Mason, Robert (DNB00)

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MASON, ROBERT (1571–1635), politician and author, a native of Shropshire, born in 1571, matriculated at Oxford from Balliol College on 5 Nov. 1591, aged twenty; he does not appear to have graduated, but in 1597 was a student of Lincoln's Inn (Foster, Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714). In the parliament which met in January 1625–6 Mason was member for Ludgershall, Wiltshire, and took an active part in the opposition to the court; in May he was appointed assistant to the managers of the impeachment of Buckingham, and sat on several committees of the house (Commons' Journals, 1547–1628–9, pp. 900, 901, &c.). In February 1627–8 he was returned for Winchester, and was one of those appointed in May to frame the Petition of Right, in the debate on which he made an important speech (the substance is given in Forster's Life of Sir J. Eliot, ii. 180–1). He was one of the counsel chosen to defend Sir John Eliot in 1630, but his advocacy does not seem to have been quite judicious (cf. Gardiner, vii. 116). In October 1634, either to silence him, or because he had come to terms with the court, Mason was recommended by the king for the post of recorder of London, vacant by the appointment of Edward (afterwards Lord) Littleton [q. v.] as solicitor-general (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1634–5, p. 24). In 1635 he was commissioner for oyer and terminer in Hampshire, and died on Sunday, 20 Dec., in the same year (ib.) He was succeeded as recorder by Henry Calthrop (Remembrancia, p. 304).

Mason was author of: 1. ‘Reason's Monarchie; set forth by Robert Mason, dedicated to Sir John Popham, Chief Justice of England, and the rest of the Justices of Assize,’ 1602; it ends with some verses entitled ‘The Mind's Priviledge.’ 2. ‘Reason's Academie, set forth by Robert Mason of Lincolns Inne, Gent.,’ dedicated to Sir John Popham, 1605, small 8vo. At the end are some verses, ‘Reason's Moane,’ probably by Sir John Davies [q. v.], to whom ‘Reason's Academie’ has also been attributed. This book was reprinted in 1609, under the title ‘A Mirrour for Merchants, with an exact Table to discover the excessive taking of Usurie, by R. Mason of Lincoln's Inne, Gent.’ The headline throughout is ‘Reason's Academie.’ He also contributed to the ‘Perfect Conveyancer, or severall Select and Choice Presidents, collected by four severall Sages of the Law, Ed. Hendon, Robert Mason, Will. Noy, and Henry Fleetwood,’ London, 1655.

Mason must be carefully distinguished from a namesake and contemporary, Robert Mason (1589?–1662), who was fellow of St. John's, Cambridge, and secretary to the Duke of Buckingham. He was also proctor of the university, took an active part in the election of the duke as chancellor, and subsequently became LL.D. He was frequently employed in state affairs in France, accompanied Buckingham on his expedition to Rhé, became, apparently, treasurer of the navy, and received 500l. by the duke's will. He died at Bath in 1662, aged seventy-three, and left his library to St. John's College (cf. Cal. State Papers, Dom., passim; Baker, Hist. of St. John's College, Cambridge, pp. 292, 491; Communications to the Cambridge Antiquarian Society, ii. 341; Wills from Doctors' Commons, Camden Soc.).

[Works in Brit. Mus.; Harl. MS. 6799, ff. 102, 105; Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser; Journals of the House of Commons, 1547–1628–9; Official Returns of Members of Parliament; Wood's Athenæ, ii. 582; Cat. of Early Printed Books; Lowndes's Bibl. Man.; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Catalogue of the Huth Library, iii. 927; W. C. Hazlitt's Collections, 3rd ser.; Forster's Life of Sir J. Eliot, passim; Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. ii. 267.]

A. F. P.