Moss, Robert (DNB00)

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MOSS, ROBERT (1666–1729), dean of Ely, eldest son of Robert and Mary Moss, was born at Gillingham in Norfolk in 1666 (so Masters; the 'Life' prefixed to his collected sermons says ' about 1667 '). His father was a country gentleman in good circumstances, living at Postwick in the same county. After being educated at Norwich school he was admitted a sizar of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, 19 April 1682, at the age of sixteen. He graduated in due course B. A. 1685, M.A. 1688, B.D. 1696, D.D. 1705. Soon after his first degree he was elected to a fellowship at his college. He was ordained deacon in 1688, and priest in 1690. In 1693 he was appointed by the university to be one of their twelve preachers, and his sermons at St. Mary's are said to have been much frequented. After missing by a few votes an appointment to the office of public orator at Cambridge in 1698, he was chosen preacher of Gray's Inn on 11 July of that year, in succession to Dr. Richardson, master of Peterhouse. In December 1716 he was allowed to nominate Dr. Thomas Gooch, master of Caius College, as his deputy in this office. Early in 1699 he was elected assistant-preacher at St. James's, Westminster, and was successively chaplain in ordinary to William III, Anne, and George I. In 1708 the parishioners of St. Lawrence Jewry offered him their Tuesday lectureship, which he accepted, succeeding Dr. Stanhope, then made dean of Canterbury.

Moss's preferments were now so numerous that the master of his college, Dr. Greene, was of opinion that his fellowship was virtually rendered void. A long and somewhat undignified controversy followed between Moss and the master, in which it was alleged that the total value of the church preferments held by Moss, 240l. in all, was equivalent to six fellowships. The master, however, did not proceed to extremities, and Moss retained his fellowship till 1714 (the correspondence is in Addit. MS. 10125).

In 1708, or soon afterwards, he was collated to the rectory of Gedelstone or Gilston, Hertfordshire; and on 16 May 1713 was installed dean of Ely. After suffering much from gout, he died 26 March 1729, and was buried in his own cathedral, where a Latin inscription with his arms (ermine, a cross patee) marks his resting-place. He had married a Mrs. Hinton of Cambridge, who survived him, but he left no issue. The bulk of his fortune, after deducting a small endowment for a sizarship at Caius College, was bequeathed to one of his nephews, Charles Moss [q. v.], bishop of Bath and Wells.

Moss is described as an excellent preacher and a kind and loyal friend. His sermons were collected and published in 1736, in 8 vols. 8vo, with a biographical preface by Dr. Zachary Grey [q. v.], who had married one of his step-daughters. An engraved portrait of the author by Vertue is prefixed.

[Masters's Hist, of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, 1753, pp. 347-9; Life, by Dr. Z. Grey; Le Neve's Fasti; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. iv. 152; Cole's MSS. vol. xxx. fol. 166, &c.; Addit. MS. 10125.]

J. H. L.