Mapletoft, Robert (DNB00)

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MAPLETOFT, ROBERT (1609–1677), dean of Ely, son of Hugh Mapletoft, rector of North Thoresby, Lincolnshire, was born at that place on 25 Jan. 1609, and educated at the grammar school at Louth. He was admitted a sizar of Queens' College, Cambridge, on 25 May 1625, and graduated B. A. in 1628, M.A. 1632, B.D. 1639, D.D. 1660. He was elected fellow of Pembroke College on 8 Jan. 1630-1, and became chaplain to Bishop Matthew Wren, who till his death was his firm friend and patron. On Wren's recommendation he was presented to the rectory of Bartlow, Cambridgeshire, by Charles I in 1639, the king exercising the patronage by reason of the outlawry of the patron, H. Huddleston (Rymer, xx. 296). At the parliamentary visitation of the university in 1644 he was ejected as a malignant and a loyalist. After his ejection, we are told, he 'lived as privately and quietly as he could,' finding shelter at one time in the house of Sir Robert Shirley in Leicestershire, where he made the acquaintance of Sheldon, afterwards archbishop of Canterbury. During the protectorate he officiated for some time to a private congregation in Lincoln, according to the ritual of the church of England. 'Being discovered, he was like to come into some trouble, but came off safe when it became known that his congregation had made a considerable purse for him, which he would not accept' (Baker MSS. xxxvi. 103). At the Restoration he received the degree of D.D. by royal mandate, 28 Jan. 1660, 'on account of his sufferings and his services to the church during the recent troubles' (Kennett, Register, p. 213), and on 23 Aug. he was presented by the crown to the subdeanery of Lincoln Cathedral and the prebendal stall of Clifton, and on 8 Dec. received the mastership of the Spital Hospital. While subdean he was involved in a tiresome dispute with the precentor of the cathedral, John Featley [q. v.], with regard to some capitular appointments, and was attacked by him in a virulent tract entitled 'Speculum Mapletoftianum,' which exists in manuscript among the chapter documents. As master of the Spital Hospital he exerted himself vigorously for the revival of that sorely abused and practically defunct charity, in conjunction with Dean Michael Honywood [q. v.] A bill in chancery was exhibited in 1662 against Sir John Wray for the restoration of the estates, and Mapletoft at his own expense rebuilt the demolished chapel and increased its revenues, making the office rather one of expense than emolument (Reports and Papers of the Associated Architectural Soc. for 1890, pp. 285-8, 298). He also received from the crown the living of Clay worth, Nottinghamshire, which in 1672 he exchanged for the college living of Soham, near Ely, resigning his fellowship. He was nominated master of his college (Pembroke), but he waived in favour of Mark Frank [q. v.], whom he succeeded as master in 1664. He held the office, together with the benefice of Soham, till his death. He served as vice-chancellor in 1671. He was made dean of Ely on 7 Aug. 1667, holding the subdeanery of Lincoln with the deanery till 1671. When in 1668 Anne Hyde, duchess of York [q. v.], began to waver in her allegiance to the church of England, Mapletoft was recommended as her chaplain by his old friend Sheldon, as 'a primitive and apostolical divine,' whose influence might prevent her secession. Feeling himself 'unfit for court life,' he was reluctant to undertake the office, and in 1670 the duchess openly joined the church of Rome. He died on 20 Aug. 1677 in the master's lodge at Pembroke, and, by his desire, was buried in the chapel, near the grave of his patron, Bishop Wren. It is recorded of him that 'wherever he resided he kept a good table, and had the general reputation of a pious and charitable man.' In person he was exceedingly thin, 'vir valde macilentus.' He was cousin to Nicholas Ferrar [q. v.], and was 'one that had a long and special intimate acquaintance with him.' He was a frequent visitor at Little Gidding, Huntingdonshire, and on Ferrar's death he preached the funeral sermon and officiated at the funeral. His brother, Joshua Mapletoft, married Susanna Collett, Ferrar's niece, and was father of John Mapletoft [q. v.] Mapletoft himself was unmarried. By his will he bequeathed his library, the 'small reserves from the late plundering times,' and 100l. to Ely Cathedral, and the same sum to poor widows of clergy in the diocese. He also founded a catechetical lecture at the colleges of Queens' and Pembroke, Cambridge, and 'petty schools' at his native parish of Thoresby and at Louth, to prepare boys for the grammar school at that town, now converted into scholarships at those places.

[Cole MSS. xix. 127 a; Baker MSS. xxxvi. 103,xxxviii. 191; Lansdowne MSS. 986, No. 98, f.214; Harl. MS. 7043, pp. 229, 243.]

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