Moss, Robert

, a learned English clergyman, the eldest son of Robert Moss, of Posswick, in Norfolk, was born at Gillingham in that county, in or about 1666. His father had an estate which enabled him to provide handsomely for his four sons; Robert, the subject of this article, Samuel, who was brought up- as a merchant William, who died possessed of his father’s estate at Posswick and Charles Moss, M. D. Robert, after being educated at the public school at Norwich, was entered as a sizar of Bene‘t college, Cambridge, in 1682, and distinguished himself so much in his academical studies, that, after having taken his bachelor’s degree, he was chosen to a Norfolk fellowship, and became eminent also as a successful tutor. H’e received deacon’s orders in 1688, and priest’s in 1690. In 1693 he was appointed one of the twelve university preachers. His sermons at St. Mary’s were always attended by a full audience, as well as his disputations in the schools, in which he shewed a clear and distinguishing | head, reasoned justly and closely in defending a question, and urged his objections with great acuteness when he bore the part of the opponent, always expressing himself with great ease and fluency, and in elegant Latin. After he had kept a divinity-act in the schools, in 1696, for the degree of B. D. there being a public commencement that year, he voluntarily undertook another on that occasion in St. Mary’s, where the commencement was held before the erection of the new regent-house, and acquitted himself in both to the general satisfaction; particularly, in maintaining the necessity of believing our Saviour as the true God, against the doctrine of Episcopius.

His first remove from the university was in consequence of his being appointed preacher to the honourable society of Gray’s. Inn, July 11, 1698, which preferment he enjoyed till 1714*. In the following year, January 1699, he was named preacher-assistant of St. James’s, Westminster, by the rector, Dr. Wake, afterwards archbishop of Canterbury. In April 1701 he was appointed chaplain in ordinary to king William, and continued in the same office in the following reign. He was one of the chaplains in waiting, when queen Anne, in April 1705, visited the university of Cambridge, and he was on that occasion created D. D. In 1708 he was chosen, by the parish, Tuesday lecturer at St. Lawrence’s Jewry, near Guildhall, in the room of Dr. Stanhope, who then resigned it, and supported the credit and character of that lecture with great approbation until 1727, when his growing infirmities induced him to resign it. In 1708-9 he was involved in a dispute with Dr. Thomas Greene, afterwards bishop of Norwich, but then master of Bene’t college, who expected Dr. Moss to resign his fellowship on account of his non-residence and preferments in town. The debate was carried on by letter, and with too much warmth on both sides; but it appears, without ultimately creating any breach of friendship. On the death of Dr. Roderick, in 1712, Dr. Moss was appointed by her majesty to the deanery of Ely, and on this occasion quitted his fellowship in the college, and about 1714- resigned the preachership of Gray’s Inn, and at the same time was collated by Dr. Robinson, bishop of London, to the living of Gilston, alias

* Dr. Grey says he enjoyed this for in 1714, or rather in 1716. The latter life, with the help of an assistant; but we believe to be the fact, goon after tells us that he resigned it
| Geddleston, a small rectory on the Eastern side of Hertfordshire, which, though of no great value, was of great service to him when incapacitated from taking long journeys, being a convenient distance between London and Ely, and an agreeable retirement.

In 1717 he is supposed to have been the author of “The Report vindicated from Misreports; being a defence of my lords the bishops, as well as the clergy of the lower house of convocation, in a letter from a member of that house to the prolocutor, concerning their late consultations about the bishop of Bangor’s writings; with a postscript, containing some few remarks upon the letter to Dr. Sherlock.” Dr. Moss did not meddle much in the controversies of the times, yet took some part in that which arose from the Ban’gorian dispute, and that on the validity or invalidity of lay-baptism. Concerning the latter he published a sermon entitled “The extent of Christ’s commission to baptize; with a preface, addressed to the dissenters.” Except these, we know not of any separate publications from his pen.

