Rustat, Tobias (DNB00)
|←Rust, Thomas Cyprian||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 50
RUSTAT, TOBIAS (1606?–1694), university benefactor, born at Barrow-upon-Soar, Leicestershire, about 1606, and said to have been the descendant of a refugee from Saxony, was the grandson of William Rustat, vicar of Barrow from 1563 to 1588. He was the second son of Robert Rustat (d. 1637), M.A., of Jesus College, Cambridge, vicar of Barrow-upon-Soar and rector of Skeffington in Leicestershire. His mother was a daughter of Ralph Snoden of Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, and sister of Robert Snoden, bishop of Carlisle.
Early in life Rustat was apprenticed to a barber-surgeon in London, but soon left, and entered the service of Basil, viscount Feilding, eldest son of William Feilding, Earl of Denbigh [q. v.] About 1633 he attended that nobleman in his embassy to Venice; he was next attached to the youthful George Villiers, second duke of Buckingham, and became a servant of the young Prince of Wales (Charles II) when he was about fourteen years old. While in this position he was often employed in carrying letters between Charles I and the queen, discharging his duty during the civil war at great bodily risk. He was personally engaged in July 1648 during the royalist rising instigated in Kent by the Earl of Holland, and, having saved the life of the Duke of Buckingham, he escaped with him to the continent.
Rustat bought the reversion of the post of yeoman of the robes to Charles II, and succeeded to that empty honour about 1650. At the Restoration he was sworn into office (9 Nov. 1660), and held his place until the death of Charles II in 1685. His salary was only 40l. a year, but the king gave him in addition an annuity of the same amount. By patent for his life he was created in 1660 under-housekeeper of the palace at Hampton Court, and, according to John Evelyn, he was also ‘a page of the back-stairs.’ The emoluments attached to these posts were not excessive, but through strict frugality he became rich. He was a great benefactor to ‘Churches, Hospitalls, Universities, and Colleges,’ and found, says his epitaph, that the more he distributed ‘the more he had at the year's end.’
A grace to bestow on Rustat the degree of M.A. was passed by the university of Cambridge on 13 Oct. 1674, and he was admitted per literas regias on 20 Oct. In 1676 his armorial bearings were confirmed by the king. Towards the end of his days he lived mostly at Chelsea, and for the last eight years of his life he kept his funeral monument in his house, with the inscription fully written, excepting the date of death, and with the injunction that no alteration or addition should be made in it. He died a bachelor on 15 March 1693–4, and was buried in the chapel of Jesus College, Cambridge, on 23 March. The white marble monument to his memory, with his own inscription on it, is now placed in the south transept, and a small stone in the pavement of the chancel marks the place of sepulture. His will was dated on 20 Oct. 1693, and precisely a century later the family became extinct. His portrait, by Sir Peter Lely, hangs in the hall of Jesus College, and was engraved by Gardiner in 1795, and for Hewett's memoir of Rustat in 1849. There is preserved at the British Museum a unique copy of a very fine mezzotint engraving of him, with a long Latin quotation, in which he is represented as a young man (J. C. Smith, Portraits, iv. 1670).
Rustat founded at Jesus College in 1671 seventeen scholarships, ranging in annual value from 40l. to 50l., for the sons of clergymen deceased or living. To the same college he gave money to provide annuities for the widows of six clergymen, and to defray the cost of the annual commemoration and visitation on Easter Thursday. He was a benefactor to the library of St. John's College at Cambridge, and to the college of the same name at Oxford he left a large sum for the encouragement of ‘the most indigent Fellows or Scholars,’ and for the endowment of loyal lectures on certain days connected with the Stuart kings. On 1 June 1666 he gave 1,000l. to the university of Cambridge for the purchase of choice books for its library.
The copper statue at Windsor by Stada of Charles II on horseback, on a marble pedestal by Grinling Gibbons, was given by Rustat in 1680. A brass statue of the same monarch, draped in the Roman habit, by Grinling Gibbons, now in the centre of the quadrangle at Chelsea Hospital, was similarly the gift of Rustat, who also presented the hospital with the sum of 1,000l. The fine bronze statue of James II behind Whitehall, set up on 31 Dec. 1686, was also the work of Gibbons, and the gift of Rustat. Nor does this list exhaust his benefactions. He is described by Evelyn as ‘a very simple, ignorant, but honest and loyal creature.’
[Wordsworth's Scholæ Acad. pp. 294–6; Peck's Cromwell, pp. 83–5; Law's Hampton Court, ii. 246; Dyer's Cambridge, ii. 70; Evelyn's Diary (1827 ed.), iii. 27; Cambridge Univ. Cal. pp. 538, 663; Cooper's Annals of Cambr. iii. 519; Baker's St. John's Coll. Cambr. ed. Mayor, i. 341, ii. 1108; Beaver's Chelsea, p. 283; Cunningham's London, ed. Wheatley, i. 384, iii. 513; Peck's Desid. Curiosa, ii. 553–554; Clark's Oxford Colleges, p. 361; information from the Rev. Dr. Morgan, master of Jesus Coll. Cambr. A memoir of him by William Hewett, jun., was published in 1849.]