Parsons, Robert (1647-1714) (DNB00)


PARSONS, ROBERT (1647–1714), archdeacon of Gloucester, son of John Parsons of Southampton, was born in 1647. He matriculated from University College, Oxford, on 10 Dec. 1663, graduated B.A. on 27 June 1667, and M.A. on 22 April 1670. He then became chaplain to Anne, dowager countess of Rochester (daughter of Sir John St. John of Liddiard Tregooze in Wiltshire, widow both of Sir Henry Lee of Ditchley, and of Henry Wilmot, first earl of Rochester), and he acted as curate of Adderbury in Oxfordshire for William Beaw (afterwards bishop of Llandaff). He was instituted vicar of Shabbington in Buckinghamshire on 8 March 1672, canon of Llandaff on 10 June 1681, portionist rector of Waddesdon in Buckinghamshire on 20 April 1682, rector of Oddington in Gloucestershire in 1687 (when he resigned Shabbington), and archdeacon of Gloucester on 10 March 1703. From 26 May to 26 July 1680 he was in constant attendance on John Wilmot, second earl of Rochester [q. v.], and was responsible for his deathbed repentance. Parsons died on 18 July 1714, and was buried at Oddington. Administration was granted to his son Robert on 6 Sept., his widow Joanna having renounced. Hearne tells an amusing story of how Parsons recognised in a sermon preached by Anthony Addison, before the judges, at St. Mary's, Oxford, the work of William Pindar of University College, and charged the preacher with the plagiarism as he left the church. He left three sons, Robert (b. 1678), John (1682–1699), and Bainton or Baynton (1691–1742).

Parsons published: ‘A Sermon preached at the Funeral of John, Earl of Rochester,’ Oxford, 1680; Dublin (reprinted), 1681; London, 1707, 1709, 1723, 1727 (12th ed.); 1728 (13th ed.), 1735, 1765? 1798, 1800 and 1807 in vol. ix. of Religious Tracts dispersed by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. On the title-pages of the editions of 1727, 1728, and 1765? the author is erroneously called Thomas Parsons. The biographical portion of the sermon was printed at the end of Gilbert Burnet's ‘Life and Death of John, Earl of Rochester,’ Glasgow, 1752, and in Wordsworth's ‘Ecclesiastical Biography,’ iv. 646–51 n. The whole of it is in the editions of Burnet's work of 1782, 1805, 1810, 1819, 1820, and in Burnet's ‘Lives of Sir Matthew Hale,’ &c., London, 1774. With Burnet's ‘Rochester,’ it was translated into German, and published at Halle in 1698 and 1775? Abstracts from the sermon were published about 1690, as ‘The Libertine Overthrown.’

[Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Wood's Fasti (Bliss), vol. ii. cols. 297, 319; Lipscomb's Buckinghamshire, i. 453, 496; Le Neve's Fasti (Hardy), i. 446, ii. 267; Le Neve's Monumenta Anglicana, 1700–1715, p. 294; Hearne's Remains (Oxford Hist. Soc.), i. 120; Kirby's Winchester Scholars, pp. 211, 212, 217; Bloxam's Reg. of Magd. Coll. vi. 138; Hasted's Kent, ii. 546; P.C.C. Administration Act-book, 1714; Notes and Queries, 8th ser. viii. 204; registers of Adderbury, kindly supplied by the Rev. H. J. Gepp.]

B. P.