His constitution had been impaired by frequent and severe returns of the gout, with which he was afflicted early in life, and which at last deprived him of the use of his limbs. This, however, has partly been attributed to an injudicious regimen which he adopted, and the use of sulphur, although his brother, Dr. Charles Moss, physician at Hull, had endeavoured to point out the consequences, which proved to be exactly what he foretold. He died at a house in which he had for some time resided at Cambridge, March 26, 1729, in the sixty-third year of his age.

By his widow, a Mrs. Hinton, of Cambridge, he had no issue; but left her a comfortable provision, and after some legacies, bequeathed the bulk of his fortune to his third brother’s son, Mr. Charles Moss, who, as his biographer says, “was a promising youth, and student of Caius college, Cambridge.

This “promising youth” was afterwards a fellow of his college, B. A. 1731, M. A. 1735, and D. D. 1747. He became archdeacon of Colchester, prebendary of Salisbury, rector of St. Andrew Under.shaft, of St. James’s, Westminster, 1750, and of St. George’s, Hanover-square, in 1759. He was elected bishop of St. David’s in 1766, and translated to Bath and Wells in 1774. He died April 13, 1802. Besides four or five sermons preached on public | occasions, he printed “A Charge to the Clergy of the archdeaconry of Colchester, occasioned by the uncommon Mortality and quick succession of Bishops in the see of London, at a visitation holden in May 1764;” and twenty years before, an admirable tract in defence of bishop Sherlock’s celebrated “Tryal of the Witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus.” This tract was entitled, “The Evidence of the Resurrection cleared from the exceptions of a late pamphlet, entitled * The Resurrection of Jesus considered by a moral philosopher, in answer to the Tryal of the Witnesses,'” &c. Lond. 1744. It afterwards appeared with the following title “The Sequel of the Tryal of the Witnesses of the Resurrection being an answer to the exceptions of a late pamphlet, &c. &c. revised by the author of the Tryal of the Witnesses,” ibid. 1749. “The title-page, however, alone is new; as the impression is identically the same as in 1744; but the inscription signedC. M." is omitted in 1749. It was to Sherlock he owed his promotions, to whom he had been chaplain. His son, Dr. Charles Moss, to whom he left a vast property, was educated at Christ Chnrch, Oxford, of which diocese he became bishop in 1807, and died in 1811.

Dr. Robert Moss was buried, agreeably to his will, without much ostentation or expence, in the presbytery of the cathedral church of Ely, where the bishops, deans, and prebendaries are usually interred. After his death, Dr. Snape, provost of King’s college, published eight volumes of his sermons, the first four in 1736, with this character of him, “that he was of so open and generous a disposition, and such a stranger to all artificial disguise, that he affirmed, and you believed him he promised, and you trusted him you knew him, and you loved him that he was very communicative both of his substance and his knowledge, and a man of so much honour and integrity, candour and humanity, as, joined with his other Christian virtues and intellectual endowments, as well as a graceful person, genteel address, and engaging conversation, gained him universal respect;.” In his early college days he wrote some poetry. A Latin ode of his is printed in cc Moestissimae ac Iretissimse Academic Cantabrigiensis affectus decedente Carolo II. succedente Jacobo II.“and a Latin, poem and an English ode in the” Lacrymse Gantabrigienses in Obitum serenissimse Reginae Marix." Besides which he wrote several other poems, three of which were | printed for the first time in the General Dictionary, 1Q vols. fol. Among his lesser legacies, it ought to be mentioned that he left a perpetual annuity of 5L issuing out of lands in Cheshire, to the master’s sizar of Caius college, as an augmentation of his salary. This sizar is to be of the name of Moss, if there be such an one of the college, otherwise of Norfolk, and of the free-school of Norwich, and may hold the place for seven years. 1


Nichols’s Bowyer, from a ms Life by Dr. Zach. Grey, in Mr. Nichols’s possesjion. Preface to his Sermons, by Dr. Snape, some of the materials of which were contributed by Dr. Grey., who also gav,the particulars of his life to the Gen. Dict.Masters’s Hist, of C. C. C C. —Gent. Mag. vol. LXXIII. 1138.