[Foster's Alumni, 1600-1714; Wood's Fasti (Bliss), vol. ii. col. 231; Kirby's Winchester Scholars, pp. 166, 187, 213; Reg. Univ. Oxon. (Oxford Hist. Soc.), vol. ii. pt. ii. p. 378, pt. iii. p. 408; Newcourt's Repertoriam, ii. 62, 226, 360; Walcott's Fasti Cicestrenses, p. 44; Wood's Athenæ (Bliss), vol. iv. col. 549; Nichols's Literary Anecdotes, ix. 625-6; Notes and Queries, 6th ser. v. 347, 394; Hearne's Collections (Oxford Hist. Soc), iii. 246, 254; Fosbroke's Gloucester, pp. 104, 135; Nicolson's English Historical Library, p. 130; registers of New College, Oxford, per the warden.]
8 July 1704, is in the British Museum (Lansdowne, 989, ff. 38-9).
PARSONS, ROBERT (d. 1570), musical composer, was born in Exeter. On 17 Oct. 1563 he was sworn gentleman of the Chapel Royal, and on 25 Jan. 1569-70 he was drowned at Newark-upon-Trent. He was a composer of church music, and he revelled in the science of part-writing. His settings of 'In Nomine' were praised by Butler (Principies of Music); and one, preserved m the Christ Church Library, Oxford, together with an Ave Maria, made an agreeable impression on Burney, who, however, singled out the song 'Enforced by love or feare' to print as an example of Parsons's rich and curious harmony (History, ii. 567, 596).
There are published in Bernard's 'Selected Church Music,' 1641, (1) A morning, Communion, and evening service, α 4, 5, 6, and 7; and (2) Full anthem, α 6, 'Deliver me from mine enemies;' (3) Madrigal, α 5, 'Enforced by love and feare' in Burney's 'History' (ii. 596) and Grove's 'Dictionary' (iii. 271). John Day ascribes a large number of psalm-tunes to a W. Parsons in the 'Whole Book of Psalms,' 1563.
In manuscript there is a copy of the anthem 'Deliver me' in Tudway's collection (Brit. Mus. Harleian MS. 7339, f. 65); a second Magnificat (ib. Addit. MS. 29289, f. 4); Ave Maria, Te Fili, and an In Nomine, α 5, copied by Burney from Christ Church MSS. (ib. 11586); Motetts and settings of 'In Nomine,' for which Parsons was famous (ib. 22597, tf. 36 b, 54 b, 29246 f. 55, in lute notation; 31390 ff. 10 b, 23 b, 24 b, 59 b, 'Delacourt,' 82 b, 96 b, 32377 ff. 5, 13, 14, 21 b, 47 b, 59 b); Sol-fa, and 'Delacorte,' α 5 (ib. 30380-4, ff. 63, 67); 'Abradad,' 'Pandulpho,' &c. (ib. 17786, ff. 7, 9).
In the library of the Royal College of Music are Parsons's First, Second, and Third Services, of which the third is published in Barnard as Parsons's First; an Anthem, 'Ah, helpless wretch;' a Motett, 'Anima Christi;' and pieces for viols. At the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, are an Anthem, 'Deliver me,' and an In Nomine (Virginal Book). At the cathedral libraries of Ely, Durham, and Gloucester are various compositions.
A son John (d. 1623) is separately noticed.[Authorities cited.]
PARSONS or PERSONS, ROBERT (1546–1610), Jesuit missionary and controversialist, was born at Nether Stowey, near Bridgwater, Somerset, on 24 June 1546. His father, Henry Parsons, said to have been a blacksmith, had by his wife Christiana eleven children, of whom Robert was the sixth. John Hayward, the incumbent of the parish, seeing the boy's talents, helped towards the expenses of his education. Robert was first sent to a school at Stogursey, and afterwards, for three years, to the free school at Taunton. In 1564 he entered St. Mary's Hall, Oxford, and two years later passed to Balliol College, where, after graduating B.A., he was elected fellow 21 Oct. 1568, and proceeded M.A. in December 1572. He distinguished himself as a tutor, and was for some time (1574) bursar and dean of his college. He twice took the oath of royal supremacy, but, says Dr. Oliver (Biogr. S. J. p. 158), he never received Anglican orders, although, having been elected sacerdos socius, or chaplain-fellow, he was required to do so (Paravicini, Ballioi, p. 325). He was popular with his pupils, but at bitter enmity with the fellows, especially with Christopher Bagshaw [q. v.], who afterwards joined the church of Rome, and with Dr. Squire, the master. As a result, Parsons left, or was dismissed from, the college in the spring of 1574. The accounts of this affair are conflicting. By some he was said to have incurred hostility by favouring Roman doctrine, by over-strictness in enforcing discipline, and by the exposure of misconduct on the part of Dr. Squire. Others declared that he studied calvinistic theology, introduced calvinistic books into the library, dealt dishonestly with the college funds, and wrote lampoons against the master. He was, moreover, believed to have been born out of wedlock, and therefore to have intruded himself into his fellowship contrary to the statutes, which required legitimacy of birth. Dr. Robert Abbot [q. v.] even declared, in a letter to Dr. Hussey, that documentary evidence of his illegitimacy was laid before a meeting of the fellows. In any case, Parsons was driven to sign an act of resignation of his fellowship on 13 Feb. 1574, and he then asked and obtained permission to make use of his rooms and to retain his pupils until the following Easter. But his persecutors, bent upon his public