Watts, William (1590?-1649) (DNB00)

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WATTS, WILLIAM (1590?–1649), chaplain to Prince Rupert, son of William Watts of Tibbenham, Norfolk, was born there about 1590. He was at school at Moulton, and at sixteen was admitted sizar at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, in 1606. He graduated B.A. in 1611, M.A. in 1614 (Venn, Admissions, p. 105), and was college chaplain from 1616 to 1626. He was incorporated at Oxford on 14 July 1618, and in 1639 was created D.D. (Foster, Alumni, 1500–1714). He travelled on the continent after leaving college, and became a good linguist. In December 1620 he accompanied Sir Albertus Morton [q. v.] as chaplain on his mission to the united protestant princes of Germany.

In 1624 he was apparently appointed vicar of Barwick, Norfolk, the next year rector of St. Alban, Wood Street, London. The former living he seems to have held until 1648, as on 24 April of that year he was included in a list of sequestrated delinquents and his estate valued at 8l. (Cal. Comm. for Compounding, p. 114). From the city rectory he was driven in 1642, his wife and children rendered homeless for a time (Persecutio Undecima, p. 44). Perhaps his absence from both livings accounts for this treatment, for he was serving in 1639 as army chaplain to Lord Arundel, the general of the forces, with supervision of all the other chaplains (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1639, p. 51). He was appointed a prebendary of Wells on 19 March 1633, and in 1645 was nominated archdeacon, but of this charge he never took possession (Le Neve, Fasti, i. 161, 190).

Upon Prince Rupert's return to England in 1642, Watts, who had previously held the post of chaplain to the king, became attached to him. He accompanied the prince into the field, and was present throughout many actions. He also attended him at sea, and during the blockade of the royalist ships under the prince in Kinsale Harbour, Watts sickened of an incurable disease, and there died about December 1649. He was buried in Ireland.

His wife, a daughter of Vaughan, minister of Ashtead, Surrey, brother of Richard Vaughan [q. v.], bishop of London, with at least one son, survived him.

Watts was a scholar, learned for his time. Gerard Vossius (De Vitiis Sermonis, lib. ii. cap. xvi. &c.) praises his great work, the edition of the ‘Historia Major’ of Matthew Paris, London, 1640, fol.; Paris, 1644; London, 1684 [see Paris, Matthew]. He assisted Sir Henry Spelman [q. v.] with his glossary, and his translation of the ‘Confessions of St. Augustine’ (London, 1631, 12mo) was edited by Pusey in 1838 for his ‘Library of the Fathers.’ He also issued a number of newsletters under the title of ‘The Swedish Intelligencer.’

Of other works mentioned by Wood only one seems to be extant. This is a manuscript treatise on the surplice entitled ‘The Church's Linen Garment,’ dated 1646, now among the Tanner manuscripts (No. 262) in the Bodleian Library. Eliot Warburton [q. v.] conjectured that Watts was author of two manuscripts describing portions of Prince Rupert's maritime exploits during the Commonwealth. These Warburton found among the Rupert manuscripts and printed in the third volume of his ‘Life’ of the prince.

[Venn's Biographical Hist. of Gonville and Caius Coll. i. 193; Wood's Fasti, ed. Bliss, i. 383; Newcourt's Repert. Eccles. i. 238; Lloyd's Memoires, pp. 504–5; Chalmers's Life of Ruddiman, p. 113; Chalmers's Biogr. Dict. xxxi. 254; Calamy's Nonconf. Mem. i. 75; Walker's Sufferings, ii. 72; Blomefield's Norfolk, x. 297; Warburton's Life of Prince Rupert, iii. 234, 278; Lansdowne MS. 985, fol. 154; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1628–9, p. 511.]

C. F. S.