The family name of LAKE is in origin a place name, that is, it designated its bearer as living at or near a lake. Used in this way, it occurs as early as 1273, as, for example, William of the Lake. Names of this type are usually found spread over a large territory, and indeed originating quite independently among different nations. Consequently we are not surprised to find the name among the Dutch, the Germans, or the Swedes.
In ancient English records the name is not uncommon, and is found in various parts of the country, though perhaps most frequently in the South and West.
Several branches of the family early arose to distinction, chief of which may be mentioned that of Almeric Lake of Southampton, whose two distinguished sons were Arthur, Bishop of Bath and Wells, and Sir Thomas Lake. Bishop Arthur Lake was born in Southampton in September, 1569; he graduated from New College, Oxford, in 1591. In 1616 he became Bishop of Bath and Wells, which office he discharged with great credit to himself. He died May 4, 1626. His tomb may still be seen in his own cathedral. His more distinguished brother, Sir Thomas Lake, was born in 1567, and was knighted in 1603. He was a favorite of James I, who in 1615 made him Secretary of State. His later career seems to have been unfortunate and embittered by family quarrels. He died September 17, 1630, leaving a widow, Mary, daughter of Sir William Ryder, three sons and four daughters.
The great English General Sir Gerard Lake was of this family, being a descendant of the third son Lancelot. Gerard, first Viscount Lake of Delhi and Leswarree, was born July 27, 1744. He entered the English army in 1758; he became major-general in 1790, lieutenant-general in 1797, and general in 1802. He served under Cornwallis in America in 1781. After service in Ireland, he was sent to India in 1800. His campaigns there against the native Indian states were extremely successful, and as a result English influence in India became supreme. He received the thanks of Parliament and was raised to the peerage. He died February 20, 1808, one of the most honored and most loved commanders of English military history. It is said of him that he could think more clearly amidst the rain of bullets than in the calm of his own tent. His line became extinct in 1848, none of his three sons having issue.
The next famous family of Lakes in England to be mentioned is that of Sir Edward Lake. He was born about 1600, the eldest son of Richard Lake of Irby, Lincolnshire. He received the degree of B.A. at Oxford in 1627. He was an eminent lawyer, becoming advocate general for Ireland. On the outbreak of the Civil Wars, he both fought and wrote on the King's side. At the battle of Edgehill he received sixteen wounds, and having lost the use of his left hand by a shot, he placed his horse's bridle between his teeth and fought with his sword in his right hand. He was promised as a reward a baronetcy and an augmentation to his arms by King Charles I in 1643. But since the King was beheaded and the period of the Commonwealth intervened, nothing was done till 1661. King Charles II then made him Chancellor of the Diocese of Lincoln, and the augmented coat of arms promised by King Charles I was in 1661 formally authorized by the College of Arms. He died July 18, 1674, and was buried in Lincoln Cathedral. His wife was Anne, daughter of Simon Biby, by whom he had a son Edward, who died an infant before 1666. This family is of peculiar interest to us, because two of Sir Edward Lake's brothers, namely Thomas and John, came to America and lived in Boston..
The will of Sir Edward Lake is dated April 8, 1665; he added codicils in 1670, 1671, and in 1674, they being rendered necessary by the death of the executors successively named. This will is an interesting document, since it gives us much information in regard to the antecedents and connections of Sir Edward. He leaves a bequest to the church at Normanton near Pontefract in Yorkshire, because it was the home of his paternal ancestors. He mentions his kinsman and servant Christopher Lake, his brother John Lake, his cousin Francis Lake of Hatcliffe, the eldest son of his brother Luke Lake, and Stephen, eldest son of his brother Thomas Lake. He makes his brother Thomas Lake executor, and directs that the heirs male for ever may for their Christian name have the name Biby, or Seaman, his wife's mother's surname, or Caly, an ancestor of the time of Edward III, or Wardell, in honor of his mother, a daughter of Edward Wardell. Thomas Lake, the brother in New England, died before Sir Edward, and in a codicil he names Thomas's son Stephen executor in his place; then Stephen died, and Thomas, Stephen's brother, is named.
Thomas Lake, brother of Sir Edward, seems first to have gone to New Haven, Conn., for there he married Mary, daughter of Stephen Goodyear, a prominent merchant and Deputy Governor. Several children of Thomas and Mary are mentioned in the Boston records, but only Stephen, Ann, and Thomas grew up. Stephen died young, and Ann, married, first, the Rev. John Cotton, and, second, the Rev. Increase Mather of Boston, by whom she left issue. Thomas, son of Thomas, and nephew of Sir Edward Lake, was born in Boston February 9, 1656. He returned to England, was a barrister and a member of the Middle Temple. He lived at Bishop's Norton, Lincolnshire. He married Elizabeth, daughter of John Story, of Derbyshire, and died May 22, 1711, leaving a son Biby and a daughter Mary. Biby. Lake was a sub-governor of the African Company, and in 1711 received from Queen Anne a confirmation of the title granted to Sir Edward Lake, together with the coat of arms. The descendants of Biby Lake have held honorable places in English affairs down to the present, Sir St. Vincent Atwell Lake being the seventh Baronet, counting from Sir Biby.
Another Edward Lake who attained eminence was apparently of the same family as Sir Edward, though the exact relationship is not known; perhaps he was a cousin of some degree. He was born at Exeter November 10, 1641, the son of a clergyman. In early life he was a tutor to the princesses Mary and Anne, daughters of James, Duke of York. He became archdeacon of Exeter October 24, 1676, at which time he received the degree of D. D. from Cambridge University. He was a famous preacher, and a well-known writer of religious and devotional books. He died February 1, 1704.
The last of the famous men of the name of Lake in England to be mentioned is the famous John Lake, Bishop of Chichester. He was the son of Thomas Lake, a grocer of Halifax in Yorkshire, where he was born in 1624. He graduated from St. John's College, Cambridge. He was a devoted royalist, as was~ Sir Edward Lake, to whom it is not unlikely that he was related. In 1647, he took Holy Orders; on the Restoration he was made Vicar of Leeds, and in 1661 he received the degree of D.D. from Cambridge University. He held many important church offices, until in 1682 he was made Bishop of Sodor and Man. In 1684 he was transferred to the See of Bristol, and in 1685 he became Bishop of Chichester.
Though Bishop Lake owed much to King James, and though his loyalty to the Crown was unquestioned, he could not sanction the King's illegal acts tending to the restoration of the Roman Catholic faith in England; and on refusing to read the King's declaration of liberty of conscience, he with six other Bishops, was committed to the Tower of London in 1688. One should read Macaulay's account of the heroic stand of these men, who will ever be regarded as heroes for conscience's sake. He refused to take the oath of allegiance to William and Mary, and died August 30, 1689. His whole life shows that he spoke only the truth when he said that "He thanked God he never much knew what fear was, when he was once satisfied of the goodness of his cause." His heroic character and godly life may well be an inspiration to all who take pride in the Lake name.
This roll of great men of the name of Lake might be extended almost indefinitely, but the purpose of this chapter is not to tell all that is known or may be learned of the family in England, but merely to show that in the mother country, the old home, the family of Lake is ancient and honorable; that sufficient has been said to demonstrate this will readily be granted.
We hope that sometime, perhaps through some happy accident, we may discover to which branch of the English family our John Lake belonged, but until that time we shall claim all as our kinsfolk and give hearty thanks for their good examples, and endeavor ourselves to follow them in all virtuous and godly living.