Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Robins, John (1500?-1558)

ROBINS, JOHN (1500?–1558), astrologer, born in Staffordshire about 1500, was entered in 1516 at Oxford, where he studied literæ humaniores and theology, and in 1520 was elected a fellow of All Souls. He graduated M.A. and was ordained. Having taken the degree of B.D. in 1531, he was in 1532 made a canon of Christ Church by Henry VIII, to whom he was then chaplain. In December 1543 he was made canon of Windsor and chaplain to Princess Mary. He died on 25 Aug. 1558, and was buried in St. George's Chapel, Windsor. A marble stone with a long inscription was laid over his grave (see Hist. et Ant. Oxon. ii. 178; Ashmole, Antiquities of Berkshire, 1719, iii. 167, 168).

Robins appears to have been a man of industry and polite learning. His bent was especially towards mathematics and astrology, in which ‘he became the ablest person of his time, not excepting his friend Record, whose learning was more general’ (Wood, Athenæ Oxon. i. 261). He left several astronomical and astrological tracts in manuscript: 1. ‘De Stellis Fixis,’ Bodl. MS. Digby 143. 2. ‘De Portentosis Cometis’ (to Henry VIII), Trin. Libr. Cambr. O. 1. 11. (the preface, partly plagiarised from Cicero, is reprinted in Halliwell's ‘Rara Mathematica,’ 1839). 3. ‘De Accidentibus futuris’ (to Henry VIII), Bodl. MS. Ashmol. 186. 4. ‘Tractatus de Prognosticatione per Eclipsin.’ 5. ‘Observationes Astrologiæ,’ Brit. Mus. MS. Sloane 1743. 6. ‘Annotationes Astrologiæ,’ Brit. Mus. MS. Sloane 1773 (containing also ‘Epitome in Apotelesmata Ptolemæi’). There are extracts from 5 and 6 in Bodl. MS. 3467, Seld. Arch. B. 79, p. 149.

[Pits, De Illustr. Angl. Scriptt. (appendix), p. 880; Bale's Cent. xii. 28; Tanner's Bibliotheca Britannica; Knight's Cyclopædia of Biography; cf. also Bodl. MS. Ashmol. 1123 for Windsor ecclesiastical accounts, &c., by Robins.]

W. F. S.