Macro, Cox (DNB00)

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MACRO, COX (1683–1767), antiquary, was eldest son of Thomas Macro, grocer, alderman, and five times chief magistrate of Bury St. Edmunds (d. 26 May 1737, aged 88). Thomas Macro lived and made his fortune in the ancient house in the Meat Market, Bury, usually known, from the observatory on its top, as Cupola House, and he purchased the estate of Little Haugh, in the neighbouring parish of Norton, for his country house. He married, 9 Jan. 1678-9, Susan, only daughter and heiress of the Rev. John Cox, rector of Risby, near Bury, and great-granddaughter of Dr. Richard Cox [q. v.], bishop of Ely. She died on 29 April 1743. The son, Cox Macro, was born in 1683, and received his baptismal name from his mother's surname. This ludicrous conjunction provoked a friend to whom he applied for an appropriate motto for his family to suggest the punning device of 'Cocks may crow.' He was educated at Bury grammar school by the Rev. Edward Leeds, and the Latin speech which he made at the school before the Bishop of Norwich, on 15 May 1699, is still extant. He matriculated at Jesus College, Cambridge, but migrated to Christ's College on 19 Jan. 1701-2, in order, as the Latin entry in the books says, to enjoy better health (mutato cœlo), and to study medicine. On 3 Sept. 1703 he entered at Leyden University, where he studied under Boerhaave (Peacock, Index of Leyden Students, p. 64). He proceeded LL.B. at Cambridge in 1710, D.D. in 1717, and he was at the time of his death the senior doctor in divinity of the university. He was chaplain to George II, but the possession of an ample fortune placed him above the need of further preferment. Richard Hurd [q. v.] was curate during 1742-3 of a parish near Norton, where he often saw Macro, and considered him 'a very learned and amiable man, the most complete scholar and gentleman united that almost ever I saw,' The doctor was 'master of most of the modern languages;' and he taught Hurd Italian. His house of Little Haugh contained many valuable paintings, a few pieces of sculpture, a choice collection of coins and medals, numerous manuscripts, and a library of books rich in old poetry and other rare works. The staircase was partly painted by Peter Tillemans of Antwerp, who died at Little Haugh in 17S4, and was buried in the churchyard of Stowlangtoft, and the ceiling and dome were painted by Huysmans. A picture by Tillemans of the house, with Macro and the members of his family walking in front of it, was, with eleven other family portraits, in the possession in 1848 of the Rev. W. F. Patteson of St. Helen's, Norwich.

Macro died at Little Haugh on 2 Feb. 1767, and was buried on 9 Feb. in Norton churchyard, in an enclosure between the side of the vestry and a buttress to the church wall. His wife was Mary, daughter of Edward Godfrey, privy purse to Queen Anne. She died on 31 Aug. 1753, and was buried at Norton, leaving one son and one daughter. The former, for some time at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, with Hurd as his tutor, became a soldier, and died abroad during his father's lifetime, whereupon his sister, Mary, became her father's heiress. After his death — for he would not allow the union previously — she married, on 8 May 1767, William Staniforth of Sheffield, and died without issue on 16 Aug. 1775. Macro left a charitable bequest of 600l. to Norton parish, to provide twelve coats for poor men and twelve gowns for poor women. A catalogue of Macro's treasures was compiled in 1766. Among them were a bust of Tillemans by Rysbrach, one of Rysbrach himself, drawings by the old masters, which had belonged to Sir James Thornhill, many letters from protestant martyrs, descended to him through Bishop Cox, the great register of Bury Abbey, a ledger-book of Glastonbury Abbey, the original manuscript of Spenser's 'View of the State of Ireland,' all the collections of Dr. John Covel, and numerous charters. Many of his manuscripts had belonged to Sir Ilenry Spelman, others formed part of the library of Bury Abbey, and several of them had been obtained through Hurd. A part of Macro's literary collections were presented by the Staniforths to Mr. Wilson, a Yorkshire antiquary, who was his nephew; and when the Wilson library was dispersed in 1844 they went to augment the store of Sir Thomas Phillipps at Middle Hill. The Macro property ultimately came to John Patteson, M.P. for Norwich, who disposed of the old masters by auction in 1819, and sold the books and manuscripts for a trifling sum — no more than 150l., it is said — to Richard Beatniffe, bookseller in that city, who resold them at a very large profit. The manuscripts were sold for him by Christie of Pall Mall in 1820, and were purchased — forty-one lots by Dawson Turner and the rest by Hudson Gurney — for 700l. The latter portion, now in the possession of J. H. Gurney of Keswick Hall, near Norwich, are described in the Historical Manuscripts Commission's 12th Rep. App. pp. 116-64. Macro's correspondence with eminent literary men and artists (1700-64) forms the Additional Manuscripts 32556-7 at the British Museum. Some of his biographical notes are inserted in the edition of Wood's 'Athenæ Oxonienses,' by Dr. Bliss. The Rev. Joseph Hunter edited for the Camden Society in 1840 a volume of 'Ecclesiastical Documents,' containing, in the second part, twenty-one charters from Macro's library, and from a manuscript formerly in his possession there was printed in 1837 for the Abbotsford Club a 'morality' called 'Mind, Will, and Understanding.'

[Bury and West Suffolk Archæol. Instit. ii. 210, 281-7, iii. 375-85; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. ix. 359-65; Nichols's Ulustr. of Lit. vi. 524; Kilvert's Hurd, pp. 10-20, 245; Page's Supplement to Suffolk Traveller, pp. 799-800; Hunter's Hallamshire, ed. Gatty, p. 423; information from the Rev. Dr. Peile of Christ's College, Cambridge.]

W. P. C.