Watson, John

, the historian of Halifax, was eldest son of Legh Watson by Hester daughter and at last heiress of John Yates, of Svvinton in Lancashire, and was born at Lyrne-cum-Hanley, in the parish of Prestbury, in Cheshire, March 26, 1724. Having been brought up at the grammar-schools of Eccles, Wigan, and Manchester, all in Lancashire, he was admitted a commoner in BrazenNose-college, Oxford, April 7, 1742. In | Michaelmasterm, 1745, he took the degree of B. A. June 27, 1746, he was elected a fellow of Brazen-Nose college, being chosen into a Cheshire fellowship, as being a Prestburyparish man. On the title of his fellowship he was ordained a deacon at Chester by bishop Peploe, Dec. 21, 1746. After his year of probation, as fellow, was ended, and his residence at Oxford no longer required, he left the college; and his first employment in- the church was the curacy of Runcorn, in. Cheshire here he stayed only three months, and removed thence to Ardwick, near Manchester, where he was an assistant curate at the chapel there, and private tutor to the three sons of Samuel Birch, of Ardwick, esq. During his residence here, he was privately ordained a priest at Chester, by the above bishop Peploe, JMay 1, 1748, and took the degree of M. A. at Oxford, in act- term the same year. From Ardwick he removed to Halifax, and was licensed to the curacy there, Oct. 17, 1750, by Dr. Matthew Hutton, archbishop of York. June 1, 1752, he married Susanna, daughter and heiress of the late rev. Mr. Allon, vicarof Sandbach, in Cheshire, vacating thereby his fellpwship at Oxford. Sept. 3, 1754, he was licensed by the above Dr. Hutton, on the presentation of George Legh, LL. D. vicar of Halifax, to the perpetual curacy of Ripponden, in the parish of Halifax. Here he rebuilt the curate’s house, at his own expence, laying out above 400l. upon the same, which was more than a fourth part of the whole sum he there received; notwithstanding which, his unworthy successor threatened him with a prosecution in the spiritual court, if he did not allow him ten pounds for dilapidations, v^hich, for the sake of peace, he complied with. Feb. 17, 1759, he was elected F. S. A. After his first wife’s death, he was married, July 11, 1761, at Ealand, in Halifax parish, to Anne, daughter of Mr. James Jaques, of Leeds, merchant. August 17, 1766, he was inducted to the rectory of Meningsby, Lincolnshire, which he resigned in 1769, on being promoted to the rectory of Stockport, in Cheshire, worth about 1500l. a year. His presentation to this, by sir George Warren^ bore date July 30, 1769, and he was inducted thereto August the 2d following. April 11, 1770, he was appointed one of the domestic chaplains to the right hon. the earl of Dysart. April 24, 1770, having received his dedimus for acting as a justice of the peace in the county of Chester, he was sworn into that office on that day. Oct. 2, 1772, he | received his dedimus far acting as a justice of peace for tfie county of Lancaster, and was sworn in accordingly. His principal publication was “The History of Halifax,1775, 4to, whence these particulars are chiefly taken. He died March 14, 1783, after finishing for the press, in 2 vols. 4to, “A History of the ancient earls of Warren and Surrey,” with a view to represent his patron sir George Warren’s claim to those ancient titles; but it is thought by a very acute examiner of the work and judge of the subject, that he has left the matter in very great doubt.

Mr. Watson’s other publications were, 1. “A Discourse preached at Halifax church, July 28, 1751, 8vo, entitled Moderation, or a candid disposition towards those that differ from us, recommended and enforced,” 8vo. This passed through a second edition. 2. “An Apology for his conduct yearly, on the 30th of January,” 8vo. To this is annexed, a sermon preached at Ripponden chapel, on Jan. 30, 1755, entitled “Kings should obey the Laws.” 3. “A Letter to the Clergy of the Church, known by the name of Unitas Fratrum, or Moravians, concerning a remarkable book of hymns used in their congregations, pointing out several inconsistencies and absurdities in the said book,1756, 8vo. 4. “Some account of a Roman station lately discovered on the borders of Yorkshire.” 5. “A mistaken passage in Bede’s Ecclesiastical History explained.” 6. “Druidical remains in or near the parish of Halifax, &c.” These three last are printed in the Archæologia. He had also made collections for the antiquities of Chester and of a part of Lancashire. The late Mr. Gilbert Wakefield, who married his niece, says, Mr. Watson was one of the hardest students he ever knew. His great excellence was a knowledge of antiquities, t>ut “he was by no means destitute of poetical fancy; had written, some good songs, and was possessed of a most copious collection of bon-mots, facetious stories, and humorous compositions of every kind, both in verse and prose, written out with uncommon accuracy and neatness.” From the same authority we learn that Mr. Watson had once a hudibrasric controversy with Dr. Byrom of Manchester. 1


Watson’s Hist, of Halifax, Cens, Literaria, vol. I. WafceGeld’s Memoirs.