Robert Mapletoft 1609-1677

From Book Owners Online

Robert MAPLETOFT 1609-1677

Biographical Note

Born at North Thoresby, Lincolnshire, son of Hugh Mapletoft, rector there. BA Queens’ College, Cambridge 1628, MA 1632, BD 1639, DD 1660. Fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge 1631. Rector of Bartlow, Cambridgeshire 1639, ejected 1643, after which he spent the Interregnum living privately in sympathetic households, including that of Sir Robert Shirley, and providing prayer book services to private congregations. Prebendary of Lincoln 1660, and Master of the Spital Hospital there; Master of Pembroke 1664, Dean of Ely 1667. He had a reputation for piety and charity; he was a cousin of Nicholas Ferrar, and a regular visitor to the community at Little Gidding. Mapletoft helped Ferrar by obtaining books for him and searching out scriptural concordances in Cambridge libraries.


Mapletoft re-established the Cathedral Library at Ely, dispersed during the Interregnum, by the terms of his will. He bequeathed “my library of books” (described as “the small reserves from the late plundering times with what I have since added to it”), together with £100 to be used for the purchase of books, and the fitting up of a new Library room. It was then to be available to all members of the Dean and Chapter (each to have a key), and to petty canons and others by permission. The collection was valued, in Mapletoft’s probate inventory, at £50 (out of a total estate valued at £563 13s 8d). There is no list or count of the number of volumes; the books fitted into three barrels and were catalogued for five shillings. It is evident that Mapletoft lost many books during the 1640s. Ely Cathedral Library was dispersed in 1970, with 1500 volumes transferred on deposit to Cambridge University Library, and the remainder sold by auction.

Characteristic markings

Ely.c.223 (Lessius, 1620) has the inscription “Roberti Mapletoft et amicoru[m]” on the rear flyleaf; parts of the text carry extensive underlining and marginal notes.