James Duport 1606-1679

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James DUPORT 1606-1679

Biographical Note

Born in Cambridge, son of John Duport, Master of Jesus College. BA Trinity College, Cambridge 1627, fellow 1627, MA 1630, BD 1637, DD 1660. Regius professor of Greek at Cambridge 1639; prebendary of Lincoln 1641 (ejected 1643). Lady Margaret preacher at Cambridge, 1646. He remained in Cambridge, at Trinity, during the 1640s and 50s; there is some doubt as to whether he was formally ejected from any positions for his royalist sympathies but he became vice-master of the College in 1655. As an active tutor for many years, he compiled a set of guidelines for Cambridge students, which has been valued for the analysis it offers of the contemporary curriculum. Fully restored to his preferments in 1660, he was made Dean of Peterborough in 1664, and Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, and rector of Boxworth, Cambridgeshire, in 1668; he was vice-chancellor 1669-70.

Duport was an accomplished poet in the classical languages, publishing a verse paraphrase of the Book of Job in Greek and Latin in 1637 (Threnothriambos), with similar volumes on the books of Solomon and the Psalms issued in 1646 and 1666. His Homeri poetarum … gnomologia (Homeric aphorisms illustrated through biblical and classical references) appeared in 1660, and a book of poems, Musae subsecivae, in 1676.


Duport’s views on the value of libraries are evident from one of his 1676 poems, ‘In bibliothecam bene instructam’, as well as from his benefactions. He was an important supporter of the initiative to build the new(Wren) library at Trinity in the 1670s, and was instrumental in the revival of Peterborough Cathedral Library in 1672. When he died, he had books in all his three residences, at Magdalene, Peterborough and Boxworth, which were separately bestowed according to the directions in his will. His books at Magdalene (the largest collection, ca.2100 volumes) were given to Trinity College; the books at Peterborough were given to Magdalene, and the books at Boxworth to his nephews Joshua Bunting and John Breton. A few specific books were identified for personal bequests, including a Bible given to a nephew's wife. He also left £100 to University of Cambridge and £50 to Jesus, for the purchase of books, and £100 towards the new Library project at Trinity.


  • Cunich, P. et al, History of Magdalene College, Cambridge 1428-1988, 1994.
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  • O'Day, Rosemary. "Duport, James (1606–1679), dean of Peterborough and college head." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.