Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Scott, Robert (1811-1887)

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SCOTT, ROBERT (1811–1887), lexicographer and dean of Rochester, born on 26 Jan. 1811 at Bondleigh, Devonshire, was son of Alexander Scott, then rector there. His father moved to Egremont Rectory, Cumberland, and Robert attended St. Bees, and afterwards Shrewsbury School, then under Dr. Samuel Butler [q. v.], afterwards bishop of Lichfield. He entered Christ Church, Oxford (of which he was elected a student along with H. G. Liddell), in January 1830. He was Craven scholar in 1830, Ireland scholar in 1833, and in the same year graduated B.A. with first class in the final classical school. In 1834 he gained the Latin essay, and became fellow of Balliol in 1835, acting as tutor in that college (with Archibald Campbell Tait, afterwards archbishop of Canterbury) until 1840. He was ordained in 1835, and held the college living of Duloe, Cornwall, from 1845 to 1850. He was prebendary of Exeter from 1845 to 1866, and held the rectory of South Luffenham, Rutland, from 1850 to 1854, being select preacher at Oxford in 1853–4. In 1854 he was elected master of Balliol College, in succession to Dr. Richard Jenkyns [q. v.], and in opposition to Benjamin Jowett, whose orthodoxy was questioned. Scott held the mastership until 1870, being also Dean Ireland's professor of exegesis from 1861 to 1870. He was dean of Rochester from 1870 to his death, being again select preacher at Oxford in 1874–5. During his tenure of office Balliol College, which had already made marked progress under Dr. Jenkyns, became one of the most prominent colleges, if not the leading college, in the university. Dr. Scott joined to a most zealous and successful performance of his duties first as tutor, afterwards as parish priest, and subsequently as master of Balliol and as dean of Rochester, a zealous devotion to scholarship. This he displayed most conspicuously in the great Greek-English lexicon which he compiled with Dr. H. G. Liddell, dean of Christ Church, and which opened a new epoch in Greek scholarship in England. The work was begun, on the basis of Passow's lexicon, in 1836. After seven years of labour the first edition was brought out by the Clarendon Press in 1843. Its revision continued for forty years to be the constant occupation of its joint authors, the seventh and enlarged edition being published in 1883. It remains the most complete and authoritative book of the kind. Dr. Scott was also the author of ‘Twelve Sermons’ (1851) and of ‘University Sermons’ (1860). He contributed to the ‘Speaker's Commentary’ a commentary on the Epistle of St. James, and was member of the revision committee for the New Testament and the Apocrypha.

Scott died at the deanery, Rochester, on 2 Dec. 1887. He married, first, on 1 Dec. 1840, Mary Harriet, daughter of Rear-admiral Thomas Folliott Bough, who died on 5 Dec. 1845; and, secondly, on 7 June 1849, Mary Jane Ann, daughter of Major Hugh Scott, who died on 6 Jan. 1885.

[Guardian, 14 Dec. 1887 (art. by Archdeacon Palmer); Campbell and Abbott's Life of Jowett, 1897; personal knowledge.]

H. C.