Bugle Street.

He worked for Francis Walsingham in the government of Elizabeth I, and after Walsingham’s death in 1590, attached himself to the powerful Cecil family. On the death of Elizabeth in 1603 he went to Scotland to liaise with King James, who was to succeed Elizabeth. Lake was knighted in 1603 and afterwards became an important minister in the government of King James, although his Catholicism may have held him back from further honours. In spite of his religion, he was appointed Secretary of State in 1617. From 1618 he was embroiled in a family scandal which led to him, with other members of his family, being incarcerated in the Tower of London until 1619 when he was released on health grounds. He never recovered his political power and died in retirement in 1630.

His younger brother Arthur Lake was born in Southampton in c.1567 and baptized in St Michael’s Church. He was educated at King Edward VI Grammar School and Winchester College, before going to New College, Oxford. After graduating he received a number of benefices in Hampshire, largely due to the patronage of his elder brother. He became Bishop of Bath and Wells in 1616. He died in 1626.

Further reading:

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004, Volume 32.


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