Research: Jeake Family of Rye

The Worlds of the Jeake Family of Rye, 1639-1773

The seventeenth century Sussex merchant, Samuel Jeake, is best known to historians through his surviving diary, available in its original form here and published in 1988 as An Astrological Diary of the Seventeenth Century: Samuel Jeake of Rye, 1652-1699. Far less well-known and less well-used is the collection of over 1,000 Jeake family letters preserved in East Sussex Record Office. I have been commissioned by the British Academy Records of Social and Economic History series to produce an edited collection of around 400 of those letters.


The collection has been constructed with the aim of creating a narrative across more than a century and through three generations of the Jeake family. With Samuel Jeake junior (1652-1699) and his wife Elizabeth (1667-1736) at its centre, it also touches on the lives of their parents and their children. The volume begins with the death of Samuel Jeake senior’s mother, Anne, in 1639 and ends with the death of Samuel and Elizabeth’s second son, also Samuel, in Jamaica in 1773.

The letters in between by no means create a complete narrative of the family, but comprehensive introductions to each chapter, drawing on the Diary and other papers, will fill the gaps for the reader.

Contents of the Book:


Chapter One: Conflicts and Courtships, 1639-c. 1662

Chapter Two: Adolescence and Starting Out, 1668-1669

Chapter Three: Samuel the Merchant, 1672-1680

Chapter Four: Marriage, Trouble and Strife, 1681-1684

Chapter Five: Friends and Family, 1684-1686

Chapter Six: The End of the War, 1696-1697

Chapter Seven: Widowhood and a Second Marriage, 1699-1736