Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Wastell, Simon
WASTELL, SIMON (d. 1632), schoolmaster, was descended from a northern family seated at Wasdale in Cumberland. He entered Queen's College, Oxford, about 1580, graduating B.A. on 15 March 1584–5. Before 1592 he was appointed headmaster of the free school at Northampton, where he acquired considerable reputation as a teacher. In 1623 he published a translation of John Shaw's ‘Biblii Summula,’ 1621, entitled ‘A True Christians Daily Delight,’ London, 1623, 12mo, dedicated to Sir Robert Spencer, first baron Spencer of Wormleighton [q. v.] It was a short summary in verse of the contents of the Bible, intended for children to commit to memory. To make the task easier the stanzas began with the successive letters of the alphabet. The first edition was reprinted in 1683 (London, 12mo), under the title ‘The Divine Art of Memory,’ with a preface by ‘T. B.’ Wastell, however, himself issued a second enlarged edition in 1629, entitled ‘Microbiblion, or the Bibles Epitome in Verse,’ London, 12mo. The summary of the Old Testament was entirely recast, and, though still based on the ‘Summula,’ was rather an original paraphrase than a translation from Shaw. The summary of the New Testament was, however, merely reprinted from the first edition. The book was dedicated to Sir William Spencer, son of Sir Robert, who had died in 1627. The edition of 1629 also contained on four blank pages at the end of the volume two poems very superior to Wastell's verses. The former, ‘Upon the Image of Death,’ is usually attributed to Robert Southwell [q. v.], and is included in his ‘Mæoniæ,’ 1595. The other, ‘Of Mans Mortalitie,’ is sometimes assigned to Francis Quarles [q. v.] In 1631 Simon Wastell, or more probably his son, was vicar of Daventry in Northamptonshire, but resigned the living before 22 Sept. of that year. Wastell died at Northampton four months later, and was buried on 31 Jan. 1631–2. He was twice married. By his first wife, named Elizabeth, he had four surviving children: two sons—Samuel (b. 1599) and Simon (b. 1602)—and two daughters, Hannah and Mary. Elizabeth died on 1 July 1626, and Wastell took a second wife, also named Elizabeth, who died on 17 May 1639. Wastell's will (dated 19 Aug. 1631) is printed in Northamptonshire ‘Notes and Queries’ (1894, v. 117).
[Wastell's Works; Corser's Collectanea (Chetham Soc.), v. 363–9; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, ii. 355; Notes and Queries, 4th ser. i. 31; Gray's Index to Hazlitt's Collections.]