Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Mapletoft, John

484295Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 36 — Mapletoft, John1893Bertha Porter

MAPLETOFT, JOHN (1631–1721), physician and divine, was descended from an old Huntingdonshire family. His father was Joshua Mapletoft, vicar of Margaretting and rector of Wickford, Essex, and his mother Susanna, daughter of John Collet by Susanna, sister of Nicholas Ferrar [q. v.] of Little Gidding. She afterwards married James Chedley, and, dying on 31 Oct. 1657, was buried at Little Gidding. John was born at Margaretting on 15 June 1631. On the death of his father in 1635 he was taken to Little Gidding, where he was brought up by Nicholas Ferrar, his godfather. In 1647 he was sent by his uncle, Robert Mapletoft [q. v.], to Westminster School, was entered as a pensioner at Trinity College, Cambridge, on 21 May 1648, and was elected to a Westminster scholarship there in 1649. He graduated B.A. in January 1651-2, M.A. in 1655, and became fellow of his college on 1 Oct. 1653. He was incorporated B.A. at Oxford on 11 July 1654. On 12 May 1652 he was admitted a student of Gray's Inn. From 1658 to 1660 he was tutor to Jocelyne, son of Algernon, earl of Northumberland. He then went abroad to study physic. His fellowship expired in 1662, and in 1663 he re-entered the earl's family in England (Letters from Lord Percy to Mapletoft are preserved at Alnwick Castle). In 1667 he took his M.D. degree at Cambridge, and was incorporated M.D. at Oxford on 13 July 1669.

While practising in London he made the acquaintance of many of the noted men of the time, both physicians and theologians, and came much into contact with the Cambridge latitudinarians at the house of his kinsman, Thomas Firmin [q. v.] With John Locke, whom he had known at Westminster School, he was for many years on terms of great intimacy. He is said to have introduced him to both Sydenham and Tillotson. With Sydenham Mapletoft was for seven years closely associated in medical practice.

In 1670 he attended Lord Essex in his embassy to Denmark, and in 1672 was in France with the Dowager Duchess of Northumberland. In 1675 he was chosen professor of physic in Gresham College, and in 1676 was again in France with the dowager duchess, then the wife of the Hon. Ralph Montague. He retained his professorship at Gresham College till 10 Oct. 1679, when he retired from medical practice and prepared himself for ordination. He had some scruples about subscribing to the Thirty-nine Articles, and consulted his friend Dr. Simon Patrick [q. v.] (see Dr. Patrick's letter of 8 Feb. 1682-3 in Addit. MS. 5878, f. 151, and in Evanson, Three Discourses, p. 79). But on 3 March 1682-3 he took both deacon's and priest's orders, having previously been presented to the rectory of Braybrooke in Northamptonshire. This living he held until 1685-6, and though non-resident was a benefactor to the place. A letter from Mapletoft, written in 1719, complaining of the misuse of his charity (founded in 1684) and giving some details respecting the parish during his rectorship, is preserved in Braybrooke Church. On 4 Jan. 1684-5 he was chosen lecturer at Ipswich, and on 10 Jan. 1685-6, on his resigning Braybrooke, vicar of St. Lawrence Jewry in London, where he continued to preach till he was over eighty years of age. He also held the lectureship of St. Christopher for a short time from 1685. In 1689-90 he took the degree of D.D. at Cambridge, and henceforth devoted his life to religious and philanthropic objects (cf. Cod. Rawlinson, C. 103).

Mapletoft was an original member of the Company of Adventurers to the Bahamas (4 Sept. 1672), but, being abroad at the time, transferred his share to Locke. In the same year he was using his influence and purse in support of Isaac Barrow's scheme for building a library at Trinity College. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society on 10 Feb. 1675-6, was member of council in 1677, 1679, 1690, and 1692, and as long as he practised the medical profession took part in the discussions and experiments. He joined the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge in July 1699, early in the second year of its existence. In this connection he was brought into contact with Robert Nelson [q. v.], with whom he corresponded for some years. He was an original member and active supporter of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (incorporated by charter in 1701), a benefactor to the library and buildings of Sion College, of which he was president in 1707, and one of the commissioners of Greenwich Hospital.

The last ten years of Mapletoft's life were spent with his daughter, partly in Oxford and partly in Westminster. His mental and bodily health remained excellent till nearly the end (Lansdowne MS. 990, f. 107). He died in Westminster on 10 Nov. 1721, in the ninety-first year of his age, and was buried in the chancel of the church of St. Lawrence Jewry.

On 18 Nov. 1679 Mapletoft married Rebecca, daughter of Lucy Knightley of Hackney, a Hamburg merchant, and younger brother of the Knightleys of Fawsley in Northamptonshire. His wife died on 18 Nov. 1693, the fourteenth anniversary of their wedding-day. By her he had two sons and one daughter: Robert, born in 1684, became fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge (LL.B. 1702, LL.D. 1707), advocate of Doctors' Commons (12 July 1707), and commissary of Huntingdon; died on 3 Dec. 1716, and was buried in St. Edward's Church, Cambridge. John, born in 1687, became rector of Broughton in Northamptonshire in 1718, and of Byfield in November 1721, holding both livings till 1753, when he resigned Broughton in favour of his son Nathaniel; he married, on 23 Nov. 1721, Ann, daughter of Richard Walker of Harborough, and died at Byfield on 25 May 1763. Elizabeth, married, 20 Aug. 1703, Francis Gastrell [q. v.], bishop of Chester, and died on 2 Feb. 1761.

