Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Rollock, Robert
ROLLOCK or ROLLOK, ROBERT (1555?–1599), first principal of the university of Edinburgh, born about 1555, was son of David Rollock, laird of Powis, near Stirling, and Mary Livingstone, connected with the noble family of that name. Hercules Rollock [q. v.] was his elder brother. He was educated at the grammar school of Stirling under Thomas Buchanan, a nephew of George Buchanan the historian, and in 1574 he entered St. Salvator's College in the university of St. Andrews, where he so greatly distinguished himself that soon after taking his M.A. degree he was appointed one of the regents or professors of the college. In 1580 he was also made examiner of arts, and in the same year director of the faculty of arts. At this time he was continuing his studies in divinity, and James Melville states that in 1580 ‘he had the honour to be his teacher in the Hebrew tongue’ (Diary, Wodrow Soc. p. 86). In 1583, on the recommendation of James Lawson [q. v.], he was appointed by the town council of Edinburgh to be sole regent of the newly founded college of James VI, afterwards known as the university of Edinburgh. His appointment was for one year certain; but should the college be successful it was provided that he should be advanced to the highest post or title that might be created. His salary was fixed at 40l. Scots, with the students' fees, 40s. for sons of burgesses, and 3l. or more for other students; the council moreover agreeing to ‘sustain him and one servant in their ordinary expenses,’ and to give him an augmentation not exceeding forty merks, should the fees from the students not afford him a sufficient salary. In 1585–6 he took the title of ‘principal or first master.’ He carried his class through to graduation in 1587, after which, other regents having been appointed, he gave up the teaching of philosophy, and, with the sanction of the presbytery of Edinburgh, was appointed professor of theology at a salary of four hundred merks, retaining at the same time his position as principal. On 5 Sept. 1587 he also began to preach, though not as an ordained minister, every Sunday morning in the East Kirk at seven A.M.; but on 13 Dec. 1589 another was appointed to that duty. In 1596 he entered on the full charge of the congregation.
In 1590 Rollock was appointed assessor to the moderator of the general assembly, and in 1591 he was named one of a committee of the presbytery of Edinburgh to hold a conference with the king on the affairs of the kirk (Calderwood, Hist. v. 130). In connection with the prosecution of the Earls of Angus, Huntly, and Errol for their attempts ‘against the true religion,’ he was named one of a committee of the assembly to confer with a committee of the estates (ib. p. 277). In 1595 he was chosen one of a commission for the visitation of the colleges (ib. p. 371), and in the following year he was appointed with three other ministers to remonstrate with the king for his ‘hard dealing with the kirk,’ and especially for his prosecution of David Black (ib. p. 463). Subsequently Rollock, who, according to Calderwood, was ‘a godly man, but simple in the matters of the church government, credulous, easily led by counsel, and tutored in a manner by his old master, Thomas Buchanan’ (ib. viii. 47), was won over to support the policy of the king in church matters, and at the instance of the king's party he was chosen moderator of the assembly that met at Dundee in May 1597. According to Calderwood, he ‘kythed [discovered] his own weakness in following the humours of the king and his commissioners’ (ib. v. 650). Rollock supported the proposal made in 1595 that certain ministers should be allowed to sit and vote in parliament as bishops, affirming that ‘lordship could not be denied them that were to sit in parliament, and allowance of rent to maintain their dignities’ (ib. p. 697). It was generally supposed that he himself was not averse to such a promotion in his own case. In 1598 he became minister of the Upper Tolbooth—probably the west portion of St. Giles's Cathedral—and on 18 April of the same year he was admitted to Magdalen Church, afterwards Greyfriars. He died on 8 Feb. (old style) 1598–9, in his forty-fourth year. By his wife Helen, daughter of James, baron of Kinnaird, he had a posthumous daughter, Jean, who married Robert Balcanquhal, minister of Tranent.
Although ‘grieved’ at what he deemed Rollock's weakness in lending his aid to the king's ecclesiastical policy, Calderwood admits that he was ‘a man of good conversation and a powerful preacher’ (ib. p. 732). He was reckoned to be of ‘great learning,’ and he discharged the duties of professor and principal of the university with great success. He was the author of numerous theological works, the majority of them being commentaries or expositions of scripture which, although somewhat commonplace and superficial, are of interest as among the earliest of this species of literature in Scotland.
Rollock's principal works are: 1. ‘Commentarius in Epistolam ad Ephesios,’ Edinburgh, 1590; Geneva, 1593. 2. ‘Commentarius in Librum Danielis Prophetæ,’ Edinburgh, 1591; St. Andrews, 1594. 3. ‘Analysis Epistolæ ad Romanos,’ Edinburgh, 1594. 4. ‘Quæstiones et Responsiones aliquot de Fœdere Dei et de Sacramentis,’ Edinburgh, 1596. 5. ‘Tractatus de Efficaci Vocatione,’ Edinburgh, 1597. 6. ‘Commentarius in utramque Epistolam ad Thessalonicenses, et Analysis in Epistolam ad Philemonem, cum Notis Joan. Piscatoris,’ Edinburgh, 1598; Herborn, in Hesse-Nassau, 1601; translated under the title ‘Lectures upon the First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians,’ Edinburgh, 1606. 7. ‘Certaine Sermons upon several places of the Epistles of Paul,’ Edinburgh, 1599. 8. ‘Commentarius in Joannis Evangelium, una cum Harmonia ex iv Evangelistis in Mortem, Resurrectionem, et Ascensionem Dei,’ Geneva, 1599; Edinburgh, 1599. 9. ‘Commentarius in selectos aliquot Psalmos,’ Geneva, 1598, 1599; translated as ‘An Exposition of some select Psalms of David,’ Edinburgh, 1600. 10. ‘Analysis Logica in Epistolam ad Galatas,’ Edinburgh, 1602; Geneva, 1603. 11. ‘Tractatus brevis de Providentia Dei, et Tractatus de Excommunicatione,’ Geneva, 1602; London, 1604. 12. ‘Commentarius in Epistolam ad Colossenses,’ Edinburgh, 1600; Geneva, 1602. 13. ‘Commentarius in Epistolam ad Hebræos,’ Edinburgh, 1605. 14. ‘Commentarius in Epistolas ad Corinthios,’ Herborn, in Hesse-Nassau, 1600. 15. ‘A Treatise of God's Effectual Calling,’ translated by H. Holland, London, 1603. 16. ‘Lectures upon the History of the Passion,’ Edinburgh, 1616. 17. ‘Episcopal Government instituted by Christ, and confirmed by Scripture and Reason,’ London, 1641. ‘The Select Works of Rollock,’ edited by William Gunn, D.D., with the Latin life by Charteris, and notes to it, was printed by the Wodrow Soc in two volumes, Edinburgh, 1844 and 1849).[De Vita et Morte Roberti Rollok, auctoribus Georgio Robertson et Henrico Charteris (Bannatyne Club), 1826; Life by Charteris, with notes, prefixed to Gunn's edition of Rollock's Works (Wodrow Soc.); Histories by Spotiswood and Calderwood; Grant's Hist. of the University of Edinburgh.]