From 1779 to 1783 he lived with the family of Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn, 4th Baronet as tutor to his sons Watkin and Charles, staying in London and at Wynnstay, Wrexham. In June 1782 he became vicar of Easton Maudit, Northamptonshire and in 1785 vicar of Great Doddington, Northamptonshire. From 1786 to 1788 he was Usher at Westminster School, again as tutor to the Williams-Wynn boys who had been sent there.
In 1787 he was appointed Chaplain to the Duke of York and in 1788 he was Assistant preacher at Lincoln's Inn. In 1795 he was appointed Assistant Librarian in the Department of Manuscript at the British Museum, and four years later was promoted to Keeper of Manuscripts. He became vicar of Dalbury, Derbyshire in 1796, rector of Sharnford, Canon Residentiary of Lichfield Cathedral and Prebendary of St Paul's Cathedral in 1798, Archdeacon of Stafford in 1801 and Vicar of St Mary's, Reading, from 1805 to 1818 and then of All Hallows, London Wall until his death in 1829.
He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1803. He was married three times but had no children.
In 1784 he published his first philological work, The Elements of Orthoepy. In 1793 he was founding editor of the British Critic with the assistance of his lifelong friend, Rev. William Beloe. In 1822 he published his principal work, Nares' Glossary, which was described in 1859, by Halliwell and Wright, as indispensable to readers of Elizabethan Literature.
- "Rev. Archdeacon Nares", The Gentleman's Magazine (April 1829) pp. 370–372
- "Nares, Robert". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
- Robert Nares at Nares genealogy project
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