In 1715 Mapletoft gave to his son John a copy of Nicholas Ferrar's 'Harmonies' (formerly in the possession of his aunt, Mary Collet), to be 'preserved in the family as long as may be.' It now belongs to his descendant, Mr. H. Mapletoft Davis of New South Wales. Another copy which had belonged to his mother is now in the possession of Miss Heming of Hillingdon Hill, Uxbridge, daughter of Mapletoft's great-nephew.

Of Mapletoft's disinterestedness and humanity Ward gives a beautiful picture. His learning was considerable. Besides a knowledge of the classical languages, he was acquainted with French, Italian, and Spanish. He is said to have translated from English into Latin his friend Sydenham's 'Observationes Medicae,' published in 1676 (which was dedicated to him by the author), and all that is contained in the edition of Sydenham's works published in 1683, with the exception of the treatise 'De Hydrope.' The extent of his share in Sydenham's works has been questioned. Watt (Bibl. Brit. ) places the 'Observationes Medicae ' among Mapletoft's works, while on the other hand it has been denied that Sydenham originally wrote in English (cf. Gent. Mag. 1742 pp. 634-5, 1743 pp. 528-9; and in Picard, Sydenham, pp. 119-26).

Mapletoft's published works, apart from single sermons, include: 1. 'Select Proverbs ' (anon.), London, 1707. 2. 'The Principles and Duties of the Christian Religion . . . with a Collection of suitable Devotions' [also issued separately], London, 1710, 1712, 1719. 3. 'Wisdom from Above ' (anon.), London, 1714, 2nd part, 1717. 4. 'Placita Principalia, seu Sententiae perutiles e Dramaticis fere Poetis,' London, 1714. 6. 'Placita Principalia et Concilia, seu Sententiae perutiles Philosophorum,' London, 1717, 1731. The last two are selections from Greek authors with Latin translations, and were reprinted in 1731. In Appendix xv. to Ward's 'Lives ' (p. 120) are printed three Latin lectures by Mapletoft on the origin of the art of medicine and the history of its invention, under the title 'Praelectiones in Collegio Greshamensi, Anno Dom. 1675,' and in the Cambridge University Library (MS. 3185) is 'The Inaugural Lecture of a Gresham Professor' (Latin), probably Mapletoft's. He wrote the epitaph for the monument to his friend Isaac Barrow in Westminster Abbey.

[Ward's Lives of the Professors of Gresham College (copy in Brit. Mus. with manuscript additions), ii. 273–9; Newcourt's Repertorium, i. 388, ii. 406, 656; Welch's Alumni Westmonasterienses, pp. 26, 130–1; Trin. Coll. Reg. and Bursar's books, per the Master; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Foster's Admissions to Gray's Inn; Addit. MSS. 5846 ff. 241, 266, 316, 461, 6194 f. 242 (account of election to Gresham College), 5876 f. 29, 15640; Hist. MSS. Comm. 3rd Rep. App. pp. 92–3; Fox Bourne's Life of Locke, i. 211–12, 310; Letters from Locke and Nelson to Mapletoft, in Addit. MS. 6194, ff. 245–9, and in European Mag. 1788 and 1789; Names of Commissioners of Greenwich Hosp.; Picard's Sydenham, pp. 39, 81; Sydenham's Works, ed. Swan, 1763, pp. ix, 227; Bridges's Northamptonshire, i. 487, ii. 13–14; Birch's Hist. of Royal Soc. iii. 271 et seq.; Lists of the Royal Soc.; McClure's Chapter in English Church Hist. pp. 5, 6, 28–63; Humphreys's Hist. Account of Soc. for Propagation of the Gospel, pp. xix, 18, 19; Reading's Hist. of Sion College, pp. 25, 29, 33, 44, 48, 49; will (206, Buckingham) in Somerset House; Blomefield's Collect. Cantabr. p. 80; Harleian Soc. Publications, xxiv. 148, 246; MS. Act Book and Entries of Doctors' Commons, in Lambeth Palace Library; Peckard's Memoirs of Ferrar; Mayor's Cambridge in the 17th Cent. i. 293–4, 383; Archæologia, 1888, li. 193–4; Halkett and Laing's Dict. of Anon. and Pseudon. Lit.; Coxe's Cat. of MSS. in Bodleian Libr.; parish reg. of Broughton; information from the Rev. J. Ridgway Hakewill of Braybrooke, the Rev. F. H. Curgenven of Byfield, and Captain J. E. Acland.]

B. P.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.194
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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114 i 31 Mapletoft, John: for Duchess read Countess