James Duport (1606 -
dean of Peterborough and college head
James was born in 1606 at the master's lodge of Christ's
College, Cambridge and was the son of John and Rachel Duport.
His father was the master of Jesus College, Cambridge, and his
mother was the daughter of Richard Cox, Bishop of Ely.
Westminster School, and from there he went to Trinity College
Cambridge, matriculating as a pensioner in 1622. He was subsequently
a Westminster scholar at Trinity. During his time at the college
he was tutored by Robert Hitch, later dean of York. In January
1627 he graduated with a B.A., and the following October he was
elected a fellow of the college. In May 1630 he received his
M.A. and in this year he was ordained a priest.
1631 saw James being elected Praevaricator (commencement
jester). In 1637 he published the book Threnothriambos, sive,
Liber Job Graeco carmine redditus establishing him as a poet
and scholar. In 1639 he was elected as regius professor of Greek
at Cambridge. On the 14th August
1641 he was collated to the prebends of Langford
Ecclesia and Stow (in the diocese of Lincoln), however he resigned
these in November of that year to become prebendary of Leighton
Buzzard. It is believed that Duport may
have been ejected from this prebendal stall in 1643, and this
been because of his royalist sympathies.
In 1654 he reliquished
his professorship to Ralph Widdrington, but he remained a fellow
at Trinity, being appointed senior fellow in October 1654 and
vice-master of the college in 1655.
For over thirty years Duport was a very active tutor
at Trinity, and his students included Edward Cecil, Henry Puckering,
John Knatchbull, Isaac Barrow, John Ray, Francis Willoughby, and
two of the sons of the earl of Bedford. Also while at Trinity he
published a set of 'Rules to be observed by young pupils and schollers
in the university".
During the interregnum James protested against the
changes in religion, and was barred from preaching at St. Paul's
Cathedral, London following a sermon he preached there. When Charles
II was restored to the throne in 1660, he was once again permitted
to preach at the Cathedral, and was confirmed as the prebendary
of Leighton Buzzard and as Lady Margaret preacher (a post he kept
until 1665). This year he was made a doctor of divinity at Cambridge
and royal chaplain, and four years later he was installed as dean
of Peterborough. 1660 also saw James briefly restored to his professorship
of Greek (which he resigned to his former pupil Barrow) and the
publication of his most famous work Homeri poetarum omnium
seculorum facilè principis gnomologia.
In 1668 James was elected as master of Magdalene
College, Cambridge and in this year he also became rector of Boxworth,
Cambridgeshire. For 1669-70 he served as vice-chancellor of the
university, and in 1672 he became the absentee rector of Aston
Flamville and Burbage, Leicestershire.
In 1676 Duport published a collection of poems entitled
Musae subsecivae, and deidicated it to the Duke of Monmouth, cancellor
of the university.
In July 1679 James died and was buried, his monument
in Peterborugh Cathedral suggesting his death was on the 17th July,
but the burial registers indicate he was buried on the 16th July.
Both Trinity and Magdalene Colleges beneficiaries from Duport's
will, and he also left a £10 annuity to Peterborough grammar
school. His manuscript lectures on Theophrastus's Characters were
published in 1712.