Robson, Charles (DNB00)

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ROBSON, CHARLES (1598–1638), first chaplain at Aleppo, of Cumberland parentage, was the son of Thomas Robson, master of the Free School of Carlisle (Wood, Athenæ Oxon. iii. 427). Born in 1598, having entered Queen's College, Oxford, as batler at Easter 1613, he matriculated thence on 5 May 1615, aged 17. He graduated B.A. 24 Oct. 1616, M.A. 21 June 1619, and B.D. 10 July 1629 (Clark, Oxf. Reg.; Foster, Alumni Oxon.) He was elected fellow of Queen's, 26 Oct. 1620 (College Regist.), but his habits were lax, and in February 1623 the college gladly gave him three years' leave of absence that he might become chaplain at Aleppo. He went out thither in 1624 upon the advice of one Fetiplace, a member of the Levant Company, who with some difficulty secured his formal appointment as preacher to the colony of English merchants at a salary of 50l. per annum. His leave was extended for another three years in October 1627, and Robson returned in 1630, Edward Pocock being appointed to succeed him in March. In the following year Robson was deprived of his fellowship at Queen's on account of his dissolute haunting of taverns and ‘inhonesta loca,’ and his neglect of study and divine worship. He was appointed by the university of Oxford in 1632 to the vicarage of Holme-Cultram, Cumberland, where he died in 1638.

Robson wrote: ‘Newes from Aleppo, a Letter written to T. V[icars], B.D., Vicar of Cokfield in Southsex (Cuckfield, Sussex) … containing many remarkeable Occurrences’ observed by Robson in his journey, London, 1628, 4to. Vicars was Robson's brother-fellow at Queen's. Upon his return to Oxford Robson presented some Oriental manuscripts to the Bodleian.

Wood is probably wrong when he identifies the chaplain of Aleppo with Charles Robson, prebendary of Stratford in Salisbury Cathedral in 1634. The latter was apparently of St. John's College, Cambridge, and incumbent successively of Weare, Somerset (1617), Buckland Newton, Dorset (1624), and Bagendon, Gloucestershire (1644). He was living at Salisbury in 1652, when his resistance to the order for the suppression of the prayer-book caused him to be stigmatised by the puritans as a ‘canonical creature,’ infamous ‘for his zeale to corrupt.’ He may have died in 1660, when the Stratford stall was filled by another (cf. Grey, Examination of Neal, iv. App. p. 24; State Papers, Dom. Charles I, ccccvi. 97; Hist. MSS. Comm. 13th Rep. app. i. 669).

[J. B. Pearson's Chaplains to the Levant Company, Cambridge, 1883, pp. 19, 26–7, 54; Nicolson and Burn's Westmoreland and Cumberland, ii. 180; Wood's Fasti (Bliss), i. 452; notes supplied by W. A. Shaw, esq., and (from the college archives) by the Provost of Queen's.]