Moses, William (1623?-1688) (DNB00)

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MOSES, WILLIAM (1623?–1688), serjeant-at-law, son of John Moses, merchant tailor, was born in the parish of St. Saviour, Southwark, about 1623. On 28 March 1632, being 'of nine years,' he was admitted to Christ's Hospital, and proceeded in 1639 as an exhibitioner to Pembroke Hall, now Pembroke College, Cambridge, whence he graduated M.A. Early in 1655 he was elected master of Pembroke by the unanimous vote of the fellows. Benjamin Laney [q. v.] had been ejected from the mastership in March 1644, and the post had been successively held by Richard Vines and Sydrach Simpson. Cromwell demurred to the appointment of Moses, having designed another for the post, but on representation made of the services of Moses to the college, he withdrew his previous mandate. Moses was an admirable administrator, securing for his college the possession of the benefactions of Sir Robert Hitcham [q. v.], and rebuilding much of the fabric. He 'outwitted' Cromwell by proceeding to the election to a vacant post, in advance of the expected arrival of Cromwell's nomination.

At the Restoration Laney was reinstated. Moses was not in orders, and was disinclined to enter the ministry of the established church, though he was averse from presbyterianism and in favour of moderate episcopacy. His deeply religious mind was cast in a puritan mould; he ascribes his lasting religious impressions to the 'Institutions' of William Bucanus, which he read at Christ's Hospital in the English version by Robert Hill (d. 1623) [q. v.] Baxter was very desirous to have him appointed as one of the commissioners (25 March 1661) to the Savoy conference but 'could not prevail.' His own health had led Moses to have some practical acquaintance with medicine, and he was the friend of several leading physicians. But after hesitating as to his future vocation he turned to the law, and became counsel to the East India Company. He was 'a very quick and ready man.' Charles II took particular notice of him when he pleaded for the company before the privy council. The lord chancellor, Heneage Finch, first earl of Nottingham [q. v.], said that had he taken earlier to law he would easily have been at the head of his profession. He saved his college 'some hundred of pounds in a law affair.' He was made serjeant-at-law on 11 June 1688; died 'a rich batchellor' in the same year, and left considerable benefactions to his college. A short Latin poem by him is included in 'Academiae Cantabrigiensis Σωστρα,' &c., Cambridge, 1660, 4to, a congratulatory collection on the restoration of Charles II.

[Calamy's Account, 1713, p. 83; Calamy's Continuation, 1727, i. 115; Reliquiae Baxterianae, 1696, ii. 337; Chronica Juridicalia. 1739, App. p. 3; extracts from the Christ's Hospital Register of Exhibitioners, and from a manuscript Latin life of Moses by William Sampson, kindly furnished by the master of Pembroke College, Cambridge.]

A. G.