Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Kynaston, Francis

KYNASTON or KINASTON, Sir FRANCIS (1587–1642), poet and scholar, born in 1587 at Oteley, Shropshire, was eldest son of Sir Edward Kinaston, by Isabel, daughter of Sir Nicholas Bagenall. His father, whose family originally came to Oteley from Stoke, near Ellesmere, was sheriff of Shropshire in 1599. On 11 Dec. 1601 Francis matriculated at Oriel College, Oxford, and graduated B.A. from St. Mary Hall on 14 June 1604. According to Wood he was more addicted ‘to the superficial parts of learning, poetry and oratory (wherein he excelled), than to logic and philosophy’ (Wood, Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, iii. 38). Kinaston removed to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated M.A. in 1609, but was incorporated M.A. at Oxford on 11 Nov. 1611. He was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1611. On leaving the university in 1613, he married Margaret, daughter of Sir Humphry Lee, bart., by whom he had one son. He was knighted by James I at Theobalds on 21 Dec. 1618 (Le Neve, Knights, p. 112), was M.P. for Shropshire in 1621–2, was taxor of Cambridge University in 1623, and was proctor there in 1634. He became esquire of the body to Charles I on his accession.

At court Kinaston was the centre of a brilliant literary coterie. In 1635 he founded an academy of learning, called the Musæum Minervæ, for which he obtained a license under the great seal, a grant of arms, and a common seal (Rymer, Fœdera, xix. 638, &c.). Charles also contributed 100l. from the treasury (11 Dec. 1635; Cal. State Papers, Dom. Charles I, 1635–6, pp. 213, 551; Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. vi. 265). Kinaston gave his own house in Bedford Street, Covent Garden, for the college, which he furnished with ‘books, manuscripts, musical and mathematical instruments, paintings, statues, &c.,’ at his own expense. He was himself the regent, and his friends Edward May, Michael Mason, Thomas Hunt, Nicolas Phiske, John Spiedal, and Walter Salter were professors. According to the ‘Constitutions of the Musæum Minervæ,’ published by Kinaston in 1636, only the nobility and gentry were to be admitted to the college, the object of which was ‘to give language and instruction, with other ornaments of travel, unto our gentlemen … before their undertaking long journeys into foreign parts.’ The approval of the king and some lords of the privy council was claimed in the preface, and the universities and inns of court were assured that no rivalry was intended. A long list of the studies follows; the full course was to occupy seven years, the students who completed it to be called septennals, with privileges over those (called the triennals) who only finished the half-course. No gentleman was ‘to exercise himself at once about more than two particular sciences, arts, or qualities, whereof one shall be intellectual, the other corporall.’ The regent taught the following subjects: heraldry, a practical knowledge of deeds and the principles and processes of common law, antiquities, coins, husbandry. Music, dancing and behaviour, riding, sculpture, and writing formed important parts of the curriculum. On 27 Feb. 1635–6 Prince Charles, the Duke of York, and others visited the museum, and a masque by Kinaston, entitled ‘Corona Minervæ,’ was performed in their presence. In July of the same year Sir George Peckham [q. v.], the friend of Lilly the astrologer, bequeathed 10l. to the institution. Very shortly after this, Kynaston was for a long time much occupied with a certain ‘hanging furnace,’ recommended by him to the lords of the admiralty for ships of war. Between 1637 and 1639 there are several letters and petitions in the ‘State Papers’ concerning a quarrel between Kinaston and his father with regard to the settlement of the latter's estates. The king and Laud both interfered on the son's behalf, but no result seems to have been arrived at (Cal. State Papers, Dom. Charles I, 1635–9). Kinaston died in 1642, and was buried at Oteley. The museum appears to have perished with the death of its founder. Its site is still marked by Kynaston's Alley, Bedfordbury.

Kinaston published, besides the ‘Constitutions,’ a translation of Chaucer's ‘Troilus and Cressida,’ with a commentary, prefaced by fifteen short poems by Oxford writers, including Strode and Dudley Digges (Oxford, 1635, 4to, Bodl.). Waldron proposed to reprint the ‘Troilus and Cressida’ in 1795 in monthly parts, but no more than the first part appeared. Kinaston also contributed to the ‘Musæ Aulicæ’ by Arthur Johnston [q. v.] a rendering in English verse of Johnston's Latin poems, London, 1635, and was author of an heroic romance in verse, ‘Leoline and Sydanis,’ containing some of the legendary history of Wales and Anglesey, published with some sonnets addressed by Kinaston to his mistress under the name of Cynthia (London, 1642, 4to). In the preface he boasts of having many pieces of ‘real and solid learning’ ready for the press, and apologises for sending forth this trifle. The sonnets, which do not technically deserve that title, are often of genuine merit. They were probably published earlier in a separate volume. Ellis (Specimens of Early English Poets, iii. 265) quotes from an edition dated 1641.

[Dwnn's Heraldic Visitations of Wales and part of the Marches, ed. Meyrick, 1846, i. 320; Hunter's Chorus Vatum, Addit. MS. 24488, fol. 280; Nichols's Progresses of James I, iii. 498, 762; Faulkner's Chelsea; Brydges's Censura Literaria, ii. 333; Oxf. Univ. Reg. (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), II. i. 359, ii. 254, iii. 247; Collectanea (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), ed. Fletcher, 1885, i. 280; Corpus Christi College, Oxford, MS. 307, No. 83, f. 75; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Cal. State Papers, 1635–9.]

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