Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Collins, Samuel (1576-1651)

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COLLINS, SAMUEL, D.D. (1576–1651) provost of King's College, Cambridge, was son of Baldwin Collins, fellow and vice-provost of Eton College, 'a pious and painfull preacher, prodigiously bountifull to the poor, whom Queen Elizabeth constantly called Father Collins' (Fuller, Worthies, ed. Nichols, i. 144). He was born at Eton on 5 Aug. 1576, and studied for nine years in Eton School, where he made rapid progress in learning, as he had an excellent natural memory, which his father improved by art. In 1591 he was elected to a scholarship at King's College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. 1595-6, M.A. 1599, B.D. 1606. Se became chaplain to Archbishop Bancroft and to his successor, Archbishop Abbot. Newcourt, Cole, Bentham, and other writers erroneously state that he was the Samuel Collins who on 15 Feb. 1610-11 was instituted to the vicarage of Braintree in Essex, on the presentation of Lord Rich. The subject of this notice died in 1651, whereas the vicar of Braintree survived till 1667 (Wright, Essex, ii. 22; Notes and Queries, 2nd series, x. 42).

Collins obtained the rectory of Fen Ditton in Cambridgeshire, and held also the sinecure rectory of Milton in the same county. He was created D.D. at the Cambridge commencement, 3 March 1612-13, when he was selected by Dr. Richardson, regius professor of divinity, to answer upon three questions in a divinity act held in St. Mary's Church before Charles, prince of Wales, and his brother-in-law, Frederick, prince elector palatine of the Rhine (Cooper, Annals of Cambridge, iii. 57). Upon the death of Dr. Smith he was elected the eighteenth provost of King's College in April 1615, and about the same time he was appointed one of the king's chaplains. On 22 Oct. 1617 he was elected regius professor of divinity at Cambridge (Le Neve, Fasti, ed. Hardy, iii. 656). To this chair James I annexed, as an augmentation, or rather full endowment, the rectory of Somersham in Huntingdonshire. Collins 'constantly read his lectures twice a week for above fourty [in reality thirty-four] years, giving notice of the time to his auditors in a ticket on the school-dores, wherein never any two alike, without some considerable difference in the critical language thereof (Fuller, Worthies, ed. Nichols, i. 144). On 19 Feb. 1617-18 he was collated to a prebend in the seventh stall of the cathedral of Ely (Le Neve, Fasti, i. 361). He contracted a close friendship and maintained a constant correspondence with Sir Henry Wotton during his embassy at Venice, and through him that diplomatist presented to King's College a fine portrait of Father Paolo Sarpi, the historian of the council of Trent.

In 1628 the fellows of King's, in a petition to Williams, bishop of Lincoln, charged the provost with bribery, simony, partiality in disposing of all matters of moment, and with intolerable negligence; but the bishop examined the charges, found them groundless, and attributed the fellows' dissatisfaction to Collins's biting wit (Hacket, Life of Abp. Williams, ii. 61; Cole, Hist. of King's Coll. ii. 234).

At the time of the rebellion he adhered loyally to the royal cause, and in 1643 the Earl of Manchester and the other commissioners for removing scandalous and insufficient ministers ejected him from the rectory of Fen Ditton. The following year (9 Jan. 1644-5) he was deprived of the provostship of King's College by order of parliament, in a visitation of the university by the Earl of Manchester (Cooper, Annals of Cambridge, iii. 377). It appears that he was allowed to retain the sinecure rectory of Milton, but the only other preferment left to him was the regius professorship of divinity, from which, however, the living of Somersham, annexed to it by James I, was severed. Provost Whichcote, who succeeded him in the government of King's College, consented that his ejected predecessor should have a yearly stipend out of the common dividend allotted to the provost, and this was regularly paid to him until his death. In 1646, on the decease of Thomas Howell, bishop of Bristol, that see was offered to Collins, but he prudently declined it. After he was ejected from his provostship he lived a retired life in the great brick house in St. Rhadegund's Lane, opposite Jesus College, Cambridge. There he died on 16 Sept. 1651, at the age of seventy-five. He was buried in the same grave with Provost Hacumblen, in the second south vestry from the west of the royal chapel belonging to King's College. A mural monument with a Latin inscription was erected there. He left behind him several sons.

He was reckoned the most fluent Latinist of his age, and was remarkable for his admirable wit and memory. His works are: 1. 'A Sermon [on 1 Tim. vi. 3-5] preached at Paules Crosse 1 Nov. 1607,' London, 1607, 1608, 4to; dedicated to Archbishop Bancroft. 2. 'Increpatio Andreae Eudaemono-Johannis Jesuitae, de infami Parallelo, et renovata assertio Torturae Torti [Cardinal Bellarmin], pro clarissimo domino atque antistite Eliensi [Lancelot Andrewes], auctore S. Collino,' Cambridge, 1612, 4to; dedicated to Archbishop Abbot, whose chaplain he then was, and who had requested him to undertake the work. 3. 'Epphata to F. T.; or, the defence of . . . the Lord Bishop of Elie [Lancelot Andrewes], . . . concerning his answer to Cardinall Bellarmines Apologie; against the slaunderous cauills of a namelesse Adioyner; entitling his booke, in every page of it, A discouerie of many fowle absurdities, falsities, lyes, &c.,' Cambridge, 1617, 4to; dedicated to James I, by whose command he first undertook to write the book. It is in reply to the treatise of the Jesuit, Thomas Fitzherbert, published in 1603 under the initials F.T., and entitled a 'Confutation of certain Absurdities in Lancelot Andrews's Answer to Bellarmine's Apology.' Fitz-Herbert published in 1621 a reply to Collins, entitled 'The Obmutesce of F. T. to the Epphata of Dr. Collins.' 4. Latin verses (a) in the university collection on the deaths of Sir Edward and Lady Lewkenor, 1606, (b) before Phineas Fletcher's 'Locustae,' 1627, (c) English verses before Bishop Rainbow's sermon at the funeral of the Countess of Suffolk, 1649.

[Addit. MSS. 5802 ff. 137, 138, 5865 f. 65, 24492 pp. 48, 243, 15852 f. 64; Bentham's Ely, 261; Burnet's Life of Bishop Bedel, 253; Cambridge Antiquarian Communications, iii. 26-28, 36, 211; Carter's Hist. of Cambridge, 31, 32; Cole's Hist. of King's Coll. Camb. ii. 211-15, 234; Racket's Life of Abp. Williams, i. 24, 26, 32, ii. 61; Bp. Hall's Works, 738; Harwood's Alumni Eton. 44; Lansdowne MS. 985 ff. 9193 b; Lloyd's Memoires (1677), 453; Newcourt's Repertorium, i. 508, ii. 89; Plume's Life of Bp. Hacket, pp. x, li; Prynne's Tryal of Abp. Laud, 193; Russell's Memoir of Bp. Andrewes, 449; Walker's Sufferings of the Clergy, ii. 150, 215; Wood's Athenae Oxon. (Bliss), ii. 664.]

T. C.