Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Plumptre, Robert

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PLUMPTRE, ROBERT (1723–1788), president of Queens' College, Cambridge, was youngest of ten children of John Plumptre, a gentleman of moderate estate in Nottinghamshire, and was grandson of Henry Plumptre [q. v.] He was educated by Dr. Henry Newcome at Hackney, and matriculated as a pensioner of Queens' College, Cambridge, on 11 July 1741. He proceeded B.A. 1744, M.A. 1748, D.D. 1761, and on 21 March 1745 was elected fellow of his college. In 1752 (19 Oct.) he was instituted to the rectory of Wimpole, Cambridgeshire, on the presentation of Lord-chancellor Hardwicke; at the same time he held the vicarage of Whaddon. In 1756 Lord Hardwicke made him prebendary of Norwich. In 1760 he was elected president of his college, and in 1769 professor of casuistry. These offices, together with his preferments, he held till his death. He was vice-chancellor 1760-1 and 1777-1778.

Dr. Plumptre interested himself in the history of his college, and left some manuscript collections for it. In the university he supported the movement inaugurated by Dr. John Jebb (1736-1786) [q. v.] in favour of annual examinations, and was a member of the syndicate appointed on 17 Feb. 1774 to devise a scheme for carrying them out, which was rejected on 19 April in the same year. He is also stated to have been in favour of granting relief to the clergy, who in 1772 petitioned against subscription to the thirty- nine articles. He published in 1782 a pamphlet called 'Hints respecting some of the University Officers,' of which a second edition appeared in 1802. Latin poems by him occur among the congratulatory verses published by the university in 1761 on the occasion of the marriage of George III in 1762, on the birth of a Prince of Wales, and in 1763 on the restoration of peace. These compositions show that he was a respectable scholar, and that the story of his having made false quantities in his vice-chancellor's speech, which were strung into the line—

Rogērus immēmor Robērtum denōtat hebētem—

is probably a calumny.

Dr. Plumptre died at Norwich on 29 Oct. 1788. There is a tablet to his memory on the south side of the presbytery. There is a portrait of him in the president's lodge, Queens' College. He married, in September 1756, Anne, second daughter of Dr. Henry Newcome, his former schoolmaster. By her he had ten children. His son James and two of his daughters, Anne and Annabella, are separately noticed [see under Plumptre, Anna].

[Gent. Mag. vol. lviii. (for 1788); Dyer's Hist. of Univ. of Cambridge, i. 125, ii. 158; Cooper's Annals, iv. 370; Wordsworth's Scholae Academicae, p. 106.]

J. W. C.-K.