1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Mason, Sir John

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MASON, SIR JOHN (1503-1566), English diplomatist, was born of humble parentage at Abingdon in 1503, and was educated at Oxford, where he became Fellow of All Souls in 1521. He was ordained before 1531. Most of his early years were spent on the Continent, where he witnessed the meeting between Henry VIII. and Francis I. at Calais in 1532, and where he was employed in collecting information for the English government, gaining in this work the reputation of a capable diplomatist. By his never-failing caution, moderation and pliancy, Mason succeeded in keeping himself in favour with four successive sovereigns of the Tudor monarchy. In 1537 he became secretary to the English ambassador at Madrid, Sir Thomas Wyat; but when the latter was put on his trial for treason in 1541 Mason was unmolested, and soon afterwards was appointed clerk of the privy council, and procured for himself sundry other posts and privileges. Mason was knighted and made dean of Winchester by Edward VI. He was one of the commissioners to negotiate the treaty by which Boulogne was restored to France in 1550, and in the same year he became English ambassador in Paris, where he helped to arrange the bethrothal of Edward VI. to the princess Elizabeth of France. He returned to England at the end of 1551, became clerk of parliament, received extensive grants of land, and in 1552 was made chancellor of Oxford University. He was elected member of parliament in the same year. On the death of Edward VI., he at first joined the party of Northumberland and the Lady Jane Grey; but quickly perceiving his mistake he took an active part in procuring the proclamation of Mary as queen. Mason now received fresh tokens of royal favour, being confirmed in all his secular, though not in his ecclesiastical, offices; and in 1553 he was appointed English ambassador at the court of the emperor Charles V., of whose abdication at Brussels in October 1555 he wrote a vivid account. He took a prominent share in the administrative business of the government in the first years of Elizabeth's reign, and largely influenced her foreign policy until his death, which occurred on the 20th of April 1566. Sir John Mason married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Isley of Sundridge, Kent, and widow of Richard Hill. He had no children, and his heir was Anthony Wyckes, whom he had adopted, and who assumed the name of Mason and left a large family.

See J. A. Froude, History of England (12 vols., London, 1856-1870); Charles Wriothesley, Chronicle of England during the Reigns of the Tudors, edited by W. D. Hamilton (Camden Soc., 2 vols., London, 1875); P. F. Tytler, England under the Reigns of Edward VI. and Mary (2 vols., London, 1839); John Strype, Ecclesiastical Memorials (3 vols., Oxford, 1824) and Memorials of Thomas Cranmer (3 vols., Oxford, 1848); Acts of the Privy Council of England (new series), edited by J. R. Dasent, vols. i.-vii.