Masters, Robert (DNB00)


MASTERS, ROBERT (1713–1798), historian of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, born in Norfolk in 1713, was son of Thomas Master (d. 1680), by his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Dyke of Sussex. Sir William Master of Cirencester was his grandfather [see under Master, William]. He was admitted at Corpus Christi College in 1731; graduated B.A. in 1734, M.A. in 1738, B.D. in 1746; and was fellow and tutor of the college from 1738 to 1750. On 14 May 1752 he was elected fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (Gough, Chron. List, p. 11). He continued to reside in college till he was presented by that society to the rectory of Landbeach, Cambridgeshire, in 1756. Mawson, bishop of Ely [q. v.], collated him to the vicarage of Linton, which he resigned for that of Waterbeach in 1759, This latter benefice he, by the bishop's leave, resigned in 1784 to his son William, for whom he built a house. He was in the commission of the peace for Cambridgeshire, and acted as deputy to William Compton, LL.D., chancellor of the diocese of Ely, who resided abroad. In 1797 he resigned the living of Landbeach in favour of Thomas Cooke Burroughes, senior fellow of Caius College, who, immediately upon his presentation, married Mary, Masters's second daughter, Masters continued to reside in the parsonage with his son-in-law and daughter until his death on 5 July 1798. He was buried at Landbeach, where a monument was erected to his memory.

About 1757 Masters married a granddaughter of one of his predecessors at Landbeach, and daughter of John Cory, rector of Impington and Waterbeach. She died on 29 Aug. 1764, leaving a son William, who died rector of Waterbeach in 1794, and two daughters, viz. Anne, married to the Rev. Andrew Sprole, and Mary, wife of the Rev. T. C. Burroughes.

His principal work is : 'The History of the College of Corpus Christi and the Blessed Virgin Mary (commonly called Bene't) in the University of Cambridge, from its foundation to the present time,' pt. i. Cambridge, at the university press, 1753, 4to. This was followed in 1755 by the second part, containing the lives of members of the college, with an appendix of documents. An edition of the work, 'with additional matter and a continuation' by John Lamb, D.D. [q. v.], master of Corpus Christi College, appeared at Cambridge in 1831, 4to, but the original edition is superior to its successor in biographical and other respects.

Masters's other works are: 1. 'A List of the Names, Counties, Times of Admission, Degrees, &c., of all that are know to have been Members of Corpus Christi College in Cambridge,' 1749, 4to, and subsequently appended to thehistory of the college. 2. 'Some Remarks on Mr. Walpole's Historic Doubts on the Life and Reign of King Richard III,' 1771. In 'Archæologia,' ii. 198: also printed separately, London, 1772, 4to. 3. 'Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Thomas Baker, B.D., of St. John's College in Cambridge, from the papers of Dr. Zachary Grey, with a Catalogue of his MS. Collections,' Cambridge, 1784, 8vo. 4. 'Account of some Stone Coffins and Skeletons found on making some alterations and repairs in Cambridge Castle, 1785. In 'Archæologia,' viii. 63. 5. 'Account of an Antient Painting on Glass,' representing the pedigree of the Stewart family, 1786. In 'Archæologia,' viii. 321. 6. Catalogue of the Pictures in the Public Library and Colleges in the University of Cambridge' [1790], 12mo. 7. 'A Short Account of the Parish of Waterbeach, in the Diocese of Ely, by a late Vicar,' sine loco, 1795, 8vo, with a slight sketch of Denney Abbey. Only twenty-five copies printed for private circulation. 8. 'Collectanea de Landbeach,' incorporated in the Rev. William Keatinge Clay's 'History of Landbeach,' printed for the Cambridge Antiquarian Society, 1861. A portrait of Masters, from a drawing by the Rev. Thomas Kerrich, was engraved by Facius in 1796.

[Addit. MSS. 5852 ff. 107 b, 118, 5876 ff. 137, 200, 5886 f. 18; Gough's British Topography; Clay's Landbeach, pp. 118, 124; Clay's Waterbeach, p. 69; Gent. Mag. 1798, pp. 634, 720; Lamb's Hist, of Corpus Christi College, p. 395; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. (Bohn), p. 1511; Nichols's Illustr. of Lit,; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. iii. 479-84, vol. vii. pt. i. p. 256, pt. ii. p. 626, viii. 448; Warburton's Walpole, ii. 412, 426.]

T. C.