Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bainbrigg, Thomas (d.1646)

BAINBRIGG, THOMAS (d. 1646), master of Christ's College, Cambridge, was 'descended out of the North,' and was not improbably a native of Kirkby-Lonsdale in Westmoreland. He became master of Christ's College in 1620, and was vice-chancellor of the university in 1627. Thomas Baker, the antiquary, calls Bainbrigg 'a severe governor,' and supposes that during his mastership and by his authority the poet Milton was either expelled from the college or rusticated, whereby he missed a fellowship to which another candidate was admitted by royal mandate, 'a circumstance, as is supposed, together with his expulsion, that disgusted him first against the king, clergy, and universities.' Bainbrigg was a benefactor to his college, which flourished greatly under his government. He was accounted a witty man and a good preacher, and a funeral sermon by him, on 16 Oct. 1620, had the effect of seriously awakening the famous independent divine, Dr. Thomas Goodwin, who was originally of Christ's College, but subsequently became a fellow of Catherine Hall.

Dr. Burn (Hist. of Westmoreland, i. 258) states that Hawkin Hall, the most remarkable building in the parish of Kirkby Lonsdale, 'was built by Dr. Christopher Bainbridge, master of Christ's College in Cambridge, in the reign of King Charles I,' adding that 'Dr. Bainbridge was born at this place, and married at sixty years of age, and by his wife had nineteen children.' However improbable the latter part of the tale is, it seems of a piece with the whole; for the name of the master of Christ's College was not Christopher, but Thomas. There was indeed a fellow of the college named Christopher Bainbridge at that period, and it is just possible that he may be the person meant. The story of the nineteen children is repeated in the 'Critical Review' for 1778.

The master of Christ's College died at Cambridge in September 1646, and was buried in the parish of St. Andrew the Great on the 9th of that month. Duport has honoured him with a Latin epitaph.

[MS. Addit. 5821, f. 67, 5863, f. 78; Prynne's Tryal of Abp. Laud, 193; Peck's New Memoirs of Milton, 34, 35; Masson's Life of Milton (1881), 123 n., 239; Cambridge Antiquarian Communications, ii. 154; Critical Review, 1778, p. 258.]

T. C.