Crooke (Crook), John (d. 1669), printer and bookseller, was one of four sons of William Crooke, yeoman, of Kingston Blount, Oxfordshire, England. Apprenticed in London to Robert Walbank in 1628, he was admitted a freeman of the Stationers' Company of London on 6 April 1635. He was associated in the book trade with his brother Andrew Crooke (d. 1674) and operated from the Greyhound (1637–9) and the Ship (1640–66), both in St Paul's churchyard, and Duck Lane (1667–9), London.
With his brother Edmond (d. 1638) and his London partners, Thomas Allot (d. 1643) and Richard Sergier (d. 1642), he opened a bookshop, St Austin's, Castle St., Dublin (c.1637). Having co-published James Shirley's (qv) play Royall master in London (1637/8) with Andrew Crooke and Sergier, he sold it in Dublin (1638), which was probably the first time that an edition had been divided into two issues, with appropriate imprints, for simultaneous sale in London and Dublin. With Sergier he published Shirley's The opportunitie (1640), and during Shirley's stay in Dublin Crooke probably received his manuscripts and conveyed them to the London bookshop for publication. Lot's little one (1640), sermons by the Irish divine William Ince (d. 1635), is the only other book known to have been published by Crooke and Sergier. In 1642 he and Sergier made a claim for their losses of £600 resulting from the rebellion of 1641; their deposition indicates a flourishing business offering a wide range of books of learning, including some from continental book fairs. Sergier died in 1642 and Crooke apparently remained in Dublin until c.1647. Returning to London, he maintained his Irish links by issuing twenty titles of Irish origin or interest during the 1650s.
In 1660 he successfully petitioned the king for the appointment of king's printer general in Ireland, which he believed he deserved, having hazarded his life by hiding the king's friends during the recent troubles; he paid homage by publishing A panegyric . . . for return . . . of our royal Charles. Having been granted the patent for life, which gave him the monopoly of printing, binding, and selling books in Ireland, he established his press (1661) at the King's Printing Office, Castle St., Dublin, while retaining his London enterprise. His patent however, was infringed by William Bladen (qv), former state printer of the commonwealth, who continued in operation. On Bladen's death (1663), Crooke petitioned the lord lieutenant for protection of his monopoly, which was confirmed by an order in council (1664). Among other publications, he printed Samuel Dancer's Mercurius Hibernicus (1663), one of Ireland's earliest newspapers; De praesulibus Hiberniae commentarius (1665) by James Ware (qv); and the Book of common prayer (1666).
Indebted, he died intestate 20 March 1669 in Duck Lane, and is buried at St Botolph's church, Aldersgate, London. He married Mary Tooke (see under Mary Crooke (qv)), who continued his business after his death. They had three daughters; two of their four sons, John (below) and Andrew (qv), became king's printers in Ireland.
The eldest son, John Crooke (1657–83), printer and bookseller, was born 12 August 1657, probably in London. On his father's death he and his brother Andrew were placed under the guardianship of their uncle, London bookseller Benjamin Tooke (d. 1716), formerly apprenticed to their father. Tooke was appointed king's printer in Ireland (1669), and acted as trustee for his sister Mary and his nephews. In March 1671 Tooke surrendered his patent, which was reissued jointly to him and John for their lives; in the following August Tooke declared himself, by deed, a trustee only of the patent for Mary, who had been the effective king's printer, and his nephews. Having come of age in 1678, John granted half of his patent to his brother Andrew, and in 1679 he joined his mother in partnership on Ormond Quay. After Andrew's entry into partnership in 1680, Mary transferred the Skinner Row shop to her sons while she remained on Ormond Quay. John probably never trained as a stationer or printer; all his imprints from his first in 1679 were with Tooke. Their publications include Titus Oates's A true narrative and discovery of . . . the horrid popish plot (1679) and the Book of common prayer (1680). John died intestate and was buried 31 October 1683 in St Michan's church, Dublin.