Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Townson, Robert (1575-1621)

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TOWNSON, TOUNSON, or TOULSON, ROBERT (1575–1621), bishop of Salisbury, son of 'Renold Toulnesonn,' and uncle of Thomas Fuller (1608-1661) [q. v.], was baptised on 8 Jan. 1575-6 in the parish of St. Botolph, Cambridge. He was admitted a sizar of Queens' College, Cambridge, on 28 Dec. 1587. He graduated M.A. in 1595, was elected a fellow on 2 Sept. 1597, and was incorporated at Oxford on 10 July 1599, proceeding B.D. in 1602, and D.D. in 1613. On 13 April 1604 he was presented to the vicarage of Wellingborough in Northamptonshire, and on 16 Feb. 1606-7 by William Tate to the rectory of Old in the same county, which he retained till 1620. He was also appointed a royal chaplain, and on 16 Dec. 1617 was installed dean of Westminster. In this capacity he attended Sir Walter Ralegh both in prison and on the scaffold, and described his 'last behaviour' in a letter to Sir John Isham (Walteri Hemingford Historia de rebus gestis Edwardi, &c., ed. Hearne, 1731, vol. i. p. clxxxiv). On 9 July 1620 he was consecrated bishop of Salisbury, died 'in a mean condition' on 15 May 1621, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. On 17 June 1604 he married Margaret, daughter of John Davenant, citizen and merchant of London, sister of John Davenant [q. v.], who succeeded him as bishop of Salisbury, and widow of William Townley. By her, who died on 29 Oct. 1634 and was buried in Salisbury Cathedral, he had a large family. Two sons, Robert and John, afterwards received preferment in their uncle Davenant's diocese. His daughter Gertrude married James Harris (1605-1679) of Salisbury, ancestor of the earls of Malmesbury.

[Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500-1714; Wood's Athena Oxon. ed. Bliss, ii. 247, 860; Wood's Fasti Oxon. ed. Bliss, i. 283; Le Neve's Fasti; Welch's Alumni Westmonast. p. 17; Chester's Registers of Westminster Abbey, pp. 64, 117; Bridges's Hist. of Northamptonshire, ed.Whalley, 1791, ii. 151; Fuller's Worthies of England, ed. Nichols, 1811, i. 159; Cassan's Bishops of Salisbury, ii. 107-11.]

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