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

PEMBER, ROBERT (d. 1560), scholar, was admitted fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, 26 July 1524, being described as of the diocese of Hereford. He was one of the group of scholars whose reputation raised that college to the highest place among English centres of learning. He taught Greek to Roger Ascham, with whom he formed a close friendship, and of whose talents he had a very high opinion. His advice to Ascham is summed up in a figurative sentence contained in a letter to him: ‘Use diligence that thou mayest be perfect, not according to the stoical, but the lyrical perfection, that thou mayest touch the harp aright’ (cf. Quarterly Review, liv. 346). In 1546, when Trinity College was founded, Pember was appointed the reader in Greek there, while John Dee [q. v.] became under-reader. From Ascham's letters it appears that Pember took much interest in coins, and made a collection. In 1555 he subscribed the Roman catholic articles, and thereby retained his post at Trinity College, where he died in 1560.

He is only known to have written a few Latin verses, viz. a couplet in praise of Ascham's ‘Toxophilus,’ lines to William Grindal, and an elegy on the death of Martin Bucer.

[Baker's Hist. of St. John's Coll., ed. Mayor, i. 282; Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr. i. 208; Grant's Life of Ascham, prefixed to Aschami Epistolæ, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 31; Aschami Epist. 228, 230; Biogr. Brit., ed. Kippis, v. 32; Buceri scripta Anglicana, p. 903; Hallam's Lit. of Europe, i. 342; Giles's Works of Ascham, i. 2, 316, iii. 308; Katterfeld's Roger Ascham, pp. 10–16; Cole MS. xlix. 333.]

E. C. M.