Freind, Robert (DNB00)
|←Freind, John||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 20
|Freind, William (1669-1745)→|
FREIND, ROBERT (1667–1751), head-master of Westminster School, eldest son of the Rev. William Freind (who spelt his surname Friend), rector of Croughton, Northamptonshire, was born at Croughton in 1667, and at an early age was sent to Westminster School, where he was admitted upon the foundation in 1680. He obtained his election to Christ Church, Oxford, in 1686, and graduated B.A. 1690, M.A. 1693, and B.D. and D.D. 1709. Freind served the office of proctor in 1698, and in the following year was appointed under-master of Westminster School in the place of Michael Maittaire, the well-known classical scholar. In 1711 he succeeded Thomas Knipe as the head-master, and in the same year was presented to the rectory of Witney in Oxfordshire. He was appointed a canon of Windsor by letters patent dated 29 April 1729, and was installed a prebendary of Westminster on 8 May 1731. On his retirement from the head-mastership in 1733 he was succeeded by John Nicoll, who had served nearly twenty years as the under-master of the school. On 26 March 1739 Freind resigned the living of Witney, which, through the influence of the queen and Lady Sundon, he had succeeded in making over to his son. The permission of Bishop Hoadly is said to have been obtained for this proceeding with the laconic answer, ‘If Dr. Freind can ask it I can grant it.’ In March 1737 he was appointed canon of Christ Church, but he resigned his stall at Westminster in favour of his son in 1744. Freind died on 7 Aug. 1751, aged 84, and was buried in the chancel of Witney Church. He married Jane, only daughter of Dr. Samuel De l'Angle, prebendary of Westminster, whose son, John Maximilian De l'Angle, became the husband of Freind's sister, Anne. Freind had four children, three of whom died under age. The other, William (1715–1766), succeeded his father in the living of Witney, and afterwards became dean of Canterbury [q. v.] There are two portraits of Freind at Christ Church, the one in the hall being painted by Michael Dahl. There is also in the library of the same college a bust of Freind, executed by Rysbrack in 1738. A portrait of Freind is also preserved along with the portraits of the other headmasters at Westminster School.
Freind was a man of many social gifts, a good scholar, and a successful schoolmaster. His house was the resort of the wits and other famous men of the time. Swift records in his ‘Journal to Stella,’ under date 1 Feb. 1711–12: ‘To-night at six Dr. Atterbury and Prior, and I and Dr. Freind met at Dr. Robert Freind's house at Westminster, who is master of the school: there we sat till one, and were good enough company’ (Swift, Works, 1814, iii. 30). Freind's own social position was not without its effect upon the school, which became for many years the favourite place of education for the aristocracy. Indeed the list of boys who recited the epigrams at the anniversary dinner in 1727–8 contains a far greater number of distinguished names than any other school at that period could have shown (Comitia Westmonasteriensia, 1728). In 1728 the numbers of the school reached 434, inclusive of the forty boys on the foundation. Duck, in an ode ‘to the Rev. Dr. Freind on his quitting Westminster School,’ alludes to several of his famous pupils (Gent. Mag. 1733, iii. 152).
With Atterbury and other old Westminster boys he helped in the production of Boyle's attack upon Bentley. Pope, it will be remembered, makes Bentley sneer at Freind's scholarship in the ‘Dunciad’ (iv. 223–4):—
Let Freind affect to speak as Terence spoke,
And Alsop never but like Horace joke.’
Freind's niece, however, married a son of Bentley, who is said after that event to have conceived a better opinion of Christ Church men, and to have declared that ‘Freind had more good learning in him than ever he had imagined.’ While a student Freind contributed some English verses to the ‘Vota Oxoniensia’ (1689) ‘On the Inauguration of King William and Queen Mary,’ which were reprinted in Nichols's ‘Select Collection of Poems’ (vii. 122–4), where a Latin ode ‘On the Death of Queen Caroline’ in 1738 (ib. pp. 125–7), which has also been attributed to him, is by his son William. Two of his Latin poems, entitled ‘Encænium Rusticum, anglice a Country Wake,’ and ‘Pugna Gallorum Gallinaceorum,’ are printed in the ‘Musarum Anglicanarum Delectus Alter,’ 1698 (pp. 166–75, 189–93). ‘Oratio publice habita in Scholâ Westmonasteriensi 7° die Maii, 1705, aucthore Roberto Friend, A.M.,’ will be found among the Lansdowne MSS. in the British Museum (No. 845, pp. 47–51). A Latin ode to the Duke of Newcastle, written by Freind in 1737, appears in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ (vii. 631). Freind also wrote the lengthy dedication to the queen for the medical works of his brother John, which were published in 1733, and a number of epitaphs and other monumental inscriptions, the one on Lord Carteret's younger brother, Philip, whose monument is in the north aisle of Westminster Abbey, being perhaps the best known. With reference to the last-mentioned compositions of Freind, the following epigram, ascribed to Pope on somewhat doubtful authority (Nichols, Select Collection of Poems, v. 316), was written:—
Friend, for your epitaphs I grieved
Where still so much is said,
One half will never be believ'd,
The other never read.