Watson, John (1520-1584) (DNB00)
WATSON, JOHN (1520–1584), bishop of Winchester, was born in 1520 at Bengeworth, Worcestershire, and was educated at Oxford, where he graduated B.A. in June 1539, and was elected fellow of All Souls' in 1540. He proceeded M.A. on 25 June 1544, and for a time practised medicine, graduating M.D. at Oxford on 27 July 1575. Having taken holy orders, he became known as a reformer under Edward VI, and on 20 Nov. 1551 the council procured his appointment to the second prebend in Winchester Cathedral (Royal MSS. cxxiv. f. 159); he was admitted on 14 Dec. (Le Neve, iii. 34). He seems to have retained his prebend during Mary's reign, and added to it in 1554 the rectories of Kelshall, Hertfordshire, and Winchfield, Hampshire; on 7 Feb. 1557–8 he was collated to the chancellorship of St. Paul's Cathedral. His religious views were obviously of an accommodating nature, and he received further preferment when Elizabeth's deprivations created numerous vacancies. On 16 Nov. 1559 he was made archdeacon of Surrey, and as such sat in the convocation of 1562; he subscribed the articles of religion passed in that assembly and voted with the majority against the six articles designed to reduce the ritual of the church to the level of the protestant communions abroad (Strype, Annals, i. i. 488, 505, 512). Possibly he was the John Watson who was prebendary of Lincoln from 1560 to 1574. In 1568 he became rector of South Warnborough, Hampshire, and soon afterwards master of the hospital of St. Cross, Winchester. He was appointed dean of Winchester in 1570. In 1580 he was executor to Robert Horne (1519?–1580) [q. v.], bishop of Winchester, and succeeded him in that see, being elected on 29 June, confirmed on 16 Sept., and consecrated on the 18th. According to Strype, Watson's remissness encouraged the growth of recusancy in his diocese. He died on 23 Jan. 1583–4, and was buried on 17 Feb. in his cathedral. By his will (Lansd. MS. 982, f. 49), dated 23 Oct. 1583 and proved 22 July 1584, he left 40l. to All Souls' College, and other benefactions to scholars at Oxford and the poor at Evesham. He also left sums to his numerous brothers and sisters and their children, and Sir Francis Walsingham was ‘chief overseer’ of the will. By Baker, Fleay, and others Watson is credited with the authorship of ‘Absalom,’ a tragedy written by Thomas Watson (1513–1584) [q. v.], bishop of Lincoln.
Both bishops are confused by Strype and Burnet with John Watson (d. 1530), master of Christ's College, Cambridge, who was apparently sent to Cambridge by the generosity of Humphrey Monmouth, a citizen of London, and the patron of William Tyndale [q. v.] He was admitted fellow of Peterhouse on 23 May 1501, served as proctor in 1504, and was made university preacher in 1505. After travelling in Italy he was on 30 Nov. 1516 admitted rector of Elsworth, Cambridgeshire, resigning his fellowship at Peterhouse on 6 Dec. In 1517 he graduated D.D., and was elected master of Christ's College. He served as vice-chancellor in 1518–20; on 30 April 1523 he was instituted rector of St. Mary's, Woolnoth (Henessy, Nov. Rep. p. 315), and on 17 Sept. following was collated to Norwell prebend in Southwell Cathedral. He was also a friend and correspondent of Erasmus, and chaplain to Henry VIII. He was learned in scholastic divinity, and in 1529 was one of the divines selected to answer for Cambridge University Henry's questions about his divorce. He died before 12 May 1530 (Le Neve, Fasti, passim; Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, vols. iv-v.; Knight, Erasmus, p. 145; Cooper, Athenæ Cantabr. i. 39-40).[Lansd. MSS. 36 art. 25, and 982 arts. 30, 31; Add. MSS. 5756 f. 228, and 6251 f. 81; Le Neve's Fasti, ed. Hardy, passim; Strype's Works (General Index); Burnet's Hist. of the Reformation, ed. Pocock; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ii. 825; Churton's Nowell, p. 327; Fuller's Worthies; Hist. and Antiquities of Winchester, 1773, i. 61; Cassan's Lives of the Bishops of Winchester, ii. 32–5; Hennessy's Nov. Rep. Eccl. 1898; Gee's Elizabethan Clergy, 1898; Baker's Biog. Dram. i. 739; Fleay's Biogr. Chron. of the English Drama, ii. 267; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. iv. 170.]