Arthur Charlett

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Dr Arthur Charlett (1655 – 4 November 1722) was an Oxford academic and administrator. He was Master of University College, Oxford for thirty years until his death in 1722.[1][2] He was noted for his love of society, and for his expensive way of living.[3]


He was son of Arthur Charlett, rector of Collingbourn Ducis, Wiltshire, by Judith, daughter of Mr Cratford, a merchant of London, and was born at Shipton, near Cheltenham, on 4 January 1655. After receiving his early education at the free school at Salisbury, he matriculated at Trinity College, Oxford, on 13 January 1669, having just completed his fourteenth year. He obtained a scholarship there college and proceeded B.A. on 17 April 1673, and M.A. 23 November 1676. He was chosen Fellow at the election of 1680, and the same year received deacon's orders from John Fell, bishop of Oxford. In 1683 he was chosen junior proctor. He was appointed tutor to Francis North, 2nd Baron Guilford in 1688.[3]

On 17 December 1684 he took the degree of B.D., and when in 1692 the mastership of University College was refused by internal candidates he was chosen master on 7 July, with the backing of John Hudson, and the next day proceeded D.D. Charlett saw that the Clarendon Press annually printed some classical work, and then himself presented a copy of it to each of the students of his college. He was an interfering academic politician, satirised in No. 43 of The Spectator where Charlett, under the name of Abraham Froth is made to write a letter describing the business transacted at the meetings of the hebdomadal council. He promoted the first attempt at a university newspaper, published in 1707, with the title of Mercurius Oxoniensis, or the Oxford Intelligencer.[3]

Through the influence of Archbishop Thomas Tenison, Charlett was appointed chaplain to the King on 17 November 1697, and held the office until he with other chaplains was removed in March 1717. In the spring of 1706 he was in some trouble, being sent for to London to give an account of a paper he had shown circulated, asserting that Gilbert Burnet was to receive a large sum of money when presbyterianism was established. On 28 June 1707, he was instituted to the rectory of Hambleden, Buckinghamshire. He damaged his reputation in the matter of the dedication of Edward Thwaites's Saxon Heptateuch to George Hickes, where Lords Somers and Oxford were both friends of Dean Hickes and resented Charlett's interference. In 1714 he used his influence with the vice-chancellor to get Thomas Hearne prosecuted for his preface to William Camden's Elizabeth, and so put a stop to the printing.[3]

Charlett died at his lodgings in University College, on 18 November 1722, and is buried in the college chapel. The position of Master was contested by two men, Thomas Cockman and William Dennison. The stand-off was not resolved until 1729, after an appeal to the Crown.[3][4]


He published A Discourse of the Holy Eucharist, 1686, in answer to Abraham Woodhead's Two Discourses concerning ... the Eucharist, published by Obadiah Walker in 1686. He spent the long vacation 1683 in taking a tour in Scotland, where he was hospitably entertained by Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh, in the county of Ross, and by other men of learning; he wrote most of the life of Sir George Mackenzie in Anthony à Wood's Fasti (ii. 414). Charlett contributed a paper on a fatal colliery fire near Newcastle to the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society in 1708.[3]


  1. ^ Darwall-Smith, Robin, Charlett, Arthur (1655–1722), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, September 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/5158
  2. ^ Darwall-Smith, Robin, A History of University College, Oxford. Oxford University Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-19-928429-0.
  3. ^ a b c d e f s:Charlett, Arthur (DNB00)
  4. ^ William Carr, University College, pages 172–174.

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Academic offices
Preceded by
Thomas Bennet
Master of University College, Oxford
Succeeded by
William Dennison / Thomas Cockman