Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Metcalfe, Robert

METCALFE, ROBERT (1590?–1652), fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, son of Alexander Metcalfe of Beverley, Yorkshire, was educated at the grammar school in that town, and at Michaelmas 1605 his father appears to have received from the corporation the sum of ten shillings 'to the use of his son at Cambridge' (Poulson, Beverley, p. 453). On 10 April 1606 Robert was admitted a fellow of St. John's College, and on the festival of St. Mark 1616 he was elected a preacher of the same society. Some time prior to 1645 he succeeded Andrew Byng of St. John's College as regius professor of Hebrew, but at what date is not known. In 1648 he vacated the chair, and was succeeded by Ralph Cudworth [q. v.] His retirement stands apparently in some connection with his election to a fellowship at Trinity in the same year; he was also appointed catechiser and vice-master of the society in October. On 14 Aug. 1646 he was appointed lecturer in Hebrew. Duport, in his 'Epicedia,' speaks of him as a man of singularly retired habits, leading a solitary life among his books in his college chamber (Musæ Subsecivae, p. 492). Nicholas Hookes [q. v.] of Trinity College, who composed two elegies, one Latin and one English, to his memory, and who styles him 'sagax vice-praesul' and 'cardinalis presbyter' (i.e. head of the clerical members of the foundation), says that he was distinguished by his numerous charities, and especially by his liberality to poor deserving students (Amanda, pp. 121-3). Metcalfe, however, is chiefly remembered by his benefactions to the grammar school where he received his education. By his will (9 Oct. 1652) he bequeathed to 'three poor scholars of the school of Beverley, for their better maintenance at the university, to every one of them 6l. 13s. 4d.,' with the proviso that 'no son of any of the aldermen, or of any of sufficient ability to maintain their children at the university, should be capable of that maintenance.' To his sister, Prudence Metcalfe, he also bequeathed 20l. yearly; to the schoolmaster 10l., and to the 'preacher or lecturer' of Beverley 10l.; to St. John's College, 'gratitudinis ergo,' 100l.; to the university library 20l. His arms, with a few lines respecting him, are in the 'Liber Memorialis' of Trinity College.

[Registers of Trinity College and St. John's College, Cambridge; Baker's Hist, of St. John's College; J. Duport's Musae Subsecivæ.]

J. B. M.