Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Johnson, Christopher
JOHNSON or JONSON, CHRISTOPHER (1536?–1597), Latin poet and physician, born about 1536, at Kedleston in Derbyshire, became a scholar at Winchester College in 1549; proceeded thence to New College, Oxford, and was made perpetual fellow in 1555. He graduated B.A. in 1558, and M.A. in 1561 (Oxf. Univ. Reg., Oxf. Hist. Soc., i. 234). In 1560 he was, on a recommendation made to Archbishop Parker by Francis Hastings, second earl of Huntingdon [q. v.], appointed to the head-mastership of Winchester College. There he remained ten years, and distinguished himself by ‘his industry and admirable way of teaching.’ In 1564 he edited and caused to be printed for the use of his scholars two orations delivered at Louvain by Richard White (of Basingstoke), ‘De circulo Artium et Philosophiæ,’ and ‘De Eloquentiâ et Cicerone.’ In 1568 White dedicated to him a short Latin dissertation on an ancient epitaph (‘Ælia Lælia Crispis. Epitaphium,’ &c., Padua, 4to).
Johnson, who had always intended to become a physician, practised in Winchester while he was still head-master. He was granted the degree of bachelor of medicine at Oxford, with license to practise, 14 Dec. 1569, and proceeded M.D. 23 June 1571. In 1570 he resigned his post at Winchester, and moved to London, where he practised with great success in the parish of St. Dunstan-in-the-West. He was admitted a fellow of the College of Physicians about 1580, and filled several of the college offices: as censor in 1581 and several subsequent years; elect, 28 May 1594; consiliarius, 1594–6; treasurer, 1594–6. He died in July 1597 in London, leaving a considerable fortune and several children.
Johnson was reckoned the most elegant Latin poet of his time. He published ‘Ranarum et murium pugna, Latina versione donata, ex Homero,’ 4to, London, 1580, and wrote three poems in connection with Winchester, ‘Ortus atque vita Gul. Wykehami Winton. Episcopi,’ dated 14 Dec. 1564, in elegiacs; ‘Custodum sive Præsidum Coll. Winton. series;’ and ‘Didascalorum Coll. Wint. omnium Elenchus.’ All were published at the close of Richard Willes's ‘Poemata’ in 1573. In the British Museum (Addit. MS. 4379) are ‘Themes and Declamations at Winchester School,’ by Johnson. His only medical work is a ‘Counsel against the Plague, or any other Infectious Disease,’ with a ‘Question, Whether a man for preservation may be purged in the Dog-days or No?’ 8vo, London, 1577.[Munk's Coll. of Phys. i. 76; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss i. 659; Tanner's Bibl. Brit. p. 442; Kirby's Winchester Scholars, s.v. ‘Jonson,’ pp. 128, 136.]